Category Archives: publishing

Libraries as Publishers

Two weeks ago, I wrote up a fun thought exercise on my vision of the library of the future. One huge component of that vision involves libraries stepping into a publisher/producer role in the scholarly communication sphere. I do believe it’s hugely important for us to begin to embrace these roles, which is why I was so pleased to see this job posting today:

From SUNY Geneseo:

Publishing/Web Services Developer

The State University of New York (SUNY) at Geneseo, Milne Library, seeks a Publishing/Web Services Developer. This is full-time, 12-months position.

Under the direction of the Head of the Information Technology Services Department, this individual is responsible for the coordination and development of new applications and web services, as well as maintenance of existing ones, in ASP.NET and other frameworks to support the work of Milne Library and the College.

This position has a significant role in the planning and implementation of publishing, web services and digital projects initiatives that are transforming teaching, learning, research and scholarship. Some of these initiatives include the IDS Project (, Digital Thoreau ( and a range of projects & services that utilize digital library systems and publishing platforms (including IR+, Omeka, Open Journal System, Open Conference System, Drupal, WordPress, CreateSpace and other commercial publishing services).

This individual will work collaboratively with others to plan, develop and implement systems that meet the requirements of the initiatives; and provide technical support to the IDS Project, Assessment Team and Web Team. Performs other duties as required.

The Publishing/Web Services Developer is a key position for the design and management of Library’s online environment and publishing services, a strategic area for growth and innovation for Milne Library.  This developer will provide programming expertise, some systems administration and support for a wide range of web and publishing systems.

Description of Responsibilities:

  1. Plan, develop, test, implement and document new web applications for library programs and initiatives
  2. Analyze, modify and maintain existing applications
  3. Install, configure and maintain software programs on networked servers
  4. Assist with managing IIS and windows servers
  5. Work collaboratively with others in and outside of the Library
  6. Provide technical support to Library teams

Required Qualifications:

  • BA/BS in Computer Science, Web Development, Information Architecture, or related field
  • Minimum of 2 years of experience in web development/programming in ASP.NET (C# or VB.NET)
  • In-depth knowledge and experience of web programming, including demonstrated abilities with scripting and web programming utilizing:
    • HTML, XHTML and CSS
    • XML, XSLT or XQuery
    • JavaScript or jQuery
  • Strong knowledge and experience with
    • Databases: MS SQL and MS Access
    • Web Service technologies: REST, JSON or APIs
  • Demonstrated willingness to collaborate and share expertise, ability to work in teams and negotiate solutions with diverse groups
  • Proven ability to take initiative and communicate goals and challenges, including the ability to convey complex technical information to participants with varied technical skills
  • Strong commitment to customer service
  • Demonstrated flexibility and willingness to work in a demanding and high volume environment
  • High degree of self-direction, goal setting, prioritization skills, and the ability to manage multiple projects
  • Excellent interpersonal, oral and written communication skills
  • Attention to detail
  • Strong analytical skills

Preferred Qualifications:

  • Experience working with HTML 5.0 and CSS 3
  • Experience working with PHP, MySQL and LUA
  • Experience working with Drupal, Open Journal Systems (OJS), Open Conference Systems (OCS) and Open Monograph Press (OMP)
  • Experience working with LMS (e.g.: Angel, Blackboard)
  • Experience in developing mobile apps
  • Experience in managing projects using Project Management principle
  • Experience working with graphic design software (e.g.: Adobe Creative Suite Design)
  • Experience with Human Computer Interaction, user-centered design principles and conducting usability testing
  • Experience working in an academic environment
  • Familiar with working with software development teams and with the software development cycle

Minimum salary is $45,000, includes comprehensive SUNY benefits package.

To apply, visit http://jobs.geneseo.eduand submit an on-line professional application, cover letter, resume, contact information for at least three professional references and transcripts (unofficial accepted until employment offer). For full consideration apply by November 9, 2012. All applicants are subject to drug and criminal background checks.

SUNY Geneseo is a highly selective public liberal arts college with a rich tradition of academic excellence. It is consistently ranked among the best public undergraduate institutions in the country. The campus of approximately 5,000 students is located in the historic village of Geneseo in the beautiful Finger Lakes region of Western New York, conveniently located close to the city of Rochester.

SUNY Geneseo is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity, Equal Access Employer committed to recruiting, supporting, and fostering a diverse community of outstanding faculty staff, and students. The College actively seeks applications from women and members of underrepresented groups.

I’ll be keeping my eye on SUNY Geneseo and the publishing and digital services projects they release, and I hope to see more like this in library land!

Et tu, brute?

Other people have said more insightful and salient things about Penguin’s recent defection from Overdrive, but I didn’t want to let this one go without saying something. Penguin’s decision to pull all ebooks from Overdrive’s lending program is a huge disappointment (especially when you consider it in light of the fact that they make a crap ton of money from re-packaging public domain content). Their excuse for ending their Overdrive contract is beyond flimsy: They claim that Amazon’s addition to the Overdrive platform raises security concerns. They’ve stated that they might re-consider if lending didn’t go through Amazon’s site, or if patrons had to be physically present in a library to borrow ebooks. I fail to see how downloading a file and loading it via USB could possibly be more secure than loaning through the Amazon site.

It’s clear to most who are paying attention to this story that Penguin’s reasons are more petty than that. Amazon’s foray into publishing has pissed them off. They feel they’re losing control. They can’t handle the changing technological landscape, the changing publishing landscape. But these reactions are nothing more than scrambling, futile grasps for some kind of hold. They aren’t going to change things, and in the end, Penguin will still be forced to adapt, and the only people who will lose are those who always have: those who rely on libraries to access information. Not to mention the future of our cultural record, when libraries are no longer able to fulfill a crucial preservation function.

The fact is that the world of writing and publishing, selling and reading is different, and we can’t turn it around. Books are going to be published digitally, no matter how many people write impassioned diatribes against ebooks. Ebooks are the future of reading. But right now, we’re creating a world where access is being limited more and more to those who can afford it. Libraries have always played a key role in leveling that playing field, and we’re being prevented from doing that in a digital future.

That Penguin made this move just a week after a much anticipated meeting between the Big Six publishers and ALA head honchos just makes me feel powerless. As a librarian, I put my trust in ALA leadership to advocate for our needs, and the needs of our patrons. But it sounds like they went in there with anything but a heavy stick. ALA has a massive communications network, and a marketing budget. For decades ALA has spent that marketing budget creating Read posters and other pieces of propaganda that, frankly, serve more of a sentimental purpose than anything else. Why not use that budget to create a unified voice around issues that really matter, like this one? ALA could orchestrate an excellent patron education initiative around digital library issues. I feel like all they did was go into a meeting with the publishers and assure them that everything would be ok. Instead, we need people who are willing to fight.

My long and winding road to the library

I’m guest blogging over at The Desk Set this month, and I’m pretty excited to have the chance to write about my work. My first post is up this morning, in which I recount the long and winding professional path that brought me eventually to the library. Throughout the rest of September, I’ll be talking about my work at the California Digital library, the awesomeness that is Harvard’s Schlesinger Library, and my advice for newly matriculated library school students. Go check it out, and if you’ve got some time, read some of their archives. They’ve had some very interesting guest bloggers in the past who really demonstrate the variety of work that we librarians do.

Another Big Deal? Working with Publishers

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about ebooks and digital content, and about what libraries have to do to get publishers and other content providers to work with us and play nice. I’ve been trying to think of what we can offer them in exchange for favorable terms on digital content, and my mind has largely been moving in the marketing, increased sales, statistical data direction. But this evening I remembered something else that effects everything we are and might be doing with publishers.

See, publishers have to sell things. They have to make money off of their content in any way they can, and preferably as much of it as possible. They would charge us to re-read the paperbacks sitting on our own bookshelves at home if they could, and this isn’t because they are greedy, evil bastards. This is because they are for profit organizations, and it is the law that they make as much money as they can for their shareholders. That is their whole raison d’etre, as for profit companies. Even if they wanted to give us content, even if they wanted to cut us great deals and be generous and think of the children and the future and the preservation of our intellectual culture, well, they can’t. Because legally, they have to make money, above and beyond every other consideration.

This is why Panera Bread needed to start a separate foundation in order to operate its Panera Cares Community Cafes, where they charge only what customers can afford in order to serve the hungry. They needed to be able to operate as a non-profit in order to absorb losses, and to operate in a way that is about more than the bottom line.

So what does that have to do with libraries? I think there are people in the publishing world who could be convinced to start up non-profit foundations to work with libraries to provide digital content. I think this would be a great public relations move for them. I think a lot of publishers DO care about preserving our cultural record and the children and the future. And I think there are library non-profits, like Library Renewal, that can make it part of their organizational missions to help publishers move into this realm, and help publishers reap the PR benefits from it, as well. Individual libraries might not be able to partner with publishers in the non-profit foundation world, but library organizations can.

There are probably many more things libraries can do to provide value to publishers, to convince us there is a profitable reason to work with us, and to continue to provide us digital content on terms we can afford and are willing to accept. But we have to understand, too, that under their current for profit statuses, publishers are not only not going to volunteer to work out favorable terms with us, they may not actually be able to. It isn’t their business to provide content equally to all citizens, it’s their job to make money from citizens. Maybe we can help them figure out ways around that.