Dear colleagues,

Working with people you care about on things that you care about is a gift. I feel so privileged to collaborate with our team at ITHAKA and with so many in our community who are dedicated to bettering people’s lives through improved access to education and knowledge.

With your help and engagement, we made tremendous progress on our mission last year:

  • Expanded access to knowledge through sustainable open access initiatives, a cost-effective fee structure for libraries, and free JSTOR access in prison education programs.
  • Extended our work to preserve the scholarly record in Portico, with a focus on safeguarding at-risk materials from underrepresented communities as well as emerging forms of complex scholarship.
  • Invested in new ways to productively use digital content, including supporting the adoption of text analysis, developing resources for the responsible and ethical use of generative AI, and integrating images and primary sources with scholarly content.
  • Supported the higher education community in navigating change through Ithaka S+R’s research on credit transfer, open access, teaching support, and research data support services.

If you would like to see more details, please explore what we achieved together in 2023.

In 2024, we’ll continue to grow our impact in these same areas that reflect our mission and the higher education communities’ need for services that enable openness, sustainability, preservation, and innovation.

As we move ahead, I want to call out two particularly important areas of further investment for us: infrastructure services for libraries, and the ethical uses of generative AI. In both cases, there is an urgent need for strategic leadership and the type of nonprofit, community-focused solutions that we have pioneered since JSTOR began.

Infrastructure services for libraries

As the transition to fully digital and networked learning continues, libraries and their institutions continue to invest in ways to manage and provide digital services that replace the work they have traditionally accomplished in-person within a physical infrastructure. These institutions must either license or put in place a technological framework to build and manage digital collections. Doing so presents a rich opportunity to substantially increase the impact of these collections on users at their home institutions and learners and researchers all over the world.

We are working to help make this possible effectively and economically, offering services based on the infrastructure we’ve developed in JSTOR and Portico. Using that infrastructure to connect library collections to the journals and books that scholars and students use every day on JSTOR gives us the opportunity to deliver a better, more affordable experience. That has been our objective since JSTOR’s founding, and we are eager to deliver on that promise for institutional and primary source collections.

The ethical uses of generative AI

Similarly, we will continue to invest in and engage directly with Generative AI. These technologies are so important to our future that working directly with them to learn about their impact, both positive and negative, is extremely important.

We already have two broad areas of engagement with these technologies: a generative AI assistant on the JSTOR platform and a collaborative research project led by Ithaka S+R. We are moving quickly, doing so with a clear set of principles to guide those efforts. We will continue to report what we are learning from our experience with these important new technologies.

Together, we are on the path to a future where research and ideas are universally accessible, where they are made infinitely more useful by technological advances, and where their preservation is assured. As we have seen over the last two decades, the promise of new technologies are often paired with unforeseen negative effects. That is why it is so important that there be collaborative, mission-driven efforts to address these issues with more than just commercial interests in mind. Never before has there so much need for community-wide efforts to bring us together. Thank you for engaging with us in this work.

My best wishes for 2024,

Kevin Guthrie
President, ITHAKA