Library Publishing Through the IFLA Global Lens

This posting is sponsored by the Library Publishing SIG and published in cooperation with the ARL Section. Members of the Library Publishing SIG reach out to library publishers and invite them to respond to a series of questions.

This post features Markus Putnings, a Senior Librarian at the University Library of Erlangen-Nürnberg, Bavaria, Germany, in charge of FAU University Press and the Open Access Department, see full bio on LinkedIn and activities & works in ORCiD.


What attracted you to work in library publishing?

I have worked in several areas of the book industry. Originally, I trained as a bookseller. Then e-books came along, Amazon became big, everything was particularly painful for the small, owner-operated bookshops. Adapt or perish was the motto, so I studied business informatics with a focus on information systems and e-business and started working in the new media editorial department at a medium-sized German publishing house. This publishing house was one of the first to publish in a media-neutral way; it brought out eBooks on USB sticks and CD-ROMs to accompany books, created small databases and knowledge clusters. However, the commercial environment was still tough and there were always extreme trade-offs between economic viability, saleability, media appeal, etc. Finally, I found my ideal through the library internship at the KIT library, which also housed the university press KIT Scientific Publishing: non-commercial library publishing, where science, quality, transparency and reusability (via Open Access and Open Data for research data) are the focus of all activities.

What partners do you collaborate with?

Like many small library publishers or university presses, we are a bit behind the curve in terms of media-neutral XML publishing. So far, we have only produced PDF eBooks. In order to keep up with commercial publishers and their professional content offerings, a greater degree of automation and streamlining of processes is required. The Open Source Academic Publishing Suite (OS-APS) project in collaboration with our partner SciFlow and Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg aims to achieve this:

Small and medium-sized publishers typically receive Word manuscripts. OS-APS automatically extracts the underlying XML from these manuscripts, offers an optimisation option and, most importantly, export options in various formats (XML, HTML, PDF). The professional corporate design, e.g. of the PDFs, is managed automatically by using templates or by creating your own with the OS-APS Template Development Kit. In addition, OS-APS connects to scholarly and collaborative publishing platforms such as Open Journal Systems (OJS), Open Monograph Press (OMP) and Dspace.

To our other partners: All books published by our library are Open Access. However, when authors require printed versions for the book trade, we work with a number of different printers, depending on the author’s requirements. For example, print-on-demand titles are often printed by Docupoint.

What values and principles inform your work?

Due to our university ties, we are of course primarily bound by the values and principles of the university, e.g. good scientific practice. In addition, there are influences from relevant research funders in the German academic landscape (e.g. Research Integrity from the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG), from the working groups in which we are represented (e.g. the quality standards of the AG Universitätsverlage) and from relevant publishing coalitions such as COPE, C4DISC, OASPA, EASE. We try to aggregate these influences in our policies and present them in a transparent, comprehensible and practice-oriented way for our authors, book series editors and, of course, ourselves in our daily work.

An example of this is our recently published Diversity and Inclusion Policy, which, in addition to our Editorial Policy and Publication Ethics Guidelines, incorporates aspects of the DFG’s „Equal opportunities and diversity“, „Relevance of Sex, Gender and Diversity in Research“, the „Joint Statement of Principles“ of the Coalition for Diversity and Inclusion in Scholarly Communications (C4DISC), and the Library Publishing Coalition’s „Ethical Framework for Library Publishing – Topic: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion“.

What is the impact of your library publishing programme at institutional level?

The FAU University Press publishing house, its publishing programme and functions (e.g. to strengthen Open Access among disciplines with a strong affinity for books and among young scholars) were and are very well integrated institutionally. For example, it is endorsed in the university’s former Open Access Policy and new Open Science Policy, there are book series for almost all disciplines at FAU, and it is part of the General Doctoral Regulations. Within the doctoral regulations, it is recommended to doctoral candidates as an equal publication channel to commercial publishers.

Tell us about a book that changed your life.

A book that impressed me in my youth was the Hagakure. In very general terms, it is about being a good servant to your employer, who in turn has a duty of care. Why was this so important to me? In Germany there are a lot of prejudices against civil servants, e.g. that they only like to do their work “go-slow”, just according to the rules, etc. For me, I took away from the book that the opposite should actually be the case and that as a civil servant librarian I can, should and must do more than a comparable person in the commercial sector. Because it’s not just about the salary, it’s about the greater good of society, such as Open Access or Open Science and the resulting benefits of knowledge transfer and research progress.

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