Hard to believe it’s August already! Where has the summer gone!
A new report from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR), The Once and Future Publishing Library, explores the revitalization of library publishing and its possible future, and examines elements that influence the success and sustainability of library publishing initiatives. Authors Ann Okerson, of the Center for Research Libraries, and Alex Holzman, of Alex Publishing Solutions, trace the history of library publishing and factors that have transformed the publishing landscape, including changes in technology and the publishing economy, a desire for open access, and the challenges of balancing institutional priorities. The authors describe several significant library-press collaborations forged over the past two decades. Although some remain robust, others have been discontinued for a variety of reasons, including the lack of a sustainable business plan. The authors conducted a survey to better understand how current library publishing activities are supported financially. They found that more than 90% of respondents rely on a combination of the library budget, funds from the parent institution, and grants; only about 7% charge end users for any of their materials. Ninety-three percent of respondents reported that their parent institution does not require their publishing programs to break even. The authors note that “current library programs seem confident that they are funded sufficiently to maintain what they are doing” but they will require further funding to expand. The report concludes with a series of lessons learned about publishing initiatives in American academic libraries. They include the importance of leadership, the need to be part of the institutional mission and discourse, the importance of marketing, and the benefits of maintaining a long-term vision “without looking for next-quarter results.” Perhaps most importantly, the authors found no pattern showing which organizational structures are more effective than others in sustaining library publishing. They conclude that “work in library publishing is so diverse and innovative that success is much more a function of the quality of the initial idea and the energy and talent brought to bear on its realization than it is a matter of organizational structure.”
An extensive bibliography as well as detailed results of the library publishing survey are provided as appendixes to the report.
CLIR is an independent, nonprofit organization that forges strategies to enhance research, teaching, and learning environments in collaboration with libraries, cultural institutions, and communities of higher learning. It aims to promote forward-looking collaborative solutions that transcend disciplinary, institutional, professional, and geographic boundaries in support of the public good. We will have a panel on this report during the 2015 Charleston Conference!
Nancy Herther (U of Minnesota) points to a recent article in the local campus paper on the final closure of the UMN bindery. The article notes that only the U of California has a formal bindery on campus. These were once the busy humming center of activity in the past and now they are becoming distant memories. Clearly we still have print — what do people see as the future? Will we be left with one archival copy somewhere and rely completely on electronic texts?
This brought back a long ago memory of a visit to the Sophia Antipolis University and Library in Nice, France and located in Europe’s best-known science park. I think it was in 1989 when IFLA was in Paris and there was a huge reception at the new I.M Pei Pyramid in front of the Louvre as well as a reception at the Paris Opera. Anyway, the Sophia Antipolis University Library specialized in STM and was in a magnificent chateau. There was a charming gentleman and several ladies who were in charge of the bindery. They showed me the best way to hold a book so as not to injure it. More memories — the director of the library was a friend of Dora Biblarz (once of Arizona State University, now retired). I don’t remember his name but I remember that he was French, spoke immaculate English, and loved New Orleans Jazz. Maybe you all have a better memory than I do?
Returning to the bindery and the survival of print, have I told y’all about the librarian who wrote a short story in a science fiction magazine called “Ms Fnd in a Lbry”? It’s a satirical science fiction short story about the exponential growth of information, written by Hal Draper in 1961. The title is a play on “MS. Found in a Bottle“, a story by Edgar Allan Poe. It even has an entry in Wikipedia and though written in 1961 it is scarily prescient! For a conference LONG TIME AGO Richard Werking one time director at the Naval Academy library wanted us to reprint it in ATG and I got permission. BUT he wanted it reprinted exactly as it had been in the magazine, color and pagination and all. We couldn’t swing it but in retrospect, we should have!!