OLH annual report 2022

Posted by Paula Clemente Vega on 31 March 2023

The Open Library of Humanities (OLH) is an award-winning, academic-led, diamond open-access publisher of 28 journals based at Birkbeck, University of London. With initial funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and subsequent support from Arcadia, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Professor Peter Baldwin, the platform currently covers its costs by payments from an international library consortium, rather than author fees (also known as Article Processing Charges). This funding mechanism enables equitable open access in the humanities disciplines, releasing readers and authors from the prohibitive costs of publishing open access. 

In the past year OLH has made significant progress and embarked on a wide range of initiatives. Below are the most relevant highlights from 2022.  

OLH endorses the "Action Plan for Diamond Open Access". 

In March 2022 we were pleased to announce that the Open Library of Humanities signed the "Action Plan for Diamond Open Access". The action plan was launched by Science Europe, cOAlition S, OPERAS, and the French National Research Agency (ANR) and has been endorsed by hundreds of organisations and individuals. The initiative works towards a scholarly publishing infrastructure that is equitable, community-driven, and academic-led and -owned, to enable the global research community to take charge of a scholarly communication system by and for research communities. It focuses on efficiency, quality standards, capacity building, and sustainability, and it addresses the alignment and development of common resources for the whole Diamond OA ecosystem, including journals and platforms, while respecting the cultural, multilingual, and disciplinary diversity that constitutes the strength of the sector. 

Plan S Journal Comparison Service 

OLH is pleased to have contributed to the Plan S' Journal Comparison Service in October 2022. The Journal Comparison Service (JCS) is a secure, free, online service developed by cOAlition S aimed at providing libraries, library consortia, and funders with the ability to compare journal publishing services and fees. It represents a way for publishers to achieve greater transparency on their services and related pricing.  

It's important to show universities and funders that publishing quality research doesn't necessarily equate to high fees. It's also important that institutions understand what they're paying for when they financially support OLH. Our breakdown of operational costs from 2021 can also be accessed on our site here

Awards and mentions 

The work of the Open Library of Humanities continues to be internationally recognised as an important development in open access for the humanities and for its innovative publishing model. We were pleased to have received an Open Scholarship Award in 2022 from the Canadian Social Knowledge Institute (C-SKI). The award was given to our co-founder Professor Martin Eve in recognition for his work at the Open Library of Humanities.  

In addition, an article published in the OLH flagship journal won the 2022 SFRA Innovative Research Award. The SFRA Innovative Research Award (formerly the Pioneer Award) is given to the writer or writers of the year’s best critical essay-length work published in a peer-reviewed academic journal. The prize is awarded by the Science Fiction Research Association and was given to Dr Amy Butt for her article ‘The Present as Past: Science Fiction and the Museum’ published in 2021 the Open Library of Humanities journal.  

OLH features in a European Commission report on business models for sustainable non-for-profit OA publishing 

The Open Library of Humanities was very honoured to have been showcased in a European Commission report on business models for sustainable non-for-profit OA publishing. The report, "Operationalising Open Research Europe as a collective publishing enterprise" published in October 2022, was commissioned by the European Commission for their Open Research Europe (ORE) publishing platform. OLH was one of the seven case studies of this study alongside SciELO, Open Edition, Europe PMC, OAPEN, eLife and SCOAP3. You can access the full report here.  

OLH staffing 

Behind the scenes, OLH has made some staffing changes in 2022 that ensure the sustainability of our operations. Since merging with Birkbeck, University of London in 2021 (a higher education institution incorporated by Royal Charter in England & Wales), we have expanded our team at Birkbeck, University of London to 8 full-time members of staff. New staff include Dr Simon Everett in Editorial and Dr Katherine Parker-Hay who takes up a new role as Publishing Development Officer. OLH Co-Founder Dr Caroline Edwards, who stepped down as Co-Director in 2018, has returned as Executive Director and will be working full-time at OLH from April 2023 onwards. 

In December 2022 we said goodbye to Prof. Martin Eve, who leaves the day-to-day running of OLH after 10 years. Martin’s visionary leadership, exemplary commitment to open access advocacy, and many peer-reviewed publications on scholarly communications helped make OLH the success that it is today, and we thank him sincerely for his brilliant work. In January 2023, Martin started an exciting new role as Head of Research & Development at CrossRef – we wish him all the best and look forward to continuing working with him on our OLH Steering Committee. 

Finally, we rounded off 2022 with an ambitious plan for sustainable growth of the OLH over the next five years. In 2023, we will be hiring new staff in publishing development technologies, sales & marketing, and editorial. Watch this space! 


The Open Library of Humanities has demonstrated that a model for high-quality open access publishing without article processing charges is possible and sustainable in the long-term. According to our latest report in 2022 we published and funded a total of 469 articles across our 28 journals. These publications were also downloaded 1,122,354 times and viewed 2,539,747 times, a 295% and 145% more respectively compared to last year. Glossa remains the OLH’s flagship journal in terms of volume of publications, with 119 articles published in 2022. With regards to our library funding, in the past year OLH had 20 new signups and 3 new higher supporters.

Thanks to the support of our members, the OLH has expanded from 99 supporting institutions and 7 journals in 2015 to 342 supporting institutions and 28 journals at the time of writing this report. The OLH has developed our own field-leading, open-source publishing platform, Janeway, which was launched in 2017 and is developed fully in-house by our team of software developers. With a few exceptions, all OLH journals are hosted on Janeway.  

In addition, Janeway has also become the platform of choice for editors, libraries, and presses at many universities across the globe, including the University of California, the University of Michigan, MIT, the University of Wales, UCL, the University of Ghent, and the Technical University of Darmstadt. In addition to providing another secure and stable revenue source for OLH publishing, this allows us to maintain our independence from commercial publishing platforms.   

All this could not be possible without the help of our supporting institutions, which despite their tight budgets, continue to choose to support scholar-led, community owned, and not-for-profit open access initiatives such as OLH. Indeed, it is thanks to your 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 deepest gratitude to all our member institutions for your continued support: from all of us at the OLH, thank you for continuing to make this vital work possible.   

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 at: https://www.openlibhums.org/plugins/supporters/signup/.

Photo by Markus Spiske / Unsplash