The OLH recognises that the economics of the humanities are different. The majority of research in the humanities remains unfunded except through institutional time. For this reason, Article Processing Charges are not a palatable option for these disciplines. We are funded instead through a model of Library Partnership Subsidies to collectively fund the venue and its array of journals. A large number of libraries and institutions worldwide already support us, which makes for a sustainable, safe platform.
The Library Partnership Subsidy model
In his book, The Access Principle, John Willinsky notes that “JSTOR has already demonstrated the level of cooperation that can be achieved among libraries, publishers and scholarly associations” (Willinsky 2006, 85). Indeed, as Don Waters also notes, JSTOR is a “community-based organization” (Waters 2004). Willinsky goes further, though. Implicit in his assessment is a new potential for a future JSTOR-like organization for the humanities; one that, in this age, would be open access (like PLOS) and funded through cooperation, not through competition (like arXiv).
The current system of scholarly economics is irrational. University staff produce material that is then given to publishers so that it can be sold back to university libraries. Theories of market agency are flawed in this context because they assume that all information is available to all purchasers and that these purchasers can go elsewhere if better competition is available. But what competition is available when a researcher needs a journal article to which a publisher has exclusive rights? None. Competition is a flawed concept within these micro-monopolies, as Peter Suber terms them (Suber 2012, 39).
Our proposed alternative is a system of Library Partnership Subsidy (LPS). arXiv, the repository for electronic preprints in maths, physics, computer science and astronomy held at Cornell University, has shown that it is possible for libraries to support an infrastructure instead of simply purchasing journals. The economies of scale that are achieved here can be staggering.
Interested librarians can: