Indiana University partnered with five other universities in the Big Ten Academic Alliance to form the Big Ten Open Books project, an online, open-access library containing collections of articles, scholarly monographs, novels and other literary works previously inaccessible to the public.
In August, Big Ten Open Books — made up of IU Press, Northwestern University Press, Michigan State Press, Purdue University Press, University of Wisconsin Press and University of Michigan Press — published its first collection consisting of 100 titles related to gender and sexuality studies. These works were uploaded to the Big Ten Open Books project website, which will be continually updated with various thematic collections and titles.
“An inevitable but unfortunate consequence of publishing is books continually go out of print as sales decrease, so authors over the years are silenced for new generations of readers, including students,” Gary Dunham, director of IU press and digital publishing, said.
The project allows scholars and students inside and outside the donor universities to read works that were previously expensive to access or exclusively available in print form. According to IU Press, other libraries nationwide can also add the works to their own collections through online distribution platforms. These titles will never expire or be hidden behind any sort of paywall.
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Michael Regoli, director of publishing operations at IU Press, said he hopes making these titles accessible to students and faculty will limit the costs of books and materials.
“The BTAA Open Books project offers a valuable corrective to this situation by bringing high-quality, out-of-print books in the humanities to the widest possible audience of readers,” Regoli said.
According to the BTAA, this initiative furthers the BIG Collection, a parent effort among all schools in the Alliance to compile and preserve the collections of all Big Ten libraries and shift the framework of collections from local, university-based availability to a universal network.
In the summer of 2022, IU Press released a collection titled “Open Indiana,” which consisted of almost 200 titles on varying humanities interests such as folklore, semiotics, linguistics and philosophy. This project was a part of the Humanities Open Book Program, an initiative founded in 2016 by the National Endowment for the Humanities to make out-of-print books in the humanities accessible to scholars and students.
“It greatly helps with the freedom and access of knowledge,” Alex Lambert, an IU junior studying linguistics and philosophy, said. “I’m already paying tuition, so free access to bodies of literature on the subjects I enjoy should be included in that, especially from a university that promotes individual learning and intellectual exploration.”
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misstated the creator of "Open Indiana" collection.