It’s University Press Week! This year’s theme for UP Week is #LookItUP: Knowledge Matters, chosen by the Association of American University Presses (AAUP). We are proud to be a part of the AAUP, an organization of nonprofit publishers whose members strive to advance scholarship through their offerings.

Today we’re participating in a blog tour that’s taking place every day this week at university press blogs around the world. Today’s blog tour theme is Libraries and Librarians Helping Us All #LookItUP. In the interview below, Laurie Taylor provides a librarian’s perspective on the importance of publishing, collaboration, and sharing knowledge, exemplified by a new series we’re launching later this month together with the University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries: the Florida and the Caribbean Open Books Series.

This series will republish books related to Florida and the Caribbean that are regarded as “classics,” out-of-print works considered by a panel of scholars to be essential to students, scholars, and modern readers. Books in the series will be available digitally at no cost. The series is made possible through a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, under the Humanities Open Book Program.

With similarly aligned missions and roles that complement each other, the University of Florida Press and Libraries frequently collaborate to foster the creation, promotion, access, and preservation of research and creative works, in support of teaching, research, and the public sphere. The Open Books Series is one such collaboration. It will be published by the LibraryPress@UF, an imprint of the University of Florida Press and the University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries.

Laurie-Taylor-01In this Q&A, Laurie Taylor, digital scholarship librarian at the University of Florida Libraries and project coordinator for the Open Books Series, tells us more about the Open Books Program.

What is your role in the Open Books Program?

LT: I’m one of the team members on the grant that was awarded to the UF Press and the Libraries to bring back or revive out of print books, bringing them out as Open Access, and in ePub and other formats.

Why do you think the Open Books Program is important?

LT: The Open Books Program is important for the explicit goals and collateral positive impacts. The explicit goals include reviving specific out of print books, growing capacity for bringing more books back as Open Access, increasing use and adoption of Creative Commons licensing, and increasing capacity for ePub publication of scholarly works. The collateral positive impacts include opportunities to further connect academic library and press communities as well as to enhance and expand conversations on what scholarly publishing is and can be in the digital age, in terms of public scholarship, research as praxis, and scholarship as engagement in and with the public sphere.

Are there any particular books in the Florida and the Caribbean Open Books Series that you are especially excited about?

LT: I’m excited to see what happens for all of the books! The books cover architecture, history, society, and so much more, and I’m excited to see responses for all of them. Based on what I’ve already heard from so many people—within and outside of academic institutions—I am especially excited for the The African American Heritage of Florida, edited by David R. Colburn and Jane L. Landers.

Is there anything else you think people should know about the Florida and the Caribbean Open Books Series?

LT: Authors: your books can be reborn!  I would like authors to be aware that they can share their out-of-print works as Open Access, so the books can have a rebirth for circulation and sharing of ideas. Books that are out of print and were only released in print are available in libraries and through book resellers, but are in limited circulation. Authors have the opportunity to share and circulate their ideas more widely. I would love to see authors contacting their publishers to volunteer for this. Scholarship is about the creation and sharing of knowledge. In the digital age, we have new opportunities to do this, and our scholarly fields and broader public communities will benefit from access to and opportunities to engage with scholarship.

My hope is that the Open Books Series creates greater awareness for building and sharing together. I hope this for out of print books, and even for in-print and new publications. Rather than authors simply hoping that the books are available enough, why not ask about making books Open Access after a set number of years? By collaborating with University Presses, authors have new opportunities to promote and share their works, and to support the incredibly and critically important work done by University Presses.

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