The Big Ten Academic Alliance and University Press Partners Announce the Big Ten Open Books First Collection

August 1, 2023

August 1, 2023, Champaign, IL — In partnership with six member university presses, the University Librarians of the Big Ten Academic Alliance announce the launch of the Big Ten Open Books project, a collaboration between the university presses and libraries of the Big Ten Academic Alliance.

The first 100-title collection centered on Gender and Sexuality studies is now published. The works included in the collection have all been previously published in print by the partnering university presses and are now being made openly available in digital form to read and reuse at no cost. Each title has undergone a rigorous selection and quality certification process that allows readers and users of this collection to trust the veracity of the content. The University of Wisconsin Press provided 24 of the 100 first titles. 

“Apart from creating this significant initial collection, the project has created a framework for ongoing collaborative action among BTAA libraries and presses to select, convert, and host accessible Open Access books produced by our campuses,” said Peter Gorman, Director of Digital Library and Preservation Strategy. “This furthers the mission of the BTAA BIG Collection and UW-Madison by creating a sustainable infrastructure for providing open and equitable access to information.”

The Big Ten Open Books first collection brings to the reader a wide variety of materials in arts, humanities, and social science disciplines that are centered on gender and sexuality themes. The collection’s impact will be seen through its broad sharing of knowledge and high-quality scholarship. Big Ten Open Books creates ebook collections that aspire to the highest standards of discoverability, accessibility, durability, and flexibility. In addition to the sponsors, a working group consisted of BTAA library and press representatives for each of four areas: Strategy, Rights and Permissions, Finances, and Conversion and Production.

This collection has established a distinctive model for unified, open-access publishing of scholarly monographs. It creates open content that is immediately and universally available, on open infrastructure, Fulcrum, hosted by the University of Michigan, using open distribution models (including Project MUSE, JSTOR, and OAPEN) to envision a robust programmatic future for open monograph publishing. This work is aligned with the Big Ten Academic Alliance’s development of the BIG Collection’s ambition of uniting the collections of the libraries of the Big Ten Academic Alliance, and is supported by the Mellon Foundation’s Public Knowledge program. The partner presses are Indiana University Press, Michigan State University Press, Northwestern University Press, Purdue University Press, University of Michigan Press, and University of Wisconsin Press.

With one exception, every university in the BTAA has a university press. When the Big Collection was first announced, UW Press Director Dennis Lloyd joined in conversations with other Big Ten presses and their corresponding libraries. “When these conversations expanded to include library directors and collections officers, we began actively seeking concrete ways to build partnerships that highlighted the not-always-overlapping strengths and talents of both presses and libraries within the BTAA,” said Lloyd. “As the idea for this pilot project emerged and coalesced, we recognized the opportunity to play a major role in supplying content for the collection – and in identifying processes and pain points in converting the existing backlist to new OA editions, particularly navigating contractual issues and author involvement. Given that this is the largest single OA effort yet undertaken by UW Press, we are excited to finally be an active participant in making our books available to as wide a readership as possible.”

The Big Ten Academic Alliance continues its advocacy for a sustainable and open ecosystem of publication. Collectively, our institutions’ more than 50,000 faculty are supported by over $11 billion in research funding, and our institutions have invested significantly in our capacity to further the research mission by advancing public knowledge through open publishing. Together, we produce roughly 15% of the research publications in the United States.

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About the Big Ten Academic Alliance

The Big Ten Academic Alliance is the nation’s preeminent model for effective collaboration among research universities. For more than half a century, these world-class institutions have advanced their academic missions, generated unique opportunities for students and faculty, and served the common good by sharing expertise, leveraging campus resources, and collaborating on innovative programs. Governed and funded by the provosts of the member universities, Big Ten Academic Alliance mandates are coordinated by a staff from its Champaign, Illinois headquarters. The fifteen world-class libraries of the Big Ten Academic Alliance members include Indiana University, Michigan State University, Northwestern University, Ohio State University, Pennsylvania State University, Purdue University, Rutgers University–New Brunswick, University of Illinois, University of Iowa, University of Maryland, University of Michigan, University of Minnesota, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, University of Wisconsin–Madison, and the University of Chicago.