Knowledge Unlatched (KU) is an award-winning organisation* that offers an opportunity for libraries and publishers from around the world to work together to create a sustainable route to Open Access for scholarly books and journals in the Humanities and Social Sciences. 

KU offers a crowd-funding model that enables libraries globally to share the costs of making monographs Open Access. English-language front and backlist monographs and journals in the Humanities and Social Sciences are made available to the whole world on Creative Commons licences. These titles are hosted on OAPEN and HathiTrust and are available as fully downloadable PDFs as well as EPUBs and HTML where available.

Together libraries finance the Title Fee which represents all or part of the fixed costs of creating the first digital file for new titles. For each backlist monograph, the reduced Title Fee partially compensates the publisher for loss of income from future sales. Publishers may sell these titles in other formats such as print, however KU encourages them to include a reference to the KU Open Access version, in order to avoid duplicate library payments for the titles included in KU collections.

KU’s operational costs are covered by a 15% management fee that is shared equally between publishers and libraries and is already included in the package prices.

Since 2014, KU has ‘unlatched’ three collections of around 450 HSS titles that were supported by 414 libraries plus consortia around the world. To date, the first collection has an average of 3,000 downloads per title in over 180 countries, which is 10 times the normal volume of copies sold for similar monographs that remain closed. The list of titles that have already been unlatched can be viewed here: http://knowledgeunlatched.org/past-collections/

*KU is an award-winning model and has won the IFLA/Brill Award for Open Access 2014 and the Curtin University Award for Best Innovation in Education 2015. KU was shortlisted for the ALPSP Awards for Innovation in Publishing 2016.

The jury of the IFLA/Brill award said that they were ‘deeply impressed with the simplicity and elegance of the original concept, with the daring scope of the project, bringing together libraries, publishers and other organisations from around the world, and with the highly successful outcome of the Pilot phase that tested the concept.’

In addition to KU Select collections, KU also provides publisher services to increase discoverability for OA titles, and KU works together with Language Science Press to help fund their OA linguistics titles. 

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