POST: The Open Library of Humanities: Year One

Open Library of Humanities (OLH) founders and Academic Project Directors Martin Paul Eve and Caroline Edwards (both Birkbeck, University of London) have authored a post celebrating the one year anniversary of the launch of the OLH. The post provides information on the journals published by OLH, as well as statistics on publication, subscriptions, and views of articles.

In the first year, the OLH has hosted 909 articles across the journals that we either directly publish or that we support. This figure includes back-content migration of a large number of articles from journals joining the platform, but nonetheless constitutes a significant level of growth for the first year.

We also increased the number of journals we publish to 18, with the latest migrations underway.

An international library consortium supports OLH’s operations. Eve and Edwards report that: “In our first year of operation just short of 200 institutional subscriptions financially supported the platform.”

Eve and Edwards also point out that their readership statistics counter criticisms of open access by proving that there is public interest in and demand for access to research:

Our articles were viewed 118,686 times in the first year (counting unique views). That is an average of 131 views per article, although clearly the spread is not even. We believe that this shows a substantial demand/readership for humanities research material.

By contrast, conventional subscription publishers have often defended their business models by arguing that such demand does not exist or that it can be met by on-site access, even for the public. This led to the creation of the “Access to Research” initiative in the UK. In the first 19-month pilot period of “Access to Research”, the UK national total was 89,869 searches from just 34,276 users. The 909 articles published or supported solely by the Open Library of Humanities were read by more people than a UK national-level pilot giving on-site access to vast quantities of subscription material across all disciplines. The convenience of the internet can allow humanities research to thrive.

dh+lib Review

This post was produced through a cooperation between Leigh Bonds, Elizabeth Gibes, Greg Hatch, Kristen Mapes, Kelley Rowan, Samuel Russell, and Abigail Sparling, (Editors-at-large for the week), Caitlin Christian-Lamb (Editor for the week), Sarah Potvin (Site Editor), and Caro Pinto, Roxanne Shirazi, and Patrick Williams (dh+lib Review Editors).