The growth of library publishing in North America and the role of the Open Journal System

Date created: 
Library publishing
Scholarly publishing

Scholarly or academic publishing is one of the most lucrative sectors in the publishing industry; ever since the 1960s, commercial publishers have profited from disseminating academic research and scholarship. This has resulted from the commercialization of journals in the 1940s that shifted scholarship from a public good to a commodity. As of 2018, scholarly publishing is estimated to be a $25 billion-dollar industry. While there are other types of publishers, including non-profit, society and library publishers in the scholarly space, they generate a small portion of scholarly output and revenue compared to commercial publishers. This report examines the trends that influenced library publishing, a relatively new type of publisher that emerged in the early 2000s within North America, and the concurrent growth of Open Journal Systems among North American academic libraries. Libraries were and continue to be supporters of Open Journal Systems, both financially and through their use of the software. New technologies such as Open Journal Systems allow library publishers to address some of the issues that resulted from the commercialization of scholarly research. As of 2018, at least 92 educational institutions from Canada and the United States use Open Journal Systems. This report also provides an analysis of library publishing as a field within scholarly publishing. Library publishers are willing to experiment with content and media, and their expertise in metadata and the relationships they maintain with academics are their strengths as publishers. As library publishing is an extension of their role as libraries, they may not have the resources (labour and financial) or support to execute this work entirely. Library publishers could utilize the relationships they have within their broader community to develop publishing partnerships. As library publishing is relatively new, they face a challenge in becoming seen as a legitimate publishing avenue. While it is unlikely that all libraries will take on this new role, having library publishers is overall beneficial, as it provides an alternative route to publish work and a means to publish content ignored by traditional publishers.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
This thesis may be printed or downloaded for non-commercial research and scholarly purposes. Copyright remains with the author.
Juan Pablo Alperin
Communication, Art & Technology: Publishing Program
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.Pub.