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February 16, 2023

Intersections: Incorporating Trans and Gender Diverse Inclusion into Library Publishing


Intersections is an occasional series where community members reflect on what they are seeing in other parts of their professional world and what library publishers can learn from it. 

By Stephen Krueger, Scholarly Publishing Librarian, Dartmouth College

When I do workshops on trans and gender diverse inclusion for libraries, I often wrap up with a slide listing every type of library work I can think of. This is to remind people that the issue is part of every single role in the profession, from instruction to cataloging to HR (plus adjacent work like cleaning and security). Library publishing and scholarly communications are no exception. Why would they be? Without active, sweeping change and accountability, we continue the inequities that have been built into this profession (whether or not this was intentional). The specifics simply depend on what those inequities happen to be in our particular area of work. But that change is not impossible; it is only that individuals and organizations must go out of their way to enact it. This takes work—significant amounts of it, committed to in the long-term.

In discussing a topic like this, it can be easy to devolve into positive-sounding buzzwords like diversity, equity, and inclusion (or acronyms that lump all the concepts together), but that evades the scale and impact of the problem. Naming the things that libraries are not implies some sort of neutral in-between space, letting us sit stagnant and complacent in the status quo. But these words have antonyms: Library workers aren’t not diverse; they are homogenous. They are inequitable. We don’t not include; we exclude, passively and actively. Libraries are not for everyone and never have been–because, historically speaking, they weren’t intended to be, and the complete overhaul needed to get rid of the practices developed throughout that history has not happened. That is not to say that we shouldn’t try to develop our libraries so that they do support patrons and workers of all identities, but it is wilfully obtuse to pretend this is the case at present; denying and ignoring the problems perpetuates harm.

So what does that work look like? Well, the first step regardless of your role is basic self-education. (I do not offer workshops that don’t start with an hour of Trans 101, since I have found that the lack of knowledge about trans and gender diverse people is so pervasive that there isn’t much point in trying to move on without first establishing a baseline; this applies to self-education as well.) For individuals, this might mean watching a webinar (Trans and Gender Non-Conforming Inclusion in Libraries and Reimagining Transgender ‘Inclusion’ for Libraries are both good beginning options for library workers) or doing some reading about trans and gender diverse people. Organizations can bring in speakers; some may be found on the Trans Inclusion in LIS Presenter List, and many academic institutions have an LGBTQIA+ Center or equivalent that might be able to suggest local options.

The reason you need to start with basic self-education is that the next step is something like “make all of your work/processes/services gender inclusive.” What that actually means in practice varies enormously, depending on what you and/or your organization actually do. This is why you must educate yourself about trans and gender diverse people first: You need to know enough about the common needs of the people you are trying to include to meet those needs, and you can’t put the labor on people of those identities when it’s actually your job to do it. Very broadly speaking, what you should do is assume that people of all different gender identities are using and working in your library and your department specifically, or will do so at some point. Think through what their experiences will be like with your current systems, spaces, and services, identify potential problems, and resolve them. (I would say “preemptively,” but I actually think it’s likely that trans and gender diverse people have already been harmed by whatever issues exist in any given situation—you just may not know about it.) If you like, borrow the persona technique from UX: create a handful of fictional trans and gender diverse people of various experiences and identities, and then take each of them on a hypothetical journey through your processes to identify concerns. This method helps you avoid the harmful myth of the One Monolithic Trans Experience. For example, a persona who has undergone a legal name change may have no problems filling out an author contract, while one who has not is forced to out themself.

In general, the approach above applies to library publishing work as much as to anything else, so I could stop here. However, it may help to identify some of the common issues that end up excluding some trans and gender diverse people in this area, along with actions you can take to get started. Note that these things are not a replacement for the education and in-depth work outlined above.

Inasmuch as the scholarly publishing world has made active steps towards trans inclusion, these primarily involve the increasing number of publishers that have adopted policies to support and protect authors who have changed their names (everyone involved in publishing needs to read Tenenbaum et al.’s iconic article on this issue). This is far from the only name-related issue that comes up in publishing, so review your internal processes for handling author names at all steps of the process (including after publication). Questions to ask include the following:

  • Does the type of publishing you do require the author’s legal name on a contract? Have you really checked, or are you just assuming so?
  • If it does, how are you asking for that information, and are you asking for it from everyone? Are you assuming that you need to check only with authors who you know are trans or who are using an obvious pseudonym? All sorts of people use different names in different situations, many of them for reasons that have nothing to do with gender.
  • What happens when an author changes their name after they have published with you? The Tenenbaum et al. article linked above has excellent guidance for creating an inclusive author name change policy. This question applies to anything where you are keeping a record of authorship; I adapted the recommendations in the linked article to make an author name change policy for our institutional repository (and then did a lighting talk about it, with slides available in that same IR).
  • Are your forms specific about what you are asking for? Name of use, name on publication, and legal name are three different things, so specify rather than having an ambiguous “name” field. Ask for only what you absolutely need, at the point when you need it—if you do require a legal name for the contract or payment paperwork, don’t ask for it prior to the relevant step in the publishing process.
  • Are authors’ legal names shared, internally or externally, in a way that risks outing them? Ensure that their legal name, if you do indeed need to collect it, will not be shared any more than absolutely necessary, and let them know who sees it so they can protect themselves accordingly. And of course, what you tell them must be true, so ensure that your systems and staff training reflect that policy.
  • Are your processes transparent? Since there are a lot of people for whom sharing their legal name is equivalent to outing themself, they should be able to plan ahead if they will be required to do so in order to publish with you. This way they can make an informed decision on whether or not to do so. Create a publicly viewable document outlining the steps in the process, including what information is needed when. Share this with potential authors without waiting for them ask for it.

In library publishing, author names are probably the most prominent specific issue, but not the only one. Some other actions include the following:

  • Update all of your materials to use singular “they” rather than “he or she.” This goes for internal handbooks, author guidelines, public language, everything. If you need a justification to cite, it’s in keeping with current APA standards.
  • If you have guidelines for authors, recommend the use of singular “they” in these as well. If you provide editing services, train staff to watch and correct for this.
  • Push back. Does your institution have transphobic policies like refusing to respect authors’ name changes, or insisting on keeping a public record of those changes? Do you use a platform that is unclear about what information it asks for? Do your coworkers fail to use gender-inclusive language in written materials? Even if enacting change seems unlikely, don’t take that as a reason not to try; use whatever power you have to raise issues, and keep doing so until they improve.

Other things you can do include…well, everything. This post is centered on library publishing, but it’s likely that your workplace needs attention in many areas to be inclusive to employees and users of all genders.

A closing thought: You may note that most of the people cited in this piece fall somewhere under the trans and gender diverse umbrella (as do I). As you reflect—and, I hope, act—on incorporating gender inclusion into your library publishing and other work, be aware of what that means. The vast majority of the progress that has been made so far comes from self-defense by those of us who are fighting to make space for ourselves, usually in systems that erase our existence or out us when we try to participate. That harm isn’t necessarily the intent; I think that most often, trans-exclusionary situations are the result of people who didn’t realize that trans and gender diverse people existed. Regardless of whether it stems from ignorance or bigotry, the impact is the same, and it will not change without active work. That labor is what I am asking you to do.

And finally, to the trans and gender diverse people reading this: I’m not going to say none of this is your job because it literally might be, as it is mine. But the same personal experiences that may make you more likely to notice the problems also can make attempting to solve them far more stressful and exhausting than the same work is for cisgender people. So please take care of yourself first; while you do need to pay attention to the issues described above if they fall under your area of professional responsibility, it is not your job to try to fix a broken system just because you’re one of the people harmed by it.

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August 17, 2021

Intersections: Collections, Scholarly Communication, and the “Transformation” of Open Access


Intersections is an occasional series where community members reflect on what they are seeing in other parts of their professional world and what library publishers can learn from it. 

By Shawn Martin, Head of Scholarly Communication, Copyright, and Publishing, Dartmouth Library

What are transformative agreements changing exactly? Are they promoting open access? Are they shifting the way libraries access and pay for collections? Are they good for small private institutions as well as large public systems? The answers to these questions are incredibly difficult, but as the head of scholarly communication at the Dartmouth Library, they are issues I need to contend with on a regular basis. Fundamentally, I believe that transformative agreements are about the values not only of open access, but also of individual colleges and universities. Values can be implemented in many ways and may vary depending on local conditions. Dartmouth is perhaps not representative of academic libraries broadly speaking. Nonetheless, Dartmouth Library has characteristics of both smaller liberal arts colleges and research universities that, I think, could help a variety of different institutions think about how they work through implementing the values of open access within the economic context of a transformative publishing agreement.

Dartmouth is, comparatively speaking, smaller than its Ivy League peers and is proud of its model for blending the qualities of a research university and a liberal arts college. The scholarly communication program itself is situated within the digital strategies unit, meaning I report to the same Associate Librarian who also oversees the library’s IT infrastructure and digital scholarship initiatives. Because of the library’s small size, however, I have the privilege of working with our collections team and being part of the collection steering committee, which determines how our collection budget is spent. I also meet regularly with the Associate Librarian of the unit overseeing collection strategies. Additionally, I have sat on committees at the Dartmouth Library that evaluated the functionality of databases used for scholarly metrics such as SCOPUS (Elsevier) and Web of Science (Clarivate). I have led discussions within the collection steering committee about the analytics that Unsub provides and how it might need to be supplemented in order to make data-driven decisions managing new budget. In other words, discussion of open access and scholarly communication at Dartmouth has been a hybrid of both a collections and an IT conversation (among others). (more…)

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June 8, 2021

Intersections: Connecting and Collaborating – Reflections of a Consortial Library Publisher


Intersections is an occasional series where community members reflect on what they are seeing in other parts of their professional world and what library publishers can learn from it. 

By Amanda Hurford, Private Academic Library Network of Indiana (PALNI)

A conference icebreaker recently posed the question: How do you describe your job to someone who has no idea what it is that you do? For me, this can be a difficult question to answer since working for a library consortium falls outside the boundaries of traditional librarianship.  So, when I describe what I do to someone who knows nothing of the world of library consortia, I typically say something like: “I work for a non-profit organization that connects people and works together to develop services at private college libraries across Indiana.” 

My actual job title is Scholarly Communications Director for the Private Academic Library Network of Indiana (PALNI). For the last four years, I’ve been working to develop a scholarly communications community of practice by connecting with a group of engaged librarians across the 24 PALNI-supported institutions.  We created a Schol Comm advisory group, led by a steering committee, and driven with the efforts of several work-focused teams administering programs for the consortium.  Some specific projects have been developing an open source consortial institutional repository (Hyku for Consortia), establishing our group affordable learning program (PALSave), statewide digitization of scarcely held resources (PALNI Last Copies), and finally, operationalizing publishing services for the PALNI Press.

When I started this position, I was excited for a change of pace and to work at a statewide scale.  As a former metadata and digital collections librarian, the concepts of consortia and scholarly communication were generally familiar to me.  But it’s been a whirlwind of learning about the growing consortial involvement in that space, and a significant shift, for me, working so collaboratively in every phase of a project.

For library publishers, here are some important things to know about consortia:


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June 2, 2021

Intersections: Library Publishing and Scholarly Societies


Intersections is an occasional series where community members reflect on what they are seeing in other parts of their professional world and what library publishers can learn from it. 

By Lauren B. Collister, Director, Office of Scholarly Communication and Publishing, University of Pittsburgh Library System,, @parnopaeus

Many people who come to librarianship have a background in a particular discipline of scholarship. In my case, this disciplinary experience is not just in the past, but rather an ongoing engagement with a scholarly discipline through work for a scholarly society. This work not only gives me insight into the lived experiences of scholars in my discipline who are attempting to carry out the open scholarship and publishing practices that we in the Library Publishing community often advocate for, but also presents opportunities for me to share resources and knowledge that can help the society and its members with their work. I hope that by sharing my experience with one scholarly society, I can inspire other people in our field to consider engaging with a disciplinary scholarly society as a way to not only develop and hone your own skills, but also to bring the practices and values of the library publishing community to the disciplines.

In my case, my scholarly background is in linguistics, and the scholarly society for linguists in the United States is the Linguistic Society of America (LSA). I was a student member during my PhD days; not only was I involved as a local host for the conference when it was in Pittsburgh, but I also took advantage of several of the training workshops as well as the job listings. When I transitioned to library work in 2013 with a new position in the library publishing program at the University Library System, University of Pittsburgh, my membership in the society lapsed for a few years because I was very busy learning about my new job. However, when I heard that the LSA was planning its 2016 Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., and that part of the conference would include an Advocacy Day at the Capitol and meetings with Senators and Representatives, I was excited to sign up again to go back to the LSA conference.

The opportunity to advocate for linguistics, the discipline where I first felt like a scholar, was what drew me back to the Society, and while at the Annual Meeting I discovered another opportunity: the newly-formed Committee on Scholarly Communication in Linguistics. I attended the first meeting and immediately signed up. As a Scholarly Communications Librarian with a PhD in Linguistics, what more perfect service opportunity could there be?


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May 4, 2021

Intersections: Not Quite a Librarian, Not Quite a Publisher: What It’s Like to Work for a Library and a University Press


Intersections is an occasional series where community members reflect on what they are seeing in other parts of their professional world and what library publishers can learn from it. 

By Annie Johnson, Assistant Director of Open Publishing Initiatives and Scholarly Communications, Temple University @anniekjohn

For the past five years, I have worked for both Temple University Libraries and Temple University Press. Library colleagues at other institutions tend to assume I work for the Press. Press colleagues tend to assume I work for the Libraries. The truth is a bit more nuanced: much of my work involves leading what might be considered typical scholarly communication initiatives within the Libraries. However, my supervisor is the Director of the Press, Mary Rose Muccie, and I support the Press in important ways, particularly when it comes to open access and born-digital projects. That work has involved publishing the Press’s first digital companion to a print book, serving as the primary investigator for an NEH grant to digitize and make openly available out-of-print Press books in labor studies, and launching Temple’s instance of the digital publishing platform Manifold, which the Press now uses as a portal for its open access books. Most recently, we started a joint Libraries/Press imprint, North Broad Press, that publishes open textbooks written by Temple faculty. 

Temple University Press is one of a number of presses that reports to its library. This is an increasingly common situation, which has resulted in the creation of positions like mine that try to bridge the two organizations. Despite its prevalence, some in scholarly publishing still worry about presses reporting to libraries, and question whether such a relationship actually benefits university presses. I understand the concerns, especially when these changes happen during moments when the larger university is in crisis. But I was not hired to dismantle or replace the work of the Press. Quite the opposite: I help the Press experiment with new publishing models in ways that they would simply not have the capacity to do otherwise. My involvement does not take away from the excellent work the Press staff are doing, it enhances it. I help get Temple University Press books out to more people around the globe while strengthening the Press’s relationship with the larger university. (more…)