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Scholarly Societies in the Humanities: New Models and Innovation

Fitzpatrick, Kathleen; Townsend, Robert; Harris, Dianne; Gillooly, Eileen

Scholarly societies have long been central to the scholarly communication system in the humanities. Membership in a scholarly society has provided crucial networking opportunities for scholars. Societies publish prestigious journals, often using revenue from journal subscriptions to underwrite other activities. Yet the sustainability of these services is now under enormous pressure due to factors including the proliferation of social media, changes in scholarly publishing models, and reduced funding opportunities. In response, scholarly societies in the humanities are experimenting with new service models to reinvent themselves as 21st-century institutions. The panelists have all been deeply involved in discussions about the future of learned societies. They are: Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Director of Scholarly Communication, Modern Language Association; Robert Townsend, Deputy Director, American Historical Association; and Dianne Harris, past-President, Society of Architectural Historians.

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