On Consortial Funding Models for Open Access in 2020 and Beyond

Posted by Paula Clemente Vega on 27 April 2020

On Consortial Funding Models for Open Access in 2020 and Beyond

We were 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: 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>. As you would expect, the article is openly accessible and I would encourage everyone who is interested in OLH to have a read.

Certainly, OLH is now no longer a "new" model for open-access, even if it remains an outlier. While we launched the platform in 2015, the model dates back even longer than that, with initial planning and discussions taking place in 2013. We’ve been doing this for over seven years now and the model has bedded in.

Yet this maturation comes with some challenges. When one is a young, new model, it is more enticing for libraries to come forward. A one-off commitment to funding a new type of model that promises (and delivers) equity of participation and readership is enticing.

What is harder is a long-term, recurring commitment to an initiative that is assumed will just continue to exist. Many libraries do not think like this. Indeed, we have an extremely high level of renewal take-up and it is hard to say how grateful I am to our supporting libraries who come back year after year. That said, signup rates have now stabilised to a steady flow compared to the initial waterfall of a few years ago. Obviously, as we become routinised – as part of the landscape – we do not expect constant, exponential growth.

But we would like to stress that we do need libraries to continue to support us. There is nothing fixed about the survival of an entity like OLH and without ongoing (and new) library support, we cannot continue to support the open dissemination of scholarship in the humanities disciplines. We’ve heard a lot, in the time of the current terrible global pandemic, about the importance of access to medical knowledge, but please let us not also forget culture and art – the reasons why medicine and health are so important.

Hence, in this anniversary year of reflection, I want to thank our supporting libraries and academics, worldwide. You have done so much to help us make the scholarly communication ecosystem better. I would also ask, though, that you continue to spread the word. If your institution is not a member, please be the person to suggest it. The only way that universities join us is by someone taking the initiative be they a librarian, an academic, an administrator, or a leader. We remain eminently affordable and also have discounts if groups of libraries wish to join together as a consortium or individually through our referral scheme

Please do check our rates and signup procedures at https://openlibhums.org/plugins/supporters/signup/

In the meantime, it is not possible to conclude any message at this difficult time without wishing our supporters safety and wellness. In more positive news, though, here’s to the next half-decade of OLH!

Martin Paul Eve

Professor of Literature, Technology and Publishing, Birkbeck University of London

CEO, Open Library of Humanities