Lever Press Deepens Partnership with Michigan Publishing

The following announcement was made to Lever Press members over email on Oct. 7, 2021

Since its formation in 2015 Lever Press has been supported by Michigan Publishing (MPub) of the University of Michigan Library, which has provided essential production and financial services and expert assistance on our editorial program. We are now pleased to announce that we will deepen this vital partnership by moving the remaining editorial operations entirely to MPub from Amherst College Press. Under the guidance of Dr. Sean Guynes, Acquiring Editor, MPub will take on the management of Lever’s editorial and acquisitions workflows, provide marketing and awareness of Lever titles, and manage contracts with authors and the work of peer reviewers. This enhanced partnership will strengthen Lever Press while allowing Amherst College Press to focus their efforts entirely on their own catalog. Beth Bouloukos of Amherst College Press, who has provided excellent leadership for Lever since 2019, will work with Dr. Guynes to ensure a smooth transition.

We are proud of Lever's recent success in achieving its mission of advancing open access book infrastructure and developing a catalog of significant publications which are freely available and (based on current usage statistics) are being widely read by scholars worldwide. With the transition of MPub, the mission remains the same: to give institutions that care about the liberal arts a strong voice in the development of an open source publishing ecosystem and provide digital-first publications aligned with the ethos of liberal arts colleges, made immediately available open access without payment by authors. Lever will continue to be guided by its member-led Oversight Committee, while our partnership with MPub will allow us to be sustainable into the future while continuing to offer the highest quality, innovative works with a liberal arts focus. As a library-based organization with a reputation for quality and innovation, MPub will help Lever extend our mission to new audiences while preserving our core values.

Our editorial vision for Lever Press also remains constant: we are committed to publishing works that promote digital scholarship, interdisciplinarity, and the values of the liberal arts. Our existing Editorial Board, which is composed of faculty from member institutions, will continue to provide leadership for the editorial program. In collaboration with Dr. Guynes, the Editorial Board may explore new aspects of our publishing program that will make Lever’s model even more sustainable and distinctive while remaining within the core mission and values of Lever.

“Lever’s collaboration with Michigan Publishing began at our inception, so they have a deep appreciation of our library-centered, OA model and the foundational principles that drive the Press,” said Mark Christel, Librarian of the College at Grinnell College and Chair of the Lever Press Oversight Committee. “They know our distinct mission and have helped us gain key insights from our publishing program so far. We are very excited to work more closely with them going forward.”

“At Michigan Publishing, we are enthusiastic about this opportunity to continue and expand our partnership with the Lever Press libraries,” added Charles Watkinson, Associate University Librarian for Publishing at University of Michigan. “Lever has already played a formative role in advancing a publishing ecosystem based on open infrastructure and shared governance, not just open content. We are excited to build on the strong foundations established by our colleagues at Amherst College Press.”

Thank you for your ongoing support of Lever Press. We look forward to continuing to work together to make Lever a strong voice for the liberal arts in developing a more equitable publishing environment.


The Lever Press Oversight Committee


Q: Why is Lever moving away from its partnership with Amherst College Press, if its mission is focused on values of the liberal arts?
A: Amherst has expressed a desire to have its existing editorial and marketing staff focus their efforts entirely on Amherst College Press, and has asked Lever to identify another partner for editorial and marketing services. Amherst has graciously agreed to continue to support Lever through the move to MPub so that we can have a smooth transition.

Q: Will current contracts with authors be honored?
A: Yes; existing contracts with authors will be honored and will not be affected by the change.

Q: Will the governance structure of Lever Press continue as is?
A: Yes; Lever governance will continue to be led by the Oversight Committee and Editorial Board, independently from Michigan Publishing.

Q: Will the Oversight Committee continue to be led by representatives from liberal arts colleges?
A: The Oversight Committee will continue to be elected by Lever members and be composed of representatives from member institutions. Lever’s membership includes the founding members from liberal arts college libraries as well as a growing number of larger institutions who share a commitment to education in the liberal arts.

Q: Will the membership levels and fees change?
A: While the budget model is still being developed with the help of Michigan Publishing, we do not anticipate any changes to the membership levels and corresponding fees.

Q: Will the number of works published annually increase or decrease?
A: While the acquisitions model is still being developed with the help of Michigan Publishing, we do not anticipate any immediate changes to the number of works published.

Q: Will this change alter access to the titles previously published by Lever?
A: Access to all titles will continue as before on the Fulcrum platform hosted by Michigan Publishing. Fulcrum will host all upcoming Lever titles as well.

Q: What if I have questions about this change?
A: Feel free to reach out to any member of the Oversight Committee if you have questions about this change.