Project MUSE, a non-profit collaboration between libraries and publishers, is an online database of more than 550 peer-reviewed academic journals and 20,000 electronic books. Project MUSE provides access to digital humanities and social science content from 200 university presses and scholarly societies around the world.
The goal of Project MUSE is to disseminate high-quality scholarly material through an affordable and sustainable model that meets the needs of libraries, publishers, and scholars. MUSE’s online journal collections are available on a subscription basis to academic, public, special, and school libraries. Currently, more than 2,700 libraries worldwide subscribe to Project MUSE. Electronic book collections in MUSE became available for institutional purchase in January 2012. By the end of 2013, more than 23,000 books are anticipated to be available on the platform.
History of Project MUSE 
Project MUSE was founded in 1993 as a joint project between the Johns Hopkins University Press and the Milton S. Eisenhower Library at the Johns Hopkins University. With grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities, Project MUSE was launched online alongside the JHU Press Journals in 1995. Beginning in 2000, journals from other scholarly publishers were integrated into MUSE’s online collections. Additional publishers have added journals to Project MUSE each subsequent year. In January 2012, Project MUSE launched a new interface that incorporated its current journal collection with 12,000 electronic books published by members of the University Press Content Consortium (UPCC). As of January 2013, more than 20,000 books were available on the platform.
Through the use of tiered-pricing structures and the offering of various journal collections, Project MUSE strives to accommodate the budget situations and research needs of subscribing institutions. Generally, subscriptions to Project MUSE are very affordable when compared to other full-text online journal collections or to the cost of purchasing journal titles individually in print or electronically. Additionally, libraries and their users continue to have ownership rights to content they subscribed to from Project MUSE, even if they choose not to renew their subscription to the database.
Project MUSE offers institutions the flexibility of choosing the extent of their access from four interdisciplinary journal collections, as well as two broad discipline collections in the humanities or social sciences. MUSE’s content is grouped into seventeen interdisciplinary research areas: Area and Ethnic Studies; Art and Architecture; Creative Writing; Education; Film, Theater, and Performing Arts; History; Language and Linguistics; Library Science and Publishing; Literature; Medicine and Health; Music; Philosophy; Religion; Science, Technology, and Mathematics; Social Sciences; Studies by Time Period; Women’s Studies, Gender, and Sexuality.
Project MUSE is the sole source of full-text versions of journal titles from a number of university presses and scholarly societies. Journals available in MUSE are published electronically at the same time as their print counterparts and remain available permanently within the database. Subscribing libraries are not required to maintain a print subscription to the same journals they access through Project MUSE. Although much of MUSE’s journal content consists of current publications, archival issues of many of its journals are regularly added to the database. As of January 2013, Project MUSE provided subscribers with access to more than 550 journals from 160 university presses and scholarly publishers. Of the 550 journals in the database, more than 100 of them have complete runs in MUSE.
Project MUSE provides both experienced and novice researchers with a number of resources including tutorials, instructional materials, and subject guides. MUSE end-users have the capability to search the database and, if affiliated with a subscribing institution, immediately retrieve content in 100% full-text PDF or HTML formats. The complete content of each journal is available in the database, including all charts, graphics, and images. MUSE has intuitive search and browsing functions and supports various research and discovery tools such as social bookmarking, citation management functions, and RSS feeds. MUSE’s subscription license accommodates the needs of multiple researchers by allowing unlimited simultaneous access to its content, as well as the ability to retrieve content through interlibrary loan.
Supported by two grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The University Press e-book Consortium (UPeC) emerged in 2009 to explore the feasibility of, and later develop, a university press-based e-book initiative that would balance the interests of both the publishing and library communities. In spring 2011, UPeC announced its partnership with Project MUSE, and the University Press Content Consortium (UPCC) Book Collections on Project MUSE was established. Launched in January 2012, the UPCC Book Collections on Project MUSE consist of 20,000 peer-reviewed book titles from 83 major university presses and related scholarly publishers. The UPCC Book Collections on Project MUSE are fully integrated with MUSE’s electronic journal collections, allowing users to search across the books and journals collections simultaneously or to limit searches by content type.
All content from the print editions of the electronic books are full-text, accessible in PDF format, and fully searchable and retrievable at the chapter level. The UPCC Book Collections on Project MUSE have no Digital Rights Management (DRM) attached to them, allowing users at institutions which have purchased the books to print, copy, download, and save content at their discretion. Like MUSE’s journal content, books available in the collections contain current publications that are released simultaneously as their print versions.
The UPCC Book Collections on Project MUSE are available to libraries for purchase by collection and include a range of current humanities and social science scholarly titles published or scheduled to publish in 2011, 2012, and 2013. Additionally, the Foundation Collections, featuring more than 16,000 titles published between the 1990s and 2010, are available for purchase or through access-only subscriptions. Books are available in collections by publication date or through twelve subject-based collections: Archaeology and Anthropology; Ecology and Evolution; Classical Studies; Film, Theater, and Performing Arts; Global Cultural Studies; Higher Education; History; Language and Linguistics; Literature; Philosophy and Religion; Poetry, Fiction, and Creative Non-Fiction; Political Science and Policy Studies; United States Regional Studies. Additionally, seven Area Studies Collections are available: African, American, Asian and Pacific, Jewish, Latin American and Caribbean, Native American and Indigenous, and Russian and East European.
Two subscription options that provide access only (no ownership) are available to institutions. The Current Subscription provides access to all UPCC books in MUSE published or due to be published in 2013, 2012, or 2011; the Archival Subscription provides access to all UPCC books published prior to 2011.
In November 2012, it was announced that Project MUSE and YBP Library Services had formed a partnership to facilitate the purchase of single book titles from the University Press Content Consortium (UPCC) on the MUSE platform. In addition to the numerous UPCC Book Collections currently offered, in the first quarter of 2013 libraries will be able to discover, select, and acquire individual scholarly ebooks from MUSE/UPCC via YBP.