Duke U. Press to make backlist available via HathiTrust

As many as a thousand titles from the backlist of Duke University Press will be made available via HathiTrust, in a deal announced between the two and in cooperation with Google. Like most university presses, Duke doesn’t have the resources to digitize its entire backfile itself, but will leverage the digitization capabilities of Google and the repository infrastructure of HathiTrust. Duke’s expenses will be in the area of attempting to locate all copyright holders and obtain their permission to have their books digitized and made available under a Creative Commons noncommercial license. In return, Duke will obtain digitized files of all the books that have already been scanned by Google and/or are already available in HathiTrust.

Making money is not the goal of the project, according to Steve Cohn, the press’s director; there is very little demand for most academic titles that are more than a decade old. Instead, the project is a way to archive the scholarly content and make it more widely available, Cohn says. A print-on-demand option will be made available, with Google’s blessing, for those who discover the content online and wish to have a print copy. “We very much support Duke getting them to extend their archive and make scholarly uses” of that material, according to Tom Turvey, Director of Strategic Partnerships at Google. Google will benefit by having Duke assume the burden of rights clearances and legal liability.

For its part, HathiTrust has been seeking “a framework for university presses to open up materials in ways that are sympathetic to what they’re trying to do—both protect their bottom line and disseminate scholarly information,” according to John Wilkin, its Executive Director. Both he and Mr. Cohn believe that the Duke-HathiTrust partnership should prove to be a workable model for other presses.

Adapted from a story by Jennifer Howard published in the Chronicle of Higher Education on September 12, 2011.