The Open Library of Humanities Merges with Birkbeck, University of London

Posted by Paula Clemente Vega on 4 May 2021

We are delighted to announce that the Open Library of Humanities has officially transferred to Birkbeck University of London. The Open Library of Humanities was established in 2015 and has been running as an independent registered charity since then with the help of Birkbeck University of London which has been providing HR. The transfer to the university will safeguard the work that the OLH has been doing and allow us to maintain our charitable status, while ensuring our ongoing financial sustainability and reducing redundant administrative overhead.

Read Birkbeck University of London's announcement

The merger is designed specifically to allow OLH to continue its open-access publishing activities without the burden of running a full external charity. Birkbeck also has financial/accounting staff, which will mean that we will spend less effort every week chasing invoices, processing payments, and associated tasks. These remain vital activities for our ongoing operation. However, having support to undertake these activities from dedicated professionals will make a huge difference to how we spend our time. 

The decision to merge OLH with Birkbeck was undertaken by the trustees, in conversations with the CEO, and in consultation with an independent third-party adviser. The decision to merge was taken, specifically, to protect the "academic-led" quality of the organisation and to protect the charity from financial and personnel risks. We also took inspiration from other major scholarly publishing platforms that are based at academic institutions, such as Project MUSE at Johns Hopkins University.

One of the principle aims of Birkbeck's mission is to "make available the results of research, and the expertise acquired, through teaching, publication, partnerships with other organisations and the promotion of civic and public debate". The charitable purposes of the Open Library of Humanities were "the advancement of education by publishing open-access, high-quality, educational, original academic research material" and "the advancement of the arts, culture, heritage or science by publishing open-access, high-quality, educational, original academic research material". Clearly, these missions and statements are aligned with one another.

In the coming days, we will be writing to all of our library members and to our Janeway hosted clients. Invoices in the future will look slightly different and they will come from Birkbeck. Our activities, though, will look the same as we continue our journey towards a more open future for the humanities disciplines.

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: