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Birkbeck awarded $741,000 grant for new humanities open-access model of publishing

Open Library of Humanities received funding from Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

Birkbeck, University of London has been awarded a three-year grant of $741,000 from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to cement and expand a new model for open-access publishing in the humanities disciplines.

The Open Library of Humanities platform, directed by Dr. Martin Paul Eve and Dr. Caroline Edwards - both faculty members in Birkbeck's School of Arts - will allow access to peer-reviewed scholarly journal articles without requiring readers to pay.

Unlike many emerging “gold” open-access models, the Open Library of Humanities does not charge authors to publish. Instead, it is funded by an international library consortium whose members recognise that the greatest benefit for the academy and society will only be realised when access to scholarly work is not based on an exclusionary pay-to-read system.

Dr Eve, a senior lecturer in literature, technology and publishing and author of the book Open Access and the Humanities (available from Cambridge University Press, 2014), said: “We are extremely grateful to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for the award of this grant, which will allow us to build the OLH to its full potential.

“The successful conclusion of our previous planning grant, awarded by the Foundation in 2014, has shown us that there is substantial appetite among libraries, journals and authors for a new model to achieve open access.

“By lowering costs for the international library community, while maintaining peer-review standards and professional publishing practices (such as digital preservation), the OLH offers a new and viable route to open, online publication in the humanities.”

Since opening for library partnerships earlier this year, over 80 institutions from around the world have already signed up to support the platform financially, many pledging multi-year support upfront. Furthermore, the platform, due to formally launch in September, has seven journals coming on board from Day 1.

Dr. Edwards, a lecturer in modern and contemporary literature, added: “The beauty of the OLH is that journals can move from their current platforms to find a new, open home under our model. We provide a platform for submissions and content, branding, DOIs, metrics, XML typesetting, PDF and HTML galleys, digital preservation, and dedicated support.

“Journals can keep their own review policies and editorial control. As this is all done with no cost to authors, it is hardly surprising that, even at this early stage, we have already had a surge of interest from journals that wish to move away from a subscription model to benefit from open dissemination.”

Professor David Latchman, Master of Birkbeck, University of London, said: “Drs Eve and Edwards are to be congratulated for securing this considerable grant from an esteemed foundation. The Open Library of Humanities platform represents a bold new expansion for open access publishing, and I am delighted that our academics are at the forefront of this exciting and important venture.”

The generous three-year grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will be used to build the sustainability model for the platform, to expand the number of journals published by the OLH and to build our open-source and free XML typesetting and translation software.

Libraries outside the US and UK interested in joining the OLH Library Partnership Subsidy model should contact Dr. Martin Paul Eve:

UK-based libraries can join through Jisc Collections. US-based libraries can join through LYRASIS.

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