SPARC-ACRL forum "Understanding the Implications of Open Education: MOOCs and More" June 29, 2013
Scholarly communication is the entire set of activities that ensure that research can be discovered, new knowledge acquired. Library services and operations have long facilitated scholarly communication, though the staff have not always recognized it as such, nor identified opportunities to take a more active role. Since libraries have a clear responsibility to ensure that this system is as healthy and as efficient as it can be at all points in the chain, from inception to preservation, it makes sense that libraries insert themselves into the search for new distribution and preservation models – at times even serving as publishers themselves. A number of new publishing models have emerged in the last decade, and libraries considering all of the options for integrating scholarly communication functions into their local activities need not limit themselves to just one.
Libraries, on their own or in collaboration with their university presses, are publishing open access journals, developing subscription-based journal publishing programs, publishing monographs and conference proceedings, and digitizing and publishing parts of their physical collections. Digital repository technologies and services are sometimes the starting point for publishing services and sometimes come later as a necessary function to archive the publications.
Partnerships with University Presses
There are a growing number of partnerships between university libraries and presses, as university presses seek to provide a way for scholars to publish the traditional monograph while facing budget pressures and a reduced market for the narrowly focused monograph still required for tenure and promotion. There are innovative ways of achieving these partnerships, many of which cross traditional boundaries and go far beyond monographs. For example, Cornell University Library and Duke University Press established a joint venture to expand and enhance the services of Project Euclid, the premier online information community for mathematics and statistics resources from independent publishers. Campus-Based Publishing Partnerships: A Guide to Critical Issues by Raym Crow of Scholarly Publishing & Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) provides a context for various library and university partnerships.
Library- and University-based Journal Publishing Programs
Journals are the most common type of publication in library programs. Libraries can offer small scholarly and scientific societies an alternative to contracting with large commercial publishers. For example, the University of Michigan’s Scholarly Publishing Office, based at the University of Michigan Library, publishes a broad range of material of interest to scholars in many fields. University-based publishing initiatives also have strong backing in some circles. For example, a University of California (UC) task force has recommended UC establish a university-based publishing program to blunt the effect of commercialization and better serve scholars, especially in emerging disciplines. (Source: Library Journal.) See Scholarly Publishing Publications for key new reports, including “Publishing Needs and Opportunities at the University of California,” which examines everything from the tenure process to peer review and the effect of market forces in evaluating the university's publishing practices. It concludes that UC should “play a greater role in publishing scholarly work.”
Most libraries are translating traditional library services into digital ones by providing storage and tools for discovering scholarship that is still largely shaped and processed by research faculty. Some library/university collaborations are beginning to push the envelope of their services and becoming involved in scholarly communication activities such as: Facilitating author/publisher rights determination, assembling editorial boards for newly formed journals, developing alternative peer review mechanisms (open review experiment with MediaCommons Press and the Shakespeare Quarterly), experimenting with alternative scholarly products such as remix and reuse of textbook-like content (Rice University’s Connexions), providing integral support in academic conference management (including proceeding publication) through systems such as the Open Conference System, and developing systems for dataset archive and publication (Purdue University Libraries’ Distributed Data Curation Center).