#LibPub Session 10: Libraries, Publishing: The Future?

Image from ‘An Introduction to the Study of Metallurgy, etc’, 000144847 via the Mechanical Curator
Image from ‘An Introduction to the Study of Metallurgy, etc’, 000144847 via the Mechanical Curator

Today we’ll have our last taught session of the term. Time flies when you are having fun…

For the past ten weeks we’ve been unveiling pieces of the complex, large jigsaw puzzle of the libraries and publishing landscape. “Libraries and publishing”, “library publishing” and “libraries as publishers” are three distinct inter-connected terms that refer to distinct issues and different levels of granularity. It can be argued that each of them create different scenarios, like neighbour countries in a larger map, often the borders blurring yet still present. We must also remember that the “landscape” we can see is possible by a series of layers we cannot always see (they might be below us… or above), and that the map is not the territory.

Through a series of lectures from different professional voices and points of view, the aim has to been to facilitate an understanding of the ways in which publishing (and this means current understandings of what the term means) and to explore the impact that this will have on libraries, other information providers, and their users.

We have discussed how the technical (this includes “technological”) economic, social and political factors defining the transformations in publishing, and consequently in librarianship. The module has had a strong emphasis on scholarly publishing, but we also covered trade publishing and the industry as a whole. As technologies diversify the forms in which information is recorded and disseminated, the quantity, quality, form and content of the recorded information that libraries acquire, collect, archive, preserve and make available has also changed, and this includes the methods for performing these functions. These discourses, technologies and methodologies have not evolved out of a vacuum, but as integral/integrated pieces of the social, cultural, economic and political landscape.

Today we’ll have a guest lecture by Alastair Horne (@pressfuturist); one of the best-known UK specialists spearheading online innovation and social media engagement  in UK publishing. He will discuss with us his vision of the role that social media currently plays in the publishing landscape. Though we have covered and discussed social media throughout the module, Alastair’s presentation will give us a chance to zoom in and grasp the key issues.

The intention of this last session is also to discuss the key issues we covered throughout the course and to brainstorm all together as a rehearsal in preparation of the coursework submission.

As usual, this #LibPub #citylis post was originally published on my City University London blog.

Today: #LibPub Session 7: Learned Societies and Libraries as Publishers

Title: "[Illustrated Official Handbook of the Cape and South Africa. A résumé of the history, conditions, populations, productions, and resources of the several colonies, states, and territories. Edited by John Noble. [With a map.]]", "Miscellaneous Official Publications" Contributor: NOBLE, John - Clerk of the House of Assembly, Cape of Good Hope Shelfmark: "British Library HMNTS 010095.de.1." Page: 671 Place of Publishing: London Date of Publishing: 1896 Publisher: J. C. Juta & Co. Edition: Second edition. Issuance: monographic Identifier: 000598049
“[Illustrated Official Handbook of the Cape and South Africa. A résumé of the history, conditions, populations, productions, and resources of the several colonies, states, and territories. Edited by John Noble. [With a map.]]” Via the Mechanical Curator, British Library, Flickr Collection

Today in our Libraries and Publishing in an Information Society module at City University London we’ll have the opportunity to zoom in at two key issues in contemporary scholarly publishing. One is the role of Learned and Professional Societies and the other is the role of libraries and institutional repositories.

To guide the discussion we’ll have two guest talks:

  1. “The A-to-LPSP Guide to Scholarly Publishing: what does the future hold for learned and professional society publishers?”, by Suzanne Kavanagh (@sashers).
  2. “Libraries, Institutional Repositories and Digital Collections: What is ‘Publishing’ Anyway?”, by Neil Stewart (@neilstewart).

Suzanne Kavanagh is Director of Marketing and Membership Services at the Association for Learned and Professional Society Publishers (ALPSP). She has 20 years’ experience of working for academic and professional publishing companies in marketing and sales roles.

ALPSP works with not-for-profit organisations and those who work with them to publish scholarly communications. ALPSP’s members work closely supporting library and scholarly communities. Drawing on ALPSP’s own research into the challenges they face, as well as wider political, economic, social, cultural and technological factors, Suzanne will challenge the students to consider what the future holds for scholarly publishing.

Neil Stewart is the Repository manager at City University London, and a fellow member of the Library Tech Committee of the Open Library of Humanities. City’s repository is called City Research Online, it comprises CRIS (Current Research Information Systems) and an open access repository.

Neil will consider in which concrete ways libraries and repositories can be considered to be doing publishing, and will invite us to consider critically what the meaning of ‘publishing’ is.

Librarians and information professionals require a critical and informed understanding of the multiple aspects of the scholarly publishing landscape of today. How can libraries harness the experience of Learned Societies? How can libraries turn the current financial, cultural, political, and technical challenges that scholarly publishing faces today into opportunities to diversify and enhance their remit? These are some of the issues we can start thinking seriously about in our roadmap towards a librarianship of the future… for the present day.

As usual this post was also blogged at my City blog: http://blogs.city.ac.uk/epriego/2014/03/21/libpub-session-7-learned-societies-and-libraries-as-publishers/

Of Pete Townshend, altmetrics and libraries: #LibPub session 2

The Who release “My Generation” – 3rd December 1965 Pete Townshend’s instrument-smashing became integral to their live performances. Image via BBC.
The Who release “My Generation” – 3rd December 1965
Pete Townshend’s instrument-smashing became integral to their live performances.
Image via BBC.

Changing habit is hard. And generally it happens as a function of our pants being on fire. So if your pants are on fire it turns out that you do change. But prior to that there’s a build-up.”

-Lisa Gansky, The Future is Sharing

In our first session of Libraries and Publishing in an Information Society last Friday I hoped to encourage some collective brainstorming around the meaning and evolution of “publishing” by considering some examples from rock and roll as a particular form of disruptive innovation. (I really enjoyed the conversation that ensued about publishing outputs). How could Bob Dylan had been booed by the audience in 1965, the exact same year in which the Who’s Pete Townsend was being cheered by loving audiences for his instrument smashing, and when a year before, in 1964 the Beatles had already toured and ‘conquered’ the United States (that distant planet across the pond)?*

When we use “disruptive innovation” in this sense the term refers to an innovation (can be an object, a process, an event, or all of them at the same time) that initially disrupts and gradually and over the years interrogates and displaces earlier markets, forms of behaviour and “value networks” associated to specific forms of technology whilst retaining some core identifying elements of the replaced technologies.

‘Disruption’ in this sense must not be understood necessarily in a negative sense, but as the necessary thrust to make change possible. For example, email was a disruptive innovation because it disrupted the markets and value networks defined by and associated with postal mail. Email hasn’t completely replaced postal mail, and many features of postal mail do survive in email. In tomorrow’s session we will see other examples of disruptive innovation in the specific case of publishing and libraries. It is important to remember it’s never as simple as “this will kill that“: more subtle and complex processes than sequential substitutions of technologies are always at play.

One of the things we will do tomorrow is discuss how the concept of “the knowledge economy”, discussed originally by Peter Drucker  as an extension of the “information society” in an age led by information and information technologies is being complemented by the notion of “the sharing economy” (Cooke 2013; Gansky 2010). This concept implies amongst other things that information technology  can empower people and organisations of all types within society with information that enables distribution, sharing and reuse of goods and services (including information itself). The idea encompasses an understanding of information as a “good”, and suggests that when information about goods is shared, the value of those goods increases for everyone in society.

It is within this context that we will start taking a look at the development of publishing as a key techno-socio-cultural process playing a major role within the information chain and therefore within society.

For the second part of the lecture we will welcome Jean Liu (@portablebrain) who will talk to us about how Altmetric, a London-based start-up, tracks and analyses the online activity around scholarly literature through article level metrics. I thought Jean’s experience would be highly appreciated within the scope of our module because Altmetric is an example of a successful start-up doing innovative work within a major publishing house and whose “product” in my view is a service that largely depends on the ‘value networks’ of an economy that necessitates and promotes the sharing of information.  Jean is the product development manager at Altmetric and she is also a talented neuroscientist, science blogger, blog curator and illustrator.

As a general mindset for our module I would like us to think about how libraries are interacting with disruptive innovations in publishing, and how we can as information professionals or librarians critically embrace (or even reject?) technological and cultural disruptions in order to best develop the library services of the future.

*This is a pedagogical example, not a formal musicological or rock and roll history research question… ;-)