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U-M launches Asian Studies Open Access Books Collection

By Emma DiPasquale

The Penny W. Stamps School of Art and Design has created a new $25,000 prize to advance the project of one graduating senior.

The University of Michigan Press is launching the Michigan Asian Studies Open Access Books Collection, making 100 significant books about Asia published under its auspices freely and publicly available online.

U-M’s centers for Chinese, Japanese, South, and Southeast Asian studies are collaborators on the collection, which is offered through the Humanities Open Book Program, jointly sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The program makes out-of-print and hard-to-find humanities books available to a wide audience.

The project’s goal was to select, digitize and enhance 100 titles published by the centers over the past 50 years. Titles included in the collection aim to advance public understanding of the diversity of society, culture and history in East, South and Southeast Asia.

The Michigan Asian Studies Open Access Books Collection grew from a partnership between scholars of Asian studies from U-M and other schools, the centers, the U-M Asia Library and University of Michigan Press.

“The open access release of this diverse collection of quality monographs in Asian studies will be enthusiastically welcomed by scholars, librarians and students in the field,” said Dawn Lawson, librarian and head of the U-M Asia Library. “The collection both renews access to titles long out of print and makes openly available important newer works.”

The collection is available on Fulcrum as part of U-M’s Ebook Collection. This open source publishing platform developed at U-M supports illustrations, photographs, tables, interactive maps and 3-D models. Titles will continue to be enhanced after their launch, with priority informed by usage and reception measures.

“This collection is an important step in making access to knowledge about Asia open access,” said Lisa Trivedi, project advisory board member and professor of South Asian history at Hamilton College.

“As scholars of Asian societies, most authors hope that their work will not only advance specific lines of inquiry in their fields, but also be important to the societies with which they engage. By ensuring that these scholarly works are available free of charge to scholars and the public in Asia, the project promotes equity in access to knowledge and supports scholarly cooperation globally.”

For the digitization of the series, the Press partnered with NewGen to create EPUB files of the print backlist. Accessibility was a key focus of the digitization, as NewGen completed several quality-control checks to make sure optical character recognition, alt text tags, captions and metadata met the Press’s accessibility requirements.

This story was first published in University of Michigan Press Blog.

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