Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Korey Jackson from Anvil Academic. I participated in one of the meetings Korey describes last December, and not only was it an excellent conversation in its own right, but it convinced me that Korey and Lisa were gaining a unique perspective on library publishing efforts. I asked Korey if he would be willing to write about the experience here on The Lib Pub, and he was kind enough to agree. This is the first of two posts on the subject.
In December 2012-January 2013 Lisa Spiro and I met with representatives from ten different library publishing and scholarly communications programs (see the list of institutions at the end of this post). Our hope was to better understand emerging needs in library-based digital scholarship groups and, doing so, to develop Anvil Academic’s own strategies and services in a way that is directly (rather than remotely) responsive to these needs.
One product of these conversations is this report (as well as the white paper to come)—a space for representing and synthesizing the specific needs that academic libraries have expressed as they move into the realm of scholarly production. In many ways, this post represents a supplement to needs and operations discussed in the recent Library Publishing Services: Strategies for Success report (available here from Purdue e-Pubs). That report, which canvassed both established library publishing service units and newcomers to the field, concluded with the following best practice recommendations:
- Develop meaningful impact metrics for library publishing services to demonstrate the effectiveness and value of library-based publishing programs and inform resource allocations.
- Establish editorial quality and performance criteria to increase the value and longevity of the publications that library programs support.
- Promote sustainability best practices to improve the long-term strength and stability of library publishing programs.
- Develop return-on-investment justifications for funding library publishing programs to support increased library budget allocations in support of such programs.
Our conversations attempted to flesh-out some of these recommendations, thinking through the “how-to” of implementation. We hoped to fill in details about how libraries are interacting with scholars on the publishing front and to address questions of intake (how librarians select particular projects for development), review (how projects are vetted during or after production), and distribution (how projects are accessioned, marketed, and made discoverable). Our questions included the following:
- What kinds of publishing activities does your library already undertake? What collaborations have you engaged in with your university/college press (if applicable)?
- What demand have you seen from scholars looking to produce web-based work? What kind of support have they needed? What kind of publication venues are they targeting?
- For work that you’ve already produced or that is underway, what kinds of outreach or communication strategies do you have? (Or: where and how do you broadcast information about local projects?)
- How do you vet and review incoming projects?
- Given answers to these questions, what are the most pressing areas of need that Anvil might help with?
In what follows, I’ll attempt to represent the diversity of perspectives from each institution. Obviously, answers to these questions differ depending on factors like funding, personnel, and time that a publishing division has been operational. Despite structural differences from institution to institution, however, there are macro (and, at the same time, modular) approaches that can help library publishers address challenges throughout the publication timeline, from first submission to production, distribution, and preservation of content and form.
While Anvil Academic hopes to lend expertise to the creation of a sustainable, library-based scholarly publishing ecology, my primary intention here is not organizational promotion but simply to surface persistent challenges and potential solutions.
In this first post, I’m going to offer a general understanding of current library publishing activities. While some of this has been covered in the Library Publishing Services report, it’s worth revisiting in detail as a way of setting the backdrop for responsive services.