2021 Cross-Pollination Reports: Robert Browder

The AUPresses/Library Publishing Coalition Cross-Pollination program provides registration waivers at both organizations’ annual conferences for members of the other to attend, in order to foster cross-professional knowledge sharing. In 2021, Hannah Brooks-Motl and Maia Desjardins received registration waiver grants to attend the virtual Library Publishing Forum; Robert Browder and Sarah Wipperman received registration waiver grants to attend the virtual AUPresses 2021.

Robert Browder, Digital Publishing Specialist, Virginia Tech University Libraries

Attending the AUPresses Annual Meeting was an enriching experience. My thanks to the Association of University Presses (AUPresses) and the Library Publishing Coalition (LPC) for making it happen. I felt the conference was well organized and the convenience of Zoom delivery allowed me to attend while maintaining a presence with my regular duties; I hope to attend the AUPresses Annual Meeting in person in the future.

One of my favorite presentations was “Born Digital and Made for Learning.” As a digital publishing specialist at the University Libraries at Virginia Tech, multi-format readiness is a primary concern for the content we produce. The opportunity to hear how university presses along with other library publishers conceptualize this work and its impact on resource usability was refreshing. 

“What Can We do to Meet the Needs of BIPOC Authors?” was a notable session as well. In library publishing at Virginia Tech we always strive to meet authors where they are. In doing so, we often cede editorial control (and to some extent process control as well) to authors and project owners. While this approach creates the possibility that each project will be unique in its path to completion, we have found that it works well for authors and project owners of diverse backgrounds. Hearing how university presses, which traditionally exert greater editorial control than library publishers, support BIPOC authors through the editorial process has provided me with a larger view of the topic that I find to be very valuable.

As the coordinator of the open access journal publishing program at University Libraries at Virginia Tech, “All the Pretty Journals” was a conversation with many familiar themes. I appreciate the opportunity to hear how other journal publishers navigate the journal support and production process. I think journal support in the university press world may not be that different than in the library publishing world. In the case of VT Libraries, I think we actually outsource more of the work associated with journal publishing than many university presses do.

“Career Strategies for the Mid-Career Professional” was an encouraging and perspective generating discussion. As I begin the fifth year in my current role, the perspectives shared in this session are a comfort as I reflect on career options and possibilities. The big takeaway for me was that work may not always feed one’s soul. So, it’s important to cultivate something in your life that does, whether that be relationships, a hobby, volunteer work, or something else. 

The one session that I missed that I wish I had been able to attend was “Inclusion and Representation in the Cover Design Process.” In our library publishing environment, we work with authors and project owners to create a cover design. Very seldom do we create a cover without author involvement. The extent to which authors and project owners are involved varies from project to project, on some occasions I have had authors actually sit with me at the computer for collaborative tweaking of design elements! I would love to know more about how cover design gets done in the university press world.

Overall, attending the meeting was a positive experience and I would certainly recommend it to others in publishing roles whether they be situated in a university press, library, or museum. This congregation of people and publishing know-how is truly wonderful to take part in. I hope to attend again in the future, maybe even in person one day!