Cross-Country Workflows

The 2006 Whiting Week-in-Residence Reports

Each year mid- and upper-level staff, supported by the AAUP and Mrs. Giles White Foundation, visit other AAUP members to learn from an expert in their field. This year, many of the grantees were interested in the workflow at their host presses, hoping to compare approaches and test methods. After all, it's only through others that we come to better know ourselves.

In 2006 an electronic editor, an administrative assistant, an art director, an acquisitions editor, and an assistant marketing manager all took advantage of this unique professional development opportunity.

Hope LeGro, Electronic Editor at the Georgetown University Press, visited the much larger University of California Press and spent the week shadowing Laura Cerruti, Acquisitions Editor and Editorial Director for Digital Publishing. LeGro had two goals for the week: "I wanted to see how California is tackling electronic publishing and I wanted to learn about their workflow." What she found were two interesting models for digital projects. Ms. LeGro noted that in building their digital reference materials, for which there seems to be a natural market, California "decided to focus on a subject that produces revenue and in which they have a strong presence." It was especially helpful for LeGro to see this model in action as Georgetown is considering something similar, although in a subject that fits their own strengths. Regarding the week-in-residence overall, she noted that, "the biggest asset of the program is the freedom to explore a variety of issues over an extended period of time and in person."

The University of California Press also hosted another visitor, Patty Van Norman, an Administrative Assistant from Duke University Press. Over the course of the week she met individually with 15 members of California's staff. This allowed for an inside look not only at the overall workflow and structure of various departments, but also provided the opportunity to discuss individual projects with the staff members assigned to them. Van Norman also attended a production launch meeting and a production department meeting, "both of which gave [her] a great deal of valuable information about how [California] operates and the channels of information between acquisitions, editing, production, and marketing." At Duke, Patty hopes to offer ideas to improve efficiency and interdepartmental communication based on what she took from the University of California Press. In summing up the exchange, Ms. Van Norman said that in addition to "taking in a great deal of valuable information, I was also able to give information to my host press that may benefit them."

Marianne Jankowski, Art Director at Northwestern University Press, traveled in the opposite direction to Columbia University Press, where she was most interested in catching a glimpse of the workflow procedures between editorial and design. Once there, it was Columbia's mastering of XML files and the accompanying time and cost savings that provided the most valuable insights. Jankowski got an inside look at the intricacies of XML and how it plays out in the workflow process as a document goes from raw manuscript, to an XML coded document, to PDF, to the printer. At the end of it all, Ms. Jankowski said, "In conclusion, my observation of [Columbia's] XML typesetting methods leads me to believe they are frontrunners in this mode of production and that Northwestern University Press, although not poised at this point in time to adopt the same workflow procedures, has gotten a glimpse of the future and can now plan for it."

Theresa May, Assistant Director and Editor-in-Chief at the University of Texas Press hosted Lisa Chesnel, Acquisitions Editor at SUNY Press. In describing the week, Chesnel said: "I got to ask [Theresa] 101 questions all about UT Press and in return she got to ask me a great deal about SUNY Press." Throughout the week Chesnel attended three editorial meetings, "all eye-opening experiences," providing a behind-the-scenes opportunity to compare SUNY and Texas's different approaches. Chesnel also reviewed Texas's press-wide database, similar to what SUNY is in the process of creating, and met with their development officer, a position that SUNY is looking to create at their own institution.

Ginger Tucker, Assistant Marketing Manager at the University Press of Mississippi, visited the University of Minnesota Press and Stacy Lienemann, Direct Response and Scholarly Promotions Manager. "I found it very useful to work with a person at another press for an entire week," Tucker said. "This week became very interactive, and Stacy and I reviewed each other's programs and asked questions...that in answering enabled us to examine our own programs. I was able to reaffirm some of Mississippi's standard practices and was able to find alternatives for some others." As a result of the experience Ginger presented a proposal for changes to their direct mail program based on her week at Minnesota. "In summary, [Mississippi] will be able to incorporate many of the elements of [Minnesota's] successful direct mail campaigns into our own to create a direct mail program that will help us to locate and reach the audience for [our] books."

This Week-in-Residence program is one of AAUP's most successful professional development programs, giving rise to new strategies and a stronger community. In 2006 not only did grantees learn from the experts they shadowed, but host presses got to query their visitors and receive input from an objective outsider. In the words of Lisa Chesnel, "it truly was a professional exchange."

Michael McCutcheon
Communications Assistant, AAUP