Johns Hopkins University Press is giving out-of-print books new life - Baltimore


May 7, 2018 8:26 am

Johns Hopkins University Press is giving out-of-print books new life

With nearly 25-year-old Project MUSE, the JHU Press is a big player in the move to make scholarly articles available digitally. Now it's moving to increase open access.
JHU Press’ Project MUSE is putting books online.

JHU Press' Project MUSE is putting books online.

(Photo by Flickr user Brenda Clarke, used under Creative Commons license)

John Hopkins University Press’ Project MUSE is working to open up access to scholarly works, and some of its own out-of-print books.

In 2016, Project MUSE received a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for $938,000 to create an Open Access platform for monographs in the humanities and social sciences. In April, the Johns Hopkins University Press and Johns Hopkins Sheridan Libraries received a $200,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities to digitize over 200 out-of-print scholarly books from its coll

The latest grants are just a portion of the effort to make digital content more widely available for researchers called MUSE Open.

Founded in 1995 and operation as a nonprofit division of the Charles Village–based JHU Press, Project MUSE is an online collection of scholarly books and articles in the humanities and social sciences. It has collaborated with 260 publishers beyond its own walls to amass a collection of full-text scholarly articles and books. The nonprofit offers a subscription to libraries.

MUSE Open is designed to offer publishers a platform to offer open access to content, as well as make it easier to search and use.

Currently, the majority of OA books are strictly served at PDF, but the OA monographs through MUSE Open will deliver a browser-based experience. As a result, publishers can find a more affordable option to host OA content and make it more discoverable.

“Pursuing the grant and the support for open access monographs is a natural fit for MUSE as we have many of the distribution and scale pieces solved by starting with the existing platform,” Wendy Queen, director of Project MUSE, tells Baltimore.

For researchers, publishers, content creators and others, MUSE Open provides a global reach, and hosting OA content expands the reach. The new grant also offers JHU Press a chance to put out-of-print books back into the world, and add up-to-date tools to explore.

“At launch we will be providing many services to OA content; currently we have built all of the downstream activities like MARC records, linking feeds, KBART, Crossref, Portico etc. All of this means supporting discovery, preservation and cataloging needs of libraries and users,” Queen said.


With analytics playing such a big role for content creators and publishers, Project MUSE is taking an iterative approach to developing the analytics.

“Ultimately, the industry will need to define a standard to ensure all platforms delivering OA content use the same metrics to define impact and value,” Queen said. “The first iteration of the OA analytics for MUSE Open will address more basic statistics until those OA standards are defined.”

Currently in beta, the program is expected to be completed by July 2018 with more than 700 Open Access (OA) titles available during the launch.

MUSE will be celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2020 with plans to add references and primary source materials to the MUSE content corpus, along with expansion of services, subject browsing, annotation and experiment with linked data.


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