MUSE in the Age of Discovery: Launch Update

As the ball dropped on Times Square, more than 12,000 eBooks from 66 publishers appeared on a revamped and revitalized Project MUSE. Embracing a lean development cycle of 250 days, the MUSE staff delivered one of the first integrated multi-publisher platforms in the history of scholarly publishing.

We focused our efforts on providing 500,000 discoverable journal articles and book chapters to our readership with a basic set of features and functionality at launch and are rolling out new enhancements as each day passes. More than 60 libraries have purchased eBook collections from the 47 available options since October.

The feedback from our user community has been invaluable as we continue to iterate and develop in rapid fashion post-launch. We are committed to excellence in the search and discovery of content on the platform and we will aggressively pursue that goal. The issues related to search are being worked on around the clock.

Developing an integrated  content neutral platform that assigns equal weight to the browse and discovery of books and journals informed many of our decisions. We are now focusing our attention on the 500 journal communities, many developed over the last 15 years, to ensure a seamless transition to the new platform.

Please be patient as we work through unanticipated “bugs” that have arisen but are standard with migrations of this size and scope. Rest assured that the passion of the MUSE staff for addressing the needs of our community matches the strong feelings expressed by our most experienced and dedicated librarians, researchers, journal editors, authors, reviewers and publishers. We have one thing in common: a love for Project MUSE.

The conversation that started between a publisher and a librarian about the ways a press and a library could work together to solve the crisis in scholarly publishing entered its 19th year with an explosion of content and continues to be a work-in-progress. A vision of the future presented itself in those early morning hours as I scrolled through books on the blues from The University Press of Mississippi, baseball books from Nebraska, film studies texts from Indiana, gender studies from Rutgers, and literary criticism from Georgia.  The University Press Content Consortium has changed the game.

I thought of William Butler Yeats as I often have throughout my career in electronic publishing and his line: “A terrible beauty is born.” The content set now at one’s disposal is incredibly powerful and challenges the user to harness that power.

Staying in a hotel in Seattle for the MLA Convention this past weekend that was once inhabited by explorers, prospectors, adventurers, and Jack London types; I sensed the weight of this accomplishment and felt the need to provide pickaxes and shovels to the community of discoverers mining our site for gold.

Over the next three years our goal is to build the definitive research environment in the humanities and social sciences.  That means adding services, as well as content, to our platform.  We anticipate being able to offer readers increased customization of the MUSE platform, allowing users to create personal libraries within the MUSE environment, for cataloging and annotating their reading.

There will be more content: more texts, more journals, more multi-media, more reference works, and more data sets. We are looking to empower the individual scholar with the tools be able to make new discoveries and interpretations of texts.

And this is where you come in. We’d like you to take an active part in the dialogue of the new MUSE and work with us.  Please contact me directly with feedback at djs@press.jhu.edu.

Thanks for reading,

Dean Smith

 

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