NEW YORK UNIVERSITY TO BE PROJECT COORDINATOR The American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) will receive $3 million from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to assist scholars to collaborate with university presses in the electronic publishing of monographs in history.
The new project has five major goals: (1) to foster broader acceptance by the scholarly community of electronic monograph-length texts as valid scholarly publication, by creating electronic texts of high quality in the discipline of history; (2) to promote collaboration among ACLS, its constituent societies, university presses, and libraries in electronic publishing; (3) to create the framework for a centralized, non-commercial, electronic publication space; (4) to develop publishing processes that will help streamline production and make the creation and dissemination of electronic texts more cost-effective; and (5) to establish the viability of publishing small-market, specialized texts in electronic format.
The seven university presses joining this effort are: Columbia University Press, Harvard University Press, Johns Hopkins University Press, New York University Press, Oxford University Press, Rutgers University Press, and the University of Michigan Press. As project coordinator, NYU Press will provide a home for the project’s administrative office, and Carol Mandel, dean of the NYU Libraries and publisher of the NYU Press, will advise as the project goes forward. Dean Mandel, formerly associate dean of libraries at Columbia University, helped to develop the Columbia Online Books Evaluation Project. Carlton Rochell, her predecessor as Dean at NYU, worked closely with ACLS in the design of this project.
“Among several important objectives driving this exciting new experiment, two stand out,” said ACLS President John H. D’Arms. “First, although we are confident that the printed book will long remain fundamental to scholarly communication, we believe the ACLS should, in collaboration with university presses and libraries, promote more rapid development of electronic publication for monograph-length texts of high quality, and accelerate the involvement of our member societies in the evolution of electronic scholarly communications. The humanities and related social sciences have been slower than other fields to embrace scholarly applications of information technology in organized and systematic ways, particularly as regards book-length studies. Second, many believe that the field of history offers a fertile test bed for electronic scholarship, since historians always need to determine the optimal relationship between narrative (text) and supporting date (notes), and the electronic environment offers opportunities to reconceptualize this relationship in fresh and potentially very exciting ways. We are extremely grateful to The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for sharing our enthusiasm for this initiative.”
The new program will over five years publish and market 85 new electronic books and convert 500 influential backlist titles to digital form. “While a major aim is to establish an electronic publishing program that is responsive to scholars’ evolving needs, the program, at the same time, must prove to be viable economically,” said D’Arms.
The ACLS constituent societies initially involved in this project are: the American Historical Association, the Organization of American Historians, the Society for the History of Technology, the Middle East Studies Association, and the Renaissance Society of America. The new ACLS project will cooperate with the American Historical Association’s Gutenberg-e project that provides prizes to develop dissertations into electronic monographs.
The University of Michigan’s Digital Library Production Service (DLPS) will function as an initial distributor for the electronic publications in this series.