Reflections on the 2016 Library Publishing Forum

This week in North Philly Notes,  we re-post an article from the Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication by Temple University Press’ editorial assistant and rights and contracts coordinator,  Nikki Miller.

As one of two recipients of the first annual AAUP-LPC Cross Pollination Grant, I had the
opportunity to attend the 2016 Library Publishing Forum and the OER Pre-Conference
in Denton, TX. As this was my first time interacting with library voices on the subject of
library publishing, and as I am a relative newcomer to the publishing industry, I was worried that my inexperience in library publishing and library and press collaboration would hinder my experience—and my impact—at the Forum. I was afraid I would appear an amateur and feel that I did not belong. However, I quickly learned that the LPC’s goal isn’t all that different from ours at Temple University Press, and that of other academic publishers. The LPC’s mission statement reads:

The Library Publishing Coalition promotes the development of innovative, sustainable publishing services in academic and research libraries to support scholars as they create, advance, and disseminate knowledge.

The similarities appear in the support for scholars to create, advance, and disseminate
knowledge, and this goal was a constant refrain throughout the conference. My fears
proved baseless. Even as someone with very little previous knowledge about open access, I never felt like an outsider; I was welcomed and included into the group, and so many were eager to explain the goals of the Library Publishing Coalition and their respective institutions’ open access platforms and goals. By the time I left Texas, I collected an array of knowledge about library publishing, open access, the relationship between the two, and the relationship between them and university presses. I also gathered general takeaways that perhaps impacted me more. Those takeaways are shared below.

INCLUSIVITY

Not surprisingly, an intense sense of community and collaboration was prevalent
throughout the weekend. Panels were preceded with chatter among the audience members and followed with discussion between panelists and attendees. In fact, one of the plenary sessions, “Librarian Engagement and Social Justice in Publishing”, focused on the diversity of the field and what we can do to have a wider and more diverse community.

Not only was community discussed within library publishing, but it was also apparent
that community is encouraged between librarians and publishers. As we checked in
to registration, we were given an option of choosing one of two tote bags: one labeled
“pubrarian,” and the other labeled “liblisher”. I welcomed this as a strong symbol of
community and collaboration between university press publishers and library publishers, as it suggests that there is already unity between the two. Right from the beginning, I felt included as an outsider to library publishing. Many times throughout the conference, LPC members approached me for discussion and the social events were packed with conversation. I felt included in every aspect of the experience and was pleasantly surprised by how many people I met and with whom I developed working relationships.

SUSPENSE

A lot of discussion surrounded the topic of sustainability and how to ensure open access
products will remain self-sustaining. Not only is there a question of how to make publishing platforms financially self-sustaining, but also how to ensure the longevity of the scholarship published. The latter, I think, is the reason for an unknown future in open access. No one at the conference had an answer as to the future of open access, which left us in a state of suspense—just like any movie, this suspense is exciting. Publishing is in a state of transformation, and the effect open access will have in the future is not certain. Academia is going to experience the effects of open access as it continues to increase in popularity and gains credibility. This state of growth allows for collaboration and experimentation by a wide range of participants. It was reassuring to learn that I was not alone in being unsure of the future of open access and the effect it will—or will not—have on academia and traditional academic publishers. Many conversations are happening within the field and I am excited to participate in them, specifically between an institution’s library and its home press.

OVERALL

Not only did I leave Texas with a much better understanding of open access, but I also left with validation that I belonged at the conference as a voice from a university press. I felt that I had gained the network and tools that would allow me to facilitate further collaboration between the LPC and AAUP, which is a goal of the Cross-Pollination Grant. I believe that it has made me much better equipped to collaborate with our own library, and it affirmed my choice of a career. Overall, my attendance at the LPC taught me much more than the ins-and-outs of open access. With it, I gained confidence, validation, and affirmation that will continue to resonate with me as I continue my career in academic publishing.

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