Mercian Directors Tackle University Presses

Gaz Johnson

Mercian Directors tackle issues around the ideas of library-led university presses, with the help of an external expert.

The Mercian Directors gathered in Loughborough today for the first of their biannual meetings for 2016.  Along with a packed programme discussing the activities of the Collaboration, we were pleased to welcome Sue White from the University of Huddersfield, and the past Chair of the Northern Collaboration.  Sue had been invited to attend to lead the Directors in discussions around the ideas of University Presses.  Sue, who has long worked with Huddersfield University Press (HUD), explained the background to their activities along with some of the practical challenges that had faced the organisation.  She highlighted that while HUD was managed from within the library, strategic leadership and senior buy-in came from a cross-university board, as chaired by their Vice-Chancellor Bob Cryan.  She noted that while the Press’ staff were based in the library, an editorial board comprising senor Huddersfield academics helped provide further institutional representation and input to their efforts.

Sue admitted that it had been a challenging, but deeply worthwhile endeavour, and had been pleased to see an increase in local support in the wake of other university presses being set up around the UK.  However, she closed by noting that as HUP grew, further issues including sustainable scalability and staffing resource were areas they were particularly looking to address.

While the Mercian Collaborations has no immediate plans to develop a press, the Steering Committee welcomed the opportunity to discuss the issues during the meeting, as well as inviting further subsequent comment and suggestions.

Minutes from the meeting are available.