Where the Stress Falls: Exploring Challenges in the University Library-University Press Relationship

by | Nov 7, 2018 | 0 comments

Lisa Quinn, Carolyn Waters, Elizabeth Scarpelli, Jeffrey Robert Little (moderator)

(L-R) Lisa Quinn, Carolyn Walters, Elizabeth Scarpelli, Jeffrey Robert Little (moderator)

Lisa Quinn, Director, Wilfrid Laurier University Press, said that one of the key components in stress can be how the press and library came together. The press is focused on monograph publication. The move to the library was a “shotgun wedding” to provide a solution to budgetary pressures in the library. The idea was to create a “cultural commons” model which is a good one. Libraries have a budget allocation model: they get money from the institution which percolates down to spending. Presses have different sources; they get some revenue from the market as well as from their institution. So they are constantly balancing demands from the nonprofit sector of the library and sales revenue. The support of the university librarian is very important to the press; there is a lot of exchange necessary. Laurier’s press is thriving within its new environment.

Budget allocations come from grants, the university, sales. It’s important to understand who the stakeholders are: markets, the university, and the library. The press’s budget and staff is larger than the libraries. These are sources of both opportunity and challenges.

Elizabeth Scarpelli, Director, University of Cincinnati Press, said she has encountered nothing insurmountable when the press was established in the library, but there were many discussions. The University of Cincinnati press was created in January 2017. the first thing done was to educate library staff about what the press does and the benefit that it brings to the library. There was no understanding by the library staff of the complexities of the author-publisher relationship and contracts for authors or peer reviewers. Press financial models are different than those of libraries. The press’s budget is separate from the library’s, which is unique. Its budget is protected, and it has its own board and decision-making authority. This creates a “favorite child” relationship. Business relationships are supported by the library staff, who must be incorporated into the communications channels.

Stress points include managing and creating expectations for shared services, educating and developing the value proposition for the library, understanding that the press is not a revenue generator for the library but is more of a cost recovery operation. Book projects cannot be delayed like a department project.

Carolyn Walters, Dean of University Libraries, Indiana University, had not had much interaction with the press because it was located in a separate location from the university. It was originally a partnership between the CIO’s office and the library. So right at the beginning, there was stress. The press is the source of the library’s OA publishing avenue. Four years ago, the press moved physically into the library building. The library is conducting a funding campaign and is struggling with how to integrate the press into it. The library offers several services to the press: copyright, legal, etc. Costs of these are paid by the library.

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