On Friday, October 28th, the final day of Open Access Week 2011, I had the privilege of moderating a panel discussion with student editors of literary magazines and journals at Northwestern University. Although open access issues were not directly discussed, a similar (assumed) ethos guides what these student-run publications are all about: all content is freely accessible online. What the discussion focussed on, then, was elaborated in my introduction: “The same technologies that allow this content to be open and free are also the ones that have helped these publications exist and thrive in our, some might say post-print, digital publishing world. So, with the barriers to entry now significantly lowered, the question many are asking is not why this happened or what happened, but how can we do this ourselves.” Thus the title of the panel discussion: “Launch Your Own Journal.”
For an hour, the panelists discussed both issues that relate directly to student publishing (continuity plans, departmental/institutional funding, curricular support, etc.) and issues that face nearly all publishers today (digital publishing platforms, online marketing, print-on-demand, etc.). Something that stood out, at least from the perspective of a librarian interested in digital publishing, was the opportunity present for library and university press support of student publications. Indeed, student publishers are very much on their own and in need of a wide range of collaborative support including digital publishing platforms, graphic design, web hosting services, metadata and indexing, and general consultation servies that the academic library and university press are uniquely situated to deal with (or, at least, to begin to deal with). What is evidently clear is that the work of student editors is serious work that is not only tied to their future professional careers or artistic aspirations, but is a formative learning experience happening outside of the curriculum (with a few exceptions) yet firmly within the University. Therefore, I’m inclined to skip past the question of should we form collaborative partnerships with student publishing projects, and, like the students, get straight to the how of doing digital publishing.
A special thanks to all of the panelists: Mia Warren, Editor-in-Chief, and Katie Flanagan, Managing Editor, of Prompt; Alina Dunbar, Editor-in-Chief, and Ryan Jenkins, Managing Editor, of Helicon; Elisabeth Rivard, Editor-in-Chief, of Northwestern Art Review; and Beth Herbert, Managing Editor, of TriQuarterly Online.