Reports from 2009 Week-in-Residence Grantees

Each year, a group of middle and upper level staff members from AAUP member presses are selected to spend a week in residence at another press, providing an opportunity for professional exchange. Grantees typically spend their time at presses larger than their own. Finding scalable models that would translate well at their home presses, this year's participants illustrated how similarities among university press are often greater than their differences.

Steven Yates, Marketing Director for the University Press of Mississippi spent his week with various members of NYU Press's marketing team, with the goal of "learn[ing] how electronic being executed at the ground level, and then how that work is coordinated into an overall marketing program." Emma Cook, who organized his residency, Joe Gallagher, Brandon Kelley, and various other NYU staff, were generous in sharing their time, expertise, and files, affording Yates "every opportunity to seek the knowledge Mississippi needed."

Yates was interested to learn from Kelley about NYU's two-pronged approach of seeing e-marketing "as a support rather than a future replacement of printed direct mail." He appreciated Gallagher's candor in sharing "both his successes and his struggles" in the development of web sites, email lists, a press blog, and video content. This practical knowledge, combined with bigger-picture discussions that concluded his visit, provided Yates with a wealth of ideas on "how Mississippi might shape and refine its tactics based on current resources."

Acquisitions Editor for the University Press of Kentucky Laura Sutton had her time spread out over the development, marketing, and editorial departments of the University of Texas Press, allowing her to "pick up information on behalf of the entire home press." Working with Director Joanna Hitchcock who organized her visit, and staff across departments, she found that "UTP is not so large that Press practices might be irrelevant to how we do things at UPK." Texas's strategy of involving the press director and a core group of individuals in fundraising, "creative, high-energy" editorial meetings, and approach to their regional list were all things that could translate well at the University Press of Kentucky.

Sutton also noted the way in which the professional exchange was truly reciprocal: "For UTP's part, several staff members noted that it was useful to explain and defend their practices to an outsider, perhaps more so now that UTP is looking critically at how it does business and begins to develop a new strategic plan."

Further west, University of Nevada Press Marketing & Sales Manager Barbara Berlin spent her week at the University of Arizona press, taking the opportunity to work with Kathryn Conrad, who "is known as an excellent marketing manager." Having spent many years in journals marketing, Berlin planned to expand her marketing knowledge in the areas of scholarly and trade books.

Having chosen to visit Arizona because of the similarity of its list to Nevada's, Berlin found that many of their practices and marketing strategies would be applicable when she returned: "Although Arizona has a marketing department of five, unlike my own of only me (and a part time assistant), I began to see what I could take from them and revise to my own resources and time, and what I needed to leave alone for the time being." Like many of her fellow participants, Berlin described the best part of the experience as the network of colleagues she developed, and is now able to call on when she has questions or needs advice.

The Chicago Distribution Center (CDC) played host to Sara Davis, Manager of Distribution and Inventory for Harvard University Press, allowing her an opportunity to "gain a fresh perspective on different ways of handling similar situations," as she observed the operations at CDC's warehouse, their client relations, and the University of Chicago Press's Bibliovault. During her stay, organized by Sue Tranchita and facilitated by various members of the CDC staff, Davis was particularly impressed with the CDC's system for handling returns and their metrics for warehouse productivity.

While the CDC operates on a larger scale than Harvard's warehouse, TriLiteral (TLT), does, Davis was able to find aspects of Chicago's strategies that were adaptable to TLT, including a system of measuring warehouse productivity (which she presented to her Executive Committee upon her return), making more detailed or customized reports to distribution customers, and pushing for more direct connection between customer service and the warehouse.

Raymond Lambert, Editorial Manager for the Duke Mathematical Journal at Duke University Press, also traveled to Chicago, spending his week with the University of Chicago Press's Journals Division. Lambert's trip, organized by Diane Lang, gave him "a thorough overview of UCP's journals operations and a comprehensive understanding of UCP's editorial processes," as well as a "chance to discuss broader topics related to scholarly journals publishing" during less formal lunch meetings with staff. Given Duke's recent acquisition of mathematics and science journals, he described how they "may have to think differently in the near future," and how his visit gave him "an appreciation of this and also spurred me to brainstorm about possible ways to improve our current processes."

Lambert's experience at Chicago highlighted the way in which the residencies are a boon not only to one staff member, but to the entire home press. Before leaving for Chicago, he met with various Duke staff members to hear what they were interested to know about Chicago, and upon his return, offered a well-attended presentation to his colleagues, many of whom expressed interest in continued exchange and cooperation with those at Chicago. Lambert also remarked on the reciprocity of the experience, as he shared information about Duke's processes and vendors with interested Chicago staffers.

In closing, Lambert emphasized the collegiality and cooperation that has perennially characterized the experience of week-in-residence grantees: "I quite enjoyed feeling like a contributing member of the scholarly publishing/university press community. The week-in-residence experience deepened my perspective of the university press's role in scholarly communications."

More information on the Whiting Week-in-Residence program can be found here: Applications for the 2010 program will be available in March.

Meredith Benjamin
Communications Coordinator, AAUP