A group blog on scholarly publishing in libraries is a welcome concept–energizing to the growing number in library publishing programs looking to connect the dots between ideas, initiatives, tools, success stories, lessons learned, and general crystal-ball gazing that is coming to characterize this increasingly chatty community of practice. Publishing in academic libraries hardly being a novel enterprise, of course, but it certainly has begun to feel as though this dispersed aggregation of library and information professionals is taking a beat to sort out whether and how a cohesive community identity might propel us all forward. This blog is a manifestation of that energy harnessed. Thank you, Melanie. I’m really happy to be here.

Vitals: Mark Newton, MSLIS from UIUC; professional trajectory from commercial publishing to library school to institutional repository management to repository-based publishing in a university press partnership to my present professional home: the Center for Digital Research and Scholarship (CDRS) at Columbia University Libraries/Information Services.

I’m exceptionally fortunate to work with a terrifically talented group of colleagues in a well-resourced unit, exploring ways to extend research support and scholarly communication services (including publishing) from the library. We strive to be both directly responsive to the needs of our faculty and student bodies yet scalable in ways that allow us to continue expanding the number of publishing partners with whom we can work. Fundamentally, we’re building expertise with a few known platforms (WordPress, OJS/OCS among them) and continually refining our approach through improvement on a tiered service model. This is an oversimplification, of course. In practice, every new publishing opportunity comes with its own editorial idiosyncrasies and technical mysteries. Our group gets to painstakingly parse requirements and propose right-sized solutions. We’re often exploring and learning right along with our publishing partners–very engaging work.

There are unknowns (publishing and technical expertise we get to acquire if we don’t already have it) and then there are unknowns (anticipating and positioning ourselves for the face of scholarly publishing in the near and not-near futures). CDRS is something of a collaboratory, where library service providers in research data management, digital repositories, and scholarly communication¬† all get to come together to work on both kinds of unknowns. The Lib Pub and the LPC have stepped forward as forums for those of us in library-based publishing to explore both kinds of unknowns with colleagues outside our home institutions as well. The potential here is significant, and it’s a privilege to have a seat at these tables.

(I want also to close this introduction by noting that my personal path to scholarly publishing in libraries has been afforded to me by a very long string of mentors, instructors, supervisors, and collaborators who have been inspiring and supportive beyond words. I am absurdly lucky, and I owe a tremendous lot to them all.)