Creating a Library Publishing Program for Scholarly Books: Your Options Are Limited Page: -PB_Page_1
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Creating a Library Publishing Program for
Scholarly Books: Your Options Are Limited
Kevin S. Hawkins
Assistant Dean for Scholarly Communication, University of North Texas Libraries
Publishing programs in academic libraries vary in their scope, offerings, and business models
(Schlosser, Hamilton, Neds-Fox, Bielavitz, & Hoff, 2017). Despite the many forms that
these programs take, I have argued in the past that various factors constrain the design of
a start-up publishing operation (Hawkins, 2016a). In this commentary, I discuss in greater
depth the key questions to be addressed before establishing a library publishing program for
scholarly books, arguing that the viable options are in fact quite limited.
REASONS TO CREATE A PROGRAM
Why would an academic library create a publishing program in the first place? While the ear-
liest library publishing programs were created to respond to a perceived need among research-
ers for an alternative to conventional publishers (Hahn, 2008), library staff at institutions
today might be motivated to launch a publishing program for ideological reasons-in order
to make a statement about supporting an alternative to conventional publishing-without
evidence that there will be demand for such a service. I. Gilman warns against "publishing
into the void for the sake of offering a service" (personal communication, January 30, 2017,
as cited in Lippincott, 2017), and I agree with his view.
How should you determine if there is need for a publishing program? A needs assessment of
potential users (see, for example, Craigle, Herbert, Morrow, & Mower, 2013) is naturally a
more solid foundation on which to create a set of services than anecdotes, but as we all know,
Correspondence: Kevin S. Hawkins, University of North Texas Libraries, 1155 Union Circle #305190, Denton, TX
CC 2019 Hawkins. This open access article is distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License (https://
jlsc-pub.org eP2262 I 1
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Hawkins, Kevin S. Creating a Library Publishing Program for Scholarly Books: Your Options Are Limited, article, 2019; Forest Grove, Oregon. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc1438965/m1/1/: accessed June 22, 2021), University of North Texas Libraries, UNT Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; .