One of the pitfalls in fields that require in-depth access to immense data and research is attempting to navigate the entire volume of what is available. A lot of time in research and development is spent in simply trying to understand what has already been done.
Project Muse, a joint partnership between Johns Hopkins University Press and the Milton Eisenhower Library, bills itself as a leading provider of digital data in humanities and social science to more than 2,000 libraries through its subscription model. The site is now slated to add more than 12,000 ebooks to its catalog of nearly 500 electronic journals. While the launch of the new digital data joint access will begin January 1st next year, Project Muse is allowing access to the beta program through the end of this year.
While much of the information in the collection is sourced from professional journals and the new addition of the ebooks, Project Muse is also considering compiling public domain content in order to have as much information as possible in their searchable database. While public domain titles are obviously available to the public without cost, Project Muse is attempting to streamline the legwork of investigation for its subscribers by amassing as much of the necessary information as possible in one location.
The interesting aspect of the new program is the site’s options for navigating and distributing content. Subscribers can decide to purchase an “ownership” account that gives nearly unlimited access to everything Muse has to offer, including printable and downloadable DRM-free rights. At the same time, subscribers may opt to lease and even lease-to-own the information, which comes with some restrictions but at a lesser price tag.
According to an article by Barbara Quint for InformationToday, some of the beta users who have tried out the new format had both positive and negative reviews. The users Quint spoke with were very excited about the merging of online journals and ebooks, but the fact that the site couldn’t be utilized on a dedicated e-reader without Internet Explorer or Mozilla seemed counterproductive; the whole point of adding ebooks to the collection meant greater ease of searching and utilizing material, but the content was restricted to browser-capable viewing. The overall impressions of the beta program were very positive and Project Muse has responded favorably to the suggestions from users.