The University of Alabama Press is a proud member of The Association of American University Presses (AAUP). And this Friday brings to a close to our annual University Press Week, a celebration of the contributions of university presses to the literary and intellectual world.

tom_wilsonIn keeping with the theme “#LookItUP: Knowledge Matters” for #UPWeek 2017, UAP chose to highlight our on-campus library system. Below is a conversation with Tom Wilson, Associate Dean for Research and Technology.

What is something the library does to encourage research?

Beyond simply making the resources available, there is fair amount of time spent showing people how to conduct library research and how to use library material. We’re very supportive of the process of seeking knowledge, and if I may use the t-word, truth, through that process.

We work with students, and faculty too, to help them understand the importance of the process that one goes through to judge the information that they’ve come across. We invest in providing a diverse set of resources and then training people to use them to their benefit.

In what ways does the library promote scholarship?

For instance, when we first work with people on search strategy and how to break down their topic we teach them to determine and evaluate sources of their research. This will include a variety of things such as popular press, news source, scholarly research or whatever they might come across. We want them to understand and weigh the key elements that make up scholarly resources such as peer review and strong editorial functions.




The UPWeek display at the Amelia Gorgas Library

Where do you see our missions overlapping?

The most direct area, of course, is that University Presses work in producing quality scholarly resource and our mission to acquire them and make them available to our larger community. So, we have a hand in hand relationship to generate and disseminate scholarly information.

Share with us your thoughts on open access scholarship?

We’re very supportive of quality open access scholarship. And, if you view this without financial considerations, for the sake of discussion, open source doesn’t mean of lesser quality. It’s just a different mechanism for funding the operation

There are some very different models that have been pursued that demonstrate it’s possible to be cost effective, especially regarding the end user.

In the online environment, both publishers and libraries have to rethink what the notion of production and dissemination means. I think there’s a lot of territory where we can work together to address the issue of broader access to scholarly materials.

How can the relationship between university presses and libraries be stronger?

The first thing is having the conversation about shared goals and the resources. What can we bring to bear for making research and scholarship more widely available and how can we engage a larger audience in the creation as well in the consumption of those resources.

But I think if we’re already talking, what needs to be dealt with first occurs at a strategic level – where we would like to be somewhere down the line. There are lots of skills sets and expertise on both sides; it’s advantageous all the way around

For instance, at our Digital Humanities Center, we’re involved in creating content. It’s more project focused but it does provide a venue for collaborative development between scholars and hosting of research agendas. But we’re exploring ways to make sure these things are available for longer term and not just for a few years.