In an effort to provide researchers with an alternative source of information, the Encyclopedia of American Studies (EAS) has adopted an open access policy. Scholars and others studying American culture and society can now search the extensive database at http://eas-ref.press.jhu.edu free of charge. "The field of American Studies has changed a great deal since the print version of the encyclopedia was first released in 2001," said EAS editor Simon Bronner. "We heard from scholars and institutions globally about access and realized we had the opportunity with a new format to keep up with the latest developments."
The EAS is sponsored by the American Studies Association and hosted by the Johns Hopkins University Press, publisher of the ASA's official journal American Quarterly. The online version first appeared in 2003. The encyclopedia home page received a new look to coincide with the switch to open access. Bronner explained some of these changes in a recent podcast http://www.press.jhu.edu/journals/podcasts.html. The Encyclopedia has more than 800 online, searchable articles and accompanying bibliographies, related websites, illustrations, and supplemental material covering the history, philosophy, arts, and cultures of the United States in relation to the world, from pre-colonial days to the present.
"We wanted to show the institutional value of American studies as an interdisciplinary perspective which may not exist in other online resources," said Bronner, chair of the American Studies Program and distinguished professor of American studies and folklore at Pennsylvania State University, Harrisburg. "The Encyclopedia includes interpretive angles that show trends and ideas of research that may provoke a different line of thinking." Bronner said that the editorial board of the Encyclopedia, which includes scholars from the U.S., Hong Kong and Switzerland, will work to continually update the site. He also said plans exist to expand the amount of multimedia content available to users of the Encyclopedia.