Catching up with Project MUSE, May 2013

By Tashina Gunning

2012 was an exciting year for Project MUSE, and one that expanded our collection of scholarship dramatically. With the addition of books to our platform, the amount of content on MUSE more than doubled. Not to be outdone by its predecessor, 2013 is proving to be every bit as eventful!

project-muse_final-logoIn response to many requests from academic institutions, we’re offering a wider variety of book collections and purchase options this year to accommodate the often dramatically different research and budget needs of our library customers.

Building on our journal collection’s strength as a go-to resource for Area Studies content, MUSE now offers seven new Area Studies collections: African Studies, American Studies, Asian and Pacific Studies, Jewish Studies, Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Native American and Indigenous Studies, and Russian and East European Studies. These interdisciplinary collections bring together books that facilitate an in-depth examination of the historical, cultural, political, and social forces shaping various world regions. We’ve also added Ecology and Evolution, which contains a range of natural history, environmental history, natural resource management, and human ecology titles.

Out of more than 23,000 books on MUSE, over 14,000 are now available for single title purchase through our partnership with YBP Library Services. More than three-quarters of our 83 participating UPCC publishers have signed on to this optional program. Announced in November 2012, the partnership between MUSE and YBP officially launched in March of this year.

Currently, 19 countries access books on MUSE, with the majority of usage coming from North America (60% in the United States and 12% in Canada). Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore round out the top five. Scholars in Norway, the United Kingdom, Korea, and Hong Kong are also accessing books, as well as a significant number in Bangladesh and El Salvador, as part of our developing country initiative.

This year, MUSE welcomed seventeen new book publishers, including the Louisiana State University Press, University of North Carolina Press, MIT Press, Presses de l’Université du Québec, Central European University Press, and University Press of Florida. These additions bring the total number of book publishers to 83.

Although much of the news coming out of MUSE in the past year has been about books, our journals program continues to thrive. Thirty-one new journals joined MUSE for 2013, from both new and current partners. The journal publishers themselves reflect the diversity of the platform’s content. Of the new journal publishers, three hail from the United Kingdom (Association for Scottish Literary Studies, Lawrence & Wishart, and the Society for Theatre Research) and two from Asia (the Kyujanggak Institute for Korean Studies and the Chinese University Press in Hong Kong).

Our industry faces many economic challenges; and each year MUSE seemingly inevitably loses journals that move to a for-profit business model. Happily, we saw the reverse of this trend in several instances in 2013. Five of our new journals are part of a series previously published by a commercial outfit, including Steinbeck Review, which we’re welcoming back to the MUSE platform after a several-year absence.

While the trend of journals leaving not-for-profit publishers for commercial publishers is highly unlikely to cease completely, these journal acquisitions give us hope that more journals will follow in the steps of these titles.

And with our recently inked partnership with HighWire and plans to maximize the discoverability of content on our platform, the rest of 2013 at MUSE is shaping up to be as busy as its first few months!