Purple and pink gradient background with white text Path to Open Community Advisory Committee Guiding the Development of a New Open Access Book Publishing Model


The American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) is pleased to announce the establishment of the Path to Open Community Advisory Committee. Engaged members of the scholar, library, and publishing communities have been invited by ACLS to participate in this independent group. The committee will work alongside JSTOR in further developing Path to Open as a model for open access book publication that centers bibliodiversity, equity, sustainability, and transparency.

Path to Open is a community-based pilot developed through conversations and focus groups, convened by ACLS, with libraries, presses, and scholars. Hosted by JSTOR, the pilot is designed to test a new funding model for open access monographs. Path to Open aims to make one thousand scholarly books—across humanistic disciplines and from a diverse group of university presses—freely available to readers around the world. The first 100 Path to Open titles were released in October 2023, and an additional 300 titles per year will be added to the collection through 2026. Supporting libraries may access Path to Open books immediately, and each title transitions to open access after three years.  

The Community Advisory Committee, formed with guidance from the Educopia Institute, provides an important forum for dialogue and problem-solving to benefit all participants in the open access book ecosystem. Committee members will advise on priorities and goals for Path to Open, engage with other open access initiatives to encourage shared learning, and foster understanding among scholars and administrators about the value of this model for open access publishing. The committee welcomes input and will facilitate conversations among the wider library, publishing, and scholarly communities in the coming year.

“Scholarship in the humanities requires enormous investment: from the scholars who spend years exploring questions of culture and meaning, from the institutions of higher education who support them, and from the wider society that subsidizes higher education as a public good,” said James Shulman, ACLS Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. “Path to Open helps to repay these investments by widening access to humanistic knowledge. The pilot supports publishers while reaching wide swaths of readers on JSTOR, and soon makes these books free and open to anyone with internet access. Scholars want for their books to be read and to matter; convening this advisory committee is a key step in ensuring that various segments of the scholarly community are working together in conscientious ways to make this happen.”

The 2024 committee is co-chaired by Sarah McKee, ACLS Project Manager, Amplifying Humanistic Scholarship, and Holly Mercer, Senior Associate Dean and Professor at the University of Tennessee Libraries. Inaugural committee members include:

  • Alison Bradley, Director of Strategic Initiatives, Partnership for Academic Library Collaboration and Innovation (PALCI)
  • Catherine Cocks, Director, Syracuse University Press
  • Danielle Fosler-Lussier, Professor of Music, The Ohio State University
  • Kate McCready, Visiting Program Officer, Big Ten Academic Alliance (BTAA)
  • Tony Sanfilippo, Director, The Ohio State University Press
  • John Sherer, Spangler Family Director, University of North Carolina Press

Unlike other open access publishing models, Path to Open does not require book processing fees or subventions from authors. It provides publishers an immediate $5,000 per title to help offset publication costs and offers an open access infrastructure on the JSTOR platform, including reports on usage metrics. Libraries of all sizes can participate via a sliding fee scale while also investing in open humanistic scholarship from a range of university presses.

“Path to Open was developed in collaboration with publishers, authors, and libraries to address the challenges that exist in establishing a sustainable model to support open access e-book publishing,” says John Lenahan, Vice President, Published Content at JSTOR. “The goal of Path to Open is not just to support making a certain number of e-books open access, but with the guidance of the community, establishing a new, equitable, and sustainable model that changes how e-books are acquired and accessed around the world.”