NASIG 2012: Managing E-Publishing — Perfect Harmony for Serialists

Presenters: Char Simser (Kansas State University) & Wendy Robertson (University of Iowa)

Iowa looks at e-publishing as an extension of the central mission of the library. This covers not only text, but also multimedia content. After many years of ad-hoc work, they formed a department to be more comprehensive and intentional.

Kansas really didn’t do much with this until they had a strategic plan that included establishing an open access press (New Prairie). This also involved reorganizing personnel to create a new department to manage the process, which includes the institutional depository. The press includes not only their own publications, but also hosts publications from a few other sources.

Iowa went with BEPress’ Digital Commons to provide both the repository and the journal hosting. Part of why they went this route for their journals was because they already had it for their repository, and they approach it more as being a hosting platform than as being a press/publisher. This means they did not need to add staff to support it, although they did add responsibilities to exiting staff in addition to their other work.

Kansas is using Open Journal Systems hosted on a commercial server due to internal politics that prevented it from being hosted on the university server. All of their publications are Gold OA, and the university/library is paying all of the costs (~$1700/year, not including the .6 FTE staff hours).

Day in the life of New Prairie Press — most of the routine stuff at Kansas involves processing DOI information for articles and works-cited, and working with DOAJ for article metadata. The rest is less routine, usually involving journal setups, training, consultation, meetings, documentation, troubleshooting, etc.

The admin back-end of OJS allows Char to view it as if she is different types of users (editor, author, etc.) to be able to trouble-shoot issues for users. Rather than maintaining a test site, they have a “hidden” journal on the live site that they use to test functions.

A big part of her daily work is submitting DOIs to CrossRef and going through the backfile of previously published content to identify and add DOIs to the works-cited. The process is very manual, and the error rate is high enough that automation would be challenging.

Iowa does have some subscription-based titles, so part of the management involves keeping up with a subscriber list and IP addresses. All of the titles eventually fall into open access.

Most of the work at Iowa has been with retrospective content — taking past print publications and digitizing them. They are also concerned with making sure the content follows current standards that are used by both library systems and Google Scholar.

There is more. I couldn’t take notes and keep time towards the end.

CIL 2011: New Alignments, Structures, & Services

Speakers: Janel White & Hannah Somers (NPR)

They started by playing some clips from NPR broadcasts in which librarians had a role in fact-checking or researching the content. The library is in the digital division, along with the folks who manage the website and API. It is innovating, but also aware that they need a lot of development.

They have begun showing up at divisional product status meetings in order to increase the visibility of their archival project. They have become embedded in other project as experts as a result of this visibility. This is an intentional shift from being viewed as only a service used when their clients needed them.

They used a pilot to both determine which product to use and to get buy-in from their stakeholders. They used Agile to develop the new website and have since adopted it across the board. The team meets daily to talk about what they did the day before and what they plan to do that day. This allows for flexibility and making sure that deadlines will be met. Agile is like baking a new recipe for the first time. You might burn a few, but you know what goes into it and can work to improve it for the next time.

The result is that they were able to redirect and focus their roles away from the ones that were slowly dying. The reference librarians are dispersed across the newsroom to be available at the source, and others are embedded into projects.

Speakers: Jodi Stiles & Greta Marlatt (Homeland Security Digital Library)

After 9-11, the Naval Postgraduate School was asked to come up with a homeland security program, and since then there have been a variety of distance/online masters and certificate options developed.

Five years ago, they had proprietary educational and research support systems that did not talk to each other and were often complicated or duplicative. They got to the point where their servers were crashing every 30 minutes, with each vendor pointing the finger at the others.

To get around the hassle of contracting services, they have adopted open source solutions. Drupal, Moodle, Solr, MediaWiki, and osTicket are their main solutions, and the folks that work with them actually understand what is going on. However, they found that they couldn’t build a whole out of open source parts. After trying to build connectors, they eventually wrote their own tools.

As a result, their stakeholders and the librarians get what they want. They understand how it works and can respond quickly to enhancement requests. However, they have found that they need to be careful about reinventing the wheel.

Ithaka’s What to Withdraw tool

Have you seen the tool that Ithaka developed to determine what print scholarly journals you could withdraw (discard/store) that are already in your digital collections? It’s pretty nifty for a spreadsheet. About 10-15 minutes of playing with it and a list of our print holdings resulted in giving me a list of around 200 or so actionable titles in our collection, which I passed on to our subject liaison librarians.

The guys who designed it are giving some webinar sessions, and I just attended one. Here are my notes, for what it’s worth. I suggest you participate in a webinar if you’re interested in it. The next one is tomorrow and there’s one on February 10th as well.


  • They have an organizational commitment to preservation: JSTOR, Portico, and Ithaka S+R
  • Libraries are under pressure to both decrease their print collections and to maintain some print copies for the library community as a whole
  • Individual libraries are often unable to identify materials that are sufficiently well-preserved elsewhere
  • The What to Withdraw framework is for general collections of scholarly journals, not monographs, rare books, newspapers, etc.
  • The report/framework is not meant to replace the local decision-making process

What to Withdraw Framework

  • Why do we need to preserve the print materials once we have a digital version?
    • Fix errors in the digital versions
    • Replace poor quality scans or formats
    • Inadequate preservation of the digital content
    • Unreliable access to the digital content
    • Also, local politics or research needs might require access to or preservation of the print
  • Once they developed the rationales, they created specific preservation goals for each category of preservation and then determined the level of preservation needed for each goal.
    • Importance of images in journals (the digitization standards for text is not the same as for images, particularly color images)
    • Quality of the digitization process
    • Ongoing quality assurance processes to fix errors
    • Reliability of digital access (business model, terms & conditions)
    • Digital preservation
  • Commissioned Candace Yano (operations researcher at UC Berkeley) to develop a model for copies needed to meet preservation goals, with the annual loss rate of 0.1% for a dark archive.
    • As a result, they found they needed only two copies to have a >99% confidence than they will still have remaining copies left in twenty years.
    • As a community, this means we need to be retaining at least two copies, if not more.

Decision-Support Tool (proof of concept)

  • JSTOR is an easy first step because many libraries have this resource and many own print copies of the titles in the collections and Harvard & UC already have dim/dark archives of JSTOR titles
  • The tool provides libraries information to identify titles held by Harvard & UC libraries which also have relatively few images

Future Plans

  • Would like to apply the tool to other digital collections and dark/dim archives, and they are looking for partners in this
  • Would also like to incorporate information from other JSTOR repositories (such as Orbis-Cascade)