Friday, April 22, 2011

James Mullins, Dean of Libraries at Purdue on libraries and presses

2010-06-04-IMG_8090 by martin_kalfatovic
2010-06-04-IMG_8090, a photo by martin_kalfatovic on Flickr.
Confronting Old Assumptions to Assume New Roles: Physical and Operational Integration of the Press and Libraries at Purdue University by Dr. James Mullins, Dean of Libraries and Professor, Purdue University

My notes from his talk.


UPresses and Uni Libraries have always had a symbiotic relationship; co-existed in academe unaware of challenges each other faced; grudgingly realized their dependencies; often unware of how the other functions.

Number of US UP presses as increased steadily since the 1860s (Cornell UP first; JHU the first major one), but leveled off at about 87/88 in the 1980s and has stayed the same since then. Big explosion of presses in the 1960s. UPresses are currently re-aligning to focus more on publishing university generated content and more collaboration with libraries.

See "Imagining a University Press System to Support Scholarship in the Digital Age" by Clifford Lynch in Journal of Electronic Publishing. Volume 13, Issue 2, Fall 2010. http://bit.ly/gvAs6w

Gave a case study of Purdue University. Library: increasingly centralized; 36 libraries in 1960s; down to 12 in 2011; hope to be down to 5 in a few years.

Press: founded in 1960 and reported to dean of graduate school; 1990s, changed reporting to U librarian. Moved Press to the central campus; services all covered by library budget; shared business office; all titles available electronically; 40% of authors from Purdue; mostly open access journals.

Used three strategies: spatial (good space on campus), governance (editorial andd advisory board drawn from university), financial and staffing (integrating into administration of the library), to fully integrate the press with the mission of the university.


Revised the editorial board to reflect the university (previously heavy on liberal arts, not a strength of Purdue), now more representative of the university. Included the Purdue CIO; early discussions had Press moving under CIO since things were going electronicaly; argument that press was  more closely aligned to libraries than technology won out.

Established a managment advisory board of both Purdue faculty as well as outsiders from other publishing and professional associations.

Changes from 2006/07 to 2010/11: Libraries STOPPED chargebacks to press for IT and legal services in 2010/11 as it was integrated into library. Increased editorial staff from 1 to 3. Allocated $50K to new press editor as "venture capital" to make experimental changes.

Press now has no overhead (covered by library budget); sales income only needs to cover publishing costs (print and distribution). Raised nearly $1 million in external fundding for press.

Opportunities include new forms of publication enabled by combining the skills and resources of press and llibrary

Have developed new systems and services that are joint library/press initiatives (Jint Transportation Research Program & Human Animal Bonding Research) that take advantage of skill sets on both sides to build new things. Have also attracted external funding sources.

Developing a strategic plan for 2011-2016; planning process treats the press and library on an equal basis.

Challenges include question of undermining the press brand by having too much Purdue authorship; where does "mission" stop and "cost recovery" begin? What is the collection development policy of the press, how to focus service and resources? And others as of yet unknown?

Question about ebooks:
Answer: Look at them as the savior of the scholarly publishing industry. Students are not using scholarly books because access is too difficult; using databases is easier and more rewarding. Content in books is inaccessible. So, by having electronic books, that content will be more findable and make them more used.

Question about library space, what happens to all the library spaces as you move to virtual collections:
Answer: Purdue UG survey: libraries are now perceived as a total space that is both the virttual and physical. At Purdue, now moving collections to less central locations; new library spaces have almost no collections and are learning spaces, meeting places, teaching adjunct spaces. Working closely with deans of schools so that library is seen as a partner in these projects. Mullins feels this is a return to how libraries were in the 1930s and earlier when libraries were great spaces for working and not "supermarkets" of books.

Question about where does the LIBRARIAN fit into this view?
Answer: Purdue filling 8 new library positions (all in data managment, e-science, and data curation); at Purdue they are faculty and expected to work alongside faculty; library staff directly embedded in all programs; library staff participated in generating $8 million in research grants. Physical libraries are almost totaly run by non-professional staff; librarians work primarily with data managment issues and scholarly publishing.

Question about how consolidation of library spaces worked.
Answer: "Stuck" with large legacy buildings that don't really work. Branch library staff had less work when most journal collections went to electronic. Moved technical services work to former branch staff

Question about subventions in press activities; how common is the Purdue model of library doing the subvention of press activities? (e.g. not relying on revenue for press costs)
Answer: Very unusual model at this time; not many similar models at this time.

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