Open Library of Humanities + MIT Humanities fields

Colleen Cressman
October 18, 2015

With a strong OA policy and richly populated Open Access Articles Collection in DSpace@MIT, MIT has been a key player in the open access movement. More than forty percent of faculty-authored scholarship (since the adoption of the OA policy) has been deposited into the collection – no small feat! As MIT is a world-renown leader in STEM education and research, it is of course no surprise that the OAC is made up of mostly STEM articles, which are valuable to readers all across the globe. (I won’t spend too much time touting the benefits of open access since the Task Force is sure to know all about it!)

The problem:

Most of the content in DSpace@MIT is green OA, which restricts re-use, principally. Publishers also set other limitations, which impede the sharing of research, namely: embargo periods and restrictions on which versions of an article may be deposited. (Still other limitations are those that hamper accessibility for readers with dyslexia and visual impairments or blindness. Inaccessible texts are not strictly due to green OA, of course, but I do think green OA is less conducive to accessibility compared with gold OA.)

Where can MIT Libraries go from here?

I would like to bring the Open Library of Humanities (OLH) to the attention of this Task Force because MIT, too, is a leader in humanities fields. I think there is a tremendous opportunity for MIT to bring more open-access humanities scholarship to the world by participating in open-access journal publishing (gold OA).

Specifically, I hope to bring awareness of OLH's institution-subsidized, non-APC publishing model. Finally, a viable alternative to traditional publishing has emerged. Because OLH is a platform for gold OA journals, it is important to point out that authors (1) retain copyright to their published work and (2) make the work open access under Creative Commons licenses. Moreover, (1-2) are accomplished (3) without any processing charges to authors for publishing. In fact, OLH is a not-for-profit consortium which is made up of institutions across the globe, all of which help share the costs of returning the publisher to the library in order to publish gold OA journals in the humanities.

In the area, Brandeis, Tufts and Harvard have already joined. The more institutions that join OLH, the stronger open access in the humanities stands to become.

More information about the OLH can be found here:

For a list of other institutions that have joined, see here:

Why do you care about library spaces, collections, and services?: 

I care about library spaces, collections, and services for three reasons. First, I think libraries are a public good by providing opportunities for community-building, sharing and preserving resources, culture, scholarship, and more. Second, I view librarians as some of the most important players in open access advocacy and leadership. Third, I am a current employee of MIT who benefits greatly from access to MIT's collection; without such access, I would not be able to do my job as well.

(Disclosure: I am also a library student with strong interests in open access, especially in the humanities, metadata and accessibility. So, for me, caring about libraries is a given!)


Kai von Fintel on October 27, 2015

I strongly support this.

Colleen Cressman on January 29, 2016

Great, Chris Bourg confirmed that MIT has joined today at the Open Forum for the Future of Libraries. Here's a link: