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Awesome, Wonderful News from Utah State University Press!

I am a folklorist and Utah State University Press has long been an important scholarly publisher in this field. I am also a scholarly communications activist who is committed to the view that research libraries will play an expanding and crucial role in building a better and more open scholarly communications system. For me, this news is the best imaginable outcome for Utah State University Press. Congratulations to everyone involved.  My willingness to help the press succeed has gone from a diffuse and general interest to a focused and specific commitment. I am totally enthused. I learned this news at the 2009 AFS meetings last week and thrilled to see yesterday’s announcement.  Yea! Here is the press release:

UTAH STATE UNIVERSITY PRESS MERGES WITH MERRILL-CAZIER LIBRARY

LOGAN — Joining a growing national trend, Utah State University Press will merge with the administrative structure of Merrill-Cazier Library at Utah State University. The transition has begun, with the arrangement officially taking effect at the start of fiscal year 2010-11.

The move was recently approved by USU’s Executive Vice President and Provost Raymond T. Coward, following a proposal from Richard Clement, dean of USU Libraries, and Michael Spooner, director of USU Press.

The merger of a scholarly press with a university library has been used at other institutions to innovatively address a number of trends in scholarly publication, Clement and Spooner said.
Digital publishing, for example, will play an important part in the future of scholarly publication, and university libraries and presses are both deeply interested in its potential for transforming the way research is distributed.

“Many university presses are moving toward open access, often under the administration of the library,” Clement said. “The most conspicuous example in the recent past is the University of Michigan Press which moved into the library and is now focusing on OA and other forms of digital publication. We propose to move the USU Press along the same path.”

In its simplest definition, open access publishing (OA) provides access to material via the Internet that is free for all users to read and use.

“Among universities with presses, there is an emerging trend in this direction, and Utah State University Press now joins the first dozen or so university presses to pursue this relationship,” Spooner said.

While the decision to move USU Press to Merrill-Cazier Library was not completely budget-driven, it will result in significant savings, Clement said. With a larger staff in place, the library will assume a number of support activities for the press, including accounting, IT support, graphic design and public relations.

“We are truly integrating USU Press into the library family of programs,” Clement said. “We will be able to do some exciting things together.”

Both Clement and Spooner see the move as positive, creating a synergy where the sum of the two units coming together is greater than the individual parts.

USU Press will adopt a new publication model, with open access as a central component and will move toward increased digital delivery of books. The library’s position will be enhanced as well, as academic libraries nationally take on a stronger role in the evolution of scholarly publishing.

“This move directly serves the needs of the university,” Clement said. “Open access allows us to go back to where university presses began — to publish work by all faculty in every discipline.”

At the same time, USU Press remains a refereed scholarly press, with the standards of rigorous peer review appropriate to a university publisher.

“This is a work in progress, and we are taking it one step at a time,” Clement said. “Utah State University Press has an established reputation that we want to preserve, yet we see exciting possibilities ahead.”

During the coming months, the staff and physical operation of USU Press will move to Merrill-Cazier Library, with the transition scheduled to be complete by July 1, 2010. “The staff at USU Press looks forward to this move,” said Spooner, who, as director of the press, will become a department head within the library’s administrative structure. “We see this as a significant institutional commitment by USU to provide a secure home for its press, and we look forward to working with our new colleagues there.”

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