As some of you may remember, Charles Watkinson of Purdue University Press whetted our appetites for this report by presented the preliminary findings at the 2011 Charleston Conference. Focusing on the future role of libraries as publishers, the final report came out last week and it makes for truly interesting reading.
The Library Publishing Services Project was a joint effort undertaken by Purdue University, the Georgia Institute of Technology, and the University of Utah supported by a grant from IMLS. The project goal was to explore “the extent to which publishing has now become a core activity of North American academic libraries and suggested ways in which further capacity could be built.”
The research consisted of a multipronged approach utilizing surveys, case studies, and workshops. The survey included library directors from diverse institutions, “including members of the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), Oberlin Group, and University Library Group institutions(later also members of the Affinity Group).” Highlighting the multiple approaches taken by library publishers, the case studies analyzed Purdue’s e-Pubs Journal Publishing Services, Georgia Tech’s Conference Proceedings Support Service and the University of Utah’s Scholarly Monographs Services. Consultative workshops were also held at these three institutions that “expanded the perspective and enriched the information gathered by the project survey and reported in the case studies,developing sustainability models for campus-based publishing programs.”
The authors of the report also discuss “five issues central to building library publishing programs” including technology infrastructure, internal and external policies & processes, skills and staffing, and sustainability planning. In addition, they acknowledge the importance of “library publishing collaborations with university presses and with other campus and extramural partners.” The report ends with broad recommendations that offer strategies to meet these needs.
What makes this report so compelling is that it embodies an expanded vision of what academic libraries can contribute on their campuses. It is a vision that takes advantage of the “substantial investments in digital repositories and in the promotion of models for more open scholarship” that academic libraries and their institutions are making. It represents an opportunity for libraries to be more entrepreneurial and add to their role of preserving scholarship the responsibility of helping to produce it.