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.

As much as we love the searchable online interface for the Library Publishing Directory, it doesn’t include the introduction found in the print, PDF, and EPUB versions. Each year, the Directory‘s introduction includes a ‘state of the field’ based on that year’s data that highlights trends and new developments in library publishing as reported by the programs that contribute their information. To make it easier to find, we are republishing that portion of the introduction here. This year’s introduction was written by Alexandra Hoff, Jessica Kirschner, Janet Swatscheno, and Robert Browder, with an assist from me. Enjoy!



Local partnerships remain a mainstay of library publishing, and this is reflected in the 2019 dataset. Most library publishers report partnering with campus departments (80%) and individual faculty (78%). Many also partner with
graduate students (57%) and undergraduate students (57%). A minority of library publishers partner with the university press (29%).

While library publishers continue to focus on campus stakeholders through faculty-driven and student-driven journals, this year’s responses indicated a significant increase in the number of journals published for external groups. The number of faculty-driven journals increased 16% (442 to 512) from the previous year, and the number of student-driven journals increased 31% (224 to 294), while journals published for external groups increased 50% (173 to 259). It is possible that the increase in journals published for outside groups is part of a larger trend in library publishing, or it may reflect more specifically the publishing approaches of the many new entries in this year’s Directory.


Fundamental to library publishing is maintaining, supporting, and sometimes developing publishing platforms. Each year there are more and more platform options for library publishers to choose from, including open source and
commercial products. Open source software developed by and for the academic community was a major of focus of the 2018 Library Publishing Forum, but this year’s dataset does not yet indicate a major shift in the platforms and
technologies library publishers are using. The most common software used by library publishers is the Elsevier-owned bepress platform (43%). Close behind is the open source and well-established Open Journal Systems (41%). Other
common platforms include DSpace (30%), WordPress (18%), and CONTENTdm (14%). While open source and commercial platforms remain popular, the use of locally developed software has steadily decreased from 25% in 2017 to only 12% in 2019, which most likely reflects the increasing number of platform options out there, as well as larger trends in library infrastructure management. If the library publishing community continues to focus on adopting and supporting open source software, we would expect to see a shift in this data over time, as well as the emergence of new open source options.


Reported staffing levels and funding sources remained consistent with previous years. The 2019 reported staffing levels showed a slight increase from last year, from an average of 2.1 full-time professional staff per program to an average
of 2.3. The average number of full-time paraprofessional staff decreased fairly dramatically from previous years from 1.6 to .5 per publishing program. It is unclear from the data what may account for this drop in paraprofessional staff. The majority of library publishing services remained centralized (59%), while 28% of libraries reported that services were spread across units, 6% reported that services were distributed across campus, and only 3% reported that services were
distributed across several campuses.


Library publishers often provide a range of editorial, technical, and production services in addition to hosting content. Last year’s data revealed that many of the “other services” (e.g., copyright advice, training, metadata services) were
provided by fewer programs than in the past, and this trend continued into this year. For example, the percentage of institutions providing digitization services decreased from 84% in 2017, to 69% in 2018, and down to 58% in 2019. Hosting supplemental content and providing training and analytic services also steadily decreased in the last three years. Many of the “other services” remained consistent with 2018 numbers, including providing copyright advice (80%), metadata services (77%), and cataloging services (59%). Services that were offered by the smallest number of library publishers included budget preparation (7%), business model development (9%), and creation of indexes (12%).


Digital preservation continues to be a major concern for library publishers and academic libraries in general. The 2019 data showed that library programs are using a number of systems to provide digital preservation services, including
LOCKSS (32%), CLOCKSS (9%), MetaArchive (4%), COPPUL (3%), HathiTrust (11%), Portico (14%), and in-house solutions (38%). Another 22% of library publishers are discussing possible solutions for digital preservation.


For the first time last year, the Directory survey included a question asking respondents to indicate how strongly their program focuses on open access publishing. The question asked respondents to rank their program from 1 (not at all OA) to 5 (fully OA). It is no surprise that library publishers focus on open access publishing because it is and has been a core library value. This year, library publishers were again asked to rate the openness of their programs. The majority
rated their programs at a 4 (42%) or 5 (46%) in terms of openness, and no library publisher rated their program as a 1.