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Library Publishing 2019: Milestones and Forecasts

Terence Huwe

Terence Huwe

Terence Huwe, Library Director Emeritus, Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, University of California, Berkeley, referred to The Once and Future Publishing Library by Ann Okerson and Alex Holzman (CLIR, 2015) and reviewed the history of libraries as publishers (photo). The skill of publishing books dates back to the 1600s. Many US university presses began in the library; some of the early ones are Cornell University Press in 1869, University of California Press in 1893, University of North Carolina Press in 1878-1879, and Johns Hopkins University Press. University Presses hope they have best sellers because they will make a lot of money.

In 1992, the shift to electronic publishing began with a dialog between ARL and AAUP. The Electronic Text Center at the University of Virginia was a very significant development. We are now confronted with an avalanche of technologies. SPARC changed the rules; libraries became publishers, IR overseers, research data administrators, and partners with university presses (see eScholarship, an OA repository for University of California researchers). As a result, we achieved a fuller awareness of digital life cycles across all types of media, how to launch entrepreneurial ventures despite the risks, and gained allies among administrators and faculty.

The hurdles to publishing are low, but editorial skills are crucial. OA became a pillar to the university owning its own content. Educating the faculty on OA took 20 years. Anybody can publish a book with pressbooks; at UC Berkeley, undergraduates are publishing books. There are opportunities for the library to train people. Libraries were the first organization to see that information has a life cycle. We learned how to become intrapreneurial.

OA has legitimized claims for academic control of scholarly information. There is an opportunity to be different. OA has been a big help; people should be able to read for free. Publishers were slow to recognize how powerful this is, but they are now updating their business models. OA versus profit is a very powerful meme.

We need to make data available. We are in scary times for learned societies. SPARC has branded the library as a ally to publishers. Nobody should underestimate the possibilities of data; it solidifies partnerships. Data is for us.

Librarians and faculty are now working together; OA is much better understood and has become a viable business model.Librarians see many unfilled roles in OA. Publishers now recognize that libraries don’t want to make money; they just want to make content available. Everybody is jockeying for position.

The Library Publishing Coalition (LPC) is a new association-level model to help library publishers share lessons. Libraries want to share information with each other; their core competencies are relevant to the publishing world. The LPC has 80 members and is growing. The vast number of publishers want to publish OA. If profit is not a driving factor, why can’t we collaborate? The payoff for librarians is recognition that we are doing the right thing. Amherst College Press became a department of the library after the provost convinced them to merge because they understand their users.

We must be strategic but we also must hold on to things that matter. The challenge is adding a new core competency. Will we find the time to do this? Administrators have a big say in it. Publishing expertise in the library is already a given. Here are some strategic considerations:

Strategic considerations

The library should contract some of the work We will see some big interest in this; there is already a demand for training. Morale can be an issue.


  • Library publishing is here to stay.
    Here to stay
  • Competition will be constant.
  • There will be a shakeout among players.

Huwe concluded with these thoughts:

  • The library profession is being invited, cajoled, urged, and pulled into the role of digital publishers.
  • It makes sense to regard digital publishing as a new core competency.
  • As with all services, to succeed we must “follow the users” and meet their needs.




Engaging With Impact Stories

Sue Considine and Ben Bizzle

Sue Considine and Ben Bizzle

Sue Considine, an independent consultant and former Executive Director of the Fayetteville NY Public Library, and Ben Bizzle, CEO, Library Market and Co-author, Start a Revolution: Stop Acting Like a Library (ALA, 2014) are writing a book It’s All About the Story to be published by ALA. Libraries are the one place in a community where all are equal and are a place of belonging for all citizens. Nothing demonstrates this more than maker, experiential, and collective experiences. The power of making is a social infrastructure. Our work is essential to our communities and helps us understand why we remain in the industry despite all the difficulties. We know that our good work saves lives. Sue started the Fab Lab in the Fayetteville Library which changed the lives of people in the  community. Some people on the fringes of the community feel that the library is their home; we are their equalizer.

Ben’s book was a traumatic life-changing experience. His forthcoming book co-authored with Sue is on why we do the things we do and the importance of that. You never know what a user’s needs are. Sue and Ben have collected stories from around the industry. The impact we have on people’s lives is amazing. Although librarians may not get paid well, they got into the industry because they wanted to make a difference in people’s lives. Sometimes what seems to be the most mundane of reference transactions turns out to be the most meaningful interaction of the day. We can make people feel like they are not alone and make a difference in their lives.

The session concluded with the audience members sharing some of their stories.

The Closing Keynote: Trust, Facts, and Democracy: How Libraries Fit Into the Biggest Issues of These Times

Lee Rainie and Jane Dysart

Lee Rainie and Jane Dysart

Popular and frequent CIL speaker Lee Rainie, Director, Internet and Technology Research at the Pew Research Center, keynoted the final day of CIL2019. Some of Pew’s primary stakeholders are librarians and are parodied regularly on The Onion. Since the 2016 election Pew has paid attention to the cultural stresses going on. There is an interplay among trust, facts, and democracy; libraries intersect with these factors.


Trust in the Federal government is stuck at a historic low. There is little overlap in the sources trusted for political news, and audiences have changed. Many users see social media as an especially negative venue for political discussion compared with face-to-face; they are much more angry. People will do things on a computer that they would never do publicly. 41% have experienced harassment; 66% have witnessed it. Libraries, the military, and firefighters do a great job of keeping things civil. 63% of people say that libraries are greatly important to their community. Here is some data on people’s trust in sources of information; notice that librarians have a special place.

Trust in info sources

Trust is very localized; people have the hope that community discussions can be a solution.


The interplay between trust and facts is close. Most say that Clinton and Trump supporters cannot agree on basic facts. Fake news is seen as a problem; 23% of people report sharing fabricated news. Political awareness, digital savviness and trust in the media all play large roles in the ability to distinguish between factual and opinion news statements. Younger Americans are better able to distinguish. Gen Z is now in college and entering the workforce. The misinformation problem is now a personal one; 26% of Americans have had false info posted about them. Critical posts get more likes, comments, and shares than other posts, so the attention economy rewards angry posts. It is hard to push back against that. Most people say that fake news leaves Americans confused about the facts.

Libraries have contributed to their communities because they help people decide what information they can trust.

Library contributions to their communities

People understand how valuable libraries are in many ways; 75% of them say that local libraries serve their learning and educational needs well.


Democrats and Republications are more divided than in the past. 3% of Republicans are consistently liberal and 6% of Democrats are consistently conservative. Trump’s job rating is more polarized than for any president dating back 6 decades. The country is viewed as falling short on a range of widely supported democratic values. People are in despair about political issues and think that democracy is not working. There is a rising antipathy toward the other political party. People don’t just disagree with people on the other side; they hate them. More people now expect things to get worse; most have little or no confidence in the political wisdom of the American people.  The public is broadly pessimistic about the future of America.

What people say they want or need is like a playbook or profile of librarians, who are the best coaches of all.

What people want

People see libraries as a way to upgrade their literacy. They want protection in the complexities of privacy and guidance about how to be smarter citizens. Libraries are well positioned in the culture. It is a daunting task but people are hungry for the special sauce that libraries can deliver to them.

From Collection to Connection: Engaging Community Spaces: The Wednesday Evening Session

(L-R) Jane Dysart, Carmen Pereira, Fedele Canosa

(L-R) Jane Dysart, Carmen Pereira, Fedele Canosa

This session by two highly qualified architects from Mecanoo Architects dealt with libraries’physical spaces. Libraries are very significant buildings in the fabric of a city and are literally an extension of public space. They embody the society and culture of the communities they serve and have changed from book collection places to spaces connecting many of the services they offer.  They try to draw their audience into the areas they serve. We have gone from a passive model to an active multifunctional one which has a major influence on the design of the buildings.

Mecanoo is headquartered in Delft, Netherlands, with offices in Asia and the US. It has 120 employees, 40% of whom are female. Its approach to design is people, place, purpose, in that order. People are the constant throughout any project, and hopefully will influence the design of the buildings to be pleasurable.

Mecanoo design philosophy

Although they work on new construction, they are increasingly being asked to do renovations. Through their projects, they learn about libraries as an emblem of the city.  Libraries interact with us over the whole course of our lives: many different groups use them, which is both a challenge and an inspiration.

Here are 4 recent library projects; many more are described on the Mecanoo website.

Delft Library

Delft Library: The roof is a landscape that gives back to the community. It is a meeting place for people. It is in front of a conference center which creates a balance. The library has become a tourist attraction. The cone is an iconic landmark, which makes the library a cathedral and an unforgettable space. It is open from 8 AM to 2 AM and is heavily used by students, especially at exam times.

Birmingham library

Library of Birmingham, UK. Birmingham is the second largest city in the UK and has many identities and a young population. To understand how people move through the city, start by visiting other buildings to see cultural attitudes. The library is a vertical building; how are people brought up through it? The journey through the building is a way of exploring it and triggers curiosity for new visitors.

Dream for Birmingham library

All the functions wanted to be on the ground floor, so the building was extended tod let people pass over the roof and see the activities of the library even if they don‘t actually go in. In the rotunda, many different functions take place. On the rooftop there is a garden that is maintained by volunteers–a balcony for the city.

Mid-Manhattan Library

Mid-Manhattan Library renovation: The original building was a department store built in 1915 and was not a pleasant place. There was no daylight because windows had been blocked up.

Mid-Manhatan Library goals

More space was added for more books, seats were added, and low shelves were installed to create more capacity for other activities. The building was transformed. A roof terrace became a public space.

MLK Memorial Library

MLK Jr. Memorial Library renovation. Some people wanted the building removed; others wanted to keep it. It was used a lot by homeless people.  It was necessary to think about how to create a safe space. People were scared to use the stairs because you could not see any other areas of the building. The books got the daylight, not the people.

Daylight for people

The solution was to create 2 “cores” for public and staff with open stairs. A slide for children was added next to the stairs. There were 2 ramps to the underground parking garage. One of them was removed to create a corner cafe. A wall along the sidewalk was taken down so the inside became visible. Space for informal performance seating was added. A function space (fab lab) was created on lower level. The auditorium was moved to the top level so people had to go through the library to get to it. A Great Hall at the entry with seating and an open Grand Reading Room have lots of daylight. In the future, there is capability to add a rooftop pavilion with a public terrace and garden.