Lever Press hopes to publish 60 titles over the next five years.

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – Middlebury College is a founding member of Lever Press, a new, peer-reviewed, open-access, and digitally native scholarly press. Funded by a consortium of liberal arts college libraries, and guided by a partnership of the Amherst College Press and Michigan Publishing at the University of Michigan, Lever Press will offer within the world of scholarly publishing a perspective aligned with the unique mission and ethos of the nation’s residential liberal arts colleges.

A consortium of 80 research libraries serving liberal arts colleges across the United States launched the Lever Press out of a concern that restrictions on access to scholarly materials is exacerbating a broader and dangerous trend toward inequality in the availability of educational resources.

“It shouldn’t be the case that only certain institutions can afford to purchase the best and most recent books addressing issues and fields at the heart of our campuses,” said Mike Roy, the dean of libraries at Middlebury College and the president of the Lever Press oversight committee. “As publishers increasingly request processing fees and subsidies for articles and book-length works, it shouldn’t be that only scholars at the best-resourced institutions get a chance to get published.”

Although sponsored by liberal arts college libraries, Lever Press will not publish works only from faculty in those institutions. “We’re looking for work that reflects the identity and characteristic emphasis on excellence in teaching and research that is the hallmark of our sponsoring colleges,” said Mark Edington, Lever Press’s publisher.

Added Dean Roy: “By participating in the Lever Press initiative, Middlebury College is able to make a positive contribution toward changing the currently dysfunctional system of scholarly communication. It also provides us with important experience with new forms of multi-institutional collaboration that could serve as a model for future collaborations in allied areas such as the cooperative development of open educational resources and open access textbooks.”

In addition to Roy, Jason Mittell, a professor of film, media culture, and American studies at Middlebury College, has been appointed to serve on Lever’s inaugural editorial board.

Over the next five years, Lever Press is expected to publish some sixty titles—all of which will be available both in print (for a small cost) and online (for no cost). Titles will be available both as downloadable files and as screen-readable web pages.

Lever Press is already accepting proposals from scholars for individual works and series of works. Proposals for individual works are welcome from faculty and scholars anywhere; proposals for series should come from faculty or teams of faculty from one (or more) of Lever’s sponsoring institutions.