The University of Illinois Press Signs Agreement with JSTOR
What follows is a press release circulated today. This is a big deal in that it shows JSTOR continuing to move aggressively into the space occupied by ProjectMUSE. I appreciate the scale work that JSTOR is doing and that it is a not-for-profit effort in support of other not-for-profit efforts, but I am concerned about the ways that JSTOR/ITHAKA represents a growing consolidation of voices and resources. I am not convinced that JSTOR/ITHAKA hegemony is in our collective interests. I certainly think that the ITHAKA-JSTOR merger itself undermined any claim that ITHAKA had been able to make about being a neutral but interested party in scholarly communications research and consulting. This agreement is of special interest to disciplines (like my own) that are represented on the Illinois journal list or journal co-publishing list. One wonders what form the blessing from UI librarians, discussed in the release, took.
The University of Illinois Press signs agreement with JSTOR, joining a new effort to improve access to current scholarship for faculty, students, and librarians.
October 27, 2009 – Champaign, IL and New York, NY –The University of Illinois Press, the not-for-profit publishing division of the University of Illinois, and JSTOR, the preservation archive and research platform that is part of the not-for-profit ITHAKA, announced an agreement today to make leading journals from the Press available worldwide as part of the Current Scholarship Program.
The Current Scholarship Program is a new collaboration initiated by University of California Press and JSTOR and first announced on August 13, 2009. Together, participants in this Program aim to create an improved online work environment for faculty and students by bringing complete journal runs from multiple publishers together in one place, to ease the burden on librarians of negotiating separate license agreements with a multitude of publishers and independent titles, and to promote a more cost-effective publishing environment for the scholarly community.
“For the last several years the University of Illinois Press and JSTOR have worked together through the History Cooperative, building strong ties of respect and trust,” said Willis G. Regier, Director of the University of Illinois Press. “We take this step with the blessings of our colleagues in the University of Illinois Library and with high anticipation for our journals.”Current and historical content from at least ten University of Illinois Press-published journals will be available on a re-designed JSTOR in 2011. This will offer faculty and students around the world access to current issues alongside back issues and a growing set of primary source materials from libraries easily and seamlessly. JSTOR’s nearly 6,000 library participants worldwide will be able to license the Press’s current journals, either individually or as part of current issue collections, together with JSTOR back issue collections in a single transaction. University of Illinois Press-published journals available as part of the Program will include American Journal of Psychology, American Music, Journal of Aesthetic Education, and Journal of American Ethnic History among others. The journals will also be preserved in Portico, the digital preservation service that is also part of ITHAKA.
“The University of Illinois Press has been a leader in promoting digital scholarship, innovation, and new publishing collaborations in the humanities,” said Michael Spinella, JSTOR Managing Director. “The Press not only shares our aim to deliver excellent scholarship at good value to libraries, faculty, and students, but brings a spirit of cooperation and a strong desire to support new forms of scholarship using digital technology. We are thrilled to be working with them to advance scholarship through the Program.”
With the addition of the University of Illinois Press, the current issues of at least forty journals will be available from JSTOR for the 2011 subscription year. Other organizations are being encouraged to join the Program.
Rebecca Simon, Associate Director of University of California Press and Director of Journals + Digital Publishing added, “It is terrific that the University of Illinois Press is joining this effort and bringing their fine portfolio of titles to the Program. The more like-minded participants we have, the greater the benefits we are able to deliver to libraries and to users.”
For more information, see http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/programs/currentScholarship.jsp.
JSTOR (www.jstor.org) is a preservation archive and research platform for the academic community. Through JSTOR, faculty, researchers, and students are able to discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive of over 1,000 academic journals, as well as conference proceedings, monographs, and other scholarly content. Nearly 6,000 libraries and cultural heritage institutions and hundreds of the world’s leading publishers of scholarly literature participate in and support JSTOR. JSTOR is part of ITHAKA (www.ithaka.org), a not-for-profit organization helping the academic community use digital technologies to advance scholarship and teaching in sustainable ways. ITHAKA also includes two additional services – Ithaka S+R and Portico.
University of Illinois Press
Founded in 1918, the University of Illinois Press (www.press.uillinois.edu) ranks as one of the country’s larger and most distinguished university presses. The Press publishes more than 120 new books and 36 scholarly journals each year in an array of subjects including American history, labor history, sports history, folklore, food, film, American music, American religion, African American studies, women’s studies, and Abraham Lincoln. The Press is a founding member of the Association of American University Presses as well as the History Cooperative, an online collection of more than 20 history journals.
This is an important set of questions worthy of discussion and I appreciate very much the opportunity to engage in a conversation about them.
Thank you for including the reference to ITHAKA’s not-for-profit status and our mission to serve a shared community. That is a fundamental aspect of who we are and an important insight into our incentives as an organization. We are not at all motivated by a desire to move into a space occupied by ProjectMUSE or any other provider, not-for-profit or commercial. We have been encouraged by scholars, students, librarians, editors from across the spectrum, societies and university presses to add more currency to the JSTOR platform. This step offers benefits to researchers and students, to librarians and content owners. That is what is motivating this initiative. With the economies of scale that come with disseminating knowledge on the network, there is considerable consolidation happening and we believe we can help offer a valuable mission-based alternative. Our work is non-exclusive and with the diversity of disciplines and scholarly activity in the world, we are confident that many enterprises will be engaged in these activities, will continue to thrive, and that we will all motivate one another to do more and better to benefit the academic community.
I also understand and respect your point about the potential conflicts that might arise by ITHAKA providing both research and strategic services (Ithaka S+R) and an operating platform (JSTOR). We are transparent about the relationship between these activities, and maintain organizational separation between them. Confidentiality agreements are adhered to strictly where and when they are necessary. ITHAKA endeavors to serve as a catalyst to help the academic community make the transition to digital dissemination of knowledge in ways that preserves important values and capabilities. We therefore do work in Ithaka S+R that would never reside on the JSTOR access platform. And of course engage in work on JSTOR that doesn’t intersect with that of Ithaka S+R. At this point, we believe we are a more successful catalyst by offering both types of services at either end of this spectrum.
We are less than one year into the merger. Ithaka S+R has published a series of significant studies already this year, on sustainability, on the transition of print to digital materials and the impact on paper collections, and soon a paper on government documents. I hope you and others in the community will judge us based on the quality of our work more than our organization structure. I can only assure you that our motivations are in the right place. But of course that is not enough. You and the community can and will judge us by the work we do and whether it demonstrates neutrality or bias, whether it helps the community or serves organizational self-interest. It is our mission and goal to measure up to that scrutiny.