Survey of the RSLP access funding scheme
This study is a survey of the Research Support Libraries Programme (RSLP) access funding scheme from 1999-2005.
It ﬁnds that investment of £30 million over six years has brought a turnaround in provision of access to research resources in university libraries. Over this period, the scheme has enabled almost ﬁfty university libraries to invest in activities and initiatives aimed at extending access to their collections.
Crucially, there is now in effect a national scheme under which universities provide on equal terms to all researchers in the higher education sector access to their research holdings and facilities.
This survey points to the great success of the scheme in fundamentally changing the climate in the provision of access to academic research libraries. Libraries no longer fear that opening up access to external users will lead to unsustainable over-use and swamping. The funding has also made a big contribution to the development of such services as the creation of library catalogues available over the Internet; the extension in library opening hours; the improvement of reader services; and the undertaking of much-needed conservation work.
It underlines the importance of ensuring that research libraries retain access to adequate resources to allow them to continue to enhance the levels of access that the scheme has provided in recent years. On the basis of its ﬁndings, we will undertake further work to evaluate the impact of the initiatives supported by access funding and the ways in which they can most effectively be built upon and sustained.