This news reported by the Stanford Report and later summarized by the Stanford Daily may have soared over many students’ heads simply because they did not know what the SU Press was, what it does for the University, or that it even existed. This ignorance would be due to the fact that this division of the Stanford University Library often doesn’t have a direct impact on the undergraduate population.
The SU Press is only one of many university presses across the nation and globe. Other notable university presses would include those at Harvard, Yale, Cambridge and Oxford. The Oxford English Dictionary, first published in 1884 and still around after revisions and technological changes, is a product of the Oxford University Press.
Harvey worked for the Cambridge University Press prior to joining the SU Press in 2002 according to the Stanford Report.
“It may be easier to describe a university press by saying what it’s not,” the Association of American University Presses’ website explains. While it could be plausible that a university press publishes the university newspaper, yearbook, and course readers, a university press does none of the above. Instead a university press serves as a non-profit publishing house with the mission to publish scholarly and intellectual works.
From the perspective of college and university libraries, the university presses are invaluable. The two institutions share similar goals and is part of the reason why the SU Press moved to align itself administratively with the Stanford Library system in 1999.
“There are dozens of university press around the country and more around the world and they publish the scholarly works that are really the bread and butter of collecting in libraries in colleges and universities,” Assistant University Librarian for Collection Development Zachary Baker said. “If you were to go to the shelves in American literature, you would see works of literature, but next to it you would see critical studies that are as often as not published by a university press.”
The Press publishes roughly 165 books a year, according to the* Stanford Report, *two-thirds of which are focused in the humanities and social sciences. In comparison, arguably one of the top university and academic presses, the Yale University Press publishes “upwards of 300 new books per year” and is known for its art book publishing.
The SU Press specifically claims to make available “a range of highly specialized and peer-reviewed research that otherwise might not be published,” translated works to and from foreign languages, new scholars, and upper-level undergraduate and graduate textbooks, among other material. It also makes “all works for which we have electronic rights available through the main electronic aggregators.”
“I would say more and more or most university presses are doing publishing electronically,” Baker said. He adds that increasingly the libraries acquiring university press books are getting them in electronic format and sometimes exclusively so.
As far as the Stanford libraries are concerned, Baker said, “We still get the Stanford Press books in hardcopy too.”