African librarianship: embracing the libraries-as-publishers model

Jeremiah Pietersen, University of Cape Town
Reggie Raju, University of Cape Town

Traditionally, academic libraries have been at the center of academic institutions, reflecting its function as a hub for intellectual activity (CLIR, 2008: 5). As one of the responses for rising subscription costs to academic literature, scholarly communication units have expanded their services to include publishing open access (Finlay, Tsou and Sugimoto, 2015: 6). From open journals to open monographs, veering into the space of open textbooks, many academic libraries have undertaken publishing with the intention to “contribute to a change in the scholarly publishing system, supplemented by a variety of other mission-related motivations” (Mullins et al., 2012 as cited by Finlay, Tsou and Sugimoto, 2015: 6). Given the developments in the digital space, the library has capacitated itself to properly curate and disseminate the knowledge production of an academic institution. Hence the move to libraries as publishers has been somewhat smooth.

Open source supporting the libraries-as-publishers model include Open Journal Systems (OJS) and Open Monograph Press (OMP), both provided by the Public Knowledge Project (PKP). As the University of Cape Town (UCT) has been named the first higher education institution in Africa to publish open monographs using the OMP platform, this paper aims to highlight and discuss the challenges and successes in establishing the publishing services offered by the library – not only for journals, but also monographs. Current library staff formed this project team, resulting in the development of new skills and competencies (informally and on an ad hoc basis). Africa particularly, faces resource constraints affecting access to information. The development of publishing services amidst this, has the potential to lessen the disadvantage felt by African higher education services. Through this paper, it is hoped that experiences can be shared so that best practices for the developing context can be established.