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.
Early on, we decided that we wanted our program to be about more than just open access dissemination; rather, we wanted to think of publishing as a service we can offer to our community. In short, we wanted to be able to offer publishing options to a wide variety of groups wishing to publish: from undergraduate organizations hoping to publish monthly newsletters to rigorously refereed journals edited by a Penn State faculty member. However, with the importance that publisher reputation plays in the world of scholarly publishing, it soon became apparent that we needed to find a way to distinguish the peer-reviewed journals from the non-refereed publications in order to safeguard our reputation as a publisher and avoid our appearance on a certain list of questionable publishers.
In the end, we decided to follow the University of Pittsburgh Library’s well-designed model, which endorses its high-quality, refereed publications while still allowing other uses of the platform. The friendly people over at Pitt were incredibly generous and helpful in answering our questions and offering advice. Learning from their experience was invaluable in the process of shaping our own program. A couple of years, many, many meetings, and a handful of votes later, and we now have an in-house web developer, formalized legal agreements, an advisory board to guide the program and make rulings on publication endorsement, workflow charts, standardized criteria for service tiers, and a menu of value added services in place. Thus was our formal Penn State Libraries publishing entity and imprint born.
It’s Alive! … Well, Almost.
At this point you may be wondering, “If you have gone through the process of formalizing PSU’s library publishing program to create an official imprint to build a reputation as a publisher, why not just tell us the name of the imprint already?” And I wish I could. However, we have hit a snag that has delayed our official launch. That snag is branding. We had been planning to launch the new imprint at the beginning of this fall semester complete with a logo, pressmark, and website, but the Penn State brand is currently undergoing an overhaul. Along with a new look has come a tightening of the usage guidelines for the Penn State brand. Once the look and feel of the imprint are approved by the University’s central authority, we will be ready to launch! Fingers crossed that it will be sooner rather than later.
As I wrote above, I am really happy with the advances that we have made in the last couple of years in our publishing activities, both in terms of the number of publications and the number of formats, but I am even more excited to look ahead to the future. I believe our work over the last couple of years has, in many ways, laid the groundwork for future opportunities and practices. It seems we have laid a strong and durable foundation for growth and that we are poised for to move ahead with confidence. It is my hope that in a couple of years I will not need to report back that we have become a strong member of the open access publishing community. Hopefully you will already know it.