Making Open Access Book Funding Work Fairly

The Emergence of Library Membership Funding Models for OA Monographs




Open access, Monographs, Sustainable funding, Library collections



In late 2020, COPIM, an Arcadia and Research England funded project, announced an innovative revenue model to sustainably fund open access (OA) monographs: Opening the Future. This initiative harnesses the power of collective library funding: increasing collections through special access to highly-regarded backlists, and expanding the global shared OA collection while providing a less risky path for smaller publishers to make frontlist monographs OA. We introduced this model at the 15th Munin Conference on Scholarly Publishing 2020 but this is no ‘story so far’ conference presentation proposal. Since Opening the Future launched, we’ve seen several other collective library funding models emerge in quick succession, including MIT’s Direct 2 Open, Michigan’s Fund to Mission, and Cambridge University Press’ Flip it Open. In the same year, the UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) new policy was announced, and it included OA requirements for monographs. The landscape is clearly changing rapidly - in this presentation we will appraise our model in the context of this changing environment.

The programme has had success since its launch. Within a few months the first publisher to adopt the model, CEU Press, had accrued enough library support to fund their first three OA monographs. Soon thereafter the initiative was recognised by the publishing community and nominated for an ALPSP Award for Innovation in Publishing. And the programme is growing; a second well-respected publisher, Liverpool University Press, launched with Opening the Future in June 2021. The COPIM project has now begun to turn its focus to the thorny problem of scaling up. But herein lies a tension.

OA monograph publishing needs to be sustainable not just for publishers, but also for libraries. Opening the Future was designed to be low-cost and simple, slotting into acquisitions budgets and existing library purchasing workflows. However, as we bring the programme to more university presses and libraries, how do we ensure we are not just adding another circle to the OA labyrinth that libraries are attempting to navigate? How might Opening the Future scale without increasing the administrative and decision-making burden already on collections and scholarly communications teams, who are already picking through a tangle of transformative agreements, pay-to-publish deals, author affiliations, and legacy subscriptions? 

In this session, we will engage the audience through these questions, as well as discuss the role of the programme in the wider policy landscape and how it is positioned alongside other emerging OA collective funding initiatives.


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Author Biography

Martin Eve, Birkbeck (University of London)

Martin is Professor of Literature, Technology and Publishing at Birkbeck, University of London. He has appeared before the UK House of Commons Select Committee BIS Inquiry into Open Access, and been a steering-group member of the OAPEN-UK project, the Jisc National Monograph Strategy Group, the SCONUL Strategy Group on Academic Content and Communications, and the HEFCE Open Access Monographs Expert Reference Panel (2014), and the Universities UK OA Monographs Working Group (2016-). Martin is also an Executive Board Officer for punctum books, a Plan S Ambassador, and he co-founded the Open Library of Humanities.



2021-10-18 — Updated on 2021-11-05


How to Cite

Eve, M. (2021). Making Open Access Book Funding Work Fairly: The Emergence of Library Membership Funding Models for OA Monographs. Septentrio Conference Series, (4). (Original work published October 18, 2021)