December 17, 2015 Last Updated 1:59 pm

National Endowment for the Humanities and the Mellon Foundation announce grants for essential out-of-print books

WASHINGTON, DC – December 17, 2015 — The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the largest funders of humanities research in the United States, announced more than $700,000 in new grants today that will give a second life to outstanding out-of-print books in the humanities by turning them into free e-books.

Under the new Humanities Open Book program, NEH and Mellon are awarding grants totaling roughly $774,000 to publishers to identify great humanities books, secure all appropriate rights, and make them available for free, forever, under a Creative Commons license.

NEH-MFor centuries, printed books have been the primary written medium for expressing, communicating, and debating ideas in the humanities, which are defined as research and study on topics including history, philosophy, linguistics, and others. However, most scholarly books printed since 1923 are not in the public domain. As a result, today’s scholars, teachers, students, and members of the public don’t have access to a large swath of knowledge. Modern e-book technology can unlock the potential of these books. (See list of projects below).

The grants awarded were selected through a rigorous review process that measured how the digitized books would be of demonstrable intellectual significance and broad interest to current readers.

The new Humanities Open Book grant program is part of the National Endowment for the Humanities’ agency-wide initiative The Common Good: The Humanities in the Public Square, which seeks to demonstrate and enhance the role and significance of the humanities and humanities scholarship in public life.

“The National Endowment for the Humanities is pleased to join with the Mellon Foundation in announcing the first round of Humanities Open Book grants,” said NEH Chairman William D. Adams. “These ten projects will put important out-of-print books into the hands of the public, widening access to the ideas and information they contain, and inspiring readers, teachers, and students to use them in exciting new ways.”

“Through modern technology, these titles can be far more accessible than they are today,” said Earl Lewis, President of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. “These books represent an untapped resource for scholars, teachers, students, and members of the public, many of whom turn to the Internet as their first stop when looking for information.”

In addition to making the books available, this new collaborative effort between NEH and Mellon will also better define the costs and benefits of digitizing out-of-print scholarship and making it available, at no charge, to the general public.


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