Years ago, UBC’s class of 1932 established an endowment meant to be used towards the development of UBC Library’s Collections. At the time, they likely envisioned that the funds would go towards new books or a rare acquisition at the library. It is improbable that they could have ever imagined the kinds of collections they are funding or the tremendous impact they are having on future generations of UBC students.
The endowment will fund UBC Library’s annual contribution to Knowledge Unlatched, an initiative that brings together libraries from all over the world via a crowdfunding platform to support Open Access scholarly ebooks in the humanities and social sciences. In 2016, 343 scholarly titles from 54 publishers were ‘unlatched’ with funds from over 250 supporting libraries worldwide including UBC Library. Since its inception in 2013, the Knowledge Unlatched initiative has ‘unlatched’ 449 frontlist and backlist ebooks, making them available to readers all over the world.
“We were looking for a way to continue our support of Knowledge Unlatched this year and the class of 1932 has come through for us,” says Ellen George, Humanities & Social Sciences Librarian at UBC Library and Knowledge Unlatched Title Selection Committee member, “It’s wonderful that these UBC alumni, who could never have imagined ebooks or open access, are helping to fund this initiative”.
Sixty of the unlatched ebooks are now accessible to students via OAPEN and Hathitrust and there are future plans to make all Knowledge Unlatched titles available for download via JSTOR.