Peter Berkery visits Purdue UP and Indiana UP

Since the beginning of his tenure in March 2013, AAUP director Peter Berkery has been visiting member presses as part of a “listening tour” to introduce himself to the community, accelerate his learning curve, and create an opportunity for in-depth exploration of the ways in which the organization might help university presses embrace the challenges and opportunities presented by a rapidly changing landscape—in publishing and in the academy. While it appeared the tour would wind down in the summer, it has continued. Peter will be chronicling highlights from his visits on the Digital Digest.


by Peter Berkery, AAUP Executive Director

The first stops on the autumn leg of my Listening Tour were in Indiana, just as students were returning to campus for the fall semester.

Purdue University Press is a fully integrated unit of Purdue Libraries; in many ways, the structure and activities there have the potential to serve as a model–not just for library-press collaboration, but also for how a university press can add value for its host institution. In addition to the academic monograph and scholarly journal publishing activities familiar to most university press employees, PUP staff leverage their expertise to publish student journals, conference proceedings, and other scholarly materials that do not meet the criteria for the PUP imprint under a separate “Scholarly Publishing Services” moniker. The library is the press’s advocate with faculty and administrators, zealously guarding both the press’s funding and the PUP brand. The broader university community benefits from the press’s publishing expertise, economies of scale, and consistent design, branding, and marketing decisions. Charles Watkinson, the director of PUP, reports into the library and holds the dual title of Director of Purdue University Press and Head of Scholarly Publishing Services, Purdue Libraries. He is also in charge of the institutional repository, Purdue e-Pubs, which acts as an online publishing platform as well as a place to deposit faculty pre- and post-prints.

The model is a clear success at Purdue. In some respects this must be attributed to the bonhomie of Charles and PU Dean of Libraries James Mullins; as is so often the case in these situations, success depends–at least in part–on the goodwill of the personalities involved. It’s unproven whether the Boilermakers’ scholarly publishing model can scale, but in the right set of circumstances other institutions would do well to explore it.

Next I arrived in Bloomington on a glorious late summer day, along with thousands of new and returning Hoosier undergrads! Change is very much in the air at Indiana University Press. With support from the Provost, IUP has become a part of the Office of Scholarly Publishing, a strategic campus-wide effort to develop and implement a coordinated university publishing strategy. (In addition to IUP, the OSP includes IUScholarWorks, the IU Libraries’ open access publishing program, and an IU faculty authored e-textbook initiative.) While this particular chapter hadn’t been completed as of my visit, the commitment to IUP was enthusiastically echoed by everybody I met, from the CIO and the provost through to faculty committees and librarians–and, of course, among IUP staffers themselves.

The university is also proactively encouraging the press to embrace the opportunities presented by both new technologies and potential campus collaborations. A recent move to IU’s Wells Library better positions the press to leverage the university’s librarian expertise and advanced IT resources, responding more nimbly and with more coordination to the dramatic changes in scholarly publishing. While IUP has a track record of collaborations, it’s clear to me that the creation of the OSP and its inclusion of the press will encourage innovation by integrating resources to create a publishing environment that can grow to serve more robustly both the university and the broader academy.

While IU continues to fine-tune its model, I left Bloomington confident that the future is bright for this respected university press.

Next stop: Reno and the Bay Area.