Last call at The Lib Pub

After four years, 55 posts, and 16 contributors, the Lib Pub is going to close its doors for a while. I have moved to a new role at the Educopia Institute, and am going to take a break from blog editing.

It has always been my vision for this site, however, that it belongs to the library publishing community as a whole, so if someone else wants to take a turn behind the bar (yes, I’m going to push the pub analogy to the bitter end), it may reopen at some point in the future. In the meantime, the existing content will remain live, and will hopefully serve as a resource for folks engaged or interested in library publishing.

Thanks for reading!



Call for submissions for 2nd annual LPC Award for Outstanding Scholarship in Library Publishing

If you’ve published scholarship related to library publishing in the last year, consider submitting it for the Library Publishing Coalition Award for Outstanding Scholarship in Library Publishing. This is the second year this award has been offered, and it would be great to see some stiff competition. The awardee receives a complimentary Library Publishing Forum registration and travel stipend, a cash award, and a chance to present their research at the Forum. More details at the link above.

2017 Library Publishing Directory and Library Publishing Forum


This year’s Library Publishing Directory is available! Announcement:

The Library Publishing Coalition is pleased to announce publication of the 2017 Library Publishing Directory, which highlights the publishing activities of over 115 college and university libraries.

PDF and EPUB versions are openly available online at

The Directory illustrates the many ways in which libraries are actively transforming and advancing scholarly communications in partnership with scholars, students, university presses, and others.

In documenting the breadth and depth of activities in this field, this resource aims to articulate the unique value of library publishing; establish it as a significant and growing community of practice; and to raise its visibility within a number of stakeholder communities, including administrators, funding agencies, other scholarly publishers, librarians, and content creators.

Publication was overseen by the LPC’s Directory Committee:
  • Joshua Neds-Fox, Wayne State (chair)
  • Char Simser, Kansas State University
  • Terry Owen, University of Maryland
  • Liz Hamilton, Northwestern University
  • Katherine Purple, Purdue University (ex officio)
  • Sarah Lippincott, Hampshire College (ex officio)
The Directory is made possible by the generous donation of services from Purdue University Libraries and Bookmasters.


The date and location for the 2017 Library Publishing  Forum has been announced. It will take place March 20-22nd in Baltimore, MD. Save the date and visit the website for more information.

Call for entries for the Library Publishing Directory

If your library has any publishing activities and you are not yet represented in the Library Publishing Directory, I encourage you to fill out the questionnaire. The Directory is an important resource, both as a reference tool for library publishers and service providers, and as a way for us as a community to understand trends and needs. It takes a little while to fill out, but it’s worth it.

Does your library publish journals, monographs, conference proceedings, or technical reports? Do you provide hosting and support services for digital humanities projects, data, or ETDs?

Help us to document the range of activities that libraries are undertaking in “publishing” (broadly defined) through their work in scholarly communications, digital humanities, digital sciences, and institutional repositories.

To promote collaboration and knowledge-sharing, and to raise the visibility of the unique contributions of libraries as “publishers,” the Library Publishing Coalition (LPC) is compiling the fourth edition of our Library Publishing Directory.

To have a profile of your library included in the Directory, please complete our questionnaire at:

The survey will close on August 30.

The questionnaire takes between 30 and 45 minutes to complete. We recommend previewing the questions before you begin.

The Library Publishing Directory is an important tool for libraries wishing to learn about this emerging field, connect with their peers, and align their practices with those of the broader community. Last year’s edition featured 125 libraries in half a dozen nations. It was downloaded over 400 times.

The Directory is published openly on the web and will include contact information, descriptions, and other key facts about each library’s publishing services. Previous editions (in PDF, EPUB, MOBI, and database versions) can be found at

Please e-mail Sarah Lippincott ( with questions or comments.

Some ways of thinking about costs and subsidies

Editor’s note: This is the third (and, I believe, final) post in a series by Kevin Hawkins. The first contained advice for institutions thinking about starting a publishing program, and the second shared strategies for creating an accessible archive of journal back issues. This post, in addition to providing clarity in the area of fees, raises some interesting questions around what it means to be an “essential” service of the library. Many thanks to Kevin for his contributions this summer!  

When you first hear that libraries offer publishing services, you might think of this as outside the scope of what libraries traditionally do. However, libraries do all sorts of things today that are outside their traditional scope—for example, teaching people to use software to visualize and analyze data or offering makerspaces. A publishing service offered to users isn’t really all that different: the library is providing expertise and access to resources.

In an earlier post I mentioned some of the costs of publishing: staff time, technology costs, and outsourced services. As I wrote then, if the library is not willing to fully subsidize these expenses for a library publishing program, you will need to come up with a way to recover such costs. But before getting into business models, it’s worth taking a moment to think about the reasons that a library might choose (or be convinced!) to subsidize its library publishing program. It’s not simply a question of mission for the publishing service; we should also consider how other services of the library are funded.

Libraries are cost centers for the host institution, providing services without the expectation of recovering revenue. Their services are often offered for free for the benefit of affiliated users and possibly also the public. It’s in the interest of the institution for users to be able to use the resources without incurring any costs.

However, libraries do sometimes charge fees for their services.  These fall into a couple of categories:

  1. Fees for unaffiliated users: A library is funded to offer services to a particular community. A public library might offer certain privileges for users who live outside the library district, or an academic library might offer certain privileges for those not affiliated with the institution, but only for a fee.
  2. Convenience fees: While users can come to the library and retrieve print materials on their own, the library might charge for delivery to the user’s office on campus. Or the library might offer a for-fee research service through which a user can pay for a library employee to do in-depth research beyond what the library would typically provide to its users for free.
  3. Fees for measurable, expendable resources: If a user visits the reading room, their work usually doesn’t deprive others of electricity, wifi bandwidth, or other common, basically immeasurable resources provided by the library.  However, if the user makes photocopies, this consumes paper that others can’t use. Therefore, the library might charge for the paper.  Well, it’s actually more likely to charge more than the cost of the paper—including some “overhead” to recover the cost of buying and maintaining the photocopier. But that overhead is not as likely to cover a portion of the salary of a staff member who occasionally loads the paper tray or helps people use the machine because it’s not worth measuring this small amount of time.

A library publishing service might involve any of these types of fees, but it is likely to involve some resources—especially staff member time and access to an online publishing system—that are not easily measured or not worth accounting for by project. For example, if a staff member spends a small portion of their time explaining the publishing service and helping people use it, and if the service “rides on” an institutional repository or digital library with other uses at the library, it’s probably not practical to charge users for any of this, especially if they are affiliated with the home institution and the system doesn’t allow for self service. However, if the service involves larger time commitments—such as helping journal editors set up a new journal and helping each year’s new graduate assistant understand how to use the online journal platform—there’s a good case to be made for approximating staff time spent on such projects and charging setup and/or annual maintenance fees accordingly. This is akin to a for-fee research service.

Sometimes a library incurs costs that are exactly measurable—such as ILL fees charged by another library—but chooses not to pass them on to users because the service is seen as essential or because the library doesn’t want to create a disincentive for users not to use it. If the library publishing service is seen as essential to the users, then certainly there’s a good case for the library covering the costs entirely, at least for affiliated users. But if not, and if it involves measurable, expendable resources, there will need to be a way to recover the costs of these resources, such as through user fees, such as setup or annual maintenance fees, or revenue from sales of or access to the user’s content.

How do you think about costs and subsidies?

Options for making previously published material available

Editor’s note: This is the second guest post by Kevin Hawkins. His first talked about the process of starting a library publishing program; this one covers options for delivering back content of journals (or other materials) when you become the publisher. This second post is also part of our series on accessibility

If your library publishing program will absorb any established journals or series of books or technical reports, you will probably want to make previously published content available online in addition to any new content you publish. So what are your options? Below I’ll use the term “back issues” as if we’re talking about a journal, but everything I say could as easily apply to books or technical reports.

The easiest solution would be to create a searchable collection in HathiTrust of these back issues (see this example). Note that you don’t have to be affiliated with a HathiTrust member institution to create a collection; individuals can create collections using guest accounts through the University of Michigan. If the back issues aren’t yet in HathiTrust, you may be able to find a partner institution willing to digitize and submit the issues for you. Your back issues are probably still protected by copyright, so you’ll need to have the rightsholder fill out a permissions agreement authorizing HathiTrust to make the full text viewable. Then you can link to the collection of back issues from the website where you’ll publish new content.

There are, however, some disadvantages to doing this. First, you won’t be able to allow users to search across back issues and new issues in a single interface. Second, HathiTrust’s search functionality uses the OCR text created after scanning, which can contain errors in recognition of the original and which is difficult for visually impaired users to read using assistive technology. Third, a HathiTrust collection provides no index of authors or article titles; a user would need to look at each issues table of contents if a fulltext search is insufficient.

There are many vendors that will scan printed matter and deliver those scans as individual page images or multipage PDF files (as you choose).  More libraries are equipped to deliver PDF files to users, and that format has the advantage of allowing OCR text to be embedded to allow for fulltext searching. While Adobe Acrobat has built-in OCR capability, many vendors will not only create the OCR for you but even offer OCR correction as an additional service. And some can even create PDF/UA (“universal accessibility”) files, ensuring they can be read with assistive technology.

Unfortunately, none of this provides an automatic index of authors or article titles. A vendor might be able to create this for you as well, or you could create one on your own as a byproduct of XML encoding of the content. Who would do the XML encoding? Probably a vendor, though you might try creating your own using the PKP XML Parsing Service. This could be especially useful if use the XML Galley Plugin (a standard component of OJS) for new issues since you could potentially have old and new issues all in the same XML format.

In any case, when working with a vendor, it is best for your contract to specify the quality standard you expect, such as acceptable error rate on scanning pages, acceptable error rate on OCR, and file validation. But if you do this, you’ll want to actually evaluate the digitized content that you receive (likely by sampling random pages) and be prepared to reject content not meeting the standard for the vendor to fix without charge.

As you can see, there are a number of ways you might proceed. Perhaps you have other ideas? If so, please add comments!

So you want to create a library publishing program?

Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of guest posts by Kevin Hawkins, the Assistant Dean for Scholarly Communication at the University of North Texas Libraries. Kevin has many years of experience in library-based publishing, both at UNT and at the University of Michigan, and he has generously agreed to share some of his expertise with us. His first post is the latest entry in our new program development series. Welcome, Kevin!

Library publishing programs come in many shapes and sizes. If you feel that your library should have one (or you were asked to create one), how do you choose what sort of program to create?

As with so many other aspects of librarianship, you need to pause to consider what sort of information need are you trying to address. For example:

  • Are students, faculty, or administrators asking the library to support student publishing opportunities (a pedagogical need)?
  • Are researchers at the institution looking for the library to offer or create venues in which to publish their works (a research need)?
  • Does the institution want to “put a stake in the ground” in promoting a new model of scholarly publishing (a need to support the institution’s mission)?
  • Does the library want to raise awareness of its unique collections (a need to support the library)?

These each call for different kinds of services, with different ways of acquiring and certifying content, different levels of support for authors and editors, different genres of publication (book, journal, brochure, etc.), and different cost models.

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Library Publishing Forum 2016: Call for Proposals

It’s that time of year again! The call for proposals for the 2016 Library Publishing Forum is live, so start thinking about what you want to share with your fellow library publishers. The theme for this year is “Aplifying Scholarship: More Choices, More Voices.” I’m not always the biggest fan of conference themes, but I think this is a nice one. It reflects one of the unique values of our community – our role in supporting niche publications and otherwise worthy scholarship that wouldn’t necessarily be of interest to commercial or university press publishers – while being vague enough to not limit proposals unnecessarily. Also, I hear Denton, TX has a good music scene, so there should be plenty of opportunities for puns.  The deadline for submissions is January 15th.

I’m also excited that our opening keynote speaker will be Cheryl Ball. If that name sounds familiar in this space, that’s because she organized last summer’s Access/ibility in Digital Publishing Seminar at West Virginia University, which has inspired a series of accessibility-themed posts here on The Lib Pub. I’m looking forward to hearing what she has to say to the community of library publishers!

Evolving: An Update on Library Publishing at Penn State

Editor’s note: This is the second post in our new series on beginning or evolving library publishing programs. See the “program development” category for the rest of the posts in the series. 

It is my pleasure to report that our publishing activities here at the Penn State Libraries have both grown and evolved since our introduction to this blog in early 2013. We have experienced marked growth in both the number of publications that we produce and the number of publication formats which we support. We currently support 11 serial publications, including both endorsed and unendorsed journals, and 1 scholarly web portal. On deck for publication are 2 online annotated topical bibliographic databases, 2 peer-reviewed journals, and an edited online open access volume which is to accompany a forthcoming print volume by the Penn State Press.

While I find the growth that we have experienced over the past couple of years very encouraging, I am even more excited about our evolution and the establishment of a formalized publishing program. We are currently in the process of transitioning from a series of ad hoc activities and services to a full-fledged publishing entity. The Penn State Libraries have long participated in publishing (e.g. The Penn State Libraries Bibliography Series, the exploration of DPuBs with the Penn State Press and Cornell University, the Metalmark Book Series, and various online resources such as the AgNIC database), but the Libraries have not, to date, acted as a formal publishing entity with a curated program. In late 2012, when our department, Publishing and Curation Services, was formed, the Libraries hosted 3 open access versions of important regional print publications, which we published after an embargo, and the conference proceedings of a scholarly society. With these publications as a base, we, like many fledgling library publishing operations, decided to focus on developing an open access journal publishing program.

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Accessible Futures for libraries

Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Sarah Kennedy, and the latest post in our series about accessibility issues in library publishing

Hello again, readers. I’m Sarah Kennedy, Librarian for Agriculture, Natural Resources, Design, and Extension at West Virginia University’s Evansdale Library, writing another guest blog post on the topic of accessibility in libraries. This is a follow-up to my first blog post (Accessibility: A Role for Libraries) in which I discussed some of my thoughts after I attended a wonderful summer seminar on Access/ibility in Digital Publishing at WVU.

Accessible Future workshop

To further my education in these matters, I recently attended a 2-day workshop organized by the Building an Accessible Future for the Humanities Project. This workshop, called “Accessible Future,” (link to agenda) is one of five 2-day workshops during which participants learn about technologies, design standards, and accessibility issues associated with the use of digital environments. This was the last in the five part series, hosted at the University of California Los Angeles.

I thought that the workshop was absolutely fabulous. If the series continues in the future, I would highly recommend that anyone who has even a passing interest in accessibility applies to attend. I will say that, although the workshop had a humanities leaning, I found that the general principles were very broad-based and applicable to any library setting. So, if you have an interest in accessibility in libraries generally, this is a great opportunity to expand your knowledge base and also meet some of the preeminent scholars and activists within this area of study.

After I returned from the workshop, I presented summaries of the workshop sessions as well as some of my own key takeaways (link to Google slides) to my colleagues in a 1.5 hour brown bag lunch session. In the interest of brevity, I will here extract some of the highlights that I think will be most useful/applicable.

A “Modest Workflow” for accessibility testing

For the following list, I would like to credit Dr. Jeremy Boggs, Design Architect at the University of Virginia Library’s Scholars’ Lab. In session #6, which focused on integrating accessibility testing into the workflows of projects and workplaces, Jeremy provided his truly awesome “Modest Workflow” for things that he does to test accessibility on a web page. His Modest Workflow, in no particular order, is copied below:

  • Validate the HTML and CSS. Are there validation errors?
  • Look at the page in a variety of browsers: Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Opera, Safari
  • Disable CSS. Is content still displayed in a readable and ordered way? Do actionable links or icons or content remain, or disappear?
  • Disable JavaScript. Does your site still work? Do actionable links or icons or content remain, or disappear?
  • Disable images, audio, and video. Is the content still available, understandable and usable? Do any important controls or information disappear?
  • Unplug the mouse or use the keyboard. Is it possible to use the keyboard to navigate the page? Is it obvious where they keyboard focus current is?
  • Test the web page through WebAIM.
  • Test the web page through an Accessibility audit in Google Chrome.
  • Test the web page through pa11y.
  • View source and read the page’s code.
  • Listen to the page in a screen reader.
  • Ask people to use the page. Does the content and its presentation make sense to them? Does it work for them?

Not familiar with some of the tools mentioned above? No worries – many of us at the workshop weren’t either! That’s why Jeremy also provided an “Accessibility Toolkit” with links to his favorite tools. Check them out:

Bringing accessibility home

I think that the other session with really valuable takeaways was session #11, in which all of the attendees brainstormed their ideas for how they might return to their home institutions to advocate for accessibility. Here is the list of ideas, which I arranged thematically. I encourage all readers to take these ideas back to their respective institutions and to host either formal or informal conversations about what steps – great or small – you might take to improve accessibility where you are! I would encourage you to think about these ideas from a multimodal standpoint, to include the written, aural, visual, gestural, spatial, and tactile modes of interacting with our surroundings.


  • Incorporate accessibility testing into all course design.
  • Host in-class discussions addressing accessibility concerns. (For the librarians and information science folks reading this post, we may think especially about encouraging these conversations in library and information science graduate programs.)
  • Consider inserting an accessibility statement in your teaching philosophy and/or syllabi.
  • Explore the development of accessibility badges, certificate programs, or continuing education courses.
  • Use your student evaluation forms to encourage your students to reflect on your class and how accessible they found it to be.

Facilities and Public Services

  • Conduct an accessibility audit of your facilities and public services.
  • If you spot an accessibility problem no campus, report it to the appropriate authority. (Here at WVU, we would submit a web form to our Facilities department, notifying them of any issues that could limit an individual’s access to a building or dorm.)

Organizational Culture and Institutional Support

  • Form an Accessibility Committee at your library (or department) to discuss accessibility concerns and propose improvements.
  • Encourage library administration and hiring committees to address accessibility as part of future job descriptions, especially for instructors/instructional designers and web developers.
  • Create incentives within the structures of the university to reward those who address accessibility concerns (for example, in merit reviews).
  • Create incentives at the institutional level, as in professional development opportunities (e.g. attendance at workshops like Accessible Future!)


  • Connect with the relevant campus office, local community groups, organizations, and student groups to address and work to resolve campus accessibility concerns.
  • Organize presentations to the stakeholders in your community, showing them the steps you have taken to address accessibility at your institution and providing ideas and tips that they may implement at their own departments.
  • Partner with your ASL (American Sign Language) program to determine whether you can add captions to multimedia material.
  • Partner with your Office of Disability Services to hire students who can then be trained to provide accessibility audits and enhancements. Design a program that is a win-win arrangement, providing a vital service to campus and also providing students with valuable experience that they may list on their resumes.