Kenyon is a founding member of Lever Press, an alternative publishing initiative designed to give academics more opportunities to publish their work and students more ability to access educational resources.
The peer-reviewed press will allow scholars, particularly at liberal arts colleges, to publish their work without the prohibitive fees normally associated with academic publishing. Because participating libraries, not authors, will be covering all publishing expenses, works will be accepted based on their scholarly merit, not on the author’s ability to pay publishing fees. The press is digitally native, allowing for innovative multimedia projects and more experimental works.
“We believe that open-access initiatives and opportunities are beneficial to education and scholarship for Kenyon students and also for larger communities,” said Amy Badertscher, associate vice president for Library and Information Services and library director. “Organizations like Lever Press are paving the way for the future of scholarship, and we are investing in that future.”
Titles published by Lever Press will be available in print for a small cost and for free online, both as downloadable files and as screen-readable webpages. The press plans to produce about 60 titles by the end of 2020.
Members of the Oberlin Group, a consortium of 80 libraries at liberal arts colleges including Kenyon, partnered with the Amherst College Press and Michigan Publishing at the University of Michigan to launch Lever Press out of concern that restrictions on access to scholarly materials was exacerbating a trend toward inequality in the availability of resources for students and researchers.
“It shouldn’t be the case that only the wealthiest institutions can afford to purchase the best and most recent books addressing issues and fields at the heart of our campuses,” said Mike Roy, the president of the Lever Press oversight committee and dean of libraries at Middlebury College. “And as publishers increasingly request processing fees and subsidies for articles and book-length works, it shouldn’t be that only scholars at the best-resourced institutions get a chance to get published.”
The supporting institutions, including Allegheny College and Ursinus College, which are not members of the Oberlin Group, have committed to collectively fund the press with more than $1 million total over the next five years. Michigan Publishing will undertake the publishing process with help from a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.