KU Spotlight Newsletter: Issue 3

Featured in this issue: KU's early days in Elaine Lambert's account, the Open Research Library, the May-June KU webinar series, the KU Focus Collection 2022: Climate Change and other topical collections: Communication & Media Studies 2022-2024, International Politics 2022 and Verfassungsblog.
KU Spotlight Newsletter: Issue 3

Dear librarians,

Welcome to the June 2021 issue of KU's Newsletter.

Last month, we launched the eighth round of Open Access (OA) funding, which ends on November 30th. Once again, we invite libraries everywhere to pledge their support for the collections and disciplines of their choice. Our website has been updated to include all of the information you need to make a pledge in 2021. And, as always, you may reach out to your KU representative at any time for more insight.

Since 2013, our team of library and publishing professionals has worked hard to facilitate OA publishing of thousands of books and tens of journals. What has made it possible is the continued and growing support from hundreds of libraries worldwide. 

We are thrilled to highlight in this issue some of the collections from our newest brochure. You will notice the content is not only diverse but also timely and relevant for scholarly research and the scholarly community.

In addition to our legacy collection which libraries know well, KU Select Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) Books, we are introducing some brand new partnerships in 2021 with renowned academic publishers and university presses, including University of Michigan Press, Amsterdam University Press, and EDP Sciences, among others.

Our Sales team is currently holding webinars worldwide with the goal of helping you understand fully this year's pledging options. Several webinars have already taken place (e.g., North America, Europe, German-speaking countries), while others are forthcoming.

Lastly, to celebrate the beginning of a brand new pledging cycle, we asked our colleague Elaine Lambert, who has been with KU from the beginning, how she remembers the early days of pledging in KU's formative years. Given her long-view perspective, we thought you'd enjoy her trip down memory lane.

Stay well.

Alexandra, Bob, Carolina, Catherine, Elaine, Laurens, Max, Mirela, Olaf, Pablo, Philipp, Udit, Wilson, and Sven

Elaine Lambert remembers
KU's early days

I have had the privilege of working with KU since its inception in 2013 and am continually amazed at how far we have come since our humble beginnings. Frances Pinter, former CEO of Manchester University Press, and Lucy Montgomery from Curtin University were instrumental in getting KU off the ground as a proof of concept experiment, which we all know has proven that crowdfunding is a viable option in supporting Open Access (OA).

The rationale for the pilot program was that Humanities and Social Science (HSS) books should no longer be locked behind a paywall as more STM journals became OA. Author Pays models wouldn’t work for books since HSS grants were smaller and books cost much more than articles. The realization was that no one model was the solution, so KU brought librarians and publishers together to explore different models.

When we first began in 2013, we worked with 13 publishers and offered 28 titles in HSS. Other partners at the time of the pilot included LYRASIS in North America, Jisc Collections in the UK, Max Planck Society in Germany, and the founding libraries in Australia. 

We needed 200 libraries globally to support this new venture and ultimately ended up receiving pledges from 297 libraries in 24 countries from around the globe. The very first pledge that came in was from the University of Alberta, Canada.  All the titles from this pilot collection were successfully unlatched, OCLC contributed MARC records, and OAPEN provided dissemination and preservation.

With the success of the pilot, KU decided to move forward with Round 2 in October of 2015.  This round included 78 titles from 28 publishers, and libraries were given the option to choose a minimum of six out of eight collections offered and the majority of the pledges were for the full collection. We needed 270 participating libraries and had 290 libraries pledging globally. KU content at that time was hosted on HathiTrust for North America and OAPEN for the rest of the world.

KU has continually grown from there, with Sven Fund beginning the oversight in 2016. Fast forward to 2021: support for OA continues to grow, as does the support for KU. We are now recognized as one of the world’s largest marketplaces for OA scholarly books and services.

It has been an honor to take part in KU's successes over the years.


Since its release in January 2020, the Open Research Library (ORL) has continued to expand, both in terms of the Open Access (OA) content it houses but also in terms of usage and support from libraries worldwide. The platform now includes about 90,000 OA items, including some 14,000 books, 50,000 chapters, and 271 videos.

In less than 17 months, the ORL has received more than 95,000 visits worldwide. Libraries in 20 countries, spanning six continents, are indexing the ORL and making it discoverable to their patrons through their catalogs.

If you are unfamiliar with the benefits of using and indexing the ORL, please watch this introductory video. If you need any help getting started, please reach out to your KU representative.

KU webinars

Starting with the webinar for North America, which was held on May 26h, and ending with the webinar for Africa on June 16th, KU's Sales team is holding regional webinars for various parts of the world and in several languages. Librarians may still register for upcoming webinars on KU's web site. 

Climate Change

KU Focus Collection 2022

This is a first for KU: a special, multi-disciplinary, and multi-publisher collection that focuses on a cutting-edge subject selected via a librarian survey. We recently asked our library partners for their opinion as to which of the following topics would be most relevant for users and researchers: climate change, equality, digitality, or gender studies. Climate change was a clear winner, receiving 40 percent of the vote. Members of the KU Selection Committee then chose 20 frontlist titles submitted for consideration by our partner publishers that make up the collection.

More information on this collection may be found on KU's website.

Communication & Media Studies 2022-2024

Amsterdam University Press

A timely collection from a leading university press in the fast-paced field of Communication and Media Studies. The 20-title collection covers a range of pressing topics and includes books from several highly-regarded series, including "Film Culture in Transition" and "Games & Play." The content not only reflects the latest research but also a close partnership with the scholars from the University of Amsterdam, ranked first in the world for Communication Science and Media Studies, according to the QS World University Rankings. The titles will be released over the course of three years, starting in 2022.

More information on this collection and the other pledging options in this discipline may be found on KU's website.

International Politics 2022

University of Michigan Press

The University of Michigan Press has long supported the work of KU through its participation in KU Select. The press is now offering a one-year package of 20 new books in international politics. Taking a truly global approach, these scholarly monographs will present empirical and theoretical scholarship on the tumult of politics and governments internationally. The authors are internationally-recognized experts offering diverse global perspectives on all things power and international politics.

More information on this collection and the other pledging options in this discipline may be found on KU's website.


In a somewhat different offering, KU is asking for pledges to support the ongoing operation of Verfassungsblog/On Matters Constitutional. As the name suggests, this publisher posts English and German peer-reviewed blogs largely centered on a discussion of constitutional law, international government, and governmental affairs. The funding we raise will help Verfassungsblog expand its content, which currently reaches readers all over the globe. A worthy consideration for libraries supporting studies in international and constitutional law, international relations and German/European studies.

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