October 30, 2019Kate McCready
By Kate McCready & Melanie Schlosser
“It’s one of the strengths of the field that its aspirational reach is grounded by the day-to-day work of publishing, and that its day-to-day activities are clearly linked to such transformative goals. The field’s combination of the two threads, vision and practicality, creates the potential for success.”
The Library Publishing Coalition (LPC) Membership Meeting isn’t a typical business meeting. It is held annually at the Library Publishing Forum, but instead of sharing information about the Coalition’s work or conducting organizational business, we gather as a community to discuss timely, relevant topics. All conference attendees—both members and nonmembers—are invited and encouraged to participate, giving voice to different perspectives.
On May 10, 2019, Forum attendees took advantage of this unique framework to explore a fundamental, and timely, question about the field of library publishing: “What’s our end game?” We explored why we engage in this work. As expected, our deeper dive below the surface of library publishing identified a wide variety of motivations and goals for our work as scholarly publishers and got us thinking about what that means for our organization and for our field.
It was a transformative year for the broader scholarly communications landscape. Individual institutions and consortia made news with collection development negotiations that produced transformative agreements or big deal cancellations (e.g., University of California’s termination of negotiations with Elsevier, and the “read and publish” deal between MIT and the Royal Society of Chemistry). Funders proposed bold requirements in Plan S to make content openly available. Many organizations focused on scholarly communications, such as SPARC, set agendas and spoke out about the need for change. Faculty and campus administrators turned out in record numbers to debate the sustainability of the current scholarly communications model, and the higher ed media was paying attention. Those activities inspired conversations throughout academia and library publishing emerged as a possible (though nascent) alternative to current models.
Against this backdrop, it felt more important than ever to articulate the motivations for, and ultimate purposes of, our shared work.