Thousands of Reasons to Celebrate: Announcing University Press Week 2012

During the summer of 1978, US President Jimmy Carter proclaimed a University Press Week. 1978 marked the centennial of university press publishing in the United States, and half a millennium since the first book printed in Oxford (arguably the beginning of university press publishing in the world).

Carter declared that University Press Week “in recognition of the impact, both here and abroad, of American university presses on culture and scholarship.”  That influence continues today, as does the increasing vitality of university press publishing programs, the many ways and means by which works are now produced and distributed, and the urgent need for articulate discourse in times pervaded by sound bites. 

2012 marks 75 years of cooperation among university presses—not just American, but Canadian, European, Asian university presses, as well—through the Association of American University Presses. In recognition of the global impact of these presses, AAUP is launching a new, annual University Press Week to celebrate the ongoing value of mission-driven scholarly publishing.

Taking place November 11-17, 2012, the first annual University Press Week will highlight the extraordinary work of university presses and their many contributions to culture, the academy, and an informed society. University Press Week promises special events and readings at universities and in local communities; and the Association plans a number of special online features to help fully represent the breadth and depth of member activities.

To get a taste of the extent of university press influence, consider these facts:

  • AAUP member presses produce more than 12,000 works per year, in both print and digital form. The backlist of in-print titles held made available by these presses nears 220,000.
  • The AAUP membership alone comprises 133 scholarly presses, found in places ranging from Reno to Toronto, from Kalamazoo to Hong Kong. While almost every major research university has a scholarly press, so too do many smaller institutions, and the collective range of topics covered is fascinating: everything from Christian thought to the geophysics of fracking, from forensic psychiatry to pre-Columbian history, and from poetry to the economics of food.

  • University presses collaborate with each other, and with other institutions, in interesting and intrepid ways. Check out Project Euclid, a ground-breaking collaboration in mathematics; or the Archaeology of the Americas Digital Monograph Initiative, a joint project of six university presses; or explore the past (and present) through the Publishing the Long Civil Rights Movement project. Even more such innovative partnerships are described in AAUP's Collaborative Publishing Projects directory online.

  • Following the September 11th attacks, AAUP established its “Books for Understanding” program in recognition that scholarly presses publish knowledge that often cannot be found anywhere else. Now featuring a list of 85 need-to-know topics—and growing apace—the books represented provide deeply researched information on issues and events of international import. Whether the topic is North Korea or water rights in the Southwest, a university press book has the answers, and the questions, you are looking for.

University Press Week offers much to celebrate and much to follow, and we’d like you to join us. For more information about UP Week events, please visit

AAUP held a contest, open to members, to design the logo for the University Press Week awareness campaign. Thomas Eykemans, Designer, University of Washington, submitted the winning design in a field displaying considerable talent and thoughtful consideration of the mission. We are proud that this image will be the banner of University Press Week.

Melissa Pitts
, University of British Columbia Press

Brenna McLaughlin
Director of Marketing and Communications