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Shaking up publishing

By June 16, 2021September 16th, 2023No Comments

By Allison Campbell-Jensen

Emma Molls

Emma Molls

A Library Journal staffer sent an email to Emma Molls about her inclusion on the list of Movers and Shakers. “How do you know about me?” asked Molls, Publishing Services Librarian. Turns out it was Molls’s colleagues who nominated her, which she finds moving.

“The U of M Libraries are filled with movers and shakers,” she says. “A lot of people are doing really cool things and have been doing cool things a lot longer than I have. So to be recognized by people who I really enjoy working with and admire, that was really meaningful.”

Library Journal cited her and the Publishing Services program’s commitment to open access and to staying on top of the shifts in scholarly publishing.

A variety of platforms

Molls and the Publishing Team have been very intentional, she says, about keeping up with evolving publishing platforms. They started with two and now have WordPress, Pressbooks, Manifold, Open Journal Systems, and more. Rather than focusing on one platform, she says, “we’re always thinking of what technology is going to work best for the content that is being published.”

The Publishing Team advocates for innovation.

“We take things that are not necessarily a peer-reviewed journal, not necessarily a book. We don’t have great terminology for these things but we are interested in them — things that don’t fit into a pre-existing definition. That’s why those platforms really help us. We can try different things.”

Working with undergraduate and graduate students

“Research ought to be a public good, not a commodity for the wealthy. I want to be anywhere that work is happening.”

—Emma Molls

Molls says she can’t imagine what this past year has been like for students dealing with the pandemic and all its repercussions. Yet a journal that she helps publish, the MURAJ: Minnesota Undergraduate Research & Academic Journal, had one of their strongest years yet, she says.

She trains the undergrads who run the journal about the platform but also in recent years has gotten into issues of power, money, and the history of racism in scholarly communication. It’s exciting for her and the students really enjoy learning about systems that are “kind of broken.”

With Public Health Review, run by graduate students, she explores questions like: What does an open-access journal mean in the field of public health, to have public health information completely free online? That group also started a podcast as another way to deliver research and academic content to a larger audience.

“I view what I do as I’m the fire starter,” Molls says, “but the students who run the journals are definitely the ones who keep that flame going and do things that would have never crossed my mind.”

The portfolio

The Publishing Services portfolio stands out because the journals, books, conference proceedings, and textbooks are all open access. Molls is particularly fond of a Portuguese translation of a book by U of M faculty member Sophia Beale, A arte de Brasília: 2000-2019.

The key thing is access. As Molls told Library Journal — “Research ought to be a public good, not a commodity for the wealthy,” she says. “I want to be anywhere that work is happening.”

She also is engaged on projects outside the U of M Libraries: the DOAJ (Directory of Open Access Journals) Advisory Board, the MIT Press Library Advisory Board, and the Library Publishing Coalition Board. “There’s always a million things to learn, which is exciting. Always new people and new programs popping up. I like that, too. It’s not supposed to be an exclusive club. I like anything that brings in more people and more ideas.”

And she’ll keep moving to keep up with the ever-changing field of scholarly publishing.


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