A new project that works to increase access to valuable research is to receive more than £5.8 million in funding.
Led by Lancaster University, the Open Book Futures (OBF) project will develop and support organisations, tools and practices that enable both academics and the wider public to make more and better use of books published on an Open Access basis. Open Access books can be accessed and used online free of charge.
In particular, the project aims to achieve a step change in how community-owned Open Access book publishing is delivered.
Funded by Arcadia and the Research England Development (RED) Fund, the project marks a shift in the ambition, scope and impact of community-owned Open Access book publishing.
It will significantly increase and improve the quantity, discoverability, preservation and accessibility of academic content freely and easily available to all.
This will be done by building the infrastructures, business models, networks and resources that are needed to deliver a future for Open Access books led not by large commercial operations but by communities of scholars, small-to-medium-sized publishers, not-for-profit infrastructure providers, and scholarly libraries.
This includes expanding the work of the recently launched Open Book Collective, which makes it easier for academic libraries to provide direct financial support to Open Access publishing initiatives, as well as the Thoth metadata management platform, the Opening the Future revenue model and the forthcoming Experimental Publishing Compendium.
Open Book Futures, due to start on 1st May, builds on the pioneering work of the Community-Led Open Publication Infrastructures for Monographs (COPIM) project. COPIM, a strategic international partnership led by Coventry University, began the work of establishing the key open, community-led solutions required to address the barriers to the wider impact of Open Access books.
COPIM was also jointly funded by Arcadia and the RED Fund. Arcadia supports work to preserve endangered cultural heritage, protect endangered ecosystems, and promote access to knowledge. RED supports innovation in research and knowledge exchange in higher education that offers significant public benefits.
A particular aim of the Open Book Futures project is to deepen COPIM’s long term impact and to make sure a wide range of voices have the opportunity to shape the future of Open Access book publishing.
It aims not just to strengthen existing networks in the UK and North America, but also to engage further with publishers, universities, and infrastructure providers in a diverse set of national and linguistic contexts, including for example in Africa, Australasia, Continental Europe, and Latin America.
Principal Investigator Dr Joe Deville, of Lancaster University, who is also a Co-Investigator on the COPIM project, said:
It is exciting to be able to contribute to a project that promises to profoundly reshape the very mechanisms through which academic knowledge circulates, in a context in which far too much high-quality book-length scholarship remains widely inaccessible.
A core principle of the Open Book Futures project is that this situation can only be successfully addressed collaboratively. I am therefore so pleased to be able to bring together such a talented group of scholars, librarians, publishers, infrastructure providers and advocacy groups with the skills to deliver the new technical infrastructures and ways of working that can respond to the many and varied needs of a global scholarly community.
Partners joining Lancaster University in the Consortium include: Birkbeck, University of London, Coventry University, Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB), Jisc, Loughborough University, Open Book Collective (OBC), Open Book Publishers (OBP), punctum books, Thoth and Trinity College, Cambridge University. They will be joined by a wide range of additional partners who will support the project’s work, including Continental Platform/University of Cape Town, the Curtin Open Knowledge Initiative (COKI), the Digital Preservation Coalition, the Educopia Institute, Knowledge Futures, LYRASIS, OPERAS, Public Knowledge Project (PKP), Research Libraries UK (RLUK), SciELO Books, Scottish Universities Press/SCURL, and SPARC Europe. The project is also supported by Lancaster University Library
Arcadia is a charitable foundation that works to protect nature, preserve cultural heritage and promote open access to knowledge. Since 2002 Arcadia has awarded more than $1 billion to organisations around the world.