Knowledge Unlatched is an interesting Open Access initiative, which aims to build a platform to facilitate the cooperation between scholarly authors, publishers and libraries within an Open Access model. Knowledge Unlatched focuses on the key relationship between the publisher and the library. Publishers who agree to issue scholarly books (or ebooks) in the Open Access model would see Knowledge Unlatched bear the fixed costs associated with this process. In turn, the funds required for the project are provided by partner libraries. To achieve this goal Knowledge Unlatched recently launched its Pilot Collection.
What are the characteristics of this program?
“If at least 200 libraries from around the world sign up for the collection by 31 January 2014, 28 new Humanities and Social Sciences books will be made free for anyone in the world to read on an Open Access basis.”
Right now, the Pilot Collection comprises of 28 new books from 13 scholarly publishers, including Bloomsbury Academic, Cambridge University Press and De Gruyter.
To achieve its objective to make these books available in open access, libraries that join the program must pledge a capped maximum of US$1,680. That is about US$60 per book. However, if more libraries join the program, the costs will be reduced. Pledging remains open until 31 January 2014.
You can find more information about the Pilot Collection HERE
The idea, which corresponds with the strategy of Knowledge Unlatched – based upon building a platform of cooperation between publishers, authors and libraries, is an interesting one. Yet, the real question is whether there will be 200 libraries willing to spend money on this program. On the one hand, the amount is not particularly excessive, especially since it can be reduced by the participation of a greater number of libraries. In exchange Knowledge Unlatched guarantees “libraries that participate in the pilot will receive a Knowledge Unlatched membership fee waiver until January 2016, usage data on the collection, and will have the right to participate in Knowledge Unlatched governance through a Collections Committee and a Library Steering Committee.”
However, I think that implementation of this program will require well-prepared marketing and promotional campaigns to convince libraries that it is worth taking part in the program. I will certainly follow the results of this initiative with interest.