This is the speaker notes of the author’s presentation given at IFLA 2016. View the video recording of the author’s presentation. The presentation begins at 45:06.

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While the support for publishing open access journals in libraries is widespread as evidenced by the Library Publishing Coalition member roster and discussions about journals on library listservs and at conferences, not all libraries approach journal support by taking on the role of “publisher.” Local practices, policies, and the relationship of the library with the university provide guidance as to how a particular library and its campus address journal publishing.

But if not publisher, then what? Instead, libraries, recognizing implementing and sustaining a publishing program can be costly and daunting, have alternatives to consider. In one scenario, the library may act a journal “host” by collaborating and sharing expertise with faculty, students, and academic units that do wish to start a journal. As host, the library can provide critical services and technology for the campus-wide publishing enterprise, without assuming complete oversight for the journals that it supports. For example, the provision of a journal platform, technical expertise on the platform, and sharing expertise in the area of scholarly publishing facilitate journal success. This approach, however, has both benefits and drawbacks.

The University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) Libraries act as journal host, in order to best utilize the available staffing around journal services and to help promote a sense of ownership in UNLV’s academic units (which act as publishers). Using the UNLV model as an example, this presentation describes how journals are supported including an overview of what works well, what issues arise with distributed campus publishing, and takeaways for libraries who wish to support local journal publishing, but may not have the staffing and other resources to become a publisher.

Introduction (slides 2-4)

The Digital Scholarship Unit at the UNLV Libraries has three staff members whose responsibility includes the institutional repository and other scholarly communication services in partnership with the libraries liaison program. The repository, which is on the bepress Digital Commons platform, includes a variety of content types such as undergraduate student work, posters, presentations, conferences, and open access journals – the topic of this presentation.

The journals published in Digital Scholarship@UNLV reflect several UNLV areas of strength: health sciences, education, and gaming. At the time of this writing, there are four current journals – including two well established journals and two that are new as of 2016. There are also several journals that have become inactive or have officially ceased publication, and one that was added to the site but published originally elsewhere. Last fall, the libraries received five serious requests for help publishing journals. The combination of interest in starting new journals as well as the unexpected ceasing of others were inspiration for UNLV Libraries adoption of a distributed campus publishing model.

More structure was required to clarify roles in publishing journals using the Digital Scholarship platform. The Dean of Libraries, Patty Iannuzzi, and the Digital Scholarship Department Head, John Novak, created an memorandum of understanding and new journal request form in order to formalize these roles for publishing open access journals at UNLV through the repository. They worked with the deans of the colleges to ensure the proposed model was acceptable across campus. The purpose of my presentation is to provide an overview of these new structures and cover what this new model looks like in practice.

The Model (slide 5)

In short, the model we use sets up academic units as publishers of the journal they wish to start and the library is described as the host. Each party is responsible for the following broad swaths of journal publishing requirements, placing substantial responsibility on the academic units as publishers.


  • Administration of journal
  • Content
  • Copyright management
  • Manage finances for “extras”
  • Participate in training
  • Indemnify library
  • Communicate with library


  • Commit to platform availability
  • Advise & assist (technology)

What do publishers do? And how does the UNLV distributed model match up? (SLIDES 6-7)

There are many sources of advice on publishing focus directly on journals (Anderson, 2016; Committee on Publication Ethics, 2016; Morris, Barnas, LaFrenier, & Reich, 2013), while other sources focus on libraries as publishers (Bonn & Furlough, 2015; Library Publishing Coalition, 2016), and additionally sources that provide guidance on open access publishing specifically (Directory of Open Access Journals, 2016; Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association, 2016). Although not identified here, there is a wealth of literature on specific cases from practitioners in libraries and research into the feasibility of campus-library partnerships in publishing (see LPC bibliography). Some items noted in the sources directed at larger, for profit publishers (or even those using cost-recovery scenarios), don’t apply to the UNLV situation as a public institution without a university press, but many do.

In short, neither UNLV Libraries nor the academic units designated as publishers seek to generate a profit for the OA journals, yet all hope to hold themselves to high standards and provide a good experience for content providers and high quality, discoverable, and accessible research to readers. Much of the guidance pertains to publishing practices addresses transparency and ethics. These include providing clear policies, information about article processing charges, ethical and honest peer review processes, avoidance of conflicts of interest, and following guidelines on confidentiality of research subjects, etc.

The new UNLV model places the burden of these journal publishing expectations on the publishers. This was purposeful since, as described above, the library was not in a position to take on additional responsibilities of publisher. However, in leaving much of these decisions and expectations to the academic units, the libraries has a fairly limited role. There may be areas that could be reconsidered once the library has a chance to determine where OA journal hosting fits in the broader spectrum of research support.

As it currently stands, UNLV Libraries asks the academic unit faculty to become experts in publishing but we don’t provide training on publishing – although training on the Digital Commons system is provided by bepress - and many, but not all, of the local editors involved have extensive records as authors, reviewers, and editors for other journals. I believe that further growing our the library’s expertise in journal publishing would help academic unit publishers move through journal setup more quickly. Growing in-house knowledge would also provide us with more solid standing to influence some areas of journal publication. For example, we might collaborate more on policy development (such as author rights and article processing charges), and we could also assist with creating a uniform brand or style to the journal landing pages (cover images, banners), and assist more strategically with indexing. Currently, the hands off approach means we can take notice of issues and ask for them to be fixed, but we can’t ensure action is taken. Also, with different aspects of the system in use on the journals’ landing pages can turn out very different aesthetically. I see these areas as important because while the library does not publish the journals, they are still hosted on a site and domain that is run by the libraries and from the user perspective it may not be clear that the library is not heavily involved with them.

Inroads (slides 9-12)

The last area that I wanted touch on are the areas that have been the most valuable to us and where we have an impact with our limited resources and limited roles.

This section shares some of the ways we at UNLV Libraries are working with the journal publishers, in the context of our role as host.

Harness Shared Energy & Enthusiasm

In my view, working from common themes in library strategies to connect and provide valuable services to campus, the journal hosting services we provide facilitate engagement and partnerships. Specifically, collaborating with departments and other campus units on journal publishing is exciting. And I believe excitement is key to further success. As someone whose primary job is working to get faculty and students to engage in issues of scholarly communication, anytime someone is enthusiastic about a something to do with open access, I want to harness that energy hopefully have it lead to helping our other related initiatives. Topics that come up in conversations about journal publishing -authors’ rights, creative commons, DOAJ, DOIs, and indexing - have much broader potential than just their immediate use to journal publishing.

Be Advocates of Change

In addition to connecting on publishing topics of shared interest, the library could potentially position itself as adviser on topics of scholarly publishing – advocating for the strongest author rights language in locally produced journals, describing what it means to be truly open access, assisting with good metadata practices, data management, and more. Currently our model has the library as technology advisors, but we have the potential to advise on much more than that.

Provide System Features Expertise

While we currently provide some level of system help, logically nearly all of the support is handled by bepress. However, after seeing the kinds of questions editors have, and the most common changes requested and hiccups that arise, the library is in a position to preemptively assist with journal set up in order to avoid some common problems and areas of confusion and point out features of the system that might be of interest. We also can be sure enhancements to Digital Commons are communicated to the publishers and place them in local use context.

Assist with Indexing and Provide Evidence of Impact

Techniques that librarians learn through work in collection development and instruction translates well to the two tasks of getting journals indexed and gauging a journal’s impact. With this comes familiarity as to how journals make it into respectable research databases and common search engines (providing discovery) as well as awareness of longstanding and newer metrics used to quantify the impact of journals and the articles within (understanding markers of impact).

Conclusion (slide 13)

In short, out of necessity UNLV Libraries has taken a minimalist approach to our involvement in journal publishing by defining the library as host rather than publisher. This model acknowledges, as the Dean of Libraries reminded me, that journal publishing is just one area in a much broader plan for expanding our research support services. However, there are areas of expertise in our library (and yours) that really can't be overlooked and can be tapped to help academic units have the most successful open access journal they can.

References/suggested Reading