Open Library of Humanities Renews Agreement with Jisc Collections, Aims to Flip More Titles to Not-for-Profit, No-Fee Open Access

Posted by Martin Paul Eve on 4 May 2021

The Open Library of Humanities (OLH) is pleased to announce that we have renewed our agreement with Jisc Collections to provide options to the UK library community that will sustain our publishing activities while offering the possibility of expansion.

The Open Library of Humanities is an award-winning, academic-led, gold open-access publisher of 28 journals with no author-facing charges. With initial funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and subsequent support from Arcadia, a charitable fund of Dr Lisbet Rausing and Professor Peter Baldwin, the platform covers its costs by payments from an international library consortium, rather than any author fee. This funding mechanism enables equitable open access in the humanities disciplines, with charges neither to readers nor authors.

The new agreement with Jisc Collections cements our commitment to keeping costs low for libraries. At just a 1% below-inflationary increase on our previous fees, which brings UK library fees to parity with international rates, we have recognised the budgetary challenges faced by the library world, particularly in light of the coronavirus pandemic. Our cost per-institution, per-article remains extremely low, at an estimated average of £1.90.

At the same time, we have also recognised that we need urgently to see an expansion of open access in the humanities disciplines. We are today announcing our new higher-tier membership options to achieve this goal. Introducing new categories of supporters, this model allows libraries to contribute at higher levels instead of the base membership. Tiered into Bronze, Silver, and Gold levels, the very highest pricing level still remains equivalent to less than four Article Processing Charges at for-profit publishers.

Nonetheless, with higher-level support, we will re-open our journal flipping programme. When libraries choose to support us at the higher tiers, we will invite applications from journals currently at for-profit, subscription, and hybrid publishers to apply to join OLH, once we have suitable revenue levels. This flipping will yield benefits not only for the titles that choose to convert but will also escalate pressure on other publishers to adopt models for equitable open access.

Professor Martin Paul Eve, the Director of OLH, said: “We’ve heard two different stories from libraries and journals in the past year. On the one hand, some libraries are struggling to keep afloat and need us to freeze our prices. On the other hand, some libraries have said that they want to support us in expanding and converting more humanities titles to a pure gold open-access model, with no article processing charges.

“Our two membership options cater for both groups. While we have frozen our basic membership at below-inflationary rates to help libraries keep their costs under control, we have also opened the possibility of higher-tier support to libraries that want this. With this support, we will be able to open, once again, to titles that wish to move from for-profit publishers to our equitable, not-for-profit, no-fee OA model, saving libraries money in the process.

“As we await the UK’s review of open access, the time is right for more titles to make the transition to fully open-access models, with no article processing charges. Our new higher-tier membership options will enable us to help with this transition.”

Institutions in the UK can become higher-tier supporters through Jisc's signup system. Universities, worldwide, who wish to contribute at a higher-tier level to facilitate flipping should contact Paula Clemente Vega (