Digital Publishing: A Home for Faculty in the Library — Exercises in Innovation from Harvard Law School

Authors: DeMarco, Claire Amy; Courtney, Kyle K.

Abstract: As libraries continue transforming through the digital age, we are faced with a familiar opportunity for renewal: the deepening of the faculty-library relationship — this time in a digital framework. Instead of simply complementing analog disciplines with digital counterparts, a broader medium of “digital scholarship” is rapidly expanding among and across all disciplines. Like any rapid expansion, there is no one clear path. Hundreds of platforms are vying for prominence in the digital scholarship space; commercial publishers are developing, enhancing, and re-branding online portals to meet this demand. Rather than coping with that uncertainty, however, or formatting their work to fit a standard, commercial digital mold, many faculty are turning to trusted sources: librarians. Faculty are seeking guidance, support, and resources to meet their digital scholarship needs, meaning libraries are presently in a position to become the place where — and the partner through which — faculty create, manage, and store digital scholarship placing libraries in the position of digital publisher.

In recent years, commercial publishers have positioned themselves to transition traditional print journals and monographs to e-publishing platforms aimed at merely replicating the print experience. Ongoing management of those platforms, along with development of licensing and payment structures, have likewise attempted to replicate the print experience. Debate has surrounded library ownership of electronic resources, and the divorce of licensed content from traditional modes of print ownership has been, and continues to be, an area bereft of clarity and mired in controversy.

This current opportunity is more than a mere transition, however, it is an expansion – a broadening of our understanding of scholarship, not to simply replace print with digital, but to encourage and understand the opportunities of the digital environment as a new medium for faculty. As we face this evolution from replicating print in a digital environment, to authoring and creating within a digital framework, libraries must be assertive in taking on the challenges of developing a home for this content and become comfortable with digital publishing as a core library function.

This article highlights specific examples of desire by faculty at Harvard Law School to push legal scholarship beyond the constraints of traditional commercial publishing. Harvard Law School Library, like any other academic library, is navigating the expansion of scholarly formats to the digital realm, as well as the demand by faculty to support new, and evolving, approaches to scholarship. Analysis of these examples will focus on the unique role that the library has in stimulating, supporting, and sustaining, faculty publishing efforts, in addition to the challenges presented by the new, and potentially uncomfortable, proposition of library as a digital publisher.

Citation: DeMarco, Claire & Kyle Courtney. 2017. Digital Publishing: A Home for Faculty in the Library — Exercises in Innovation from Harvard Law School. Working Paper. http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:34864118

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Source: Dash at Harvard

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