LPC Blog

The Library Publishing Coalition Blog is used to share news and updates about the LPC and the Library Publishing Forum, to draw attention to items of interest to the community, and to publish informal commentaries by LPC members and friends.

Library Publishing Workflows. Educopia Institute. Library Publishing Coalition. Institute of Museum and Library Sciences.
October 22, 2020

Library Publishing Pain Points – Aging Infrastructure


Editor’s note: This is a guest post in our Library Publishing Pain Points series, featuring reflections from our Library Publishing Workflows partners on the challenges they face in implementing, running, and sustaining their library publishing workflows.

As we’ve expanded our Open Access journal publishing work over the last few years, growing from 20 or so journals to about 40, Michigan Publishing has encountered some pain in a particular point in our workflow: converting journal articles from the formats in which authors have written them into the flavor of TEI XML that our publishing platform, DLXS, requires. This work takes our team about an hour per article to complete, on average, and that means a significant time investment which can be hard to explain to journal editors. When a journal includes complex math or symbolic logic written in LaTeX, the time to move a single article through our system can easily increase from an hour to a full day, or even several days. All of this slows down our time to publication and, since we bill our journal partners for the time we spend working on their articles, it gets pretty expensive for them.

To further complicate matters, the work of moving a XML document through DLXS to the final web version takes place largely on the command line – an efficient way to work when you’re an expert, but one that requires a fairly significant learning curve for new members of the team. If anything goes wrong, we sometimes need to know perl, XSLT, or shell scripting in order to fix it. The high technical barrier to entry makes it hard to train students to help in our work unless they stick around a few years, and it keeps our developers busy supporting older technology.

DLXS was developed at the University of Michigan Library starting in the late 1990’s, and (although it’s done great things for us) it is clearly showing its age. The Library is planning to sunset DLXS relatively soon. Even if it weren’t going away, Michigan Publishing would still need a new journals platform to help us work more flexibly and efficiently.

We strongly support community-owned open source scholarly communication infrastructure (we have been building our own open platform, Fulcrum, to support digitally-enhanced book publishing), so it was an easy choice for us to select Janeway (from the Birkbeck Centre for Technology and Publishing) for our next-generation journals platform. We’re hoping to move all of our active journals off DLXS in 2021 or 2022, and transition them to a much more industry-standard JATS/HTML-based workflow that can play well with both existing content conversion tools and vendor offerings. We also plan to build an integration between the two platforms so that Fulcrum’s rich media capabilities can be embedded in Janeway journal articles.

There will, of course, be a big pain point here: migrating all of the thousands of journal articles we’ve previously published in these journals from DLXS to Janeway. But we’re optimistic that once we get through that project, the new platform will make the lives of our production team and editors much easier. The move will also help us keep costs low for our publishing partners, many of whose journals would never be sustainable in a commercial environment. Check back with me in 2022 and we’ll see if the pain’s been relieved!

October 6, 2020

Announcing C4DISC: Ways to Participate and Support


Please join me in celebrating the creation of an important new organization, the Coalition for Diversity and Inclusion in Scholarly Communications (C4DISC). The Library Publishing Coalition (LPC) is a founding member and C4DISC both closely aligns with the LPC’s values and multiplies the impact of our strategic plan! Formally launched September 15, 2020, C4DISC was created to accelerate the diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) work the scholarly publishing/communications ecosystem sorely needs. C4DISC began in 2017 as an idea among a group of scholarly publishing trade and professional associations, including the LPC, who all saw a critical lack of diverse voices in their professional arenas and decided to take collective action. The founding members worked hard to make their vision a reality and last year, with the generous support of Educopia (LPC’s parent organization), tackled the complex challenge of developing governance for a new organization (in many ways echoing LPC’s creation way back in 2014!) 

To have the broadest possible impact it was decided C4DISC would target membership organizations such as the LPC as well as consortia, rather than individual universities or libraries. Two founding members, the Society for Scholarly Publishing (SSP) and the Association of University Presses (AUP), generously agreed to serve as joint hosts. After governance was settled, the founding members established a joint statement of principles and mission, vision, and values statements.  As a founding member, the LPC has a seat on the C4DISC steering committee (rotating LPC Board members will represent the LPC). Like the LPC, C4DISC is committed to valuing differences, welcoming diverse perspectives, learning from different communities, making space for marginalized voices, eliminating barriers, and serving as allies to our colleagues who are Black, Indigenous, and people of color. 

Now that C4DISC is firmly established, next steps include creating several working groups to begin turning the shared vision into action. One group will continue work started by Niccole Leilanionapae‘aina Coggins, University of Virginia Press; Gisela Fosado, Duke University Press; Jocelyn Dawson, Duke University Press; and Melanie Dolechek, Society for Scholarly Publishing, who created the “Toolkits for Equity: Transforming Scholarly Publishing Communities” initiative at the 2019 Triangle Scholarly Communications Institute. Their first toolkit, Antiracism Toolkit for Allies, is openly licensed and on the C4DISC website. C4DISC is seeking volunteers to help develop the next two toolkits: the Antiracism Toolkit for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color and the Antiracism Toolkit for Organizations. Another working group will focus on communications and outreach. Members of the LPC community would make fantastic additions so if you are interested in leading or participating in any working groups please complete the Working Group Application Form.

Another thing LPC members can do is advocate for their home libraries/organizations to sign on as C4DISC supporters. Organizations who wish to support C4DISC may join as partners. Examples include publishers, libraries, industry suppliers, etc. Three partnership levels exist: Bronze ($1000), Silver (up to $2500), and Gold (up to $5000) and funds raised will support activities focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion in scholarly communications. C4DISC also plans to hire a part-time program assistant to provide administrative support for C4DISC’s work and activities, thus furthering its capacity. C4DISC also gladly and gratefully accepts donations from individuals, no matter how small. 

Finally, if participating formally as a C4DISC partner is not possible for your home institution, LPC members can still support C4DISC by urging their organization to join the more than 60 organizations that have so far adopted C4DISC’s Joint Statement of Principles. Simply complete this form

To learn more, please visit c4disc.org or write to c4disc@gmail.com.   

Library Publishing Workflows. Educopia Institute. Library Publishing Coalition. Institute of Museum and Library Sciences.
September 30, 2020

Library Publishing Pain Points – Scaling Up


Editor’s note: This is a guest post in our Library Publishing Pain Points series, featuring reflections from our Library Publishing Workflows partners on the challenges they face in implementing, running, and sustaining their library publishing workflows.

headshot of Joshua Neds-Fox

In my contribution to a series of social media posts on pain points for the Library Publishing Workflows project, I wrote that “the sheer volume of articles is a significant challenge for our team” (https://twitter.com/LibPubCoalition/status/1280511836744495108). Upon reflection it strikes me that I’m really describing the discomfort that any successful project brings, as demand begins to grow in response to that success. A new library publishing program can often feel like a start-up: a scrappy entrepreneur in the library has a bright idea, access to the tools for production and a platform for dissemination, and a generalist’s competence in many of the skills and tasks necessary to effect library publishing (LPCPDC 2020). But the entrepreneurial energy involved in an early start-up, which can often be maintained by a few highly motivated individuals, eventually either dissipates or becomes insufficient to the work of producing a successful stable of titles. Even if a library publishing program doesn’t grow substantially in output, the production work that felt exciting at volume 1 issue 1 may start to feel insurmountable by volume 6 issue 4.
Some of this may have to do with the temperament of the library publisher. Lacey and Parlette-Stewart (2017) write about the incidence of imposter syndrome (IS) in the profession, and theorize that the need to appear intelligent about a range of poorly defined responsibilities may lead librarians to overwork a program. The failure to properly delegate tasks, commonly associated with IS, can saddle a small library publisher with an unmanageable workload. Delegation requires identifying what we can’t do well, which can be difficult for academic librarians, who are constantly being asked both to do more with less and to justify our value to the academy.
In my own publishing program, which fits most of the above bill, the entrepreneurial energy with which I began publishing journals is matched in some truly driven faculty editors. Their output can be prodigous, and while I remain committed to the success of their journals, my team struggles at times to meet their production needs given the volume of scholarship they review and publish. Identifying, sourcing, and training the labor necessary to do the technical, tailored and often tedious work of turning manuscripts into published articles is itself a demanding process, which can feel at odds with the imperative to produce. Recruiting volunteer labor or attracting graduate student interest means enhancing the learning and project opportunities of a role in the digital publishing unit, often at the expense of the sometimes monotonous work of production. But the unique skills and detailed requirements of production also often preclude using un- or underskilled labor to prepare manuscripts for publication. And we are very aware of the tendency for academic work-study opportunities to be exploitative and inequitable, and hesitant to continue those practices simply to meet our production schedule.
We have experimented with outsourcing production work to a third party contractor. While this has yielded some possibilities to ease our backlog, it also requires additional manuscript preparation and quality control labor which reduces the total net gain in capacity (not to mention chasing funding). We have worked to increase the quality of the editorial processes and policies in our journals, which results in a more selective acceptance rate and helps create a more sustainable production slate. And as our program grows, so does my commitment to designing a sufficient policy and procedure infrastructure around our publishing activities. Our participation in the Library Publishing Workflows project is part of that commitment, to help create a body of standards that can in turn inform our own practice.
My digital publishing program was the pilot interview of the Workflow project, and the resulting flowchart is one of the two test cases being used to fine-tune the process that will be used to document the remaining data. To be honest, I felt slightly naked seeing our own workflow outlined so starkly in directional arrows and decision diamonds. I recognize my anxiety is really about seeing our process evaluated against other publishing programs’ processes. Will we end up on our own, looking foolish? But again and again, collaborating with other institutions in the Library Publishing Coalition on capacity-building projects like this helps reveal the extent to which our pain is shared, and not an indication of failure. Jason Coleman at the University of Michigan related in another social media post that XML conversion of incoming content can be intensely frustrating (he called it “just a bear”). Knowing something about Michigan’s platform and process, thanks in part to our work in the Coalition, helps me picture that pain clearly, and creating XML from tricky input myself for aspects of our publishing program helps me identify with it. As a small shop in comparison to Michigan, it’s a good reminder that I work in a community of practice with affinities across vastly different publishing programs. That’s something worth sustaining.


Lacey, S., & Parlette-Stewart, M. (2017). Jumping Into The Deep: Imposter Syndrome, Defining Success and the New Librarian. Partnership: The Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice and Research, 12(1). https://doi.org/10.21083/partnership.v12i1.3979

Library Publishing Coalition Professional Development Committee. (2020). L​ibrary Publishing Competencies. A​tlanta, GA: Educopia Institute. https://doi.org/10.5703/1288284317123

September 21, 2020

Nominations open for the third annual Award for Exemplary Service


As participation in library publishing grows, community involvement and leadership has become increasingly important for the profession. To encourage and recognize such service, the Library Publishing Coalition (LPC) gives out an annual Exemplary Service Award. The award recognizes substantial contributions by an LPC community member to advancing the mission, vision, or values of the Library Publishing Coalition.

Nominations, including self-nominations, may be submitted to the LPC Board by any member of the LPC community. Anyone who is at an LPC member institution can nominate someone. Deadline for nominations is October 9th, 2020.

Please use the nomination form and include the nominee’s name, affiliation, and email address, as well as a brief statement on why the nominee deserves the award. The winner will be announced in December.


Criteria for the award

Awardees must:

  • Have contributed substantially to advancing the mission, vision, or values of the Library Publishing Coalition through service.
  • Have served on an LPC committee or task force within the last three years.
  • Be currently employed by an LPC member institution.
  • Not be currently serving on the LPC Board.

Substantial contributions may include:

  • Effective leadership of or exemplary contributions to a committee or task force.
  • Advocacy on behalf of the LPC or the creation or strengthening of LPC relationships with other groups.
  • Significant contributions to the creation of a new program within the LPC or to the expansion, or adoption, of programs and services for members.

Submit a Nomination

Library Publishing Workflows. Educopia Institute. Library Publishing Coalition. Institute of Museum and Library Sciences.
September 1, 2020

Library Publishing Pain Points – Funding


Editor’s note: This is a guest post in our Library Publishing Pain Points series, featuring reflections from our Library Publishing Workflows partners on the challenges they face in implementing, running, and sustaining their library publishing workflows.

Operating a non-commercial, scholar-led open access publishing program through our library is intensely rewarding work. On a daily basis we connect with motivated and resourceful editors and scholars, who are deeply committed to open scholarship and to enriching the commons. Each new issue published on our platform feels like a small victory for our team, and we know what we’re doing is meaningful, not just to our small community, but also to all the invisible readers who come across our content and engage with it in some way. However, this work also comes with its own set of complex challenges and thorny issues.

Our program is provided at no cost to eligible Canadian open access scholarly journals and we wholly fund the staffing and infrastructure of the program through our library’s operating budget. Our institution has elected to do this, rather than charge service fees, as an effort to reduce one of the many barriers to publishing that small scholarly associations face. We’ve also chosen to take a strong stance against charging APCs or submission fees at the University of Alberta, and one condition of participating in our program is that our journals do not charge fees to authors. While we believe this model benefits both journals and their communities, this lack of externally generated revenue comes with predictable challenges around resource constraints.

While we provide a fairly robust suite of services to journals – including technical infrastructure and hosting, training and consultation in publishing tools and practices, digital preservation, content dissemination, and client support, we only provide minimal support for content production. Many (but not all) large commercial publishers provide copyediting, layout and design, and journal management services as part of their service offerings, funded through revenue collected by the publisher through subscriptions or APCs.  Within our no-fee model, we simply cannot offer these services to the 70 journals that we publish and instead, we grudgingly off-load the problem to our editorial teams, who must immediately face this issue when they join our program. Finding revenue to fund some of the operational elements of their journal production, without resorting to subscriptions or APCs, is a constant pain point for all of us. 

Journal editors have been incredibly resourceful in addressing this challenge. Some, like Evidence Based Library & Information Practice, have fostered a community of dedicated journal volunteers who carry out this labour. Many of our journals belong to scholarly societies, and are able to direct revenues from membership fees into paid positions for copy editors or technical managers. Some of our journals have been successful in securing grants, such as the Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Aid to Scholarly Journals grant, which provides three years of funding to cover costs associated with the journal. Some journals are supported by their home institution or department, and some editors use their own research funds to pay salaries for graduate students to carry out this work. Occasionally, journals have been able to negotiate royalty payments from commercial aggregators to supplement their operations. We have even worked with journals who solicit donations from their community, and very rarely, those who bring in advertising revenues.

Despite this demonstrated variety and creativity in approaches, most of these measures don’t provide stable and consistent support to journals to help cover some of the real costs of publishing. We need a better model! 

In my ideal world, libraries, post-secondary institutions, and research granting agencies would redirect their budgets away from paying commercial for-profit publishers indirectly for this work (through APCs, pay-for-open fee options, and subscriptions that prop up for-profit models), to invest instead in directly supporting community-based not-for-profit publishing infrastructure and labour. Here in Canada, we are making small strides forward. For example, Coalition Publica and the Partnership for Open Access directs funds from a consortium of Canadian research libraries into real financial support for open access journals. This is not a radical or new idea – scholarly journal publishing in Latin America has successfully operated under this model for decades. However, a recent exchange between Eduardo Aguado López and Arianna Becerril García from Redalyc, and Johan Rooryck from cOAlition S, on the London School of Economics blog illuminated for me how divergent some opinions are around what a new scholarly communications ecosystem might look like.

Of course, solving a deeply broken and inequitable global publishing system is (perhaps!) out of scope for the Library Publishing Workflows project. However, I am hopeful that the work undertaken to describe and document our own local processes will help to highlight just how much of the work of publishing library programs like ours are already successfully carrying out. Perhaps it’s not such a stretch to imagine a future where we can more confidently occupy this space and present better alternatives to the status quo.

Library Publishing Workflows. Educopia Institute. Library Publishing Coalition. Institute of Museum and Library Sciences.
August 18, 2020

Library Publishing Pain Points – Quality Control


Editor’s note: This is a guest post in our Library Publishing Pain Points series, featuring reflections from our Library Publishing Workflows partners on the challenges they face in implementing, running, and sustaining their library publishing workflows.

headshot of Vanessa Gabler
Vanessa Gabler, University of Pittsburg

Library publishing programs often operate as a collection of individuals or teams working both independently and together throughout various stages of the process. An editorial team (Editor in Chief, editorial board, managing editor, etc.,) typically manages the editorial process, perhaps with guidance from the library. Other portions of the workflow like production, indexing, and support of the software platform, may be managed by the library, the editorial team, third parties, or a mix. Many people work on the same journal with a variety of roles and responsibilities, people are often coming and going throughout the lifetime of a journal, and the work is performed at various locations rather than in a central office housing all participants, so who does what and how can sometimes get confusing.

A significant pain point for us is control over the “publish button.” We use the OJS software platform, and anyone with the role of an editor in the system is able to publish content. Editors create issues in the system and can then publish the issue with the press of a button. We also have several journals using a publish-as-you-go model, and to adapt OJS to this workflow we publish an issue and then add content to it one article at a time. In that workflow, articles become published at the time they are scheduled for publication in a current or back issue, something anyone with the role of editor in the system can do. 

However, our program’s workflow requires that only the library publishes content after a quality control review. Our journals’ editorial teams perform the production activities, but we perform a quality control review of the articles to ensure the metadata is complete and matches the content in the PDFs and that there are no problems with the PDFs. This is particularly important for DOIs, which appear on every page of the PDFs we publish.

Common errors caught during our reviews are mismatches in authorship, e.g., an author is missing in one place or formatted differently between the metadata and PDF; changes to titles, abstracts, or references during copyediting that were not updated in the metadata; incorrect issue enumeration in the PDF; and incorrect DOIs in the PDF. Errors that affect the metadata or the DOI cannot simply be corrected in the online system and often require an erratum and/or cleanup work with CrossRef and indexing services. Journal editors typically want to avoid publishing errata whenever possible, and cleanup of downstream services can be complicated. It is far better to catch these errors prior to publication whenever possible.

With our current setup of many people working independently but together, a member of the editorial team will occasionally publish content without notifying us. Our Service Agreements state that only the ULS can publish content after receiving notice at least 3 business day in advance of the intended publication date, but these Service Agreements are not always shared with the entire editorial team and incoming members. We also discuss this requirement during the initial stages of taking on a new journal, but that information can be easily forgotten or not shared with other team members. We will continue to communicate the importance of this to our journal partners and find ways to improve that communication, but the best solution for us would be for the system to allow for greater limitation of the publish and schedule for publication functionality, perhaps allowing for one or both functions to be limited to only admin users when those options are selected by the site administrator.

August 3, 2020

Call for 2021 Entries: Library Publishing Directory and IFLA Library Publishing SIG Database


Library Publishing Coalition logo

The Library Publishing Coalition (LPC) and the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) Library Publishing Special Interest Group (LibPub SIG) are partnering to survey the landscape of scholarly publishing in libraries across the globe. LPC is seeking submissions for its 8th annual Library Publishing Directory. IFLA’s LibPub SIG will create a first-of-its-kind online database of global library publishing initiatives. Together, we invite you to share information about your library’s scholarly publishing activities. 

All participating libraries will create a brief profile that will appear in both organizations’ online databases. Libraries that wish to be included in the print, PDF, and EPUB Library Publishing Directory can go on to fill out the full questionnaire (30-45 minutes to complete). Get started at  https://librarypublishing.org/lpdq-2021. (If your library has had an entry in a previous edition of the Directory, you should have received an email with instructions on how to update it. Email contact@librarypublishing.org with questions.) 

While this year the questions are in English, in future we hope to be able to translate them into IFLA’s official languages. Responses in English are strongly preferred; we may not be able to include responses in other languages. 

The call for entries will close on Monday, September 14, 2020.

Thank you for joining in this great international collaboration. We look forward to your participation.

The Library Publishing Coalition Directory Committee
Janet Swatscheno, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chair
Perry Collins, University of Florida
Ellen Dubinsky, University of Arizona
Ian Harmon, West Virginia University
Laura Miller, Florida State University

IFLA Special Interest Group on Library Publishing Subcommittee
Grace Liu (Canada)
Ann Okerson (USA)

About the Library Publishing Directory

The Library Publishing Directory is an important tool for libraries wishing to learn about this emerging field, connect with their peers, and align their practices with those of the broader community. Last year’s edition featured over 150 libraries in almost a dozen nations.

The Directory is published openly on the web in PDF, EPUB, and as an online database. It includes contact information, descriptions, and other key facts about each library’s publishing services. A print version of the Directory is also produced. The 2021 edition will be published in early 2021.

About the IFLA Library Publishing SIG database

The goal of the LibPub SIG database is to document more fully the publishing activities to which IFLA’s members contribute, in order to facilitate a global community of interest and support. While this first year the focus is on scholarly/academic library publishers, in the future the SIG plans to open submissions to all types of library publishers: academic, public, and others.

Submissions will appear in an IFLA-related searchable database, easily accessible by IFLA members and friends, including LPC members.

Banner image for 2020 Virtual Library Publishing Forum
July 28, 2020

LPForum20: Publishing Reality: Developing a Publishing Model For Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, and Their Related Pedagogical Materials


Editor’s note: When we changed the 2020 Library Publishing Forum to a virtual conference format, we gave presenters the option of converting their presentations into blog posts. This is a guest post in that series

By David Scherer, Hannah Gunderman, Matthew Lincoln, Rikk Mulligan, Emma Slayton, and Scott Weingart (Carnegie Mellon University)

How does one publish something that is intended to be a completely immersive and interactive experience such as those designed for Virtual Reality (VR)? How does one convey the subjective experiences of emulated real-world environments? That is the challenge of defining a publishing service model for documenting the experiences of AR and VR. In 2019 representatives from the Carnegie Mellon University digital Sciences, Humanities, Arts, Research and Publishing group (dSHARP) collaborated with faculty from CMU’s English Department to publish materials related to Shakespeare-VR, https://dh-web.hss.cmu.edu/shakespeare_vr/.

The Shakespeare-VR project uses virtual reality technologies to bring students face-to-face with professional actors performing Shakespearean soliloquies in a replica of Shakespeare’s Blackfriars Playhouse. Beyond Publishing the VR experiences, dSHARP examined the complexity of publishing the accompanying OER-based pedagogical materials produced by Shakespeare-VR. As dSHARP has continued working with colleagues from CMU’s Department of English, a need arose to develop an AR/VR Portal where researchers and scholars designing AR and VR experiences with accompanying pedagogical materials could publish and share their scholarship.

This presentation will discuss the new initiative at CMU to produce and publish materials related to the experiences of AR and VR through using our institutional repository, KiltHub and its connection to the primary web presence of the Shakespeare-VR Project. This presentation will discuss the background and complexities of working with and documenting AR and VR, and how the challenges of working with AR and VR could be addressed at scale. This presentation will also explore how future library publishers can assist in adding context to the publishing of AR and VR materials, and how these could be incorporated into future OER-based pedagogical materials to teach the design, construction, and use of AR and VR.

Watch/access and download the presentation, a PDF of the presentation slides with notes, and a PDF of the presentation slides without notes from the Carnegie Mellon University KiltHub Repository.



Banner image for 2020 Virtual Library Publishing Forum
July 14, 2020

2020 Library Publishing Forum Round-up


It’s now been two months since the 2020 Virtual Library Publishing Forum. We’ve been busy gathering many of the videos, slides, notes, etc., from the Forum, which you’ll find linked from the 2020 Forum page on our website. Though not all sessions are online, an unprecedented number are, so this is a great time to revisit or investigate a session you weren’t able to attend.

When we transitioned the 2020 Forum to a virtual format, we gave those who were not able to present during the Forum the opportunity to convert their session material and present via a posting on the LPC blog. If you haven’t already, check out this array of new Forum material—impressive and varied in both content and format! 

Fellows Forum
Talea Anderson, A.J. Boston

Make the Open Access Directory Better for All: A Library Publishers Edit-a-thon
Julie Goldman, Sally Gore, Lisa Palmer, and Regina Raboin

“OK Publisher”: Undergraduate Internships as a Model for Sustainable Publication
Jonathan Grunert, Nicole Callahan

Leveraging Library Expertise for Student Journal Success: A project to increase the impact and value of student journals
Stephanie Savage, Gavin Hayes

Institutional Repository Collaboration: Providing Flexibility and Responsiveness with Hyku
Gretchen Gueguen, Amanda Hurford

Peer-to-Peer Blended Learning: A Model for Training Undergraduate Journal Editors
Calvin Chan, Christopher Chan, Shelby Haber, Portia Rayner, Keanna Wallace, Nadiya Zuk

Leveraging a Library Journal for Grounding and Growing a Library Press Journal Program
Tracy MacKay-Ratliff, Perry Collins, Chelsea Johnston, and Laurie Taylor

Accessibility beyond web standards for improving User Experience
Israel Cefrin

So you’ve been rejected from MedEdPORTAL: Demystifying Open Access to Medical Educators
Hannah J. Craven and Rachel J. Hinrichs

Our thanks again to all presenters and to all who were able to attend the 2020 Forum. We hope to see many of you next year in Pittsburgh!

July 13, 2020

Our Commitment to Anti-racism, Diversity, Equity, Opportunity, and Inclusion


The murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Rayshard Brooks, Tony McDade, and countless others have laid bare the aggression, discrimination, and violence that Black, Indigenous, and communities of color face in the United States and around the world. Black lives matter. The Library Publishing Coalition joins with those protesting the racism and oppression ingrained and institutionalized in our societies and seeking to make meaningful change. Dismantling systems of oppression will require hard, uncomfortable, and uncompromising work in every aspect of society.  

The Library Publishing Coalition is no exception. Although we represent a robust and growing network of libraries, persons of color are significantly underrepresented in library publishing. Gatekeeping practices in scholarly communication and publishing marginalize and silence the identities, voices, and experiences of authors and communities of color. We are committed to combating racism and inequity in library publishing.

LPC plans to begin with these steps:

  • Establishing a standing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee.
  • Instituting a liaison system where each LPC committee will appoint a liaison to the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee to ensure that all planned programs and initiatives are reviewed with a critical anti-oppressive lens.
  • Conducting a periodic equity assessment of the library publishing community, possibly in collaboration with another LPC committee.
  • Providing resources for members to help create opportunities for underrepresented groups generally and persons of color specifically in their library publishing programs.
  • Promoting the adoption of anti-racist and anti-oppressive policies and practices in member publishing programs.

These are our ideas, but we want to hear yours. Please email us at contact@librarypublishing.org with comments, suggestions, or questions.

Library Publishing Coalition Diversity and Inclusion Task Force

Library Publishing Coalition Board of Directors


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July 2, 2020

LPForum20: So you’ve been rejected from MedEdPORTAL: Demystifying Open Access to Medical Educators


Editor’s note: When we changed the 2020 Library Publishing Forum to a virtual conference format, we gave presenters the option of converting their presentations into blog posts. This is a guest post in that series

By Hannah J. Craven and Rachel J. Hinrichs

Introduction to MedEdPORTAL

Medical educators at our institution are encouraged to publish open educational resources (OERs) in the journal MedEdPORTAL. Published by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), MedEdPORTAL is a peer-reviewed, open-access journal for medical education scholarship that is now indexed in MEDLINE. These publications contain complete curricula, including objectives, instructor guides, slides, and assessments, ready to be implemented in the classroom. The intended students for the curricula should be training or practicing physicians or dentists, but could also include members of other health professions, as long as there is at least one physician or dentist learner in the classroom. For teaching faculty interested in applying for promotion, MedEdPORTAL can demonstrate the quality of their teaching materials through peer-review, citation counts, and other usage reports.

The Issue

Despite submitting high quality curricula, medical educators receive rejections from the MedEdPORTAL 62% of the time. Reasons for rejection include insufficient educational context and assessment, mismatch of educational objectives and instructional content, and failure to build on existing curricula. Of immediately rejected submissions, 90% also have copyright issues. These copyright issues stem primarily from the use of third-party images. MedEdPORTAL is a member of the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA), and therefore has strict requirements for copyright and licensing images in the education materials. These requirements can be difficult for medical educators to navigate.

Copyright and Licensing in MedEdPORTAL

MedEdPORTAL requires that authors on the last question of the submission form select a Creative Commons license for their work. We always recommend the Attribution (CC-BY) license as it is the least restrictive, without putting the work in the public domain.

This is a screengrab of the last question in the MedEdPORTAL submission process. The author must select a Creative Commons Copyright Usage License from the following: Attribution (CC-BY), Attribution-NonCommercial (CC-BY-NC), or Public Domain (C0).


All images not created by the author must be either in the public domain, or have a CC-BY or CC-BY-NC license. MedEdPORTAL will not publish share-alike-licensed images. For images not in the public domain or with Creative Common licenses, authors must obtain permission from the copyright owner. If permission is not obtained, the image must be removed and a placeholder with a citation to locate the original image added. If permission is obtained, a Third-Party Permission Form for the image must be included in the submission.

If authors choose to license their submission CC-BY, they can use images that are CC-BY or C0. If the authors choose to license their submission CC-BY-NC, they can use images that are CC-BY-NC, CC-BY or C0. All other CC licenses are unusable according to Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA).

An image also cannot include any personal health information. All names and IDs should be blacked out, as well as eyes in photographs to anonymize the patient.

We use the decision tree below for each image to figure out if we can include an image and how to properly cite it:

This flowchart can be used to determine if an image can be properly used in your MedEdPORTAL submission. This image is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License by Hannah Craven.


The Role of the Librarian

Librarians with interest/experience in Open Education Resources, Open Access, Copyright, or Creative Commons licensing can support medical educators both passively and actively depending on time constraints and level of involvement needed. Both of us have successfully assisted, trained, and supported authors submitting to MedEdPORTAL. Combined, we have submitted three projects (with librarian listed as a co-author). Of those three, one is in-press and two were resubmitted with edits and undergoing review. A fourth project is now in-progress. Of the edits necessary for the in-press and resubmitted projects, none were related to image use or licensing issues.

Active Support: Co-author, workshops, or consultations

The highest level of support we offer is “Co-author.” The librarian meets criteria for authorship, specifically according to the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) recommendations.

For the Education Summary Report (ESR), the librarian can perform a literature search of MedEdPORTAL and MEDLINE, or other relevant databases, to show the educational materials being submitted are novel. This must be addressed in the introduction of the ESR and the librarian can contribute by writing up the answer to the following question from the template provided for authors: “Build a case for how your submission represents a unique contribution to existing literature. Reference similar publications in MedEdPORTAL.” The librarian may also manage the citations for the ESR and all other appendices using citation management software.

The bulk of our expertise is in managing the images used within the course materials. This requires a bit of project management skills to keep track of all the following stages. First, an inventory is taken of all images, tables, and figures used in the educational materials. Previously, the materials fell under Fair Use as they were used only in the classroom, so many items are copyrighted. Once the copyright or licensing status of all images is determined, we contact the copyright holders with the permission form and ask if we may use the image in our work. If there is a fee, or the owner says no, the librarian will find an appropriately licensed substitution image or ask if the co-authors would like to use an author-owned image. If the owner of copyrighted material signs the form for use, the form is saved and submitted with the materials.

Another way we provide support is through workshops. Early in 2020, we were able to host a quick 20-minute workshop at a school-wide event with a medical educator. Materials we shared included a slide deck comparison before and after preparing for MedEdPORTAL submission, a completed Third-Party Permission Form, and a handout. Our handout walks educators through questions to consider before preparing a submission. It contains checklists, explanations, an “image screening quiz,” and the image use and citation decision tree shown above. The workshop was received well and had relatively high attendance. This has given us a framework for future library workshops that we plan to host in coming semesters.

The last way we provide active support is via consultations. Our methods for managing the use of images is laid out so the medical educators may handle it themselves. Some medical educators have materials they wish to submit with very few images, requiring little help navigating copyright and licensing issues. The librarian can instead spend the meeting explaining the do’s and don’ts of submissions and provide guidance based on our past experiences as co-authors.

Passive Support: Online resource guide, handout

A resource like our LibGuide, “MedEdPortal submissions & image use” was created to inform authors on the niche issues that come along with publishing in this specific Open Access journal. While participating as a co-author, we would have many questions for the MedEdPORTAL editors. This guide is intended to answer many of those questions that could not be answered directly from the author information page and required an email to the editors. We curated a list of websites to find medical open images, gathered from responses on the MEDLIB-L listserv and our colleagues’ suggestions. Since the guide’s creation in October 2019, the guide has garnered almost 500 views. Of the medical library’s non-departmental guides, it ranks in the top 40% for page views for the same duration.

The handout from our workshop mentioned above has been self-archived in our institutional repository, IUPUI ScholarWorks. We reference people here to help get them started. It is a good tool to have them look through before a consultation.


The partnership between medical educators and librarians for MedEdPORTAL submissions is a mutual benefit. While the faculty learn more about copyright, Creative Commons, and OERs, librarians have an opportunity to participate on a team and co-author publications. Due to the time-consuming nature of the co-authorship level of service, we cannot assist everyone at this level if demand increases. Workshops, consultations, and our online resources will be useful to reach more medical educators interested in submitting to MedEdPORTAL. Our goal is for educators to consider the image use issues from the inception of their educational materials to save time when they prepare to submit.

Key points:

  • Librarians can support faculty when submitting to an OER like MedEdPORTAL either passively or actively
  • Faculty may be unfamiliar with the nuances of copyright and licensing since they are often operating under Fair Use in the classroom
  • Project management skills are helpful for managing the images, copyright forms, and substitutions

This blog post is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License by Hannah Craven and Rachel Hinrichs.

Hannah J. Craven
Ruth Lilly Medical Library, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN, USA

Rachel J. Hinrichs
University Library, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Indianapolis, IN, USA

Update: Since original posting, the in-press MedEdPORTAL submission is now published and can be viewed here: https://doi.org/10.15766/mep_2374-8265.10918

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July 1, 2020

LPForum20: Accessibility beyond web standards for improving User Experience


Editor’s note: When we changed the 2020 Library Publishing Forum to a virtual conference format, we gave presenters the option of converting their presentations into blog posts. This is a guest post in that series

By Israel Cefrin, PKP


Improving the usability of Open Journal Systems (OJS) is a current concern and goal of the Public Knowledge Project (PKP). Since the OJS3 release in 2016, PKP has undergone usability testing to assess current and new features. Likewise, this version was the first to include a better approach  to navigate in the Dashboard using the keyboard to manage submissions. For accessibility purposes, the interaction with a website must include keyboard navigation, since it is considered a basic concept of input. Hence, any interface needs to allow users to interact with it using a keyboard only rather than a mouse.

Since this initial effort in 2016, PKP is aware of accessibility issues in OJS that could prevent the use of the software by people with disabilities (PWD). These issues are related either to the dashboard or user interface and the public reader interface which is managed by themes.Currently, OJS themes that PKP shares to the community are responsive. These themes are templates that adapt the look and feel of journals. They can be used with small screens like smartphones or tablets, but are not fully accessible for desktop users.

The first step to Accessibility – Themes

PKP Sprint – Accessibility Working Group (Vancouver 2019 / Photo: Marisa McDonald – PKP)

Motivated by the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) (legislation in the Canadian province of Ontario) an Accessibility Working Group (AWG) was formed at the PKP sprint during the 2019 Library Publishing Forum in Vancouver, Canada. The initial task for this working group was to state the implications to the community and Canadian institutions that use OJS regarding the AODA and accessibility for their journals’ websites. At this time, a roadmap was devised to guide related work.

Group members agreed, as the first practical in software development terms, that tackling accessibility issues for the OJS Default Theme should be the main task to pursue. Moreover, it would require an assessment of the current state and a trackable action plan to turn it fully or, at least the most compliant to, accessibility guidelines and standards.

OJS Default Theme in the PKP Demo site


Accessibility assessment and Web standards

Moving forward, it was decided that evaluating the OJS interface would require an external expert. Even though the internal development team was working with designers, developers, and researchers, it was clear that the workload for auditing would demand a seasoned professional in the accessibility field.

We had a broad idea that the assessment would cover automatic and manual test validation, and we were pretty sure that achieving Web Content Access Guideline (WCAG) compliance with level AA ought to be our success indicator. In fact, the most automatic accessibility validation tools usually report results comparing to the WCAG compliance level.  Our external vendor for accessibility auditing, however, brought us a different but complementary understanding: that the compliance level to Web Standards can not be the final goal, but rather a  way to achieve a more accessible website. 

It turned out that for  comprehensive accessibility auditing, we should go through the same path that we used to follow for usability testing sessions. OJS3 was released after testing and feedback from users, i.e. authors and editors that were final users of it. Our vendor would provide an audit report based on testing by people with disabilities (PWD) using their own devices enabled with assistive technology (AT).

VoiceOver is the Assistive Technology built-in on macOS/iOS devices

In fact, we wouldn’t ignore WCAG but go further in the user experience (UX) evaluation. Even though it is possible, and reasonably straight forward to enable screen readers apps on macOS, Windows or Linux desktop, it is not easy for an ordinary or a heavy user to emulate a PWD user behaviour as long they are navigating with AT aid.   The same applies to smartphones and tablets. For example, It is possible to enable VoiceOver in iOS devices, however, using it to navigate and run into the issues that a real PWD does, is much different. 

The auditing process resulted in a better understanding of an inclusive design process. We have received feedback from people that rely on AT to access the internet. Furthermore, improvements that can be implemented from their report will also benefit every user, including those that don’t rely on any AT.

Outcomes from the auditing

The audit report from this initial work is under a non-disclosure and confidentiality agreement with our external vendor. We can, however, share that, this document helped us to file issues in an Accessibility project in Github. It is helpingPKP to manage issues and for our  community members to track, collaborate, and verify the work that it is already done. 

Accessibility Project in Github: https://github.com/pkp/pkp-lib/projects/16


Currently, the OJS Default Theme is being adjusted and tested internally. Every issue, when moved to the “Ready for Review/Testing” card is tested against a set of operational system (OS) and browsers with AT enabled. Even though we can not emulate a PWD user, it is possible to make quick checks and testings. This accessible theme is planned to be released with OJS 3.3 version. The release candidate should be available to the public in 2020. Before the final release, this theme will be assessed once more by our external vendor. From this final assessment, we will generate an Accessibility Statement or a related Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT) document for the theme. This document will state possible existing hurdles and workarounds for remaining issues. More than reports or compliance documents, the main goal is to achieve a high level of true accessibility in the public reader interface. That way, we will be going towards tackling the second part of this initiative: making the OJS Dashboard accessible as well.


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June 30, 2020

LPForum20: Leveraging a Library Journal for Grounding and Growing a Library Press Journal Program


Editor’s note: When we changed the 2020 Library Publishing Forum to a virtual conference format, we gave presenters the option of converting their presentations into blog posts. This is a guest post in that series

By Tracy MacKay-Ratliff, Perry Collins, Chelsea Johnston, and Laurie Taylor

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Collaboration as Foundation

Launched in 2018, SOURCE has evolved into a recurring publication and hallmark of the LibraryPress@UF (LP@UF) program. While building upon a familiar model of the in-house magazine, SOURCE increasingly serves as a platform for public scholarship that draws on contributions from the University of Florida Libraries’ employees, students, and partners. Situated within a very large academic research library with almost 300 employees and seven branches across campus, the magazine makes visible the individuals who bring projects to fruition and highlights connective threads across units and collections. SOURCE has featured 27 unique authors in its three published issues.

SOURCE relies on a collaborative editorial model, with a standing committee made up of volunteers from across the Libraries, a representative from Libraries Communications, and the four-person LP@UF team. This team—the authors of this post—act respectively as Editor-in-Chief (Laurie Taylor), Managing Editor & Designer (Tracy MacKay-Ratliff), and Associate Editors (Perry Collins and Chelsea Johnston). The committee meets on at least a quarterly basis and participates in generating and soliciting feature articles, but we have increasingly placed responsibility for final review, copyediting, and proofreading on LP@UF to avoid an onerous process of collation-by-committee.

Policies and Better Practices

We envision SOURCE as a boundary object, a common project that offers enough flexibility for different stakeholders to find and make their own meaning (Star and Griesemer, 1989). The magazine acts as a mechanism to amplify student voices and undergraduate research; to acknowledge and credit work that might otherwise be ephemeral; to forge connections across siloed parts of the Libraries; and to highlight the Libraries’ impact for our donor community. 

For the LP@UF team, SOURCE offers an opportunity for us to iteratively document and improve our policies and underlying values in ways we aim to extend across our publishing program.* This initiative has informed our approach to topics such as rights retention—all authors explicitly retain copyright in their work—and reinforced our commitment to open access as a vision that should emphasize public engagement and accessibility. 

Investing in Design & Materiality

The LP@UF program includes not only SOURCE but also projects ranging from collection catalogues to children’s literature to textbooks. Throughout these projects, we share an interest in leveraging form and design in ways that connect with our intended audience. This can lead to trade-offs, as an intentional commitment to boutique publications limits the number of projects we can accept in a given year. However, for all publications, we create at least one component (e.g., a book cover) that sets a publication apart. This allows us to provide graphic design support to all works, while recognizing workload limits.  

For SOURCE, we produce a small print run of about 400 copies per issue, but the digital PDF also evokes the materiality of a print publication through techniques such as collage, texture, and shadow. Tracy, Managing Editor & Designer, has dedicated a significant amount of time and care in building up a foundational graphic suite—including logos, fonts, and templates—as well as unique elements that represent the tone of each feature story and aid the reader in navigating a highly visual publication. 

Next Steps

For the past year, LP@UF has undertaken several projects—including a survey, a resource guide, and a dedicated graduate internship—focused on concrete ways to promote equity and justice in our work. SOURCE includes a wide variety of contributors, and the committee has a shared interest in highlighting projects that center BIPOC voices as well as other typically underrepresented communities such as non-faculty staff and students. The current rise of an antiracist movement and discussions within our own library around systemic racism have made it clear that we need to do more. Through this year, we plan to transition from implicitly shared values to better documented, formalized policies for recruiting new committee members, soliciting content and peer feedback, and prioritizing critical work and conversations. With these examples for reference and inspiration, we hope to encourage better practice among other journals partnering with LP@UF.


Star, Susan; Griesemer, James (1989). “Institutional Ecology, ‘Translations’ and Boundary Objects: Amateurs and Professionals in Berkeley’s Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, 1907-39”. Social Studies of Science. 19 (3): 387–420. doi:10.1177/030631289019003001


 * Thanks to Dave Ghamandi for his discussion of “better practices” during the closing session of the Library Publishing Forum in 2019. A focus on iterative improvement and refinement of our practices and values is crucial to LP@UF, even as we resist the notion of a single, “best” framework.

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June 30, 2020

LPForum20: Peer-to-Peer Blended Learning: A Model for Training Undergraduate Journal Editors


Editor’s note: When we changed the 2020 Library Publishing Forum to a virtual conference format, we gave presenters the option of converting their presentations into blog posts. This is a guest post in that series

By Calvin Chan, Christopher Chan, Shelby Haber, Portia Rayner, Keanna Wallace, and Nadiya Zuk
University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta Canada, @URIUofA

The life of an undergraduate journal is often a tumultuous one – each journal has its fair share of ups and downs. Yearly editor turnover, ineffective training, and poor team cohesion can result in the collapse of undergraduate journals. New editors may not feel prepared to handle journal workflow or make editorial decisions. This can make them less likely to be invested in the journal’s long-term success.

Last year, student editors at Spectrum, an undergraduate interdisciplinary journal at the University of Alberta, designed and organized a new editor training model. Unlike past years, which used a more traditional seminar-style training, the model focused on blended learning and team-building activities to train new editors during a weekend-long workshop. Compared to previous years, this training experience resulted in increased team unity, more communication between new and returning editors, and improved understanding of the editorial workflow.

Spectrum – An Undergraduate Interdisciplinary Student Journal

Spectrum is a student journal based out of the University of Alberta’s Undergraduate Research Initiative (URI). The URI program supports undergraduate research across all disciplines. The journal is supported by two faculty advisors and staff from URI, and publishes scholarly work in a variety of formats from all disciplines. While not all research published by Spectrum is necessarily interdisciplinary in scope or topic, all submissions are written and edited with a view to make the work accessible to readers from a variety of disciplines.

Spectrum editors preparing for an Instagram takeover.

Undergraduate journals like Spectrum offer a fantastic training ground for students to learn about the world of scholarly publishing, encourage collaboration between student editors and faculty, and expose students to publishing conventions across disciplines. But, the aspects that make student journals unique can also place them in a precarious position when it comes to editor training and journal longevity. High editor turnover creates challenges for consistency and continuity of journal processes, as well as team cohesion. These challenges underscore the need for robust editorial training that not only provides editors with the knowledge required to be effective, but also integrates team-building and social aspects.

The challenges with Spectrum’s original training model

When Spectrum launched in 2017, editors relied on the PKP School “Becoming an Editor” online course for a basic overview of the editorial process. Over 2018-2019, this evolved into a “learn one, teach one” model. Each editor was assigned to learn one module from the online course, and then teach it to the team. While editors were encouraged to make their modules as interactive as they could (e.g., incorporating group discussions), we found that lectures ultimately weren’t the best tool for facilitating team building. The training was also drawn out over the course of the academic year, with new topics aligning with the journal’s publication schedule. New editors learned about each step of the publishing process as they encountered it in the workflow, which often left editors confused about the overall “big picture” and ill-prepared to handle editorial assignments.

Everything I needed to know was there, but it wasn’t always clear where each step was heading. It’s important to be able to step back and see how all the puzzle pieces fit together. ‑Calvin (returning editor)

Coupled with the lack of focus on team-building activities and the amount of time editors dedicated to training, weekly editorial meetings often felt like “all work, and no play.” This was also a concern for journal continuity, not only in terms of keeping existing editors engaged, but also in facilitating an effective transfer of knowledge to incoming editors.

An overview of Spectrum’s peer-led, blended training model.

Reworking the Editorial Training Model

With these challenges in mind, we (the returning and outgoing student editorial board) set out in 2019 to condense and strengthen editorial training, hoping to alleviate the strain on returning editors’ time, improve the skill-building opportunities for new editors, and free up time and resources for other journal projects.

Capturing the Publishing Process Holistically

To help capture the publishing process in its entirety, and give new editors an early appreciation for the overall workflow, we condensed our editor training into a two-day weekend workshop facilitated by senior editors. Incoming editors got the opportunity to work with returning editors to prepare a mock issue from submission to publication, using an OJS sandbox that simulated Spectrum’s actual production site. This way, editors built first-hand experience using OJS, practiced communicating with authors and reviewers (these roles were taken on by returning editors), drafting correspondences, and copy-editing. Some of the activities include:

  • Learning how to navigate the OJS system from author, reviewer, and editor perspectives
  • Working in small groups to perform mock peer-review led by a returning editor
  • Working through a copy-editing exercise with a returning editor
  • Practicing drafting emails (e.g. manuscript rejection, request for revisions) to authors
New editors working on laying out a process map of the entire Spectrum publication process with help from returning editors.


At the end of the two-day workshop, new editors were able to complete a process map listing all of the major steps in the publishing process and what was involved. Using this condensed model, new and returning editors started the academic year with an improved understanding of the journal in its entirety.

Going through the process of a mock submission helped me see how each step of the publishing process is related to the others. It gave me a better understanding of the journal as a whole and helped me remember the focus of each individual step. ‑Shelby (incoming editor)


The editor Q&A panel – returning editors answer questions from new editors and share their thoughts and experience on the Spectrum editorial board.

Training as Experience to Build Team Culture

To address the challenge of team cohesion given high editor turnover, we also integrated team-building and collaboration into the entire training experience. Incoming editors were encouraged to collaborate with returning editors on specific tasks, enabling the team to build camaraderie, and to help incoming editors feel comfortable asking questions.

In between these exercises we also inserted games and other activities. These served as both a break from training and as a tool to encourage communication between editors. Some activities include:

  • Team-based jeopardy game that encouraged editors to lean on each other’s knowledge and expertise, and test their understanding of publishing concepts.
  • A modified Cranium game that included publishing-themed questions and light-hearted team challenges to build team cohesion.
  • Ice-breaker activities to give student editors a chance to learn about each other’s interests and hobbies.

I found that the team-building activities were a great way to get to know everyone in a more informal way. It created a fun atmosphere with room for silly questions — when we reconvened for our first official meeting in September, we already had a couple of running jokes from training. ‑Nadiya (incoming editor)

New and returning editors take a break from training to play a modified game of Cranium!

Both new and returning editors found that the face-to-face interaction at the training workshop helped set the stage early for cooperation and teamwork. Editors felt more comfortable reaching out to each other for help and advice both online and in-person over the summer and in the academic year.

Being able to work with actual submissions over the summer boosted my confidence during the academic year. By the time that September came around, I had already experienced corresponding between editors and reviewers, and I was used to asking my fellow editors if I wasn’t sure what to do next. ‑Shelby (incoming editor)

See an outline of our two-day training workshop here.

Opening the Door to Other Projects in the Academic Year

By addressing some of the weaknesses we observed in previous years, this training model helped open up time and resources for the team to tackle other projects. These included:

  • Peer Reviewer Workshop – Spectrum editors collaborated with the University of Alberta Libraries to develop a hands-on workshop for undergraduate and graduate students interested in learning how to perform effective and consistent peer reviews. The workshop was facilitated by library staff, with student editors assisting with a mock review exercise.
  • Themed Issue – Editors organized a call for submissions to a Sustainability-themed issue of Spectrum that will be published during the 2020/2021 academic year.
  • Journal Promotion/Outreach Activities – Editors participated in two showcase events (one hosted by U of A Libraries during Open Access Week, and one hosted by the Students’ Union promoting undergraduate research opportunities). The team also had a takeover of the Dean of Students’ Instagram account to promote the journal to prospective authors and peer-reviewers.
  • Team excursions and celebrations – With less time dedicated to training during the academic year, the team had the opportunity to organize celebratory events (e.g. Christmas party) and participate in educational excursions (e.g. touring an open-access collaboration centre for nanoscale engineering, and attending a showcase of a Voynich manuscript replica – an undeciphered 15th century codex).

These activities not only made the editorial experience more well-rounded and fun, but they also helped raise awareness of Spectrum across campus, and fostered connections with other student journals.

Challenges of the Two-Day Training Model

Despite the success that came with the two-day training model, the Spectrum team faced a few major challenges while planning and implementing the training weekend.

  • The two-day training requires significant initial planning – For a workshop in late April, editors started planning in early February. While this is a much longer time than it takes to plan lectures throughout the academic year, this first-time planning created a road-map that should make organizing easier in the future.
  • It is difficult to develop hands-on practice for the production stage – Layout and production are particularly time-consuming and technically challenging aspects. During the workshop, the editorial team chose to describe the production process only and reserved the hands-on practice for a later time in the academic year when the skills became more relevant.
  • Training at the end of the academic year – The condensed nature of the two-day workshop means that a lot of information is learned within a narrow time frame. There’s also a gap between when editors learned and applied some of the training (e.g. copyediting). While hosting the workshop at the end of April enabled new editors to practice the first steps of the publication process over the summer, it was also difficult to schedule the session around final exams. The larger the editorial board, the more difficult it will be to set a day and time that works for everyone.
  • Transitioning to a virtual environment – An unexpected issue arose when we had to cancel this year’s in-person workshop due to COVID-19. For this year, we have postponed editor recruitment and training until the beginning of the 2020/2021 academic year, and are working on plans to transition the training into a virtual environment. This will give us the opportunity to see how the training weekend works when new editors don’t have the summer to slowly work through new submissions before the academic year begins.

Overall, editors at Spectrum found that investing the time and energy into planning a condensed editor training workshop yielded great benefits for both journal productivity, but also overall enjoyment for volunteer editors. New editors are more confident in their understanding of journal workflow, and require less time for ongoing training during the publication schedule. Moving away from lecture-style modules and towards team-based blended learning activities not only made training much more engaging and exciting, but also improved editor confidence and fostered friendship and camaraderie between editors! The whole team was also able to explore and strengthen other aspects of journal business: outreach, community engagement, and content development.


Special thanks to the past student editors who were involved in planning and implementing the training model: Abhi Aggarwal, Natalie Eng and Susannah Mackenzie-Freeman. We also thank Spectrum’s faculty advisors, Dr. Lisa Claypool and Dr. Joao Soares, URI Team Lead, Crystal Snyder, and University of Alberta Library Publishing Program staff for their ongoing support of Spectrum’s work.

June 29, 2020

LPC welcomes a new member: San Francisco State University


Please join us in welcoming a new member to the Library Publishing Coalition: San Francisco State University! The voting rep for SFSU is Melissa Seelye, mseelye@sfsu.edu.

A statement from San Francisco State University:

The J. Paul Leonard Library at San Francisco State University empowers its University constituency with lifelong learning skills to identify, find, evaluate, use, and communicate information in promotion of excellence in scholarship, knowledge, and understanding. In recognition of our institution’s commitment to social justice, the Library is working to expand campus awareness of and participation in open access publishing. To that end and as part of the 23-campus California State University system, the Library supports a systemwide institutional repository, open access journal hosting, and affordable instructional material initiatives.

June 24, 2020

LPC welcomes a new member: Middle Tennessee State University


The Library Publishing Coalition is delighted to welcome Middle Tennessee State University as a new member!

A statement from Middle Tennessee State University:

The James E. Walker Library was built in 1999 and named after the 8th president of Middle Tennessee State University, Dr. James E. Walker. The library has almost a million volumes on its shelves, more than 11,00 print journals, access to over 900,000 e-books and more than 100,000 e-journals. The Library has a growing digital scholarship collection, institutional repository, and open access journal hosting. We are currently leading efforts on the campus for wide scale adoption of OER. As the intellectual center of the university, the Walker Library is dedicated to being a campus leader in innovative research, teaching, and learning, to providing a positive user experience for the MTSU Community, and to fostering an academic community.

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June 22, 2020

LPForum20: Institutional Repository Collaboration: Providing Flexibility and Responsiveness with Hyku


Editor’s note: When we changed the 2020 Library Publishing Forum to a virtual conference format, we gave presenters the option of converting their presentations into blog posts. This is a guest post in that series

By Gretchen Gueguen and Amanda Hurford


Partnering consortia, PALNI (the Private Academic Library Network of Indiana) and PALCI (the Pennsylvania Academic Library Consortium) are collaborating on a new initiative to produce an affordable, open-source, collaborative institutional repository (IR) solution based on the Hyku software. By creating a shared platform, the two consortia hope to create a flexible and responsive repository service — one they can manage collaboratively in order to respond to both longstanding and emerging IR needs presented by their constituents. 

Supporting Library Publishing

Consortia offering a low cost IR platform option to their partner libraries open doors for those with shrinking budgets and staff.  This project intends to better enable consortially supported libraries to participate in library publishing of open educational resources (OER), electronic theses and dissertations (ETD), and present the potential for institutions to further grow their own tailored local publishing programs.

Hyku for Consortia

Hyku offers an collaborative IR solution that is:

  • Open source
  • Multi-tenant
  • Sustainable
  • Customizable

Hyku for Consortia, a project supported by an IMLS National Leadership Grant for Libraries,  allows us to further develop, test, and evaluate the existing Hyku product in order to move toward a production-ready service. Notch 8, a web development firm with substantial Hyku expertise and a leader of and major contributor to the Samvera community, has been identified as the project’s lead application developer. Many of the considerations driving the direction of this project involve evolving consortial needs, the repository landscape, challenging new materials, and interest in/obstacles blocking libraries obtaining their own IR.

Evolving Consortial Needs

  • Library consortia have been around for a long time, primarily created as a response to rising serials prices
  • Recently many consortial groups have evolved their mission to take advantage of other economies of scale
  • One area of development is in the hosting of repositories, but available solutions don’t meet consortial needs.

Repository Landscape

  • Our libraries want an alternative to expensive hosted solutions and recognize that individual repositories create information silos
  • The open-source and commercial IR landscape offers few options for a consortially hosted, multi-tenant solution

Challenging New Materials

  • Many libraries are looking for solutions that handle multiple types of material, both their own digitized collections, as well as scholarly output and institutional records
  • Other new formats, like Open Educational Resources, need an infrastructure that can be adapted to their unique needs

Libraries and IRs

  • Libraries have a lot of obstacles to offering repository services including cost, management resources, lack of staff expertise, and software without the features they need.
  • PALNI found that 70% of their libraries didn’t have an IR and 65% would be interested in a consortium managed resource.

Development Plans

Working with a team of members from PALCI and PALNI libraries defining specifications, our project is developing the software further to manage consortial workflows through things like administrative tools and custom branding and theming features. We are also developing specialized features for OER and ETD resources. In addition to technical developments, we will also be exploring how consortia can work together to share staff resources and infrastructure to create a service that is collaborative, relies on shared governance, is cost-effective, and meets community needs.  We are excited to contribute to this platform, and provide a more flexible and responsive IR service model, innovating to support library IR work and publishing today.

You can find out more about our project and keep up to date with developments at: https://www.hykuforconsortia.org/

Gretchen Gueguen
Digital Projects and Communications Manager

Amanda Hurford
Scholarly Communications Director



June 17, 2020

Building a Library Publishing Research Community


At this year’s Library Publishing Forum, members of the LPC Research Committee presented a session on “Cultivating Community with the Library Publishing Research Agenda.” The research agenda, released in April, offers an overview of six topics of importance to library publishers: Assessment, Labor, Accessibility, Non-traditional Research Outputs, Peer Review, and Partnerships. The document is intended to serve as a starting point for individuals interested in learning about and conducting research on library publishing, and aligns with the Research Committee’s mission to promote research within the field.

During our session at the forum, we aimed to build on the release of the agenda by giving members of the LPC community the opportunity to create connections with one another and discuss different ways in which the agenda could be used as both an educational resource and a potential catalyst for original research projects. Using breakout rooms, session attendees divided into groups centered around the topics covered in the research agenda, giving them an opportunity to connect with individuals with similar interests. The members of the Research Committee participated in these group discussions as well, and we enjoyed the opportunity to engage in illuminating conversations and learn about ways in which the committee can continue to support research in library publishing.

As a next step in fostering community in this area, the Research Committee is pleased to announce the launch of the LPC Research Interests Match Program. This resource is available to individuals interested in finding collaborators for research projects, conference proposals, and other scholarly endeavors. Participation is open to all, including individuals at non-LPC member institutions. To identify yourself as a potential collaborator, fill out the Research Interests Match form. You can also look for potential collaborators on the response sheet.

In the coming year, the Research Committee will continue to explore ways to foster engagement with the research agenda and develop a strong community of practice around research in library publishing.

LPC Research Committee
Ian Harmon, Chair
Talea Anderson
Jason Boczar
Elizabeth Bedford
Corinne Guimont
Matthew Hunter
Sarah Wipperman

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June 15, 2020

LPForum20: Leveraging Library Expertise for Student Journal Success


Editor’s note: When we changed the 2020 Library Publishing Forum to a virtual conference format, we gave presenters the option of converting their presentations into blog posts. This is a guest post in that series

By Stephanie Savage and Gavin Hayes


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At the University of British Columbia undergraduate research is a growing area of interest both for students and the institution. While UBC is actively supporting increased opportunities for undergraduate research, this interest has yet to extend to student publications.  Despite the value of undergraduate journals and the central role they can play in the research process, there is little formalized support available to them and most rely on varying levels of financial and mentoring support from their affiliated departments. This presentation will outline a small grant-funded project to provide services and support for undergraduate student journals on campus as one initiative to engage undergraduates in the research process. 

To begin we will summarize the four main objectives that we entered into the project with:

  1. To conduct an environmental scan of the student journal landscape
  2. To manage and grow a community of practice for student journal editorial staff
  3. To provide targeted professional development opportunities for student journal staff
  4. To encourage journals to adopt practices and policies that will enhance sustainability in the face of high turnover rates among journal staff

We will then outline how we operationalized each of these objectives throughout the course of the project. Specifically, we will speak to the identification and outreach strategies we employed when contacting journals and will share the results of the data we collected, including the results of a survey we distributed to student journal editors asking them to share their workflows and potential areas for professional development opportunities. Additionally we will point participants to the resources we have created for the student journals and our plans to facilitate better communication and knowledge sharing among them.

We will also speak to some of the challenges of doing this work, including the difficulty of engaging students, who are often busy and hard to schedule in-person events with, and the impact of high turnover on a sustained outreach campaign.   

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June 9, 2020

LPForum20: “OK Publisher”: Undergraduate Internships as a Model for Sustainable Publication


Editor’s note: When we changed the 2020 Library Publishing Forum to a virtual conference format, we gave presenters the option of converting their presentations into blog posts. This is a guest post in that series

By Jonathan Grunert, SUNY Geneseo, @j_grunert

Note: Nicole Callahan, a student editor for Proceedings of GREAT Day, contributed to the proposal and planning for the presentation at LPF 2020. The COVID-19 crisis limited her involvement in writing this short essay.

Proceedings of GREAT Day is an undergraduate research journal that shares research presented at SUNY Geneseo’s annual undergraduate research symposium. GREAT (Geneseo Recognizing Excellence, Achievement, & Talent) Day has been a campus staple since 2006, and the Proceedings began highlighting research from the symposium in 2009. 

Producing this journal has, since its founding, been a student-centered endeavor. Student editors have been the primary creators of the journal, as they communicate with authors, suggest article revisions, copyedit texts, and format the journal. Though the faculty supervisor has overseen these operations, students have been central to doing the work of publication.

An internship program makes the publication of these Proceedings sustainable:

First, the timeline for publication works well within the structure of the academic year. GREAT Day happens every April, and we publish the journal on that day, a natural end date for each cycle. Faculty sponsors nominate work between GREAT Day and September, and the student editors decide which articles to include by the beginning of October. During the Fall semester, the editors work with their authors to address any changes to their content, ensuring that the articles are concise, with taut arguments. During this semester, students learn about the value of peer review. Though what we do is not blind peer review—the reviewers and authors know who’s responsible for the writing—it’s an important piece in understanding a key aspect of research as a conversation. In the Spring semester, editors work with formatting the articles. They copy edit articles, format them according to specific guidelines, and learn a publishing software. The natural break between semesters allows for bifurcating our focus into content and format, though of course there is some overlap.

Second, students learn to read and critique research conducted in disciplines outside their own majors. Though these students are engaged in a liberal arts education in their undergraduate coursework, working through articles by their classmates is an enriching experience, especially as these editors are in the later years of their undergraduate education, entrenched in their disciplinary majors. And students benefit from this different kind of approach to other fields of study—Psychology, English, and Biology students read papers from History, Math, and Communications students with perspectives that encourage different kinds of clarity from those articles.

Third, students receive academic credit for this different kind of academic experience. Yes, they do work that creates a product the College anticipates each year, but they learn a great deal along the way. Academic credit provides some incentive for completing the work well, and their experience couples with learning outcomes related to scholarly communications, library publishing, and the research lifecycle.

This model relies on an internship for student editors, a model that is inherently sustainable, despite students working for only one or two years. This is accomplished by self-motivated interns, who know other self-motivated students who can continue the project. The faculty supervisors have worked very little on the practical measures of creating the journal; their work is in guiding students through the process.

Finally, open access publishing is a sustainability-minded practice, both in terms of environmental impact and project longevity. A limited number of journal issues are printed: some go to the library and administrators, others to student authors and their faculty sponsors. But the journal exists primarily online. For years, its online presence was in a publicly available drive; now, it exists in an institutional repository. Students see the value in publishing the work in an open format, so they can share their work, whether as an editor or author, with their family and friends instantly, without any imagined geopolitical or financial barriers.

In this way, students learn that the value of information production and distribution is not only in what the research says; it’s in the labor of presenting that research. When the research is presented in a format that relies on subscriptions, that sets up a boundary that some readers cannot overcome. But when their work can be presented in an open platform, researchers can dismiss insistence on traditional publication with an “OK Publisher,” and sustain an openness for research.