The relationship between librarians and publishers is like that of a dog and a lamp post, with each thinking the other is a dog, i.e. it is problematic! Obligatory Beatles references - uses Beatles lyrics to relate librarians and publishers ("You never give Me your money", "Money can't buy you love"). Neither relationship is terribly healthy, so why would you want to collaborate?
University of Liverpool is in a strong position to support and enhance scholarly communication because it has everything in-house: a library AND a Press, and teachers, researchers, readers, the Centre for Lifelong Learning, the Computer Services Department, etc.
What forms might collaboration take?
- LUP Library Advisory Board
- ideas for collaboration;
- an anthropological study;
- questions often lead to further questioning of their own processes.
- Modern Languages Open
- Available as Gold OA under CC-BY or CC-BY-NC licence
- Rigorous peer review pre-publication and offers interactivity post-publication
- Wide and broad disciplines across modern languages
- Flexible, e. word count 3-1500 words
- Rewards for article reviewers
- Author funding for early career publishing academics
- International dissemination
- Library invested in the journal platform and gave feedback. It has been very well received.
They have decided not to as it is expensive, a challenging format, and not the most useful thing for the University of Liverpool. They may experiment with monographs in future.
Collaborate on e-textbooks?
Students expect every book on a reading list to be available in the library. In reality it isn't. Only 81-82% of reading lists are available. Also students want book stock to be increased and kept up-to-date; more computers in library, and more help and direction in the library.
Why not create e-textbooks tailored to their courses, with possible cohorts within the university being: the humanities department, small departments, management and law departments? This is where Jisc came in - with a funding call for e-textbook creation by HEI, to explore personalised learning and the tension existing between improving quality and cutting cost.
There was a very tight deadline to turn around on this. A proposal was quickly drawn up due to the skills of the University Press. It was decided to create a "Essential for Financial Management" e-textbook. This is the largest and most complex module taught at the University (in fact it is taught in two places - Liverpool and the Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University in China (XJTLU)). The print textbook costing £56 a copy, so it wasn't possible to buy sufficient copies.
The Xerte tool was chosen. It can create learning objects. They didn't want to use just PDFs, but planned to add garphs, images and interactivity. Students don't like e-books as they are just electronic versions of a book. The e-textbook would be available in OA with also a POD print version.
A second e-textbook called "Using Primary Sources: A guide for Students" is now being created. This would be used in the History School and later in English, the Classics and archaeology disciplines. It will present a digital image and provide a comprehensive explanation from academics on how to use the primary resource, such as manuscripts, Cunard Lists (available as part of the Special Collections of the University). There will be three volumes by period.
Biblioboard is being used to create the e-textbooks, as it is great for images and use on the iPad. This project has been very exciting as it is making the University's Special Collections and Archive more visible. It is also using part of one of the exhibitions held at the University.
Liverpool was one of a number of institutions selected alongside Nottingham, UCL and UHI. It is good to know that Nottingham will also be using Xerte and now looking at the possibility of using Biblioboard. All the institutions involved meet once a year and there are also conference calls. Jisc want lots of data and regular updates.
Now on a "long and winding road"
- Academics will write. Some just want time, others money.;
- The Press will select, shape, edit, credentials
- One prototype anthology is being created at the moment
- The Press will produce the POD version, market and distribute
- The Library will do the technical creation;
- The Centre for Lifelong Learning and Computer Services Department at the University, along with a steering group (to include students) will ensure the e-textbooks meet all pedagogical & technical standards;
- The aim is to have the first tranche of material available on-line in late 2015.
After this "Tomorrow never knows"
It is hoped the pilot will be a success and that the data will show this. There is a need for a firm business case to show the University Board that it would succeed without Jisc funding. It is fantastic to be able to experiment and to make a difference to students. Both partners have different business models: the Library is funded publicly, whereas the Press has to be independently financially viable. Coming together there are new possibilities. As long as the Press is not loosing money then the University is happy with this. The Press can have access to the Library's skills, which they would otherwise not have.
Through experimentation and thanks to Jisc funding they can look at the data, learn what business model would be most successful and try to make the project viable in the long term.
Academics are being given the opportunity to put in proposals. The skills of the Press has been invaluable here as they are used to dealing with this process. Both time and sometimes money has to be invested to get the good-quality content for the e-textbooks.