Second Mellon grant for Open Library of Humanities

Second Mellon grant for Open Library of Humanities

Birkbeck, part of the University of London, has been awarded a grant of $741,000 (£476,372) to “cement and expand a new model for open-access publishing in the humanities disciplines”.

The grant, from the Andrew W Mellon Foundation, will go towards the Open Library of Humanities (OLH) platform which will allow access to peer-reviewed scholarly journal articles without requiring readers to pay.

The platform does not charge authors to publish and is instead 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 Martin Eve and Dr Caroline Edwards, who are both faculty members in Birkbeck's School of Arts, are directors of the platform.

This is the second time the platform has been given money from the Andrew W Mellon Foundation, which supports higher education institutions and aims to promote arts and culture.

Eve, a senior lecturer in literature, technology and publishing and author of the book Open Access and the Humanities (Cambridge University Press), said there was “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,” he added.

More than 80 institutions from around the world have signed up to support the platform financially, many pledging multi-year support upfront.
There are seven journals on board, which will be available when the platform officially launches in September.

Edwards, a lecturer in modern and contemporary literature, said: “The beauty of the OLH is that journals can move from their current platforms to find a new, open home under our model. 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.”

The grant will be used to build the sustainability model for the platform, to expand the number of journals published by the OLH and to build its open-source and free XML typesetting and translation software.