• The Open Library of Humanities Celebrates its 5th Birthday

    Posted by Rose Harris-Birtill on 2020-09-25


The Open Library of Humanities today celebrates its 5th anniversary since we launched our platform on 28th September 2015 with only 7 journals and 99 supporting institutions. Five years on, our sustainable business model has attracted nearly 300 supporting institutions, proving the success of its pioneering non-classical economic model, and enabling us to establish a thriving platform of 28 peer-reviewed journals.

The Open Library of Humanities (OLH) is a scholar-led charitable organisation dedicated to publishing world-leading open access humanities scholarship with no author-facing article processing charges. Launched five years ago, our free-to-read, free-to-publish model was established to challenge the costly, limited routes to open access publication in the humanities, and find a sustainable business model to enable academic journals to publish peer-reviewed research without charges to author or reader - making world-leading research accessible to anyone.

The platform was initially funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and now, five years after its launch, entirely covers its costs by payments from its international library consortium. The international consortium of libraries comprises nearly 300 institutions including Harvard Library, Cambridge, Yale, Princeton, and many others. With this model, the OLH has expanded from 7 journals in 2015 to 28 journals in 2020, has four full-time staff, and funds two external commercial university presses (Ubiquity Press and Liverpool University Press) to convert their journals to open access. The OLH also developed and launched Janeway in 2017, its own field-leading innovative open source publishing platform developed fully in-house.

The work of the Open Library of Humanities has been internationally recognised as an important development in open access for the humanities and for its innovative business model. We were delighted to have been recently Highly Commended for the ALPSP Awards for Innovation in Publishing 2020, and to have won a Coko Foundation Open Publishing Award in the category of Open Publishing Models in 2019. We were also pleased, recently, to be able to publish an article on what we have learned from the first half-decade of running the Open Library of Humanities: see Eve, Martin, Paula Vega, and Caroline Edwards, ‘Lessons From the Open Library of Humanities’, LIBER Quarterly, 30.1 (2020), 1–18 <https://doi.org/10.18352/lq.10327>. 

Thank you to all our members for your continued support; the Open Library of Humanities would not exist without your generosity. Institutions continue to join on a weekly basis, and they enable the ever-growing output of the platform to be gold open access, without ever asking authors, member institutions, or their funders to pay any publishing fees. Our mission is to support and extend open access to scholarship in the humanities - for free, for everyone, for ever.

Professor Martin Eve, Founder of the Open Library of Humanities, said: “Building OLH over the past five years has been a pleasure and a privilege. We have worked with countless individuals, worldwide, whether they be authors, editors, librarians, or partners, to unite in the shared goal of achieving equitable open access to humanities publications. We have shown that alternative business models can work and that these work better than article processing charges. I look forward to the next five years and what it may bring.”

If you like the work that the Open Library of Humanities is doing, please consider asking your institution to support us financially. We cannot operate without our library members. More details for libraries can be found here: https://www.openlibhums.org/plugins/supporters/signup/.


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