Newfound Press: Digital Imprint of The University of Tennessee Libraries

Online Publishing: Newfound Press

Academic libraries connect our clientele with relevant information resources in all publication venues and formats. We purchase materials, identify documents freely available on the web, and provide access to online resources that support and advance scholarship. One kind of support for research is insuring that the results of scholarly work are broadly available so that others may discover the content and build upon it. A library digital press offers scholars a venue to disseminate their work, regardless of its specialized nature, to a wide audience. Digital formats offer researchers new ways to synthesize, interpret, and analyze publications. This paper outlines the reasons that the University of Tennessee Libraries decided to start a digital press, describes a few progress benchmarks in our development, and considers several issues that we are resolving as the press matures. The PKP Scholarly Publishing Conference 2007 is especially timely for Newfound Press to learn from the experiences of other information professionals and researchers who are confronting similar questions.


Why Start a University Library Digital Press?

The research community has become increasingly aware of the economics of scholarly publishing. The publishing process has a cost, of course, and we are willing to pay a fair price for published works. However, we are also seeking alternatives to the unsustainable inflated costs of some publications. The electronic venue is dramatically changing the publishing environment. Scholars welcome the benefits of electronic access to information and are beginning to recognize the potential for disseminating their research results online at a reasonable cost. When publication costs can be covered on the front end, one barrier to the free flow of information is eliminated. Universities seeking new publication models are exploring open access publishing that relies on technology to make the costs of acquiring information more reasonable, and to increase the likelihood that research results will be discovered.  Cornell University developed the DPubS open source software to support the dissemination of scholarly information. Virginia Tech University has hosted more than a dozen scholarly journals for several years. Dartmouth College Library hosts digital works that are ready for publication, and university library and university press collaborations are beginning to emerge, such as digitalculturebooks at The University of Michigan. The University of Tennessee Libraries created its Newfound Press digital imprint to explore the potential for using an open access environment to advance peer-reviewed scholarship.


UT’s vision for Newfound Press is to increase the availability of scholarly and specialized resources. Drawing on investments in our digital library program, we are collaborating with faculty to bring new forms of communication to an expanding scholarly universe. The purpose of Newfound Press is to help the authors of specialized content disseminate their work. Where university presses and other scholarly publishers select what they will publish, in part, on the basis of its potential market, a library digital press can leverage librarian expertise, server space, and open source software to provide access to peer-reviewed content at a reasonable cost. Newfound Press offers the scholarly community a test bed for publishing research that may appeal to a limited audience.


Newfound Press is also experimenting with new forms of publication. Content that might have been published as a monograph in the past can now incorporate a database for readers to explore research results in a multi-dimensional format. A journal article on music theory may include sound bytes along with figures and illustrations. Published conference proceedings that contain audio and video recordings of the presentations along with conference brochures, publicity, and news coverage offer users a more comprehensive context for the event that surpasses the conference paper alone. New forms of publishing add value to textual content.


Newfound Press Accomplishments

Newfound Press began our digital publishing demonstration with familiar genres in hopes that these first steps will lead to more innovative forms of scholarly communication.  In 2005 the Press published a monograph, Goodness Gracious, Miss Agnes: Patchwork of Country Living, by Lera Knox. A city girl from Columbia, Tennessee born in 1896, Knox became a farmer’s wife in 1918. Her recollections of life in rural Tennessee during the Great Depression and her career as a columnist for the Nashville Banner, the Columbia Daily Herald and other newspapers from 1933 through 1965 provide primary source material for historians, novelists, and anyone else interested in the region and the period. A companion volume containing Ms. Knox’s newspaper columns, Travels of a Country Woman, was completed and posted to the Newfound Press web site in June 2007. Publishing these monographs has given the library experience in collaborating with authors, editing manuscripts, creating attractive graphics and copy layout, generating discoverable digital files, and seeking permissions.


Another monograph in production is an award-winning translation of the German picaresque novel, Simplicissimus the German Adventurer (some translations call him the simpleton or the vagabond).  This project presented different challenges, including finding appropriate peer reviewers, converting a typed manuscript and 5 ½ inch floppy disks to digital form, and seeking an author for a critical introduction since the translator is deceased. Although several other translations have been produced, the style of this version is unique and will soon complement the existing canon.


Newfound Press monographs appear in searchable pdf files divided into front matter and chapters. Library staff added value to the original work by designing a “book jacket” for each title, editing the content, and creating digital files. Such activities are comparable to those performed by traditional publishers and the digital versions of the monographs have the look of traditional books. In addition, the library created catalog records as well as metadata that conform to OAI standards to enhance discovery. Unlike traditional commercial publications, the full text of Newfound Press works is accessible to anyone using the Internet.


The University of Tennessee Libraries began exploring digital journals several years ago. We digitized three volumes of the Journal of Economic Issues by scanning and using electronic files provided by the owner, the Association for Evolutionary Economics. A library programmer created a display with search, browse, and page turning features, along with the ability to count use. Last summer Newfound Press agreed to host a new born-digital journal, Gamut, owned by the Music Theory Society of the Mid-Atlantic (MTSMA). Editor Phil Ewell was a member of UT’s music faculty, and together we received a small grant from the university Office of Research to pay for web page design, the Sibelius software that presents musical notation, and student labor. We made a presentation about the journal at the Spring 2007 meeting of the MTSMA and Phil now has four manuscripts in peer review. Newfound Press has received an ISSN number and will launch the inaugural issue of Gamut this summer. One day we hope to add audio and video files to the article text. UT Digital Library Center colleagues recently adopted the PKP Open Journal Systems (OJS) software for Newfound Press journals because it is already more functional than our homegrown demonstration, and it offers the potential for ongoing collaboration with others in the information community whose goals parallel those of Newfound Press.


Multimedia publishing is the new frontier for new forms of scholarship and it presents a much steeper learning curve as we grapple with issues related to the integration of text with audio and video formats. The Newfound Press Editorial Board has expressed high interest in a proposal from UT English professor Michael Lofaro who has created a bibliography of Southern sermon manuscripts written or delivered before 1800. Currently in a database, the content has the potential to evolve into a multimedia publication. While such a work would traditionally have been published as a monograph, the Editorial Board and the author recognize the considerable value offered by interactive search and comparison features that would enable geographic, topical, and author access.


The documentation and preservation of conference proceedings offers an opportunity to combine media formats and add value to the collection of papers that traditionally comprise a conference proceedings publication. This semester Newfound Press digitized VHS recordings of presentations at a conference, Democracy & Tradition, sponsored by the Religious Studies Department in 2004. We also scanned the printed conference program and several clippings from newspaper coverage before and after the conference. The editor does not currently have printed text of the presentations, however.


In April the Press commissioned recordings of a UT conference about the author Cormac McCarthy, happily held the week after McCarthy won the Pulitzer Prize for his novel, The Road and just prior to his appearance on the Oprah Winfrey television show. Conference organizer, Chris Walsh, a lecturer in UT’s English department presented a book talk about several McCarthy novels at the library the week before the conference. The McCarthy conference publication will include recordings and text of the Walsh book talk, peer-reviewed text and the video recordings of conference speaker presentations, the conference posters and program, and examples of media coverage along with links to presenters’ web biographies.  The Editorial Board has reservations about focusing too much attention on the conference literature, given that the content has higher credibility once published in more established book and periodical media. However, the McCarthy conference publication enables Newfound Press to demonstrate a multimedia context that may inspire future scholars. Fortunately, the Editorial Board agrees that digital multimedia is a promising path towards new forms of scholarship.


The Future

A university library digital press has its roots in a publishing-friendly culture. Librarians have a longstanding commitment to making information discoverable. We catalog our publications and adhere to national standards for creating metadata to promote access. Newfound Press acquired a package of ten ISBN numbers for its monographs and has received an ISSN for Gamut. Google searches for the demonstration articles currently available in Gamut and JEI will be successful. The information community values use data and, through projects like COUNTER, that is standardizing use data collection. UT’s demonstration of journal digitization incorporated use counts early on, and our programmers are now refining the process to handle multiple publications. Library preservation values support sustainability. In talking with faculty about the benefits of digital publishing with a university library, we highlight these examples of support and preparedness for scholarly publishing.


However the digital press evolves, it will be in collaboration with campus faculty. Newfound Press created an Advisory Board in 2005 to articulate an initial vision and scope. The Advisory Board sponsored a survey of UT community about digital multimedia that elicited more than 80 responses from faculty, many of whom expressed support for a digital press. All of the Advisory Board members agreed to join the Editorial Board created in late 2006. The Board has discussed criteria for evaluating proposals, recognizing that high priority should be given to significant scholarly work too specialized for a traditional publisher. Local and regional content could fall into this specialized category and would be especially appropriate for dissemination by a public university. Formats that offer value beyond the printed word are desirable.  Editorial Board members are willing to help solicit peer reviewers and resolute in their commitment to publish work of high quality.


Among the myriad issues for Newfound Press to resolve are identifying a sustainable labor pool, determining appropriate funding, creating documentation, and marketing. The library’s head of collection development serves as Newfound Press director and the dean of libraries has been instrumental in presenting the vision of the Press to campus administrators and faculty. Two reference librarians, one in English and the other in art, are particularly committed to advancing the press. Their editorial, design, and promotional services have been invaluable. Several support staff are responsible for producing the publications, including the programmers already mentioned, the library’s desktop publisher, and collection development staff who update and maintain web pages and edit content. The collection development office manager is learning to use the OJS software to manage incoming journal articles. The library’s metadata librarian and the Digital Library Center coordinator are providing the information architecture to assure preservation and access. University of Tennessee Press publishing expertise will be valuable. The director is a member of the Newfound Press Editorial Board and holds the MLS degree.


How many publications and of what type can the library afford to produce? Whatever the correct answer to this pointed question asked by a member of the Editorial Board, it will not be straightforward. Internal collaboration with the Libraries has already demonstrated that it is possible to leverage existing human and technology resources to launch a digital press. The small grant received from the university to launch Gamut suggests that other projects will attract external funding. The English professor who compiled the sermons bibliography has applied for funding to support student labor to assist with his database. Library endowment funds may be applied to Newfound Press projects, and a development campaign in progress may result in new resources designated for using technology to increase access to new forms of scholarship. As digital publishing becomes an established library function, funding will follow. University administrators cannot help but appreciate library leadership towards creating sustainable funding models for providing information resources.


Newfound Press website documentation was written with the assumption that guidelines for submission, information about the Press, and intellectual property statements would evolve as the Press matured. We are grateful to Virginia Tech University Libraries for permission to adapt several of their guidelines for authors. Librarians will incorporate into existing documentation the criteria that the Editorial Board will use for considering proposals and manuscripts. We must write scripts to communicate with authors during the proposal selection and acceptance processes. Because Newfound Press publishes works in any discipline, a process for the Editorial Board to identify peer reviewers “on the fly” must be created and documented. Regarding intellectual property documentation, Newfound Press seeks nonexclusive rights and will compose and post appropriate permissions statements. Newfound Press recognizes the value of tools like those being developed by the Public Knowledge Project, and provides links to OJS along with other publication resources for journal editors and other scholars who are exploring open access publishing. Although we have not yet invested in the learning curve required to test the OJS manuscript tracking service, the software may be helpful for tracking any type of submission, not just journals.


Marketing Newfound Press comes naturally to librarians who have vast experience promoting information resources. Among the audiences we hope to reach are scholarly information creators, the publishing community, and librarians. Potential authors need to know about the existence and services of the Press, and we hope to make a convincing case, particularly to tenured full professors, that publishing with Newfound Press benefits them and the entire community of scholars. Faculty who long for venues in which to disseminate multimedia productions must be assured that Newfound Press has sufficient technical expertise and capacity to sustain their creations. The publishing community is another audience, particularly publishers of databases that provide access to scholarly work, such as indexing/abstracting producers, citation index services, and reviewing sources. Inclusion of Newfound Press titles in these resources will affirm the quality of the publication and increase citation counts, two important factors for faculty advancement in their academic disciplines. Librarians are yet another audience whose knowledge of Newfound Press will advance the international mission to facilitate scholarly communications. One of the first things we did when the Newfound Press website went live was to notify the ARL Office of Scholarly Communications.


This is an opportune time to launch a digital press. If every research library worldwide were to provide similar services, access to scholarship could become more transparent than ever before.  The name Newfound Press was suggested by my former colleague, Steven Harris, now at Utah State University, who was inspired by the landscape of the Great Smoky Mountains at the southern edge of our city. Newfound Gap lies at the crest of the mountains on the Tennessee-North Carolina boundary. Like the geographic explorations of our region’s early settlers, Newfound Press is venturing into a territory filled with possibilities beyond the scope of our imaginations. The University of Tennessee hopes that other libraries will share the vision of Newfound Press and join us in expanding open access online publishing throughout the world.


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