When I took over the day-to-day operations of the publishing program last year, the direction for my work was provided in one little item in the Libraries’ strategic plan (PDF):
Expand University Libraries’ support for publishing journals edited by members of the OSU community and for managing and providing access to papers and presentations generated at conferences hosted by OSU.
There were two tactics listed under it, which were basically to recruit more publishing partners and to create a scalable service model. An appropriate level of vague-ness for a strategic plan, but not a whole lot to go on, especially since publishing was an entirely new area for me. I am now in the thick of the first tactic – making people aware of what we do – but I spent quite a bit of last year struggling with the second. I had to figure out a) what we’d been doing, b) why we’d been doing it that way, and c) how we could continue to do it sustainably even as we expand. After months of investigation, pilot projects, conversations with partners, and approvals from higher-ups, our new service model is in place. I’ve written about the new model in depth on my local blog, so here I will just give some context and background and link over to the relevant posts.
Our journal publishing program grew up organically, based on the needs of the faculty members who came to us and our capacity at the time. Our projects included:
- a musicology journal published through our DSpace repository and delivered through a separate website maintained by the editors,
- A student literary journal created as part of a class and published on Open Journal Systems,
- and a journal in disability studies for which we performed time-intensive HTML layout editing to ensure accessibility
The rest of the journals we were supporting were similarly eclectic, in content and workflow. My goals in coming up with a ‘scalable service model’ for journal publishing were: 1. Ensure that we could handle more publications as they came in, 2. Continue to support a wide range of projects, including journals whose main goal was providing an educational experience for students, and 3. Attract high-quality, peer reviewed journals as partners. Numbers two and three, in particular, seemed like they would be tricky to reconcile.
The solution I eventually hit upon was to create service tiers for different kinds of journals. Under this model, different journals would receive different kinds of support depending on a variety of factors, including their needs, our capacity, and the sustainability and probable impact of the journal. I’m hopeful that our new model will help us reach all three of the goals I listed above. You can read about it on our website and in this blog post.
We had a lot less to go on in devising a model for conference publishing. Current practice in libraries varies from place to place, and, anecdotally, even the leaders in this area are still figuring out what works. This past winter, we undertook a pilot project that involved creating a conference website in Open Conference Systems, and surveying OSU faculty, staff, and students who organize conferences on campus. After mulling over the results of the project (and trying to pin some folks down on what they meant by ‘conference publishing,’ anyway), we decided that our new service would focus on what we do best: helping folks increase the impact of their scholarship. This was a difficult choice, since it doesn’t include a number of services that conference organizers definitely need – for example, help managing registrations. In the end, however, we realized that the help we could provide in those areas would not meet the demand, and would sap our resources for providing other services that are much closer to our core mission – increasing access to scholarship. Our new service focuses instead on working with conference organizers during planning to define their goals for the conference scholarship and figure out how best to reach them. That may involve a conference archive in the repository, or a proceedings published on Open Journal Systems, or something entirely different. Since the needs of conference organizers vary so widely, our service will need to be flexible and responsive, and not wedded to one particular tool or workflow. We are in the middle of a second pilot, this one following our new model.
So what now?
There is still work to be done on the new service model, such as creating work agreements and other documentation to support our partnerships. However, now we can turn our attention to the challenge of letting people know that we are here and what we can do for them – no small feat at a place the size of OSU. We are already reaching out in a variety of ways, and will be adding more soon. Look for more posts in the future about outreach, education, and building new partnerships.