Cornell Open is the new global open access portal for classic out-of-print titles from the distinguished catalog of  Cornell University Press. Funded by the newly created Humanities Open Book Program, a collaborative effort between the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Cornell Open offers for the first time open access to key titles in literary criticism and theory, German studies, and Slavic studies.

“As America’s first university press we are extremely honored to receive this generous grant from the NEH and Mellon, and expand our role as a leader in open access scholarship through our new Cornell Open initiative,” said Cornell University Press Director Dean Smith. “Our close collaboration with the Cornell University Library and noted scholars in the field has ensured that the Cornell books chosen for this project are ones that will truly make a significant global impact in each of their respective fields.”

“These first open books from Cornell University Press reflect a long-standing legacy of publishing classic scholarship in German Studies and Slavic Studies,” said Brett Bobley, Director of the NEH’s Office of Digital Humanities. “We are pleased that the titles are accessible and open for the next generation of scholars.”

Slated to feature twenty ebooks in its first year, available from both Cornell as well as collaborative partners JSTOR and Project MUSE, Cornell Open aims to expand this list to 150 titles for the Press’s 150th anniversary in 2019.

“Project MUSE is delighted to provide a stable, long-term, and highly functional platform for the digital open access versions of these influential works of scholarship, “ said Wendy Queen, Director of Project MUSE. “The titles enhance our offerings in core humanities and area studies disciplines and our global user base will benefit from unrestricted access to these classic scholarly books.”

Cornell University Library and Press staff began the process of selecting the first twenty books to be digitized with the NEH grant by examining over two decades of the library’s circulation statistics for influential Press titles which are currently out-of-print. Scholars and subject specialists in selected fields were then asked to evaluate the list of prospective titles using both this quantitative data and their own knowledge of research and teaching needs in their specialty areas, to choose those books of greatest continuing interest and relevance.

“As an advocate for open access and sustainable publishing, Cornell University Library is thrilled to see the digital versions of Cornell University Press titles made openly accessible to all readers,” said Anne R. Kenney, Carl A. Kroch University Librarian for the Cornell University Libraries. “Previously available in print form only, the titles selected were not only well received when initially published but remain relevant to scholars and students today.”

“I’m particularly pleased that this initial round of Cornell Open books includes titles that will be important complements to books in our Signale series in Modern German Letters, Cultures, and Thought,” added Kizer Walker, Director of Collections for Cornell University Library, and Managing Editor of the Signale series. “The program will acquaint new readers with three seminal works in criticism, theory, and literary history by Signale’s editor, Peter Uwe Hohendahl, originally published with Cornell Press in the 1980s and ‘90s.”

Cornell University Press

Cornell University Press shares the university’s mission to promote a culture of broad inquiry worldwide through the publication of scholarship that is engaged, influential and of lasting significance. Established in 1869 as the first American university press, shortly after the founding of Cornell, the press is aligned with the university’s strengths by disseminating knowledge in key academic disciplines, while commanding its own distinct editorial profile. Works published under its imprints reflect a commitment to excellence through rigorous evaluation, skillful editing, thoughtful design and strategic marketing.
The Press was originally founded to publish the scholarly achievements of the university and, by hiring student workers, to help those in need to learn a trade and support themselves during their studies. The Press was inactive between 1884 and 1930, but publishing activities continued through the efforts of Comstock Publishing Associates, established by two Cornell professors. From that beginning, the Press has grown to be a major scholarly publisher, with nearly three thousand books in print and over one hundred new titles a year.

Humanities Open Book Program

The Humanities Open Book Program is designed to make outstanding out-of-print humanities books available to a wide audience. By taking advantage of low-cost ebook technology, the program will allow teachers, students, scholars, and the public to read humanities books that have long been out of print. Humanities Open Book is jointly sponsored by NEH and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.