Whiting Week-in-Residence Reports

Professional development is a critical component of AAUP programming, and the Whiting Week-in-Residence program is a rare opportunity for mid- and upper-level university press staff to submerge themselves, for one week, in the workings of another press. The benefit is twofold: both the participant and the host share ideas and solutions. This year, participants' focuses ranged from the digital to the managerial. Each participant took home ideas for improving on new programs and initiatives or for refining and streamlining workflow. Reports from the 2010 grantees share some of what participants took away from their experience.

Ryan Morris, recently named Journals and Accredited Publishing Manager at SUNY Press, is tending a budding journals program. In 2010, Morris paid a timely visit to Duke University Press to learn about their journals program and take home some veteran advice. In her week at Duke, Morris met with staff from each department, focusing her time on key components of a successful journals program: production timelines, production tasks, subscription agents and their role in distribution, and contractual strategies, providing her with both immediate and long-term ideas for the SUNY program that would lay the groundwork for a formal strategic plan. Of her Whiting week, she writes: "My week-in-residence at Duke couldn't have occurred at a more opportune time. SUNY Press's journals program has come together much faster than anticipated, and it is our hope to launch the program as efficiently and seamlessly as possible."

Further up the Atlantic coast, Princeton University Press and the University of Pennsylvania Press both received visits from Ann Baker, the Editorial, Design, and Production Manager at University of Nebraska Press. Baker's goal for the week was "to observe and learn how the traditional editorial and production roles are variously enmeshed in an EDP department [...] and to learn if and how to restructure, reassign, or reclassify staff duties to gain efficiencies and streamline handoffs." Working in a field where editorial and production duties have a tendency to shift and overlap, Baker confirmed that EDP duties and responsibilities do vary depending on press structure, size, and specialty, and that production processes can be tailored to specific—and even multiple—objectives. Her pointers from the week? Make a better use of online resources for production processes; rely more on standard forms to expedite; and invest time and resources now to better incorporate XML processes.

Kelly Chrisman Jacques also spent a week with another press's production team, but her focus was specific to better incorporating e-book production into a press's workflow. The University Press of Kansas Production Assistant spent her week in residence at the University of North Carolina Press. While there, she learned about each department's involvement in e-book production during a full schedule of department meetings, webinars, group discussions, and one-on-one interviews that covered everything from developing a business plan to negotiating with vendors to navigating metadata, E-ISBNs and XML-first workflow. Chrisman Jacques spent even her free minutes exploring the workings of the press's central database. She returned to Kansas with "helpful advice that pertained to starting a digital publishing program," including "several 'low-impact' changes that UPK could begin implementing immediately in order to prepare for the future transition."

Like her colleagues, Barbara Brannon, Marketing Manager at Texas Tech University Press, was also interested in improving workflow during her visit to the University of South Carolina Press, specifically through data and schedule management tools. Her goal evolved from building on Texas Tech's efforts to streamline and coordinate their own information management, to a comprehensive interest in how better information management can positively influence workflow management. During her week, Brannon met with each department head at South Carolina and reviewed the press's database and workflow forms and reports. She finished her week with another set of solid goals: "I feel I have emerged with a picture of a comparable organization's operations that I could never get from the pages of a book, attendance at a conference, or any number of phone calls and emails [...] I plan to concentrate first on modifying TTUP's database and streamlining the schedule tracking procedure. There are also tips I can implement immediately in our marketing program."

Finally, Reference Special Sales and Promotions Manager Lindsay Dawson traveled from the University of Chicago Press to Oxford University Press in New York to explore what does and doesn't work well with their online reference products. At Oxford, Dawson was treated to a full tour of their extensive online offerings, and met with some of the numerous staff that work with online reference products. "My meetings were incredibly successful, and I found myself barely able to take down all the thoughts I wanted to note," writes Dawson; "I was able to take away dozens of concrete recommendations that we can implement at Chicago, from workflow issues, to market research, to following up with librarians we meet at conferences."

For presses launching new programs, hoping to improve on existing practices, or catalyzing transitions to digital publishing, inter-press communication and collaboration such as that supported by the Whiting Foundation can provide significant guidance and support. The enthusiastic participation of host presses (and their staff) and the commitment of Whiting residents make this an immensely successful professional development program. For more information on the Whiting Week-in-Residence, including the 2011 application, visit http://aaupnet.org/programs/meetings.html#week.