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Editorial: The Global Impact of Library Publishing

Published onApr 16, 2024
Editorial: The Global Impact of Library Publishing


In the summer of 2023, the IFLA Library Publishing Special Interest Group (SIG) held a World Library Congress Satellite event at the Royal Library of the Netherlands in the Hague entitled ‘The Global Impact of Library Publishing.’  A subsequent Open Session at the World Library Congress in Rotterdam explored the topic further with a slight but important variation to the theme entitled ‘Working together to expand the Global Impact of Library Publishing.’ On behalf of the IFLA Library Publishing SIG, we are delighted to present the conference proceedings emanating from these events.

In 2023, the authors of this editorial co-authored an opinion piece with Dr Lai Ma, School of Information and Communication Studies, University College Dublin, entitled ‘Open Access at a Crossroads: The Role of Library Publishing in Promoting Bibliodiversity’ (Ma, Buggle, & O’Neill, 2023) highlighting how “the introduction of article processing charges (APCs) and book processing charges (BPCs) privileges research and publications by researchers in high-income and Western countries.” Exploring the impact of library publishing which favours predominately diamond open access approaches is important at this crucial juncture and crossroad in combatting the “monoculture of knowledge production” (ibid, p. 2). The publication of the FOREST Framework for Values Driven Scholarly Publishing (Lippincott & Skinner, 2022) also proposes key values for the scholarly publishing landscape including openness, equity, accessibility, and anti-oppression and sharing of knowledge.

Finally, exploring the impact of library publishing is fundamental in the context of IFLA’s values as espoused in its Strategic Plan namely the “belief that people, communities and organisations need universal and equitable access to information, ideas and works of imagination for their social, educational, cultural, democratic and economic well-being” (IFLA, 2019, p. 3).

Conference Papers

Open Session

These conference proceedings commence with a paper from the Open Session’s keynote speaker, Eelco Ferwerda, Consultant and former Director of OAPEN, who explores the rise of the new university presses which are funded by and operate within the framework of library services having OA as their starting point and “openness as a core value.” Ferwerda describes how mergers of old and new publishing presses can combine their respective strengths. He also highlights the work of IFLA’s Library Publishing SIG and the Library Publishing Coalition in promoting knowledge sharing in this space. The work of OPERAS in relation to open publishing infrastructure, and DIAMAS in terms of quality standards, is also referenced.

Ferwerda’s paper incorporates a valuable SWOT analysis. Strengths of library managed new university publishing presses include openness, diamond OA approaches, equity and inclusion. The key threat to new university presses is the

perception that they are too small to become a serious alternative for existing publishing channels. The solution is to actively become part of the emerging ecosystem of open scholarly communication and achieve scale through open and community driven infrastructures.  I hope it’s clear that I think the future for library publishers looks bright.

Fiona Bradley, Director of Research and Infrastructure, UNSW Sydney; Chair of the newly formed, IFLA’s Open Science and Scholarship Advisory Committee, and Executive Committee Member, Open Access Australasia, explores the role of library publishing in promoting open access. The role of the IFLA Open Access Working Party is also described with Fiona stating that “the visibility of regional research, bibliodiversity, and diversity of publishing models and approaches are also essential.”

Bradley describes the publication of IFLA’s ‘10 years of the IFLA open access statement: A call to action’ (2022) and its importance in highlighting “issues of equity, inclusion, language and regional diversity in scholarly communication, and intersections with intellectual freedom and the UN SDGs.” Like Ferwerda, Bradley advocates collaboration between relevant organisations to strengthen open access library publishing stating that “In a mid-sized country such as Australia, closer collaboration is needed to support infrastructures that can effectively create, promote, and steward unique and valuable Australian content.”

Next, Jill Claassen, Section Manager: Scholarly Communication and Research, University Cape Town Libraries, describes library publishing services driven by the University of Cape Town Library incorporating an open access continental publishing platform, known as the African Platform for Open Scholarship, for all African universities and research institutes. Claassen describes how the platform is informed by the principles of social justice, militating against the “global Northern driven publishing landscape” which “include geographical bias, which prevent African researchers from getting their scholarly work published.”

Working in partnership with the Library Publishing Coalition, the International Journal of Librarianship, and Shanghai Library, and mining data indexed on the Coalition’s Annual Library Publishing Directory, the Communications Sub-Committee of the IFLA Library Publishing SIG has produced a Global Map of Library Publishing housed on open-source software. A final paper emanating from the Open Session, co-authored by Guoying Liu, University of Windsor, Canada, Ann Okerson, Offline Internet Consortium, USA, and Qing Zou, Lakehead University, Canada, explores the quality and collaborative processes underpinning this development. Building on the recurring theme of diversity and inclusion, the authors highlight how the map contains a predominance of library publishing programs in academic libraries in North America and Canada, describing plans to “reach out to under-represented countries or regions in the world, especially those outside of the US and Canada, to increase the diversity and inclusivity of the library publishing Map.”

Satellite Papers

Papers emanating from the satellite event of IFLA’s Library Publishing SIG also highlight the role of collaboration and shared services; global and national communities of practice, and the importance of equity, diversity and inclusion to strengthen the impact of library publishing globally.

Dominque Walker, Publishing Officer at Scottish Universities Press, and Rebecca Wojturska, Open Access Publishing Officer, the University of Scotland, have co-authored a paper outlining the value of collaboration in the context of the Open Hosting Shared Service of the Scottish Confederation of University and Research Libraries (SCURL) and Scottish Universities Press (SUP). SCURL provides shared hosting services using OJS and OMP platforms which can be used to “manage the full publishing workflow.” Partners also receive “ongoing technical support, including migrations, upgrades, bug fixes and general day-to-day maintenance.”

Kate Petherbridge, Manager, White Rose University Press, discusses the development of White Rose University Press (WRUP) as a library-led publishing press operated by the University Libraries of Leeds, Sheffield and York. Petherbridge explains that

WRUP was the UK’s first collaboratively-operated OA university press, and this collaborative approach – so often seen across different areas of library activity – flows through into WRUPs external collaboration too. WRUP has worked with Jisc and other presses on the New University Press toolkit (Jisc, 2021), for example, and played a key role in the development of collaboratively delivered Mythbusting sessions.

She concludes that the future is bright for open academic publishing and points to the establishment of  recently-launched Open Institutional Publishing Association (OIPA) community of practice as a positive opportunity to share knowledge and best practice with the whole range of open publishing presses.

Monica Berger, Instruction and Scholarly Communications Librarian, City University New York, explores research on library publishing in the Global South stating that “Scholarly communications privileges the privileged. Diamond open access, particularly library publishing, is of critical importance globally and helps to mitigate low-quality, questionable, or predatory publishing.” Berger’s paper outlines a variety of methodological approaches to address the question “how do library publishers from the Global South, particularly those who are not members of the Library Publishing Coalition, or LPC, determine and execute their best practices?”

Reggie Raju, Director of Research and Learning, and Kaela De Lille, Principal Researcher, the University of Cape Town Libraries, explore the development of the African Platform for Open Scholarship through the lens of social justice, emphasising its commitment to inclusive diamond open access publishing with the aim of showcasing African research and the development of the next generation of African researchers. Their co-authored paper also explores the impact of the publishing platform on Governmental open access initiatives and mandates in Africa. The authors also demonstrate the extensive and transformative impact of open access textbooks published as part of Cape Town Libraries’ publishing programme.

The subject of inclusion and equity is also explored in the conference paper co-authored by Justin Gonder, Senior Product Manager, and Charlotte Roh, Publications Manager, California Digital Library, in which they interview Dr. David Shorter and Pamela Grieman, Editor in Chief and Managing Editor respectively of the American Indian Culture and Research Journal. This rich and insightful interview describes the journal’s migration from a commercial publisher to a non-profit library-based publisher and the role of California Digital Library’s open access publishing programme in this process which has resulted in significantly increased downloads for the journal and increased readership beyond academia.

Finally, Nicole Brune, Open Access Publication Manager of Publisso, also explores the impact of library publishing services. PUBLISSO is part of the Open Science department at ZB MED, the Information Centre for Life Sciences including medicine, health care as well as nutritional, environmental and agricultural science in Germany. Nicole describes the development of Publisso Gold to meet the demand for living handbook feature to produce “updateable and extendable book publications” and to “offer all kinds of publications from one service provider.” Brune describes a range of statistical metrics to explore the impact of living health handbooks. The handbooks’ alignment to SDG 3 for Good Health and Well-Being further demonstrates library publishing impact.


Conference papers emanating from the IFLA Library Publishing SIG’s World Library Congress Open Session and Satellite events underscore the significance of library publishing in advancing universal and equitable access to information and knowledge, in line with the values espoused by IFLA.  The importance of collaboration and shared services, of initiatives to advance library publishing in the Global South and ongoing efforts to measure and demonstrate the impact of library publishing, particularly in relation to societal goals such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals have also been highlighted.

In conclusion, the conference proceedings not only provide an overview of the current state of library publishing but also set the stage for a promising future. The commitment to openness, equity, and collaboration, as well as the recognition of the need to overcome challenges and expand the impact of library publishing globally, bodes well for its continued growth and influence in the scholarly communication landscape.

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