Humanities Open Book Program Supports Out of Print Book Digitizing

Wesleyan recently received a $100,000 grant through the Humanities Open Book Program for digitizing select titles in the areas of dance and theater that were previously published by Wesleyan University Press but are no longer in print.

The Open Book Program is sponsored by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and National Endowment for the Humanities, and is part of the agency-wide initiative called The Common Good: The Humanities in the Public Square. The purpose of the Open Book grant is to make out-of-print titles previously published by academic presses widely available in an open access (free) e-book format.

The NEH grant proposal, coordinated by Betsy McCormick, associate director of corporate, foundation and government grants, was a collaborative effort with Suzanna Tamminen, director of Wesleyan University Press; Diane Klare, interim university librarian; Susanne Javorski, art librarian; Alec McLane, music librarian; and Francesca Livermore, digital projects librarian, that began in late April 2015. At that time, based on the scope of the grant, the team met to determine how to best gather titles for consideration. With Tamminen’s assistance, Javorski and McLane contacted the faculty chairs in the theater and dance departments respectively to determine which out-of-print Wesleyan University titles published by Wesleyan University Press the faculty would consider to be core, foundational titles in those two areas of scholarship.

“Wesleyan is well-known for its arts programs in theater and dance, so the decision to focus on those areas within the wide range of Wesleyan University Press titles that were possible choices enabled the committee to select titles still in continued demand in those two disciplines, even though they are no longer available for purchase,” Klare said.

Ultimately, 18 titles were selected to submit with the application. The grant funds will be used to digitize these books and make them available via a Creative Commons License with the purpose of enhancing the role and demonstrating the significance of the arts and humanities in public life as well as in scholarship.

“With increasing focus on digital humanities in the arts, the ability to offer these Wesleyan University Press books openly will increase their reach to new readers, teachers, and students, allowing for new intellectual pursuits as well as provide additional insight into the role these works have played in sculpting society on a global scale,” Klare said.

The books will be digitized in a format that will be compatible with any e-reading device, ensuring their broad dissemination. Over the next year, the work on digitizing these titles will commence, with a target date of completion and online availability by sometime in 2017.

(This article was originally printed in the Spring-Summer edition of Check it Out, a publication from Wesleyan University Libraries, and written by Diane Klare.)