Help us to Map the Monographs Landscape

One of the principles of the National Monographs Strategy project is to make all our documents and reports openly available for comment and community input.

We hope, that by taking this open approach, we can ensure we don’t miss anything important and get different perspectives on the work.

We want to encourage active participation in the project and would really appreciate thoughts, ideas and comments on specific outputs from the project and more generally about the work and its approach.

So, with that in mind, the project has recently started drafting a ‘map’ or overview of the current monographs landscape.

My colleague Peter Findlay has put together a report that begins to highlight the main components of the Monographs landscape and the relevant references, tools and resources associated with those different areas.


Mapping a landscape like the one associated with monographs isn’t an easy one – there’s lots of work already taking place and it’s easy to miss something important.

To make sure we capture as much as possible, and that we’re not making assumptions about what we are choosing, we need your help. 

Please take a look at the landscape report and feel free to comment on it (apologies for telling you how to suck eggs! But Google Docs is a little different to Word, so you’ll need to select the thing you want to comment on, go to the ‘insert’ menu and select ‘comment’).

We want to make sure we have the full picture – when the time comes to begin navigating this landscape it will be important that we have all the information we can get.

Also, if you promise to comment, we promise to stop using the extended mapping metaphor!

We really would welcome your comments on the landscape report. Or, if you’d prefer, drop your thoughts, ideas and links into the comment box just below post, condense your comments into or 140 characters or less on twitter (using #monographsUK) or contact us directly via email.


9 thoughts on “Help us to Map the Monographs Landscape

  1. Martin Paul Eve

    This is a great start to the document and it looks to be a really
    valuable and exciting initiative.

    I’ve written a few comments in the document on what I feel is important, but for me, the standout issue is the way in which the different sections and systems that are described interrelate with one another. If this overview is tightly linked (as the sections within the document indicate) to a production context as well, perhaps more emphasis on the drivers for why monographs are produced might help?

    To elaborate: there are local needs to both collect (by libraries for researchers) and to publish (for researchers). In the latter case, the local need is very much a nationally-driven effort that, currently, creates problems for libraries. We have created social systems of prestige at the national level (for REF etc.) that cause local problems for both libraries and researchers. A huge barrier to any new publishing enterprise is breaking these systems, but, clearly, some of the newer publishers have much better economic prospects for librarians (but do not fulfil the local needs of authors).

    I’d also like to see a focus on (anticipated) transition strategies with more emphasis on HEFCE’s current consultations. The monograph sphere in the UK is tightly shaped (as are all our outputs) by HEFCE mandates. They’ve opted for no monographs this cycle (to date). If we assume, though, that next round will mandate this, then working out how a recommendation for green deposit of books can be facilitated would be a good step. How is the current landscape that we are mapping shaped by Damoclean swords of future mandates?

    A few thoughts!

  2. Wayne Connolly

    I think the Landscape document is an excellent start. It demonstrates clearly and concisely the scope and the scale of the issues that are at stake – and their complex interrelationships. I was also interested to see the outputs from the SCONUL conference fringe meeting, and the consensus emerging about the main drivers. If we push those drivers through the Landscape study, then some priorities for action seem to emerge.

    They begin to look like:
    – managing legacy collections (the past)
    – improving access (the present)
    – developing new publication models (the future)

    Through each of these, I am beginning to think that national strategies and joined-up planning are clearly important, but not necessarily the development of large-scale national services. Tools and a committed approach to using them collectively may be more important than big enterprises.

  3. Graham Stone

    This is a good start and gives us lots to think about 🙂

    My initial thoughts vary slightly from Wayne’s comments regarding the 3 priorities for action

    – managing legacy collections

    A UKRR for legacy monographs seems a sensible idea in principle, although potentially a huge job to actually complete.

    – developing new publication models

    Projects such as OAPEN-UK are going a long way to look at new publications models and the ‘monograph crisis’

    I think the issue for both the past and the future is about improving access – regardless of strategy and business model – discovery is key.

    In order to manage the legacy collections and potentially withdraw low-use monographs we have to know where they are! Initiatives such as the Copac Collections Management Tool and White Rose Collaborative Collection Partnership with help with this – how one issue is the standard of metadata for legacy collections

    Looking forward to a possible future of small scale OA University Presses and other models, we will need to make sure that they too are discoverable – is Directory of Open Access Books, our Repositories and Google enough? A recent OA publication from Huddersfield was ineligible for entry into Nielsen book data once they discovered it was free – will this impact on the discoverability through traditional methods?

    Finally, looking to the future, but picking up on some of the thoughts from the landscape study on disposal of monographs, how do we weed digital editions?

  4. Mike Mertens (@RLUK_Mike)

    I agree with all the points that have already been made. I do like Wayne’s tripartite division of activity or focus. Although the document mentions print quite a few times, we have to consider the monograph as a form of publication, and who knows, if that form changes, whether even certain born digital items from will be considered ‘legacy’ in a few years’ time?

    Here are some further initial thoughts from me, however:

    Access – ostensibly we would be securing the collective monograph resource for the nation – but who is the nation, and how would it be involved? Is this an abstract retention, or are we seeking to make sure, for example, that “citizen humanists” could get their hands on these collections? In that case, who would grant access, who would provide the mechanism?

    Coverage – We all know that by now that the vast majority of those institutions who were supposed, if included in a major online resource, to constitute a national monograph collection according to the UKNUC report ( of a little more than a decade ago, are now in Copac. But what about monograph collections beyond HE? How to link these collections more effectively with research, and researchers? What infrastructure would we need to maintain the nation’s collection, for the nation? Recent work that RLUK has done on hidden and special collections received input from nearly 100 non-HE monograph collection holders – they should be included, in my view, in this strategy.

    Finally, something that I like to call “First impressions” – that is, the question of what constitutes a duplicate? Are we after surrogates of the text or the edition? Or would a generic text suffice for certain purposes but an exact facsimile of a certain edition for other needs? When is a monograph to be retained as an artefact, as part of a collection, or as an agreed representation of a published work? Understanding this will be critical.

    But this is exciting stuff, and I am glad we are doing it!

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  6. Darryl Mead

    Representing the views of the National Library of Scotland, my key idea is to support us collecting, or providing access to, a comprehensive set of UK monographs, as well as obtaining as extensive as possible access for Scottish readers to monographs printed outside the UK. Legal deposit has a clear role, be it in print or electronic form. We would expect to have a significant preservation role and to provide or enhance the catalogue records for Scottish material.

  7. Caren Milloy

    Apologies for the late response. I agree with much of what Martin and Graham have said.

    I think that there is a very important role in looking at the print monographs, space saving and managing the collections at a national level to ensure that discovery of this content, that remains critical for research, is easy for the end users.

    But I am also particularly interested in the impact of OA on the role of library collection building. It is not something that I think librarians have spent a lot of time considering yet as OA publishing is still in its early stages. Yet, it seems that the move will be away from ownership to connecting but there will be a lot more uncertainty for libraries as to the longevity of the OA monographs and the infrastructure and discovery mechanisms to support this is not yet secure. Particularly as there are a range of very small to larger OA book publishers that have no guarantee that in 5 years time they will exist – who will manage their responsibilities?

    Another interesting aspect for monographs that hasnt been discussed that much is the role of the ebook aggregators – most libraries use aggregators such as MyiLibrary, Ebrary, EBL, Dawsons etc for their eMonographs – how will OA impact on this?

    The green issue also needs consideration – the infrastrucutre to enable and support this for researchers and institutions when the REF mandates it needs some serious consideration and my feeling is that this should be done at a national / international level for monographs via a framework such as the OAPEN library.

    I will stop rambling now!


    As Martin mentioned, lets assume that HEFCE will include OA monographs in the future rounds of REF – this will mean that

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