Merger of JSTOR and Ithaka

JSTOR and Ithaka have recently announced the merger of their organisations. The new combined enterprise will be called Ithaka and will be dedicated to helping the academic community use digital technologies to advance scholarship and teaching and to reducing systemwide costs through collective action.

JSTOR was founded in 1995 by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation as a shared digital library to help academic institutions save costs associated with the storage of library materials and to vastly improve access to scholarship. Today, more than 5,200 academic institutions and 600 scholarly publishers and content owners participate in JSTOR.

Ithaka was started in 2003 with funding from the Mellon Foundation and The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and Stavros S. Niarchos Foundation. It is probably best known for incubating and hosting Portico its digital preservation service for e-journals and e-books. Ithaka is also the organisational home to NITLE, a suite of services supporting the use of technology in liberal arts education and has produced a number of influential reports including the 2007 “University Publishing in A Digital Age” and the 2008 “Sustainability and Revenue Models for Online Academic Resources.”

The merger makes sense in containing expenses at a time when endowments are under severe pressure. JSTOR and Ithaka already work closely together (for example over the Portico service) and share a common history, values, and a fundamental purpose. During 2008, the Ithaka-incubated resource Aluka was integrated into JSTOR as an initial step, further strengthening ties between the organisations. JSTOR will now join Portico and NITLE as a coordinated set of offerings made available under the Ithaka organisational name. In addition to JSTOR, Portico, and NITLE, Ithakas existing research and strategic services groups will be important parts of the enterprise.

Kevin Guthrie will remain President of Ithaka and Michael Spinella from JSTOR will become Executive Vice-President. The board will be composed of Ithaka and JSTOR Trustees, with Henry Bienen, President of Northwestern University, serving as Chairman and Paul Brest, President of the Hewlett Foundation as Vice Chairman.

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