In a recent webinar hosted by Library Journal and JSTOR, we assessed the potential of the Path to Open initiative—a collaborative, community-driven funding model aimed at making high-quality academic monographs openly accessible, developed in partnership with the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS), University of Michigan Press, and The University of North Carolina Press

Here, we summarize the key points discussed, updates shared, and future directions highlighted during the session.

A commitment to open access

Rebecca Seger, Vice President of Institutional Participation and Strategic Partnerships at JSTOR, opened the webinar by emphasizing JSTOR’s mission to serve the academic community by ensuring equitable access to scholarly content. She underscored the necessity for sustainable models that support open access (OA) publishing, particularly for humanities and social sciences, fields that often face funding constraints.

The Path to Open model

The Path to Open initiative is designed to publish high-quality ebooks that participating libraries can access for the first three years after publication before they are released broadly as open access. This model addresses several critical challenges:

  • Sustainability: Ensuring publishers can recover costs within the first three years of publication, a period during which most monographs achieve 90% of their lifetime sales.
  • Accessibility: After three years, the titles are made openly accessible, ensuring a wider reach and greater impact for scholarly works.
  • Equity: The program aims to reduce financial risks for scholarly publishers while expanding the impact of authors.

Publisher perspectives

Publishers from various university presses shared their experiences with Path to Open:

  • Jenny Collinson from Liverpool University Press highlighted the press’s commitment to open access and how Path to Open provides a scalable solution for OA publishing, allowing smaller presses to participate in a sustainable way.
  • Mary Dougherty of the University of Massachusetts Press discussed how the program helps them manage risk while expanding their reach and learning how to integrate OA into their workflow more effectively.
  • Tony Sanfilippo from Ohio State University Press shared insights on their long-standing commitment to OA and how Path to Open aligns with their mission to disseminate scholarly work broadly.

Library and community engagement

Kate McCready from the Big 10 Academic Alliance emphasized the consortium’s support for Path to Open, noting that it aligns with their goal of advancing a sustainable open knowledge ecosystem. The initiative provides a practical and scalable solution for libraries to invest in OA while supporting university presses.

Sarah McKee from the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) introduced the Path to Open Community Advisory Committee, which brings together scholars, publishers, and librarians to support the initiative’s development and ensure it meets the needs of all stakeholders.

Future directions

As Path to Open progresses, JSTOR and its partners are committed to continuous learning and adaptation. The pilot aims to refine the model based on feedback from the community, ensuring it remains a viable and effective solution for open access publishing. We encourage all interested parties to join us on this journey. By working together, we can create a sustainable future for scholarly publishing that maximizes the reach and impact of academic research.

For those who missed the live session, the webinar recording is available on-demand. We look forward to your participation and feedback as we continue to explore innovative pathways to open access.

Stay tuned for more updates and opportunities to engage with the Path to Open pilot program. Together, we can make a significant impact on the future of scholarly communications.