This article evaluates the economic structure of academic and non-academic libraries; the impact of the ‘serials crisis’ on academic and non-academic library budgets and non-profit university presses; the impact of libraries on the academic life of universities; the impact of the electronic distribution of scholarly content on libraries, academics, students, and university presses; the response of the library community to scholarly book and journal pricing structures; the potential impact of changes in library configurations; the possible impact of the Open Access movement; and the potential impact of the ‘work for hire’ theory.
This essay first appeared in The Chronicle of Higher Education on 15 June 2007 and is reprinted, with minor changes, by permission.
All scholarly journals face similar challenges – small audiences, tight budgets, and editorial policies and practices that sometimes harden into dogma. Modern Language Association (MLA) regional journals offer a focused example of how member-driven scholarly journals can meet these challenges and, in doing so, change our notions of what such journals can do and how they should look. As publications of smaller-scale professional organizations, MLA regional journals are in a good position to hear and act on their members’ needs; when the duty of serving those members is carried out in an entrepreneurial spirit, editors open up, and can take advantage of, new opportunities for publishing.
Scholarly publication reflects disciplinary orientation, so much so that publishers and library collections personnel use disciplinary nomenclature as referent. University press publications, as well as other serious academic publication venues, may reflect disciplinary nomenclature, if not alignment with those disciplines featured in the AAUP Directory. Using the Directory’s discipline and publisher grid for 2007, the article discusses disciplinary nomenclature with the idea of proposing a model or perspective that illuminates the nuances and organic nature of knowledge not easily captured by disciplinary nomenclature. Commonly accepted currency in the academic enterprise, disciplinary nomenclature may be best seen as an organically foundational approach to knowledge discovery and generation and, ultimately, as situated within scholarly communication venues. As knowledge is organic in nature, it may best be seen through the morphology of disciplinary formation and ecology, permitting nuances to emerge as organic formations and intellectual contours. This useful and flexible definitional approach to disciplinarities – subdisciplinarity as well as multi-disciplinarity, interdisciplinarity, and trans-disciplinarity – permits scholars, publishers, and librarians a perspective subtle enough to consider an intellectual cartography that includes the organic nature of scholarship as well as the publication of that knowledge. Such fields as American studies, Middle Eastern studies, and urban studies offer additional perspective when confronted with disciplinary nomenclature. Without disparaging the received wisdom and attribution commonly ascribed to disciplinary nomenclature as used by researchers, publishers, and librarians, the scholarly communication system requires additional perspective, especially where nomenclature is concerned.
Common assumptions on Civil War book publishing, both in general and by scholars, are tested by an examination of the rates of publication and scholarly book reviews in three five-year periods: 1960–64, 1980–84, and 2000–2004.