UBC Press receives a US$490,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

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The University of British Columbia Press (UBC Press) has been awarded US$490,000 (C$650,000) to undertake a 15-month research project leading to the design of a business plan and conceptual framework for supporting interactive digital publications in Indigenous studies.

The new generation of digital publishing is moving beyond the “e-book,” to engage readers in more relevant and creative ways, with multimedia content drawn from a variety of networked sources.

UBC Press, with partners including the University of Washington Press, recently launched RavenSpace, a new model of publishing in Indigenous studies, where Indigenous communities and scholars can work together in a culturally respectful digital space. RavenSpace, also funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, is a next-generation publishing platform for media-rich, interactive books, complete with a suite of tools to make knowledge held in different places accessible and shareable across communities and generations.

Centered on RavenSpace and led by Darcy Cullen, Assistant Director, Editorial, at UBC Press, the grant activities will result in the creation of an expanded, multi-faceted strategy for sustaining digital scholarship as a wholly integrated dimension of publishing. The strategy will be designed to attract investment, welcome the participation of other scholars, presses, and institutions, and ensure that networked and socially significant works in the humanities and social sciences will thrive into the future.

“This new undertaking is a vital step in ensuring that the innovative nexus RavenSpace has established between technology, collaborative publishing, and respectful cultural engagement with Indigenous communities, will have lasting impact,” says Dr. Gail Murphy, Vice-President Research & Innovation, at the University of British Columbia. “It is a welcome initiative, reflective of UBC’s commitment to broadening access to research outcomes and promoting reciprocity and accountability in community engagement.”

As digital publishing increasingly becomes a site of interactive and dynamic knowledge exchange, rather than a way of delivering a static product, there is a pressing need to rethink conventional approaches to marketing, business, and distribution, and to start exploring alternative models that reward accessibility, interaction, and impact within both the academy and the broader societies that scholarship serves.

Digital technologies are transforming the way knowledge is made, used, and preserved, and university presses are not only keeping pace with evolving industry standards for book production and distribution, but are now surpassing them. This research project not only confirms the essential role university presses play in that transformation, but will make further significant contributions to the much-needed recalibration of the scholarly communications infrastructure.

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation been instrumental in the formation of a future-ready system of scholarly publishing. “Its far-sighted program of funding is making the recalibration of scholarly communications possible,” says Cullen, “so that it’s not only responsive to new needs but also anticipates future change, and powers the connections between research and teaching, information and ideas, and scholarship and public knowledge.”