IU Press digitization project gives open access for over 160 books

Indiana University Press celebrated its 70th anniversary earlier this year, but it's the one giving a gift. The academic publisher used a grant to digitize 163 out-of-print books it previously published, and has made them available for students, faculty and staff.

a book cover that says film makers on film makingView print quality image
This book is one of 163 digitized recently by IU Press as part of the Open Indiana collection. Image courtesy of IU Press

The collection, called Open Indiana, features titles from IU Press' first 50 years.

"As part of IU Libraries, we see as one of our missions to get notable scholarship into the hands of all who need it," IU Press Director Gary Dunham said. "Large open-access collections like this one go a long way to fulfilling that goal."

IU Press received a $183,000 grant in March 2019 from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities for the digitization project. In addition to making scholarship widely available, the project included some self-reflection.

"In our 70th anniversary year, we wanted to better understand our own past and our staff's role in working with authors to make great scholarship happen in the form of books," Dunham said.

The selection process involved combing through the thousands of titles in IU Press' backlist and identifying out-of-print candidate titles from six subject areas: film, folklore, music, philosophy, language studies and Asian studies. Then the rights to titles were researched, and substitutes were chosen if IU Press no longer held the rights.

When possible, the digitization included the original covers and book jacket copy. Metadata information about each book was entered into IU Press' database, and the digital books were uploaded to its online platform, Manifold.

Open Indiana has been available since September.

"Feedback has been phenomenal," Dunham said. "Scholars and students are grateful for access to these long unavailable research publications and enthusiastic that such an enormous collection of books is, well, completely free for them to access and benefit from."

IU Press is still adding commentary from scholars about each of the six subject areas. Those commentaries should be completed in a few months, Dunham said.

Open Indiana will soon be available in other online venues, including HathiTrust, Google Books, Project Muse and IU Press' own website. A digital catalog of the collection is also being developed and will be emailed to IU Press customers, Dunham added.