The occasion of the 75th anniversary of the Association of American University Presses, finds university presses at a moment of scrutiny as well as exploration. Two press directors, Doug Armato of the University of Minnesota Press and Alison Mudditt of the University of California Press, will speak about how university presses are meeting today’s challenges and positioning their organizations for increased service and relevance in the digital age.
For much of their history, university presses have been synonymous with scholarly communication. But in today’s highly diverse and increasingly decentered media ecology, presses no longer define the border of scholarly communication even as they remain very much at its center as publishers. In this transitional epoch, presses increasingly straddle a traditional scholarly communications service role and a more market driven but still resolutely scholarly identity as publishers. This widening divergence between scholarly communications and scholarly publishing is at the crux of the sometimes fraught relations of academic libraries and university presses, and Doug Armato will look at the forces in play that could help to resolve that tension even as presses adapt their mission to the far more dynamic, digitally interlinked, and innovative scholarly environment that still remains in its infancy.
Changes in scholarly communication have impacted university presses in just the same way as it has libraries: declining institutional support has been matched by growth challenges, the dominance of commercial publishers in the profitable areas of scholarly publishing, and the growing agenda-setting power of large technology organizations. University presses have been challenged to reiterate their own value while themselves undergoing a quiet transformation, redefining their missions, how they serve the scholarly community while becoming more self-sustaining, and how they can leverage their strengths. As notions of peer review and quality metrics shift, as scholars across disciplines seek greater control of their intellectual property and as the output of scholarly research becomes part of a more dynamic, digital space, Alison Mudditt will explore how university presses are in a unique position to provide solutions and make complex information accessible, promoting access to and engagement with this knowledge among scholars, students and public audiences.
Leila Salisbury will guide the conversation and seek input from the audience.