RLI 287  22 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC 2015 Alternative Funding Strategies Over the past 20 years a number of alternative funding and sales strategies have been advanced to produce long-form scholarship. Part of the monograph crisis was and is exacerbated by the distribution of portions of or entire digitized texts, often under fair use for students and scholars, but also through unauthorized (and arguably illegal) channels to the general public. Some contend that unauthorized electronic distribution further reduces sales, others that it diminishes the use of libraries and specialized efforts of curators including librarians. Alternative funding strategies have been advanced to help promote the timely release of research, especially of scientific works through journals and conference proceedings, but increasingly for humanities and social science scholarship to help many early-career scholars who have a more difficult challenge in publishing their first books. In 1995 Sanford Thatcher offered a number of proposals to change the financing of scholarly monographs, the most radical was for universities to “consider a joint scheme to cover all the up-front costs of publishing in fields with low sales.”27 Thatcher was concerned that support for scholarly monographs would be forced to shift away from the university toward the scholarly societies in 1997 the MLA began fulfilling this expectation when it recommended that departments support their faculty better because subventions had become a common factor in academic publishing and that university administrations might wish to consider subvention funds as a source of such support.28 By 2002 the AHA joined the MLA in speaking out against the difficulty of publishing first books and suggested actual dollar amounts for subvention support.29 In 2015 these discussions seem to have run through a number of options and returned to their origins. The AAU/ARL Task Force, formed in 2012, developed a First Book Prospectus in 2014 that described a system whereby universities agree to pay a subvention for the first book of new tenure track scholars— the 1% solution30—as part of the newly hired scholar’s start-up package. In early 2015 the prospectus shifted its focus more toward supporting a digital monograph (long-form argument) for faculty, but not necessarily restricted to the first book. Since 2014 Rebecca Kennison and Lisa Norberg have thrown their efforts into growing the Open Access Network as a solution to convert traditional print and subscription publications, including those of academic journals, books, and monographs to OA by having all institutes of higher education pay a scaled amount (annually or over a period of years) into a centrally managed fund. The Mellon Foundation also developed and circulated an option in 2014 to help institutions of higher education ramp up a system to fund faculty publications using Mellon grants to fund the shift. This “seed fund” plan experienced a great deal of pushback from humanities faculty, and was revised in late 2014 to concentrate instead on growing the digital publishing infrastructure of North American university presses. Carl Straumsheim provided an overview of Mellon’s initiative for Inside Higher Ed and eight of the grant recipients presented lightning talks about their projects at the June 2015 Association of American University Presses meeting in Denver, including: the University of California Press and California Digital Library the University of Michigan Press and partners the University of Minnesota Press and CUNY Graduate Center Digital Scholarship Lab New York University (NYU) Press and NYU Libraries the University of North Carolina Press Stanford University Press West Virginia Press and Yale University Press. Many of these projects are experimenting with integrating features, data sources, and interactivity that exceed the early goals of the AAU/ARL Task Force, the Mellon Foundation, and others
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