Library Publishing in Context

escholarship_homepageimagePaul Royster’s article, A Library Publishing Manifesto, provides an excellent overview of the current state of scholarly publishing. He recaps the commercial publishers’ practices that have let us down and the challenges faced by the university presses. Read with  The “Wild West” of Academic Publishing: The troubled present and promising future of scholarly communication, cited in the previous post, the two articles provide a good primer on the scholarly publishing landscape.
He makes a strong case for the role that library publishing can fill.
I believe the academy has room for both library and university press publishing. I believe this because each has a radically different role and mission. I do not think that either one has the solution to the other’s problems. I don’t see library publishing initiatives as opposed to the university presses, but I think they are better off independent of them. I want library publishers to “come out of Babylon” (as Bob Marley might say) — to leave behind the ownership-based, property-accumulating, copyright-hoarding, commercially-driven publishing model practiced by the corporate giants and imitated to various degrees by academic presses struggling for self-sufficiency.
All of us have a chance to do more and do better. In fact, the universe of publishable materials has never been more exciting and energizing. There is more than enough to go around. To those who would say “that’s not real publishing” or “not good publishing,” I can only say: it’s not a contest. We are all seeking to serve the communication needs of scholars and researchers. The Copyright Office defines publishing as “offering copies for distribution,” and that’s enough for me. We can all get judgmental, or we can each take advantage of the opportunities that the new technology has handed us.