LPC’s current 5-year strategic plan (PDF) is winding down. Published in summer 2018, it was our young community’s first concrete statement of our strategic goals. From LPC’s seed-funded project period (2013-14) through our first two years as a full-fledged membership association (2015-2017), we relied for guidance on our original scoping materials and focused much of our energy on getting the community’s infrastructure and ongoing programs on solid footing. By 2017, it had become apparent that we were ready to think more strategically about the future and put in the work to make sure we were pulling in the same directions across the community. The strategic planning process we undertook was a traditional one, involving a SWOT Analysis, an environmental scan, and community consultation. The outcome was a traditional 5-year strategic plan consisting of three goals, with nested objectives and action items.
As we head into a new planning process, I wanted to reflect on what we accomplished under our current plan from my perspective as the LPC Community Facilitator. This isn’t meant to be a comprehensive listing of accomplishments. Instead, this post will share a high-level view from the staff perspective of how LPC has evolved in each of our strategic areas, where we’ve made significant progress, and where I see untapped potential.
Goal 1: Promulgate best practices in library publishing
This is LPC’s bread and butter, and the area where it’s most tempting to turn this post into a laundry list of projects, programs, and publications. I’ll resist the temptation and instead highlight a couple of programs under each objective that exemplify our approach(es).
Objective 1.1: Model high standards and celebrate excellence in library publishing
The two programs I want to highlight here come at this challenge from very different angles. Our newest awards program, the Publishing Practice Awards, launched in 2020 to recognize and raise awareness of effective and sustainable library publishing practices. Rather than being a traditional publication award, it examines the work of publishing itself, and the ways that we embed our values in our publishing practices. The program was a direct result of brainstorming during our last strategic planning process, and bringing it to fruition took the combined effort of the Board, the task force convened to scope the program, and the committee that was eventually launched to implement it.
The other program I want to highlight, Documentation Month, was an organic development in response to challenges shared by community members. In a community call hosted by the Professional Development Committee (on the topic of “Creative Staffing Solutions”), the lack of documentation was exposed as a major point of vulnerability for publishing programs with minimal staff support. To help library publishers create the documentation that will help them weather upheaval and staff turnover, the committee created Documentation Month as an annual program. Each February (starting in 2021), the committee shares resources, hosts calls, and does its best to create space for the critical work of documentation.
Though different in origin and approach, these two programs both aim to strengthen practice in the community and to provide library publishers with standards and models they can draw on in their work.
Objective 1.2: Educate librarians and their collaborative partners about standards, policies, and workflows in library publishing
Obviously the examples above also support this objective, but I want to draw attention here to two more specifically pedagogical resources: the Library Publishing Competencies (published in 2020) and the Library Publishing Curriculum. The Competencies was LPC’s first attempt to catalog the knowledge and expertise required by library publishers. Created by the Professional Development Committee, it was meant to function both as a resource for the field (e.g. helping libraries to determine what kinds of staff support they need for their publishing programs) and as a touchstone for the development of future professional development resources by the LPC. The Curriculum was created as part of an IMLS-funded project and originally published in 2018 as a set of teaching materials. In 2019, LPC’s Board officially adopted the curriculum as one of the community’s official resources. Soon after, it recruited an Editor-in-Chief and an Editorial Board for the curriculum, which have been working to expand access to and update the curriculum. Together, these two resources provide a more holistic approach to the professional formation of library publishers than anything we have done before.
Objective 1.3: Identify major challenges in library publishing and support the development of solutions
This is another objective we tackle in a variety of ways, but I want to focus here on research. For the last five years we have had a two-pronged approach to research: supporting others’ research and conducting our own. We have a number of approaches to supporting research in the field (e.g. an annual Award for Outstanding Scholarship, a Research Interest Match Program, etc.), but the biggest lift in this area was the creation and publication (in 2020) of the Library Publishing Research Agenda. This document had been in the works since LPC’s seed-funded project phase, but it was a heavy lift for the Research Committee. It started with the surprisingly tricky question, “What actually is a research agenda?” and only got more challenging from there. The end result, however, is a clear articulation of areas in our field that would benefit from more evidence-based practice. There is still lots we can do to support library publishers in conducting the research laid out in the agenda, but it gives us a solid foundation to work from.
Our own research has primarily been undertaken via two back-to-back IMLS-funded projects hosted by Educopia Institute’s research arm: the Library Publishing Curriculum project and the Library Publishing Workflows project. I’ve already talked about the curriculum, so I’ll just take a moment to highlight the Workflows project. It started with the question, “What do journal publishing workflows in libraries look like?” and ended with the release of workflow documentation from 12 library publishers and a set of documentation tools meant to help other libraries document (and improve) their own workflows. It also produced a large set of blog posts exploring journal publishing pain points and workflow evolution over time. (See project page for links to all.) As with the curriculum project, dedicated funding and staff time allowed us to dive deeply into a challenge facing the field (in this case, the home-grown and often patchy nature of journal publishing workflows) and develop tools to address it.
Goal 2: Strengthen the community of library publishers
Objective 2.1: Strengthen the current LPC member community
Objective 2.2: Provide non-member institutions with opportunities to get involved in the LPC community
Objective 2.3: Grow the Strategic Affiliates Program and leverage its impact to benefit the LPC and affiliated communities
Objective 2.4: Build our support for and engagement with the international community of library publishers
It makes sense to me to put our work on this goal in three buckets: learning from each other, increasing alignment with other communities, and international engagement. (There are definitely things we have done in support of the objectives above that don’t fit into this structure, but that’s round-ups for you!)
Learning from each other: Over the last five years, we have made a deliberate shift in how we approach non-Forum learning opportunities. Before that, we mainly invited speakers from outside the community to present webinars to us. We still do that from time to time, but we now emphasize providing opportunities for community members to learn from each other. Webinars have mostly been replaced by discussion-based community calls, and we have added a very successful peer mentorship program. We also highlight the voices and wisdom of the community via guest posts on the LPC Blog. The end result of all of this has been both an increase in learning opportunities and deeper connections across the community.
Increasing alignment with other communities: Much of this has happened via our Strategic Affiliates program (mentioned below, as well), which has provided the scaffolding for joint task forces, shared professional development, and knowledge sharing on topics of importance to community leaders (e.g. an ongoing series of calls we are hosting on event planning in the age of COVID). Each of these projects is valuable in itself, but each of them also increases awareness and strengthens relationships between communities. In 2017, a peer organization scheduled a scholarly communications-related event on the same date as the Library Publishing Forum – that is much less likely to happen now!
International engagement: LPC’s staff and a majority of our member libraries are located in the United States, with strong representation from Canada. We have a sincere desire to support the development of library publishing in other regions, but enough pragmatism to know that we don’t have the infrastructure to become a truly international membership organization. Instead, LPC’s Board made a strategic decision to put our support (financial and programmatic) behind the new International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) Library Publishing Special Interest Group (SIG). (More about this below, as well.) We maintain an ongoing partnership with the SIG, which has helped to internationalize some of our programs (like the Library Publishing Directory) while advancing the SIG’s strategic goals.
Goal 3: Act as a focal point and a force multiplier for library publishing
Objective 3.1: Serve as a point of contact for and a knowledge base about the range of vendors and platforms used by library publishers in their workflows and activities.
Objective 3.2: Represent library publishers in the wider scholarly communications community
Objective 3.3: Engage with the broader scholarly communications landscape and adapt LPC’s strategies accordingly.
This is the most difficult goal to quantify, but it’s also an area where we’ve seen profound shifts over the last five years. An example to illustrate: in 2017, the Library Publishing Forum was almost entirely seen as a venue for LPC members and library publishers at non-member libraries to share updates on their work and learn from each other’s practices. That remains a critical function of the Forum, and it was a transformational one for the field when it was first held in 2014. However, starting in 2018, we began to see another kind of engagement happening at the Forum: other communities using it as an opportunity to engage with library publishers as a whole. (For an example, see Crossref’s workshop at the 2018 Forum in Minneapolis.) LPC is increasingly seen as an interface between library publishers and other communities, and we prioritize opportunities to increase alignment, advocate for library values in publishing, and partner on shared priorities.
The work we’ve done to make this happen is hard to isolate, because so much of it happens as part of other work we’re doing, but it’s been a combination of:
- Sharing information about community accomplishments outside of the member community (e.g. through our public news list)
- Being present at other communities’ conferences – both to present about the work LPC is doing and to build personal relationships
- Investing in relationships with other communities – primarily via our strategic affiliates program. Even a lightweight outreach program (which ours definitely is!) takes a significant amount of time and attention, and most of our peer communities don’t have a similar program for us to plug into. We decided in 2017 to put in the effort to scaffold those relationships, and the benefits have been enormous.
- Joining larger efforts as appropriate: Over the last few years, LPC has officially become a member of both the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) and the Coalition for Diversity and Inclusion in Scholarly Communications (C4DISC). This sounds like a small step, but it required getting an exception to an Educopia (LPC’s host organization) policy against sponsoring other initiatives. We made the effort because IFLA (through its Special Interest Group on Library Publishing) and C4DISC both have critical roles to play in broadening access to scholarly publishing and addressing historic and ongoing inequities in this space. This is work that LPC is committed to, but can’t do on our own. Allocating time and money to support the organizations that are already doing this work has to be a part of our strategy if we want to have an impact.
The missing goal: Diversity, equity, and inclusion
One place where our strategic plan didn’t reflect our priorities was in our failure to include more explicit goals related to creating an inclusive and equitable community space. Fortunately, even without a clear focus on inclusion in our planning document, we jumped into this work wholeheartedly starting in 2019. We started with a task force, which was charged with scoping and laying the groundwork for a standing committee. As part of this work, the task force released the first iteration of the LPC Roadmap for Anti-Racist Practice. The standing committee launched in 2021, and in addition to working on its own projects, the committee fills a vital leadership role by inspiring, coordinating, and tracking DEI-related work being done across the community. Each year, the committee hosts a call to engage the whole community in discussions related to inclusion and anti-racism and puts out an updated version of the Roadmap. The LPC Board has adopted the Roadmap as a supplement to the 2018-2023 Strategic Plan, and it aims for its new plan to explicitly include DEI while continuing to support the grassroots- and community-driven efforts already underway.