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.

#libday8 day 1

Wonder Woman
Wonder Woman inspires me when I'm feeling less than wonderful.

Yesterday, I accomplished something I didn’t think I could do — I hiked 8.2 miles, with a 1000 ft elevation change throughout. Despite sleeping for about 9.5 hrs, I ended up crashing for a few more hours after I attempted to get up and go to work. Thus, my first “day in the life of” will be a bit shorter than normal.

I arrived shortly before noon. While waiting for my computer to boot up and load all the starting programs, I cracked open a can of Coke Zero and the most recent issue of the Journal of Irreproducible Results.

Once the computer was up and running, I started sorting through the inbox of new messages. I added a few messages to my to-do list, and a few links from colleagues to my to-read list.

We’re having some vendors come in and demonstrate comparable products this week, and one needs to reschedule to next week. This means spending some time coordinating with the person who books the room we planned to use and the person who arranges for catering to bring coffee and tea service.

Once the inbox was properly sorted into tasks, archives, and deletes, I started in on the to-do list. First up is a collection of journals that are changing publishers. I’ve been checking on them in our ERMS for the past three months — ever since the change was announced. None have reflected the change yet, so I’ve bumped the due dates on the tasks for another two weeks.

One of our online resource subscriptions expired today and has not been renewed, so I removed it from LibGuides, suppressed the entry in our website’s A-Z list, and updated the status in our ERMS.

Tomorrow is the last day to download stats from the old WilsonWeb platform. The first thing I did was to check and see what links haven’t already been converted over to the EBSCOhost versions. Frankly, I was kind of surprised to discover how many were left. A few were my errors (forgot to publish the change made on the back-end), but the others I suspect may have gotten lost in the notification shuffle. It took some time to update the remaining ones, and make notes about the changes in our ERMS. I also had to re-order the databases in EBSCOhost, as new ones get added at the end, and this messes up the alphabetical order.

Finally, I went and downloaded last year’s reports as well as January this year from the WilsonWeb platform. Worked on normalizing them for import into our ERMS (I have to do this so the ERMS knows which resources the stats apply to, both for databases and for journals), but didn’t finish before I needed to break for a late lunch.

After a satisfying roasted pork bahn mi and caramel gelato from the campus international cafe, it was back to work. While I was out, more email arrived, requiring replies and such. Then it was back to cleaning up the use reports. This took longer than expected because the database titles were all abbreviated, and the journals had commas and dashes removed.

On Friday, I was asked if I would be interested in contributing a chapter to an eresources toolkit book. I spent some time thinking about it over the weekend, and after reviewing the proposed chapters and consulting with a colleague today, I sent a message to the editor indicating my interest.

After doing that, the only thing remaining on my task list for the day was to review the top candidates for an open position in our customer service department (I’m on the search committee). I decided that my fatigue required some assistance before tackling that, so I took a break to get some coffee and chat with a colleague.

Wrapped things up and prepped this for posting. Thanks for reading, and tune in tomorrow for day two.


It has been nearly a month since I last finished a book for pleasure, although I am slowly reading my way through a couple others, and I read and reviewed a book for The Journal of Electronic Resources Librarianship (which may or may not be published — I won’t know until the issue is printed ’cause that’s how my editor rolls). Last night, I was feeling bored of my usual procrastination tools, so I decided to do a bit of fluff reading. It had to be short, though, because it was already past midnight, and I needed to get a little sleep eventually.

My selection came from among the stack of old Star Trek books on my to-be-read shelves. These are always good for a light read and stories that (usually) wrap up on the last page. This one was nearly what I wanted. The Starship Trap by Mel Gilden was your typical Trek story, but his characterizations weren’t particularly compelling. Mainly told from Kirk’s perspective, there were several rabbit holes that seemed to go nowhere, in addition to some of Kirk’s behavior being slightly out of character.

The hard science fiction aspect of the Aleph plot device was, at least, interesting. Much more so than the villain’s fixation on 19th and 20th century European and American classic literature or one of the minor character’s obsession with the American Old West. C’mon, Gilden — your ethno-centric roots are showing! For all the aliens and cultures on Star Trek, there is a disproportionate number of stories with references to American or European modern (to the reader) history.

beer & food

My review of Bob Skilnik’s book was published yesterday, and the first comment that I received was a snarky commentary on a misspelled word. Sheesh. I have written many reviews over the past year, and most of them have at most received a comment from the editor that published them. Not the most pleasant way to wake up in the morning, let me tell you.

Anyway, the book was interesting, albeit not exactly an exciting read. I’d recommend it if you are interested in beer, food, and history, as well as old recipes.

I’m about half-way through a book on the history of Guinness, and I hope to write the review of that this week.

Oh, and for those who are keeping score, this is #25, which means I’ve read half of my annual goal.

five non-librarian blogs

I meant to do this last night, but I forgot. So, here are five non-librarian blogs that I regularly read: WWDN: In Exile – Wil Wheaton’s not-so-temporary blog that he created when the one at crashed and burned in September 2005. I think that the exile has become a more permanent blog home. Regardless, … Continue reading “five non-librarian blogs”

I meant to do this last night, but I forgot. So, here are five non-librarian blogs that I regularly read:

  • WWDN: In Exile – Wil Wheaton’s not-so-temporary blog that he created when the one at crashed and burned in September 2005. I think that the exile has become a more permanent blog home. Regardless, his writing is often witty, poignant, and full of geek empowerment.
  • Feminist SF Blog – Yes, I am a science fiction geek and a feminist. As if you didn’t know that already. Make sure you read the Women in Battlestar Galactica essay.
  • A Year in Pictures of Working – I went to high school with Arnie and we both were involved with several theater productions. I ran across his old blog, A Year In Pictures Following The Break-Up, when I was doing a random Google search of various classmates. One thing that I remember most about Arnie is his witty and slightly silly sense of humor, and it seems he hasn’t lost any of it in the past twelve years.
  • Jonathan Coulton – “Code Monkey like Fritos / Code Monkey like Tab and Mountain Dew / Code Monkey very simple man / With big warm fuzzy secret heart / Code Monkey like you”
  • Blogcritics Magazine – I would be remiss if I did not include this on my list. I don’t read everything that is published (approx. 50 articles every day!), but I do browse the reviews and news items. I’m also one of the writers and involved in some of the behind the scenes work. About 95% of the lengthy reviews you see published here are from materials I have received as a BC writer, and the reviews are all cross-published on the BC site. Their version is after an editor has looked it over, but my version is pre-externally edited. Usually, they’re the same copy.

Are you a librarian blogger? Tag. You’re it.

stay away from innocence (#19)

Book-on-demand with potential ISO editor for some red pen action or more.

by Duane Simolke

It took author Duane Simolke over twenty years to turn his short story idea into a novel. Let us hope that it does not take that long for it to evolve into a good novel. The Return of Innocence is desperately in need of an editor.

The story told in the book is fairly simple and has all the elements of a decent fantasy novel. Sasha Varov and her family are exiled from their home country of Jaan because her father tried to stop an evil wizard from doing what evil wizards do. Several years later, Sasha sneaks into Jaan on a simple mission of buying seeds. While there, she winds up killing the evil wizard and then returning home.

Unbeknownst to her, that act has made her a hero among the general populace of Jaan, although it opened the way for the evil wizard’s even more evil brother to step in and take his place. One year later, Sasha must return to Jaan for more seeds, but on the way her plans are altered and instead she decides to assist a group of rebels seeking to rid Jaan of the wizard.

There are dragons, demons, and plenty of sword fights to make a fantasy reader happy, but in the end it’s still too much work to get past the stilted writing and abrupt scene changes. In addition, the author’s attempts at humor are incongruous and uncomfortable. Take this exchange on pages 25-26:

“I—” Her fear and confusion increased when she finally recognized her captor as Wuhrlock’s brother, Tay-lii. She had seen him once, during their journey to the Tarran Isles. He was sitting on his horse, surrounded by his soldiers and staring at the exiles. But now he stood right in front of her. “Why don’t you kill him?” she finally asked.

Men can’t kill sorcerers. I learned that fact years ago. It must be a woman, and she must have been born within the territory that the sorcerer has claimed. Women are naturally rooted in the powers of Theln’s ground, because the ground absorbed Erran’s powers when she fell into it and became the first human.”

“Sounds kind of far-fetched, like a convenient plot device in a book,” Sasha stated, but then realized she probably shouldn’t start a debate during such a time.

It is a convenient plot device, and one of many that are not used well. The author is too busy throwing in a dash of mysticism here and a smattering of romance there to really develop anything fully, or even explain what is there. When it is apparent that a scene was added in order to flesh out the story into a book, one almost wishes that it had been left as it was because all it does is detract from what could be an engaging story.

The author frequently has the character tell the reader what the character is thinking or feeling, rather than giving that role to a non-entity narrator. It is usually jarring and throws off the flow of the prose. This is yet another element of the book that could be improved with editing and refinement.

The ending of the book is anti-climactic and contrived. All along the reader can anticipate the eventual outcome, and the tools for that outcome appear six scenes prior. Despite all that, certain plot points are never fully explained. The whole thing is wrapped up with a little too much “and they lived happily ever after.”

The Return of Innocence might be worth reading once it has been put through the ministrations of a reputable editor and publisher, but until then it is best left on the shelf, unless the reader is a masochist.


Earlier this month, I finished up an article and sent it to the editor who asked me to write it. So far, that’s how I’ve done most of my publications; I was asked to write them. Now I’m back where I was before, trying to figure out if I have anything scholarly to write about … Continue reading “scholarly-shmolarly”

Earlier this month, I finished up an article and sent it to the editor who asked me to write it. So far, that’s how I’ve done most of my publications; I was asked to write them. Now I’m back where I was before, trying to figure out if I have anything scholarly to write about that hasn’t been covered already by someone else.

Part of the reason why I am concerned about this is because it has recently become apparent that despite prior assurances to the contrary, the provost of my place of work has a rather narrow perspective of what is scholarly, and a significant portion of professional library literature would not fall under that category. If I intend to remain at this institution (and that’s looking less likely), I’m going to have to step up on the scholarly publishing thing. “How we do it good”-type articles won’t cover it. I’ll have to write stuff that looks scholarly to a biologist.

Ugh. I don’t even read half that stuff. For example, I’m more interested in what Jane Librarian writes in her blog about some innovative workflow concept that has improved library services at her place of work than what Joseph P. Librarian writes in College & Research Libraries about the number of libraries using standard workflows and the statistical impact on user services.

Here are the topics I’m interested in that directly relate to what I do every day:

  • serials and electronic resources acquisitions
  • serials and electronic resources management
  • collection development
  • personnel management

Am I any kind of authority on any of those topics? Hell no. So who am I to even think about writing anything about them that anyone would want to read? I’m not enough of an egotistical poseur to pull that off. Which brings me back to where I started. Trying to find something scholarly to write about that other people would want to read and that I have more than average knowledge about.


Remember that book chapter I was supposed to be writing? I got half of it finished and then I never got back to it. I emailed the editor about it last week and got a response this morning. It’s too late for me to get the finished version to him. Oh, well. I’ll probably recycle … Continue reading “oops.”

Remember that book chapter I was supposed to be writing? I got half of it finished and then I never got back to it. I emailed the editor about it last week and got a response this morning. It’s too late for me to get the finished version to him. Oh, well. I’ll probably recycle it into something else, like using some of it to beef up an article I’m turning in today.

The lesson I’ve learned from this is that I’m much better at sprinting than at marathons when it comes to writing. Short and to the point. Book chapters (or even whole books) are much longer than I’m able to write at this time.


Turn the Other Chick is the fifth book in the Chicks in Chainmail series edited by Esther Friesner. The book is a collection of 22 short stories by fantasy authors (including one by the editor) that almost all involve at least three elements: a chick (er, woman), chainmail (or other body armor), and adventure with the chick wearing said chainmail. Most of the stories are told tongue-in-cheek, with some more entertaining and coherent than others. My favorites are as follows:

  • The Girl’s Guide to Defeating the Dark Lord by Cassandra Claire – Being kidnapped by a Dark Lord can have a happy ending.
  • The Gypsy Queen by Catherine H. Shaffer – Transgendered barbarian swordspersons find true love.
  • Over the Hill by Jim C. Hines – Grandma Guardswoman isn’t ready to retire just yet.
  • Defender of the Small by Jody Lynn Nye – Be kind to your small fury friends.