Forum Reflections

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October 30, 2019

What’s our end-game? A community conversation at the 2019 Library Publishing Forum

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By Kate McCready & Melanie Schlosser

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“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.”

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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. 

(more…)


August 9, 2019

Open Textbook: Path to Scholarly Communication: Reflections of a Forum Attendee

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Editor’s note: This is a guest post by the recipient of a 2019 Library Publishing Forum Award. 

On the occasion of the 2019 Library Publishing Forum, held 8–10 May in Vancouver, British Columbia, it was possible to explore  the route outlined by numerous initiatives in open publishing in the academic environment and to be nourished by activities that strengthen its background.

Recognized among universities in North America, Canada, and beyond, the 2019 Forum, sponsored by the Library Publishing Coalition in collaboration with Simon Fraser University and Harbour Centre, welcomed librarians, academics, university publishers, and platform vendors interested in immersing themselves in library publishing services. 

The pre-conference on May 8 focused on Open Educational Resources. The morning workshop, offered in collaboration with the Open Textbook Network, provided an opportunity for discussion and hands-on work, highlighting project management strategies in support of open textbook publishing. Time savings in the planning stages (Plan – Do – Check – Act) are outlined through the information exchange established between author and publishing specialists related to research, resource creation, writing of the book outlined, supplemental resources, chapter planning, peer review, review related to style / format, copy editing, proofreading, preparation for publication up to launching—these are only some of the subjects offered in the BC Open Textbook Self-Publishing Guide.

In the afternoon’s full sessions, planned in collaboration with BCcampus, presenters engaged attendees with topics such as the academic publication reshaped by library publishing and set out on a small scale, requirements for sustainable software, alliances (or not) with different models of the university press, surveys about undergraduate use and acceptance of digital didactic resources, in addition to efforts to prepare librarians to work/advocate in these scenarios.

For academic book production, a collaborative approach between author, librarian, and publishing team facilitates the clarification of doubts during the project design; a timely process can avoid the familiar  miscommunications responsible for innumerable disagreements and problems such as content produced without planning; numerous “come and go” for style redesign and publishing requirements; ignorance of the author’s objectives for the publication; author’s unfamiliarity of the license to be adopted; remaining doubts about open access; uncertainties regarding DOI being the best alternative to use, definition of the most appropriate platform for hosting content.

At event closing it was evident that many discussions of the nuances of scholarly communication had originated among the disparate groups of attendees, seeking understanding of their differences in pursuit of quality-targeted solutions that reach significantly more individuals.

Daily, I have been encouraging future monograph authors and helping them prepare their manuscripts using the perspective of library as publisher; however, this activity is still unknown to many at the university. For open publishing opportunities to become a real knowledge network, a single publishing structure designed at an administrative level by the library system is necessary.

The Library Publishing Forum’s professional work provides countless perspectives for reflecting on ways to provide better library performance through concrete experiences. It has a special position in my agenda!

Célia Regina de Oliveira Rosa is Librarian at the Geosciences Institute of the Universidade de São Paulo, SP, Brazil, www.usp.br/. She holds a Masters in Information Science with a concentration in book library publishing.


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August 31, 2018

Building alliances: AUPresses/LPC collaborations and synergies

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For our 2018 conferences, the Library Publishing Coalition and the Association of University Presses collaborated on a Cross-Pollination Registration Waiver Program. The program sent two AUPresses members to the Library Publishing Forum and two LPC members to the AUPresses Annual Meeting. Each of the recipients was asked to write a reflection on their experience and on opportunities for libraries and presses to work together towards our shared goals. This post is by Mark Konecny, University of Cincinnati.  Read the whole series.

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“The imprimatur of a university press—with the scholarly apparatus of peer review and reputation for quality—makes it possible for digital projects to gain the legitimacy demanded by the academic community. Library publishing provides stable preservation and staffing that keeps projects viable for the long run.”

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In 2017, the University of Cincinnati Libraries opened a press with a library publishing unit (CLIPS) in order to provide professional publishing services to faculty, staff, departments, and centers associated with the university. We offer scholarly communications expertise along with à la carte or comprehensive solutions using press partners and staff. Library publishing has been identified as a key element in promoting the intellectual commons model. In keeping with the goals of the library and the university, CLIPS is tasked with developing new modes of digital publishing. The annual meetings of the Association of University Presses and the Library Publishing Forum are opportunities to meet with others working in this field, learn about strategies and techniques utilized by other presses, and pursue opportunities to work with colleagues at other institutions with similar resources. Given the fact that our press is a start-up, I was able to benefit from presentations and consultations with colleagues from universities around the world.

At the AUPresses meeting, I concentrated my efforts in three specific areas of interest: sustainable infrastructure, publishing digital projects, and workflows for the use of digital publishing platforms. One of the biggest challenges for a small unit is making sure that resources are used wisely and provide a service that can be used across the university. It became clear through discussions that this is a shared concern for all library publishers, and the meeting allowed me to understand how university presses create workflows to increase efficiency and leverage outsourcing. I was surprised by the profusion of publishing platforms being developed by university presses: Editoria, Vega, PubPub, Manifold, Fulcrum, OJS, and others. Even more remarkable is the variety of strategies these platforms use to produce output. Many attendees voiced a concern that technology was being promoted at the expense of producing quality output. There is a significant danger in allowing the technological tail to wag the dog, squandering scarce resources for small reward. This insight into process provided me with a cautionary tale and a better understanding of the status of different projects. (more…)


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August 30, 2018

Variety and values: Reflections on the Library Publishing Forum

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For our 2018 conferences, the Library Publishing Coalition and the Association of University Presses collaborated on a Cross-Pollination Registration Waiver Program. The program sent two AUPresses members to the Library Publishing Forum and two LPC members to the AUPresses Annual Meeting. Each of the recipients was asked to write a reflection on their experience and on opportunities for libraries and presses to work together towards our shared goals. This post is by Jana Faust, University of Nebraska Press.  Read the whole series

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“A couple of things that stood out to me at the conference were individuals’ passion for their work and their commitment to a set of values that would create a culture of inclusivity.”

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The University of Nebraska Press and University of Nebraska–Lincoln Libraries often collaborate but they continue to be separate units of the university. It is most common for UNP to work with the UNL Libraries’ Center for Digital Research in the Humanities (specific examples include the Willa Cather Archive and The Journals of the Lewis & Clark Expedition Online), Archives and Special Collections, and the institutional repository.

I went into the Library Publishing Forum not knowing very much about the more recent models of library publishing programs except that it has become more common for institutions to merge what had traditionally been two separate programs. I hoped to learn more about the purpose of these new models and how they differ from more traditional publishing. One thing that became apparent immediately is that there is as much variety in library publishing (in size, output, and workflow) as there is in university press publishing.

A couple of things that stood out to me at the conference were individuals’ passion for their work and their commitment to a set of values that would create a culture of inclusivity. In order to create the desired culture, many of these programs started by determining their values and then used those values as the foundation of their publishing programs. I would have expected the planning stage to focus more on practical issues: what types of content or subject areas to publish, how to handle peer review, and so forth. Instead, they often first documented their commitment to a culture of diversity, inclusivity, accessibility, and equity. I found the keynote by Cathy Kudlick, professor of history and director of the Paul K. Longmore Institute on Disability at San Francisco State University, particularly enlightening. She urged attendees to “see disability as a tool for thinking differently about the world,” to picture pirates as disability action figures, and to go beyond compliance. In addition, she described people with disabilities as being the world’s best problem solvers. (more…)


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August 29, 2018

Seeing each other: Reflections on library/press cross-pollination

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For our 2018 conferences, the Library Publishing Coalition and the Association of University Presses collaborated on a Cross-Pollination Registration Waiver Program. The program sent two AUPresses members to the Library Publishing Forum and two LPC members to the AUPresses Annual Meeting. Each of the recipients was asked to write a reflection on their experience and on opportunities for libraries and presses to work together towards our shared goals. This post is by Sarah Hare, Indiana University.  Read the whole series

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“In my experience, press partners often bring an important understanding of workload and fiscal responsibility to these projects while librarians bring a passion for open access and experimentation.”

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Why cross-pollinate?

In 2016, Charles Watkinson wrote “Why Marriage Matters: A North American Perspective on Press/Library Partnerships,” which presented a compelling argument for why presses and libraries, as “natural allies in the quest to create a more equitable scholarly publishing system,” should pursue “long-term, deeply embedded partnerships” (p. 342). The article also proposed a taxonomy for understanding library/press relationships and cited noteworthy models for collaboration beyond the “press reports to library” arrangement.

I believe that Watkinson’s recommendations for embracing library/press partnerships in order to better serve the institution both entities are embedded within have only become more relevant. Thinking strategically and realistically about shared library/press work has become imperative at my own institution, Indiana University Bloomington.

In 2012, IU Provost Lauren Robel created the Office of Scholarly Publishing (OSP). The OSP is a partnership between Indiana University Press and IU Libraries’ Scholarly Communication Department. The OSP aims to harness disparate publishing resources and strategically pool expertise in order to transform scholarly publishing at IU. This often happens by:

  • Serving IU faculty and students through journal publishing, open access book publishing, and course material publishing
  • Moving conversations on publishing innovations forward at IU, including discussion on experimental peer review, course material affordability, hybrid OA models, open-source infrastructure, and new modes of scholarship (for example, 3-D object and multimedia integration)
  • Educating the next generation of scholars, both through supporting the creation of student publishing projects and creating programming and hands-on experiences for students interested in publishing, open access, and scholarly career paths

This work requires a shared understanding and committed collaboration from library/press partners. Thus, in addition to learning more about what presses are doing operationally, I applied to the AUPresses/LPC cross-pollination registration waiver program to answer larger questions I had about press values and the university press community’s interests. I also wanted to learn about how others approach library/press collaboration, work toward truly seeing each other, understand the values and ethics of the other partner, and maintain a fruitful relationship through the constant change and innovation inherent in scholarly publishing work today. (more…)


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August 28, 2018

Advancing shared goals: Reflections on press/library partnerships

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For our 2018 conferences, the Library Publishing Coalition and the Association of University Presses collaborated on a Cross-Pollination Registration Waiver Program. The program sent two AUPresses members to the Library Publishing Forum and two LPC members to the AUPresses Annual Meeting. Each of the recipients was asked to write a reflection on their experience and on opportunities for libraries and presses to work together towards our shared goals. This post is by James Ayers, University of New Mexico Press.  Read the whole series

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“Perhaps my greatest takeaway was that libraries often fail to see their university’s press as an asset in the accomplishment of their goals, and presses often fail to see how a relationship with their university’s library could help to advance their own mission.”

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In March of this year, the University of New Mexico Press entered into an administrative reporting relationship with the University of New Mexico’s College of Libraries. Because this new relationship created opportunities for collaborations between the press and the library—especially where publishing initiatives are concerned—I became interested in developing a better understanding of what university libraries are pursuing in terms of publishing and how they are accomplishing these goals. The Library Publishing Forum seemed an excellent opportunity to learn firsthand what publishing initiatives were of interest to university libraries and how they were pursuing these aims. My hope was to find avenues by which a library-press relationship might either facilitate the accomplishment of existing publishing goals or create new, shared goals.

At the forum I had the chance to attend a variety of panels that highlighted many of the questions I wanted to explore, and I was also able to make some valuable connections with library staff from other institutions and discuss topics of interest to us both. Much of my time at the Library Publishing Forum was spent learning about library publishers’ “in the weeds” experiences, and it was very illuminating to hear about the problems they encountered and the solutions they realized. It was incredibly valuable to see some of the specific projects library publishers have begun or completed, and I made my observations with an eye toward how a library-press relationship might be beneficial to both departments. (more…)


Fellows Journal. Logo for the Library Publishing Coalition. Background image features bokeh lights in blues and greens.
July 27, 2018

Three publishing conferences with a common theme of diversity and whiteness

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The Fellows Journal is a forum for the current Library Publishing Coalition fellows to share their experiences and raise topics for discussion within the community. Learn more about the Fellowship Program .

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“The lesson that we are all learning, myself included, is that to simply do our jobs as we’ve been doing them is not enough. We must not only examine our publishing lists, but our editorial boards, reviewers, and ourselves, to learn and improve to move toward a more equitable profession. LPC, SSP, and AUP are three organizations that are very much a part of the same scholarly ecosystem, and we can all work together toward the goal of intersectional diversity and accessibility.”

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Previous to my career librarianship, I worked in academic publishing, and therefore had experience in the world of academic conferences as a vendor and editor. In all my time in academic publishing, however, I never attended a conference that was for my own professional development. In contrast, as a librarian, this year I attended the Library Publishing Forum, the Association of University Presses Annual Meeting, and the Society for Scholarly Publishing Annual Meeting.

Library Publishing Forum

I’ll be frank that I’m very biased toward the Library Publishing Forum, and not just because I’m one of the Library Publishing Coalition (LPC) Fellows. A first-time attendee at the conference asked me, “Are people always so friendly?” I was able to answer Yes: I’ve attended four out of the five forums, and it’s always been a warm community. My personal theory is this is because so many of us library publishers are departments of one or very few within our institutions, so coming to the Library Publishing Forum is an opportunity to be amongst colleagues with similar roles. But it’s also a very collaborative community, and this conference was just another example of how we are cooperatively engaged with each other to improve software platforms and create new processes for publishing more effectively. The sessions are frequently practical and full of helpful examples, while still honest about difficulties and limitations in execution. I feel that every year, we as a community move forward together, regardless of the resources at each institution, simply because we share knowledge with each other so well.

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July 9, 2018

Digital Publishing Your Way: Moving Toward Multimodal, Flexible Platforms

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Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Sarah Wipperman, University of Pennsylvania. This is part of a series of reflections by community members on the recent Library Publishing Forum. See the whole series

The 2018 Library Publishing Forum preconference, Owned by the Academy, gave participants a chance to learn more about publishing platforms that have a commitment to community-owned infrastructure. Elsevier’s 2017 acquisition of bepress put a spotlight on this issue, so, for many, including myself, this preconference was a welcomed chance to explore both well-established and up-and-coming open source publishing alternatives.

Publishing platforms can be a place where libraries do research and development, finding new partnerships and collaboration opportunities, working with new types of scholarship and methods, and experimenting with new technologies. I thus found the most exciting takeaway from this preconference to be the possibilities of new (and continued) development in open source publishing. Many of these communities are thinking more actively about non-traditional forms of scholarship, multimodal scholarship, and other ways in which academia is embracing, incorporating, and sharing new expressions of scholarship. Many platforms are also emphasizing sustainability and trying to provide multiple ways of engaging in these systems, including options for assisted setup and/or hosting. While no platform is “perfect” (as if such a thing exists), progress towards the next wave of scholarly needs is tangible.

“We all have different services we provide to meet needs on campus, so I find it equally important to have tools that can support us as needs, workflows, and services change. Platforms should support people-based services, not dictate or confine what those services should be.”

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July 5, 2018

What’s it like to be the local host of the Library Publishing Forum?

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Editor’s note: This is part of a series of reflections by community members on the recent Library Publishing Forum. See the whole series. This post is guest written by Kate McCready and Laureen Boutang, from the University of Minnesota Libraries. 

When we first considered the idea of hosting the Library Publishing Forum at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, we were very excited about the opportunities that could come from being a local host. We saw it as a way to strengthen our relationship with the Library Publishing Coalition, and support the work of the library publishing community. We also hoped that bringing the events to campus would allow our U of MN colleagues to have the opportunity to learn more about library publishing in general, and our program specifically. We thought it would build understanding about why our institution was devoting resources to scholarly publishing activities. Of course, we also wanted a meaningful conference for those attending! All of these hopes were realized and we learned a lot about bringing an event to campus as well.  

As we dove into thinking about logistics and providing on-the-ground knowledge of the location, we realized that for our hopes to succeed, we had a lot of work to do. There were many details that would need our attention if the Forum and affiliated events were to run smoothly. Looking back at our work preparing for the Forum over the last year, it can be loosely categorized in four areas. First, we needed to gain buy-in at our home institution at many levels. Second, we had to work with many constituents (local colleagues, program committee colleagues, event staff, LPC colleagues, etc.) to determine the priorities and requirements for the events. Third, while the Forum is a self-supporting conference and the Library Publishing Coalition provides financial and logistical resources for it, we worked to provide additional local staffing and financial resources to support our priorities as the host institution. Finally, we spent time to get and stay organized. (more…)


June 11, 2018

Challenges and opportunities (but mostly opportunities) for open source infrastructure in library publishing

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Editor’s note: This is part of a series of reflections by community members on the recent Library Publishing Forum. See the whole series. This post is guest written by Alison McGonagle-O’Connell, Editoria Community Manager and Owned by the Academy presenter. 

As a first-time Library Publishing Forum attendee, presenter, and a participant in the “Owned by the Academy” pre-meeting, I was struck by how truly welcoming and collaborative this group is! These meetings also provided me with a few key takeaways:

  1. Open Source (OS) publishing technologies are proliferating, and are of increasing interest to the broader library publishing community.
  2. These tools and platforms represent one way for the community to reclaim some control of the scholarly communication marketplace.
  3. Hosted service models for OS tools will be necessary for some to take the leap from commercial products.
  4. OS providers need to work together to ensure interoperability, and to effectively map tool capabilities to the unique needs and requirements of the community

The first two takeaways are general observations, largely supported by those who attended, tweeted, and have subsequently discussed the meetings openly. OS technology gives organizations the ability to design and customize platforms to support their own needs and values. There is significant freedom in not being locked in to a commercial solution’s unalterable roadmap. Want to design accessibility into the platform with your user community? Go ahead! Concerned about security? Need support for interactive images including integration with data sets? Want to support multiple languages? Done. Nothing is off the table with this kind of community-driven and -supported infrastructure. (more…)


June 8, 2018

From services to access: Reflections of a first-time Forum attendee

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Editor’s note: This is part of a series of reflections by community members on the recent Library Publishing Forum. See the whole series. This post is guest written by Talea Anderson, Scholarly Communication Librarian at Washington State University and recipient of a Library Publishing Forum First-Time Attendee Scholarship. 

In May I attended my first Library Publishing Forum with support kindly provided by LPC. The conference was filled with meaningful experiences for me. I’d mention in particular the time I was able to spend with the editorial staff of Kairos as part of KairosCamp and the opportunity I had later in the week to participate in the first pilot of the Library Publishing Curriculum. I manage a small, service-focused scholarly communication program at Washington State University, and these two workshops provided a glimpse of the editorial services that help keep journals running. On my campus, we are currently moving forward with supporting faculty who would like to create and publish open educational resources and I came away with a better understanding of the kinds of needs these faculty members may have when it comes to preparing, editing, and publishing their work.

These workshops were a great introduction to editorial work and publishing services, but for me the most meaningful part of LPF came on the first day when Catherine Kudlick spoke about web accessibility (slides coming soon). Kudlick invited us as library publishers to build accessibility into our workflows from the start, and to see this work not as punitive but as a service to all people, including disabled communities. This message is certainly important but I connected to it on an unexpectedly personal level. I learned, on introducing myself to Kudlick after her keynote, that we share the same eye condition and face similar challenges when it comes to doing things like presenting to audiences and reading texts on mobile devices. I rarely encounter others who can relate to the way I see—it’s rarer still to find people in academia who cope with vision loss while engaging with publishing and scholarly communication. The brief chat I had with Kudlick was, to say the least, a special opportunity for me. In the end, thanks in part to this encounter, I came away from LPF feeling inspired to continue improving access to information for everyone, including people like me and Kudlick and many others who benefit from inclusive publishing practices.

Talea Anderson
Scholarly Communication Librarian
Washington State University


June 7, 2018

What do we value in academic ownership?

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Editor’s note: This is part of a series of reflections by community members on the recent Library Publishing Forum and Owned by the Academy: A Preconference on Open Source Publishing Software. See the whole series

When I learned that this year’s Library Publishing Forum preconference was called “Owned by the Academy,” I knew right away that I had to attend. I was just beginning my new job as Scholarly Communications Librarian at West Virginia University, and our Dean had recently mentioned to me the idea of academically-owned publishing. So the preconference presented a perfect opportunity to learn more about an area of interest at my new institution.

I anticipated that I would learn about lots of different open source publishing platforms, and leave the conference better informed to make recommendations as to which of these would be a good fit for my library, and this certainly happened. But since returning from Minneapolis, I’ve also been spending a lot of time reflecting on owned by the academy as a concept, and so I’m going to dedicate this post to sharing some of my thoughts on this issue.

Prior to the preconference, the phrase owned by the academy brought to my mind open source publishing software built and supported by a community of academic librarians, IT and development staff, and academically-oriented non-profits. I imagined that under an “academically-owned” setup, the software and infrastructure would be hosted at the institutional or consortial level and that commercial entities would not have a role to play.

But in light of my experience at the Owned by the Academy Preconference (and the Library Publishing Forum as a whole), I’ve been reconsidering what owned by the academy really means. At the preconference, there were representatives from colleges, universities, and non-profits, but some for-profit businesses were represented as well. So I’ve been thinking a lot about whether for-profit involvement is compatible with academic ownership. (more…)