3 SPEC Kit 357: Libraries, Presses, and Publishing
relate to presses and publishing, this study complements and extends prior SPEC Kits that focused on
digital scholarship, digital humanities, open educational resources, and digital collections and services by
exploring aspects of publishing activities in the specific context of press collaborations, integrations, and
partnerships. The survey results are based on responses from 63 of the 123 ARL member libraries (51%)
between July 5 and August 8, 2017, and document activities in libraries, presses, and publishing and their
relation to digital scholarship and workforce development.
Institutional and Library Presses
The survey began with questions about the existence of institutional and library presses. Of the 63
responding libraries, 44 (70%) reported that the parent institution has a press. When asked if the library
had created a press of its own that is either separate from an institutional press or where no institutional
press exists, nine (14%) reported they created a separate library press and two (3%) reported they created
a library press and that there was no institutional press. Three respondents (5%) reported that the library
plans to develop one that will be separate from the institutional press and another three will develop one
where no institutional press exists.
A further analysis of the data indicates seven categories of responses. All of the responding
libraries are engaged in some kind of publishing activity as defined by this survey. At 31 of these
institutions there is an institutional press, but no library press. Nine have both an institutional and a
library press. Three have an institutional press and plan to also create a library press. Two have a library
press but no institutional press. Another three have no institutional press, but plan to create a library
press. One has an integrated single division with a library and institution press. And 14 respondents have
no press of any kind.
Press and Library Relationship
Respondents who reported that a press exists or is being developed were then asked to answer questions
about the press and library relationship. (Respondents at institutions where a press does not exist and
was not being developed, skipped to the next section on publishing activities to report on their library’s
activities.) Fourteen respondents (34%) stated that the institutional press reports through the libraries.2
Their comments describe the complexity of these relationships. In one example the press director reports
to the dean of libraries but their budgets are separate. At another institution the press reports to the
university librarian who has a deputy provost role. In a different example, there is not a direct reporting
relationship, but librarians serve on the press advisory board.
The majority of respondents (28, or 68%) affirmed that the libraries and presses are
collaborating. Examples include collaborations for specific needs as they emerge, as well as for ongoing
programmatic requirements or opportunities: publishing books, journal hosting, speaker events, service
on editorial boards, archiving and preservation, digitization of the press backlist, publishing companion
websites for digital or enhanced versions of print publications, and other activities. Many respondents
noted programmatic collaborative activities that draw the press and libraries into closer ongoing contact,
as with librarians serving on press advisory boards, the press co-sponsoring the library journals, the
library funding several open access books per year that are published by the press, and the library and
press co-funding an editorial position. One respondent stated that the collaboration was not robust and
described a situation where the press would decline a project that would not be profitable and would
refer it to the libraries because the library imprint would be able to consider publishing a work created
by a faculty member that had intellectual merit but whose commercial prospects would not financially
support the publication.
The motivations for having the institutional press report to the library, for creating a library
press, and for library and press collaboration are varied and the 32 respondents reported multiple reasons
for each.
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