Libraries and publishing: a couple of examples

Lorcan 3 min read

As interaction with the book literature, publishing, the role of large print collections, and research and learning behaviors are all changing in a network environment, academic libraries have been looking at their role in the scholarly communication and publishing process. I came across two examples of library activity which prompt this note ….
The Economist has a short article on the Google Book Search settlement (who doesn’t?). A colleague and I had a look at the two works it mentions as examples of orphan works. One was The Appalachian frontier America’s first surge westward by John Anthony Caruso.
Worldcat tells me about three versions of The Appalachian Frontier.

  1. Caruso, John Anthony. 1959. The Appalachian frontier; America’s first surge westward. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill.
  2. Caruso, John Anthony. 2003. The Appalachian frontier: America’s first surge westward. Knoxville, TN: University of Tennessee Press.
  3. Caruso, John Anthony. 2003. The Appalachian frontier America’s first surge westward. Appalachian echoes. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press.

The third is a digital version provided by the Library at the University of Tennessee Knoxville through its imprint Newfound Press. The Press is described as follows:

The University of Tennessee Libraries is developing a framework to make scholarly and specialized works available worldwide. Newfound Press, the University Libraries digital imprint, advances the community of learning by experimenting with effective and open systems of scholarly communication. Drawing on the resources that the university has invested in digital library development, Newfound Press collaborates with authors and researchers to bring new forms of publication to an expanding scholarly universe. We consider manuscripts in all disciplines, encompassing scientific research, humanistic scholarship, and artistic creation. [Welcome to Newfound Press]

In partnership with the library’s Digital Library Initiatives and the UT Digital Repository, Newfound Press applies technology to promote emerging forms of scholarly inquiry and discovery of the results. The University Libraries and the University of Tennessee Press enjoy a longstanding, friendly relationship. Newfound Press draws on these advantages to pursue its mission of expanding access to scholarly and specialized work in the global environment. We aspire to prominence as a publisher of choice. [About us]

The second example is a joint initiative between Cambridge University Press and Cambridge University Library called Books of Enduring Scholarly Value. From the press release:

Cambridge University Press has launched the Cambridge Library Collection, a new project reissuing books of enduring scholarly value. It uses state-of-the-art scanning and print-on-demand technology to make accessible in new ways works that until now would have been available only in libraries.

Already a pioneer in the re-publishing of titles from its own backlist, Cambridge University Press is extending its reach to include other books which are still of interest to researchers, students and the general reader. The Press’s unique relationship with Cambridge University Library allows access to a vast range of out-of-print and out-of-copyright titles.

With subjects ranging from travel to maths and from life sciences to music, the Cambridge Library Collection allows readers access to books they would otherwise struggle to find. Writings by Charles Darwin and his circle, and studies on Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Handel and Wagner all appear, alongside the works of the greatest nineteenth-century mathematicians, and a range of books on Cambridge from the serious to the scandalous.

The Press takes advice from experts worldwide on what books in their subject areas should be included in the programme. Each book is carefully scanned, and the resulting files undergo a rigorous process of cleaning, in which any blemishes are removed to obtain a crisp and legible text. Each book has a new cover design and a specially written blurb which highlights the relevance of the book to today’s readers.

The Cambridge Library Collection launched on 20 July with 475 titles, to celebrate the 475 years since the Press was granted permission to print ‘all manner of books’ by Letters Patent of Henry VIII. By the end of 2009, this number will have grown to over 1,000. [Cambridge University Press launches a new venture to reissue rare and out-of print books]

And here is a video, which shows among other things, the actual scanning in action …

The Cambridge example is discussed in an article in Inside Higher Ed which also refers to the recent announcement by the University of Michigan about reprint on demand services for thousands of its rare books in collaboration with Booksurge. It also points to Cornell’s arrangement with Amazon for reprint services on 80,000 titles through the Cornell University Library Bookstore.
These examples show an area of growing interest. They also underline how books will appear through multiple channels with consequences for discovery and fulfillment options.

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