OLH Report on activities 2020

Posted by Paula Clemente Vega on 20 March 2021

Report on activities

In 2020 the Open Library of Humanities celebrated its 5th anniversary since its launching in September 2015 with only 7 journals and 99 supporting institutions.  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 of nearly 300 institutions, rather than by any kind of author's fee or APC. With this model, the OLH has expanded from 7 journals in 2015 to 28 journals, has four full-time staff, funds publication at three external presses (Ubiquity Press, Liverpool University Press and University of Wales Press) to convert their journals to open access, and has developed and launched in 2017 Janeway, its own field-leading innovative open source publishing platform developed fully in-house.


Looking back at the past year alone, according to our data in 2020 we published and funded a total of 529 articles. The cost per institution per published article if we, for instance, took the USD mid-size institution fee level (USD 1,631) was $3.08. In the past year, OLH has had 25 new signups, amounting to a total of 299 supporting institutions at the time of writing this. We are also aware of the potential implications of the pandemic in library membership but hope nonetheless to be able to grow in 2021, as the pandemic has highlighted just how crucial open access is for scholarly research.


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 an award for Small Digital Publisher of the Year in October 2020 at the Association of Online Publishers (AOP). 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: 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>. 

In 2020 the Open Library of Humanities also launched the OLH Open Access Award 2020, a fund dedicated to promoting the benefits and impact of open access to humanities scholars and disciplines and to knowledge worldwide. Our open access awards were awarded to two organisations in recognition for their exceptional open access scholarly projects: the National Library of Kosovo and the Open Access Digital Theological Library. We will be able to report on these projects in the near future.

All this could not be possible without the help of our supporting institutions, which despite their increasingly tight budgets and the financial impact of the pandemic, still continue to choose to support scholar-led, community owned, and not-for-profit open access initiatives such as OLH. Indeed, it is thanks to their support that we can continue to exist and provide an alternative to the often unaffordable APC model for open access publications. We would like to express our gratitude to all our member institutions for your continued support.


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

Photo by Markus Spiske / Unsplash