JSTOR Open Community Collections

Libraries, museums, and other institutions hold rich and unique collections that are critical to research, teaching, and learning. Yet these collections can be difficult for scholars to discover and use, not to mention time consuming and expensive to support.

This is why ITHAKA launched an initiative to make special collections discoverable and free of paywalls to a global community of faculty and scholars, and to make sure the content remains accessible for generations to come.

Over the past three years, nearly 300 JSTOR Open Community Collections charter members made more than 1,600 specialized digital collections openly accessible worldwide on JSTOR. Results have gone well beyond on-platform discovery—to date,these collections have garnered more than 3.3 million item requests from 234 countries and territories, with 63% of this traffic coming from the open web. In addition to increased usage, this has also brought greater visibility to contributors.

Thanks to the success of this initiative and the high interest in participation from additional institutions, the charter period will transition to paid services in July 2023. Learn how you can share and preserve your collections.

Key benefits

A robust platform for research and learning

On the JSTOR platform, collections are discoverable in the research workflow alongside related scholarly content, including text-based journals, ebooks, and research reports, as well as a rapidly growing number of Artstor images and other primary source materials.

Participating institutions’ content is promoted with a unique landing page for browsing, sub-collection groups, and searching within collections.

Content also benefits from features of the JSTOR platform and interface, including full-text search; citation management tools; filtering and faceting; IIIF-compliant viewer; content download and sharing, in addition to innovative research tools such as Text Analyzer and Workspace. And we provide usage statistics.

Global reach and usage

Participants join hundreds of institutions in making their collections openly accessible on the JSTOR platform—not behind a paywall, institutional credentials, or isolated on an unknown site. Terms of use are easily conveyed in metadata and descriptors.

JSTOR’s Open Community Collections are discoverable through EBSCO Discovery Service™ (EDS), OCLC, and ProQuest/Ex Libris, freely providing unique primary sources to thousands of subscribing institutions worldwide.

Discovery of JSTOR’s Open Community Collections is also aided by Google indexing, with 62% of item requests coming from the open web. In the past year, more than 7,800 unique institutions have accessed these collections from over 180 countries.

“Middlebury College was enticed very early on to JSTOR Open Community Collections mostly because we wanted our digital collections to be circulating in JSTOR’s orbit, available wherever our students and faculty were discovering JSTOR’s trustworthy content. Middlebury is primarily an undergraduate teaching college, and our students start their research in our ILS discovery service, EBSCO. Having the local collections we share with JSTOR turn up alongside our library holdings fulfills a promise we make to our students that our ILS—as an alternative to Google—can satisfy their research needs.”

— Rebekah Irwin, Director and Curator, Special Collections & Archives, Middlebury College, Middlebury, Vermont

Seamless integration of content

For collections that are already on a site, participants simply choose the method of harvesting and we do the rest. JSTOR Forum users can do it themselves in a matter of minutes, not days. No more hassles and expenses of maintaining outdated technology and infrastructure or worries about preservation, discovery, and use.

Explore contributing institutions