Who we are.
We are building a model of open access publishing that functions for the humanities – for free, for everyone, for ever.
The Open Library of Humanities (OLH) is an award-winning publisher of humanities scholarship based at Birkbeck, University of London. We play a leading role within a growing ecosystem of scholar-led digital publishing, that combines cutting-edge technology with community governance and not-for-profit principles. This has become known as diamond open access.
We publish 30 open-access journals and are funded by more than 340 libraries worldwide, who have joined us in our mission to make scholarly publishing fairer, more accessible, and rigorously preserved for the digital future.
The peer-reviewed scholarship we publish showcases some of the most dynamic research in humanities disciplines. Our journals cover topics including classics, modern languages, philosophy, theology, history, political theory, sociology, anthropology, film and new media studies, and digital humanities. We pride ourselves on being at the cutting edge of online journal publishing – with high-quality presentation, robust digital preservation, strong discoverability, and easy-to-share social media buttons.
“The Open Library of Humanities is a transformative venture on the leading edge of open-access initiatives on both sides of the Atlantic. There is hardly a more important project in train for scholarship in the humanities today.”
Prof. David Armitage, Lloyd C. Blankfein Professor of History, Harvard University.
Green open access
Authors retain the right to distribute the work freely, such as via an institutional repository or on their website.
Gold open access
Readers have free access, but authors may be required to pay publishing costs.
Diamond open access
Readers have free access and authors do not pay. Access is funded collectively by the publisher.
The OLH launched as an international movement of scholars, librarians, programmers, and publishers in 2013. Co-founders Dr Caroline Edwards and Professor Martin Paul Eve wanted to rebuild an unfair system in which corporate publishers make huge profits from publicly funded research by selling it back to universities in subscription packages.
Martin and Caroline began working together, building on their respective visions for open access. By 2015, the Open Library of Humanities had become a scholar-led publisher offering a not-for-profit route to open access. The OLH challenged commercial academic publishing, which adopted an “author-pays” model of open access, passing the cost of publication onto authors to recoup lost subscriptions.
Too often, publishing companies profit from our scholarship and editorial labour, whilst university and library budgets are squeezed. We built an organisation around the passionately held belief that academic research should be made available to anyone with an internet connection.
How it works.
Many universities and libraries contribute small, affordable sums.
Keeping our basic membership rates low helps libraries keep their costs under control. For libraries operating with larger budgets for open-access publishing, we can offer higher-tier membership rates.
These funds cover OLH publishing expenses and journal funding.
By diverting small sums from their commercial open-access budgets, OLH partner libraries provide the financial support we need to expand our portfolio of journals and build open-source publishing technologies that benefit the entire academic community.
OLH journals publish research that is archived, secure, and free to access.
Articles are assigned DOIs, journals are widely indexed, metadata is harvestable, and sector-leading archival practices ensure the long-term availability of all published research.
What we offer.
When you publish with the OLH, you are joining a worldwide community. We offer experienced, friendly editorial guidance, provide bespoke technological support, and organise regular events. Our journals extend this community through the scholarly associations that founded them, the conferences that are their lifeblood, and the university classrooms in which our published materials are taught worldwide.
Our current team of 10 full-time staff provides years of academic editorial experience with cutting-edge publishing technology. Our dedicated in-house software engineers have built a leading platform for journal hosting, migration, manuscript submission and review, copyediting, and typesetting.
“The Open Library of Humanities is a light in the darkness: innovative, dynamic publishing that centres equity and inclusivity for both readers and authors by providing open access without APCs.”
Prof. Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Director of Digital Humanities and Professor of English at Michigan State University.
Plan S compliance.
Plan S is an international initiative set up by researcher funders and other academic organisations to ensure that publicly funded research is published in open-access journals or on open-access platforms, or is made immediately available through open-access repositories without embargo. All our journals are compliant with Plan S funder mandates and have been included in the Plan S compliance Journal Checker tool.
Grants & awards.
The OLH has received major funding in the form of research and development grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and Arcadia – a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Professor Peter Baldwin.
The work of the Open Library of Humanities has been internationally recognised for its important contribution to open access for the humanities, as well as its innovative business model. In 2020, we were “Highly Commended” at the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers (ALPSP) Awards for Innovation in Publishing, and received an award for “Small Digital Publisher of the Year” from the Association of Online Publishers (AOP). In 2019, we won a “Coko Foundation Open Publishing Award” in the category of Open Publishing Models.
The OLH award.
The Open Library of Humanities Award was established in 2023 to recognise individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the advancement of open access.
The award is granted to a person who demonstrates dedication to open access through their advocacy or scholarly work. It aims to celebrate those who live our values and to foster a greater appreciation for the principles and benefits of open access to knowledge within the academic community.