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Introducing Open Library of the Humanities

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This past fall semester, the Open Library of the Humanities, or OLH, officially launched their publishing arm. The OLH is:

a charitable organisation dedicated to publishing open access scholarship with no author-facing article processing charges (APCs). We are funded by an international consortium of libraries who have joined us in our mission to make scholarly publishing fairer, more accessible, and rigorously preserved for the digital future.

As you can tell by the spelling, it originated out of the UK. The project leads are Martin Paul Eve, Senior Lecturer in Literature, Technology and Publishing at Birkbeck, University of London, and Caroline Edwards is Lecturer in Modern & Contemporary Literature at Birkbeck, University of London. What started as a network of scholars, programmers, and librarians has evolved into a collective to support open-access publishing.

It currently publishes seven open access journals, but is seeking articles from across the humanities to submit for peer-review for what they are calling a “megajournal.”  The list of libraries supporting the initiative is long and impressive, and there seems to be a new library adding their support every other day. The platform is also working to “flip” existing subscription journals to an open-access model, but one where authors are never asked to pay. This means that scholarly society journals, for example, can keep their brand, their editorial practices, and still see a financial return, if necessary (because OLH works a bit like a “subscription” for supporting libraries)… but they can also go OA. The platform has already converted one journal [http://poetry.openlibhums.org/] and Eve says there are four more lined up for January [http://lingoa.eu/ - see The Chronicle's coverage of this particular development here].

Open-access is a fraught topic (although really, why?) in academia and academic publishing, particularly in the humanities, where grants don’t typically cover the cost of paying for open-access publishing the way science grants can and have, particularly overseas. How do we create sustainable platforms for open-access publishing? The MLA has recently introduced CORE (which ProfHacker Kathleen Fitzpatrick helped shape and wrote about, while Brain Croxall outlined some of the difficulties of going this route). Other institutions, such as my own, have introduced open access repositories for faculty.

What I appreciate about OLH is that I don’t have to try and find a journal that is interested in my particular form of research, as long as it fits somewhere in “the humanities”. Will that make it more likely to get published? Probably not, but it will certainly make me more likely to submit.

Would you submit or edit for OLH? What is your experience with Open Access publishing? 

Image: Library Bookshelf

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