The Open Library of Humanities (OLH)

A Consortial Funding Model for Diamond Open Access



Diamond OA, Scholar-led, community-owned scholarly publishing, humanities open access


The Open Library of Humanities (OLH) is an award-winning publisher of humanities scholarship based at Birkbeck, University of London. We play a leading role within a growing ecosystem of scholar-led digital publishing, that combines cutting-edge technology with community governance and not-for-profit principles. This has become known as diamond open access.

The OLH was originally launched as an international network of scholars, librarians, programmers, and publishers in 2013 by Professor Martin Eve and Dr Caroline Edwards. By 2015 this had become a scholar-led publishing organisation advocating for a not-for-profit alternative to corporate publishers who were providing open access by passing the cost of publication onto authors as a way of recouping lost subscriptions. Too often publishing companies profit from scholarship and editorial labour, whilst university and library budgets are squeezed. OLH was built around the passionately held belief that academic research should be made available to anyone with an internet connection – without passing the cost of publishing onto authors.

With initial funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and subsequent support from Arcadia – a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Professor Peter Baldwin – OLH covers its costs by payments from an international library consortium rather than author fees, demonstrating that a model for high-quality open access publishing without article processing charges (APCs) is possible and sustainable in the long term. Each library member pays a relatively small amount of money so that collectively we can cover the costs of publication and grow our range of academic journals at a sustainable rate. Lots of libraries, each paying a small amount into a collective pool of funds, make our model work. Thanks to the support of our members, the OLH has expanded from 99 supporting institutions and 7 journals in 2015 to more than 340 supporting institutions and 28 journals in 2023.

The APC-centred model poorly serves the humanities, authors from the global south, and smaller or less research-intensive institutions, because of the lack of funding at these places and areas of research. Our funding model enables a worldwide network of partner libraries to challenge the costs of commercial open access publishing.  From the beginning, we understood that addressing these inequalities would require independence from commercial platforms, so in 2017 we also began building our own open-source publishing platform, Janeway, and began providing hosting services to make it easier for other library publishers to use it. In December 2021 we were thrilled to announce the final transition of our journals from their previous publication service provider to our in-house Janeway platform run by our software development team. 

OLH mission is to support and extend open access to scholarship in the humanities – for free, for everyone, for ever. 

Author Biography

Paula Clemente Vega, Open Library of Humanities

Paula Clemente Vega is the Marketing Officer for the Open Library of Humanities where she is in charge of OLH memberships and of increasing the visibility of the OLH through outreach, marketing and advocacy. She is a doctoral candidate in arts and humanities at Birkbeck, University of London and a co-editor of the Open Library of the Humanities journal special collection "Colonialities in Dispute: Discourses on Colonialism and Race in the Spanish State".



How to Cite

Clemente Vega, P. (2023). The Open Library of Humanities (OLH) : A Consortial Funding Model for Diamond Open Access. Septentrio Conference Series, (1). Retrieved from