Giving Compass' Take:

•  The National Endowment for the Humanities is investing in universities to make books about literature, history, and musicology available for anyone to download online. 

• COVID-19 has underscored the need to make research and resources available online. How can donors help with this? 

• Learn how online resources help grow personalized learning. 

The National Endowment for the Humanities has a new plan for attracting more readers to books about literature, history and musicology: Make the books digital, and make them free.

The federal agency’s new Fellowships Open Book Program awards grants of $5,500 to university presses to publish open access, online versions of recent humanities books so that they’re available for anyone to download. The funds help cover the cost of digitization, marketing, and an author stipend.

Disseminating research about language, culture and art more widely online has become a goal of scholars and librarians, who say the general shift from print to digital materials—and the decline in academic library spending on physical books—has hurt the visibility of humanities scholarship, according to Peter Potter, publishing director of University Libraries at Virginia Tech.

He helps to lead a program whose goals are similar to those of the Fellowships Open Book Program: the Toward an Open Monograph Ecosystem project, which raises money from universities to support the publication and digital distribution of open-access versions of academic books.

The COVID-19 health crisis has underscored the importance of making research resources available online, leaders say.

“The current pandemic has heightened the need for scholars to be able to conduct serious research remotely,” said Jon Parrish Peede, National Endowment for the Humanities chairman, in a statement. “The digital editions made possible by these new awards will make superb NEH-funded works freely available to readers across the globe.”

Read the full article about connect humanities books by Rebecca Koenig at EdSurge.