Consortial publishing profiles is an occasional series highlighting library publishing programs that offer centralized publishing services to multiple institutions within a geographic region or a consortium
By Vanesa Evers, Author, Digital Publishing Librarian, Atlanta University Center Robert W. Woodruff Library and Christine Wiseman, Editor, Assistant Director, Digital Services Department
What is the focus and scope of the program?
The AUC Woodruff Library supports the teaching, learning and research missions of four institutions of higher education that comprise the world’s largest consortium of HBCUs: Clark Atlanta University, the Interdenominational Theological Center, Morehouse College, and Spelman College. Consequently, the Library hosts and supports digital publishing services for all of our member institutions. We host student journals, literary journals, electronic theses and dissertations (ETDs), and faculty-led academic journals using OJS. Since the needs of our partner institution are so unique, we provide very diverse services to each institution.
How and why did it get started?
The Atlanta University Center Robert W. Woodruff Library (AUC Woodruff Library) has a solid relationship with its stakeholders, including students, staff, and faculty. Over the last few years, publishing opportunities have increased due to the Library expanding its digital platforms like Open Journal Systems (OJS) and Pressbooks. Since the Library serves four institutions, the needs are unique to each institution. Faculty and student editors might need limited assistance with a particular platform, whereas another institution might need more in-depth support with a new project.
The Library utilizes both vendor and open source platforms to support library publishing. We host academic and literary journals in OJS, provide support to faculty who publish their open educational resources in Pressbooks, and host ETDs and faculty scholarship and research in our Islandora repository, RADAR (Repository of the AUC Digital Collections, Archives, and Research). On the technical side, we set up accounts in OJS and Pressbooks, provide training and technical support for troubleshooting issues, and other technical issues that may arise when using digital publishing platforms. We also provide hands-on workshops and training for students, faculty and staff members.
Staffing and finances
Within the AUC Woodruff Library, the Digital Services Department (DSD) provides the following services: digitization services; library publishing and digital scholarship, repository management, analytics, and digital preservation. As part of DSD, the Digital Publishing Librarian is responsible for coordinating, researching and implementing best practices and emerging technologies in support of the development, delivery and access to scholarly and library-based publishing. The Digital Publishing Librarian is the dedicated staff member who supports the publishing programs. The Digital Publishing Librarian provides support to faculty, staff and students in making their open access scholarship available online. Other Digital Services Department members are trained in certain digital publishing areas for support and backup purposes. The publishing program is financially supported through the library’s budget and the Digital Publishing Librarian is a permanent position. The Library does not directly charge participating institutions or authors but each institution financially supports the AUC Woodruff Library.
Governance and decision making
Policies, procedures and resources that support our ever changing digital publishing needs are made available online. For instance, even though OJS is used primarily for our journals, we also use this platform as an archive for Spelman College’s literary journal, Aunt Chloe. We also use OJS to manage Clark Atlanta University’s ETD submission workflow. Once all ETDs are reviewed and go through the workflow processes and cleared by the CAU Office of Graduate Programs, we then ingest them into our institutional/e-scholarship repository, RADAR.
When a faculty member reaches out about starting a new journal we have a process in place for orientation and training. Each new journal manager/editor signs an agreement form that delineates responsibilities for both the Library and for the journal manager, and we hold an introduction session for interested faculty and staff. Our publishing program and hosting support is ever changing due to the changing needs of our institutions. We have supported faculty in their inception of a new journal or have advised them on the best platform for a new project.
Some lessons that I have learned in running a consortial publishing and hosting program include having more than one contact/email address for faculty editors, being flexible, and providing documentation and training. After sending out emails, I may not hear from faculty until the end of the semester because of their busy schedules. In these instances, I make sure to have several projects moving at once to allow for response time. Other lessons I have learned in this process is to be very familiar with the digital publishing programs you work with. There will be several technical issues that arise and faculty, staff, and students will look to you for support. Another note of caution is to stay in communication with the faculty editors because students will graduate and you will need someone to connect with to complete certain tasks.
Although this is a newer program, there has been much success. I have presented on our publishing program at several conferences. The success of our program is evidenced by fulfilling the needs of our stakeholders and providing access to their research on a digital platform. Use of digital scholarship continues to increase: in FY2023 institutional repository use overall increased 31%, use of ETDs increased by 54%, and OJS use increased by 72% year-over-year. Some of our other notable highlights include: 10 collections published or added to in the e-scholarship repository in 2023 including: Clark Atlanta University ETDs; Spelman College Faculty Publications; Interdenominational Theological Center Theses and Dissertations; and hosting a collaborative oral history project between Spelman College and CUNY Graduate Center, Passing it Forward Oral History Interviews.