In January, I shared important steps we are taking at ITHAKA to serve our mission to preserve and make knowledge more widely accessible to learners and researchers all over the world. We believe in the value of education as a way to improve people’s lives, and are committed to continuous innovation to serve that mission. Today, I’m happy to update you on our progress and introduce some new work we are planning.
In 2023, we launched a number of initiatives to make more content universally accessible, to safeguard at-risk materials, and to improve the utility of this knowledge.
- We rolled out an updated funding model to vastly increase access to the extensive journal archive and primary source collections on JSTOR that the scholarly community has helped us to create. In the three months this model has been available, over 1,200 institutions have signed up, securing comprehensive access to 2,800 journals and 2 million primary source objects for their faculty and students.
- We launched Path to Open in partnership with university presses, libraries, and the ACLS as a new financially sustainable model to support open access for selected scholarly books and monographs, with an emphasis on diverse voices and ideas. Thirty-six publishers are signed up for the program, and the first 100 books will be released this fall. Libraries across the US and abroad are also supporting the program; 85% are choosing to pre-fund the entire multi-year pilot program, including the Big Ten Academic Alliance.
- To respond to the need for libraries to enable widespread access to and preservation of primary source materials, we are making the same infrastructure that supports JSTOR and Portico available to libraries to share, preserve, and manage their digital collections. Over 100 libraries have signed up to these new services.
- We continue to make progress on fully integrating Artstor and JSTOR to deliver a high-quality, multi-content research and teaching experience. We will complete the integration over the course of the next year, providing both image and text functionality on the JSTOR site. We will retire the Artstor image workspace (artstor.org) in August 2024.
- Constellate continues to grow in capabilities and in the number of institutions using it to help teach data and text analysis—skills that are becoming increasingly important in a world dominated by data and information technologies. Our free Text Analysis Pedagogy Institute just took place in July with nearly 1,000 people from 580 institutions around the world attending events and courses.
- Early evidence from our JSTOR-Hypothesis pilot to improve student engagement using social annotation with scholarly content is promising. We are also encouraging other resource providers to use technologies like this to make knowledge more useful for students.
- We’re preserving 1,342 new e-journals with Portico and have added 18 new publishers. We are also making special efforts to preserve emerging digital scholarship and collections of underrepresented materials through experimentation and collaboration with publishers and archives.
Your tremendous community support for these new initiatives affirms that we are on a positive track. Our continued engagement with librarians, publishers, and other organizations helps us grow and build upon these efforts. We see already in our infrastructure services program the need for even more comprehensive tools to enable libraries to manage all aspects of their digital collections—including audio and visual materials—and are exploring ways to support those needs.
Our organization was born during a moment of technology transition, so it is in our DNA to seek new ways to use technology and other innovations to advance our mission. The rapidly accelerating adoption of generative AI technologies is likely to have a revolutionary impact on education, teaching, and research in the very near future. We have been working with machine learning and AI tools for quite some time, and are poised to bring some of the benefits of this work to the JSTOR platform, starting by offering JSTOR users the opportunity to beta test generative AI-powered features later this month.
In Ithaka S+R, we are also collaborating with colleges and university leaders to assess the impacts of these technologies on their work. Over 100 representatives from 29 institutions are also working with Ithaka S+R to design campus-wide strategies to provide critical support for big data research. Also, furthering our work to invest in emerging companies that can accelerate our mission, we recently made an investment in a company called Mainstay that works with over 225 institutions to support millions of students through AI-enabled guidance throughout their educational journey. We will keep you posted on these important developments over the course of this fall.
The world is moving at a pace that is both energizing and challenging. We are inspired by the opportunity to work with you to improve people’s lives through education, and by the fact that new technologies—when implemented carefully, ethically, and safely—can expand access to knowledge far beyond what has ever been possible.
Best wishes to you all for the second half of 2023!