We are pleased to have Raina Polivka blogging for us about her experience at the 2012 Association of American University Presses (AAUP) conference. She and Mandy Clarke were recipients of professional development grants from the Pat Hoefling Memorial Fund.
Thanks to the Pat Hoefling grant, I was awarded the invaluable opportunity to attend the 2012 AAUP annual meeting in Chicago. This year’s theme, “Igniting the Future,” resounded throughout the conference as participants and attendees were abuzz with a collective energy to meet the newest challenges to academic publishing head-on. Perhaps the most inspiring aspects of the conference for me can be characterized in two ways: articulation and collaboration.
The articulation of the current state of scholarly publishing and the challenges awaiting us dominated each session, panel, address, and speech. While it is no secret that academic publishers have long been faced with obstacles of one kind or another—contending with trade publishers in the marketplace, working within tight budgets to meet institutional expectations and to maintain sustainability in a tenuous economy—this year was all about recognizing the crossroads in which we all find ourselves and the directions in which many of us are moving. Indeed, instead of discussing the potentials of electronic and multimedia publishing, we explored the realities of e-books and the many creative ways people are re-envisioning content production and consumption.
Which leads me to the spirit of collaboration infused throughout the conference: sharing best practices among presses, listening to and learning the changing needs of our clientele (both authors and readers), and building alliances with various entities in the industry. The most compelling discussions for me focused on the collaborations occurring between academic presses and their home universities. Whether it is in the creation of e-textbooks that supply the university with custom materials for students and faculty or the implementation of other creative initiatives that provide services to the university while also preserving, and even expanding, the mission of the press, strong partnerships are imperative for the future of publishing.
Many of us working in academic publishing toil away in our offices, correspond through faceless email, and try to stay on target with one schedule in order to start another. There is a frenzy to it all and sometimes a feeling of isolation. Indeed, it is easy to lose sight of the larger publishing landscape and to feel disconnected from our colleagues. The AAUP annual conference is a way to re-connect and to foster new relationships; it leaves one with a profound sense of where we’ve been and where we are going; and it reminds us why we do this in the first place.
Despite the interesting panels and the many fascinating discussions, perhaps the most satisfying and inspiring moments for me were the conversations with my fellow IU Press colleagues that were generated from the annual meeting. We departed Chicago, energized and excited to employ some of the ideas we gleaned from the conference. A sentiment shared by all of us who attended the conference was that IU Press is in many ways already implementing much of what the publishing industry is calling for. One thing is clear: there is a wave of innovation rushing onward—and IU Press is on the crest of that wave.
Tomorrow we will hear Mandy's thoughts about the AAUP conference in Part 2 of this blog series.