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Monday, January 18, 2016

Liberal Arts Group Starts Academic Press

Faculty members from liberal arts schools now have a new and easier way to publish research material. Lever Press, an initiative from liberal arts colleges that make up the Oberlin Group, was launched to provide scholars who feel “disenfranchised” by large publishing firms with an outlet to make their work available.

“This is all about libraries thinking about scholarly communication in a new way and putting their money where their mouths are,” Charles T. Watkinson, director of the University of Michigan Press and associate university librarian for publishing, said in an article for Inside Higher Education.

The Lever Initiative conducted a faculty survey in 2013 that showed little satisfaction with options in the publishing market. That information led the Oberlin Group to begin work on establishing the publishing enterprise.

Amherst College Press was selected for the project because of its expertise as a digital-first, open-access publisher and will head the editorial side of the venture. Michigan Publishing, a division of the University of Michigan Library, was selected for its knowledge in distribution, publishing platforms, and other technical areas.

Nearly half of the 80 members that make up the Oberlin Group have pledged more than $1 million to fund the press, which plans to publish 60 titles over the next five years.

“Those of us who are supporting this would like to see a serious systemwide transformation of scholarly publishing,” said Bryn I. Geffert, librarian at Amherst College. “If liberal arts institutions are serious about that, they have to put some skin in the game.”

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