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Ursinus Joins Top Liberal Arts Colleges in Academic Press Venture

Ursinus College has joined a group of 40 prestigious liberal arts colleges that will establish a new, open access, scholarly press and ensure a wider audience for published scholars.

The new Lever Press establishes liberal arts colleges as players in academic publishing, which has mostly been in the purview of commercial publishers and large presses. Of the 140 members of the Association of American University Presses, 138 are situated at major research universities.

Lever Press, a collaborative, open-access scholarly publishing enterprise, will allow the group to combine resources to produce, share and preserve scholarship. 

The new partnership will help solve some of the challenges associated with publishing academic research. “For over a decade, the environment for scholarly communications – creating new knowledge through academic research and disseminating it to others through professional publications – has grown increasingly out of balance because of the market power of a shrinking number of publishers with extraordinary market power,” explained Ursinus Chief Information Officer Gene Spencer. “The new Lever Press is designed to help change those dynamics as an open access publisher of monographs particularly well-aligned to the mission and ethos of liberal arts colleges such as Ursinus.”

The initiative grew out of a year-long discussion within the Oberlin Group, 80 libraries connected to the country’s top liberal arts colleges including Middlebury, Smith, Bowdoin, Haverford, Kenyon, Swarthmore, Vassar, Williams, Oberlin, Bucknell, and others. Thirty-eight members of that group, plus Ursinus and Allegheny colleges, have committed to form and fund the Lever Press. The group will work with Amherst College Press and Michigan Publishing as partners for the launch of Lever Press. The name is inspired by Archimedes’ quote, “Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.”

“We believe that it is critical for the college to support open-access publishing initiatives,” said Spencer, “and being a charter member of the Lever Press not only does that, but gives us an opportunity to be a leader in a novel venture for publishing scholarly works and using advances in technology that allow us to ‘go beyond the book.’”