Library-Press Collaboration Report

The work of three successive AAUP Library Relations Committee (LRC) came to fruition this January with the publication of a report from our Library-Press Collaboration Survey.

The survey was originally developed in 2012 under chair Patrick Alexander (Penn State) in consultation with Julia Blixrud of the Association of Research Libraries (ARL). 42 libraries and 41 presses completed the online survey. Under 2012-13 committee chair Jane Bunker (Northwestern), the committee conducted in-depth follow-up interviews with a number of librarians and press directors to expand the picture of what collaborative relationships between libraries and presses currently looks like. Continuing the work of analysis under chair Donna Dixon (SUNY), the final report is now the basis for a number of wider-ranging discussions throughout our community.

There is a rich new flourishing of energy and attention in this area of scholarly communications, which can benefit the members of AAUP, research and college libraries, and the scholars that we both serve. The recommendations and observations from the LRC survey should help provide a solid foundation for building on this new energy. These include:

  • The need to discuss areas of mission overlap and common interests.
    While productive discussions about copyright and open access are valued throughout the press and library community, many feel that it is important to address more issues of common interest. These include such topics the changing habits of researchers—one press director spoke about how much they value their university library's feedback on how scholars are actually using publications and products, helping to complete the circle of scholarly publishing.
  • The importance of developing programs to serve those common interests that complement the expertise and skills of presses and libraries rather than duplicating efforts.
    For example, open and affordable textbooks is an issue that is garnering significant policy and media attention. University libraries and university presses are well placed, with faculty, to develop high-quality curricular materials that serve both student needs and policy demands. The Library Relations Committee is focusing an AAUP 2014 pre-meeting workshop on bringing together libraries and presses on just this topic.
  • The need for better understanding of the budgetary constraints and financial expectations for both presses and libraries.
    As library publishing services grow, there is likely to be both more and less common ground on this area. While the expenses of publishing will become more familiar (and cost-savings possibly uncovered by libraries' scale and infrastructure), there remains at many institutions a different expectation for cost recovery in library versus press publishing programs. One press director lamented: "Presses are perceived as businesses and libraries as services. I wish we could work collectively to change this thinking."

On February 14, AAUP and Peter Berkery celebrated Valentine's Day by hosting a Twitter chat about the report and about library and press partnerships. It was a lively conversation, with participants digging into the data, sharing their own experiences, and brainstorming ideas for association-led programs in this area. The report was published, and all of these conversations are happening, at an auspicious moment. The first Library Publishing Coalition (LPC) Forum will be held in early March of 2014—a flagship event for the new Coalition and confirmation of what our survey found two years ago, that library publishing services are on the rise.

AAUP is proud to be a sponsor of this first LPC Forum, and the LRC will be presenting the results of the AAUP survey in a poster session there. The organizations are already pursuing partnerships on key programs such consulting on the "Publishing Open and Affordable Textbooks" workshop being planned for AAUP 2014 in June, discussing ways to promulgate resources on library publishing and library-press collaborations, and pursuing ideas about other cooperative training and education opportunities. We look forward to updating readers on some of those programs in the upcoming months and years!

Brenna McLaughlin
Director of Marketing and Communications, AAUP