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University of Hawaiʻi has received a $100,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support the digitization and open-access distribution of 22 out-of-print University of Hawaiʻi Press books.

The 18-month project is part of the Humanities Open Book Program, a joint initiative between the Mellon Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). In 2017, UH Press received a $90,000 grant to launch the program at UH Mānoa.

“We are extremely grateful to the Mellon Foundation and the NEH for their continued support,” said Trond Knutsen, UH Press digital publishing manager. “Our goal for this project is to expand upon UH Press’s efforts to revive our rich backlist and make scholarly resources available to more readers.”

A team of UH Press and UH Mānoa Library employees recommended texts for the Humanities Open Book Program that are foundational to regional studies in Asia, the Pacific and Hawaiʻi.

Among the books selected are a heavily illustrated, three-volume ethnography of Tahiti, as well as the biography of an important statesman who served the last king of the Hawaiian monarchy.

“Over the years our UH Press has published many books of cultural and historical significance to Hawaiʻi, the Pacific and Asia,” said David Lassner, UH System president and UH Mānoa interim chancellor. “We thank the Mellon Foundation for their assistance in helping us make some of these academic treasures available to the world in online open-access formats.”

The process of making out-of-print titles available in open-access formats is often costly, and requires publishers to clear rights from authors and their estates, research third-party permissions, work with multilingual proofreaders and coordinate with digitization vendors.

“Like most university presses, we operate without an endowment and within narrow margins in order to support the best scholarship,” said Joel Cosseboom, UH Press interim director and publisher. “This generous grant from the Mellon Foundation and the NEH will enable us to give important works from our 70 years of publishing new life in virtual collections.”

At the end of the project, readers will be able to find direct links to open-access works from a new UH Press website, and download the digitized books in EPUB and PDF at no cost. A print-on-demand option will also be offered for select titles.

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