Ohio University Press Moves to Library’s First Floor – OHIO University Libraries

Ohio University Press Moves to Library’s First Floor

Lexi Browning/Ohio University Libraries
The Ohio University Press staff are photographed in the department’s new location on the first floor of Alden Library on Jan. 22, 2018. Back from left: Sebastian Biot, Omar Aziz, Beth Pratt, Jeff Kallet, Maryann Gunderson and Samaras Rafert. Front from left:Rick Huard, Sally Welch, Sandra Dixon, Gillian Berchowitz and Nancy Basmajian.

In just the past decade, Ohio University Press, the scholarly publishing arm of the University, has had five homes around Athens.  

But its new location, on the first floor of Alden Library, could become a permanent home, said Gillian Berchowitz, Ohio University Press director and editor-in-chief.

“The Library and the Press really have the same vision on a number of levels—making excellent, well-evidenced information available,” she said. “We produce books, so I think being in the Library and being a part of campus just makes it very clear to students and faculty that Ohio University Press is a book publisher.”

As part of ongoing renovations at the Library, the University’s Academic Achievement Center (AAC), which had been on the first floor, moved to the Learning Commons on the second floor during the summer, creating an empty space.

Scott Seaman, dean of University Libraries, suggested to Berchowitz the empty space might fit Ohio University Press’s needs. The home of the Press at the time, the former Woolworth’s building on South Court Street, was purchased by the University for classroom and office use.

Although the Press, incorporated in 1947 during John Baker’s tenure as president and formally organized in 1964 during Vernon Alden’s presidency, was at one time located in the Library, more recently it had homes in Scott Quad, The Ridges and Columbus Road, said Nancy Basmajian, managing editor for Ohio University Press. 

Ohio University Press, the largest scholarly press in the state of Ohio, publishes between 45 and 50 titles, as well as many reprints and reissues of classic titles, each year. 

“Scholars know us by reputation, and book series play a part in building that visibility in the academic community,” Berchowitz said. “We publish 25 distinguished series in a number of areas. Ohio University Press is known for the Hollis Summers Poetry Prize as well as Swallow Press, its trade and literary imprint.” 

One of its most successful authors, Allen Tate, lectured at more than 100 universities—including Ohio University—and published his prose collection, “The Fathers,” with the Press. During his career, Tate won several prominent literary awards, including the Bollingen Prize for Poetry and the Brandeis Medal Award.

Other prominent authors include Janet Lewis, whose work The New York Times declared “some of the 20th century’s most vividly imagined and finely wrought literature,” and Yvor Winters, a poet and Stanford University English professor, whose OHIO-published works include “Forms of Discovery” and “In Defense of Reason.”

In January 2018, Ohio University announced three books published through the Press received recognition.  The soon-to-be-released “The Extinction of Menai” (2018) by Chuma Nwokolo received the Publishers Weekly star and “Ken Sara-Wiwa” (2016) by Roy Doron and Toyin Falola and “Viet Nam: Tradition and Change” (2016) by Hữu Ngọc and edited by Lady Borton and Elizabeth F. Collins both were named outstanding academic titles by Choice. 

Samara Rafert, publicity and exhibits manager for Ohio University Press, said renovation and decoration in the new Library location have continued since the move in late October. As well as including more office space, the new location offers a reception area for meetings and visitors, she said.

Berchowitz said a central campus location allows for student interns with Ohio University Press to get to work easier. The busier location also allows for other University students to learn more about the Press. 

“The Library is a better space with a lovely reception area,” said Berchowitz. “It’s a wonderful, central location so that we serve faculty, undergraduate and graduate students. Our authors are from all over the world, but we can provide professional guidance to any faculty members.”

In addition to a better campus location, the new home on the first floor will allow for an even stronger relationship with the Libraries, Berchowitz said. Currently, the Library and the Press work together each year on events such as the fall semester’s Bobcats’ Publish, a workshop and display for those interested in publishing, and Regional Scholarly Publishing Forum that draws library and university press directors from Ohio and the surrounding states. 

Scott Seaman, dean of Ohio University Libraries, said the new location of the Press will allow for more collaborative events.

“The Libraries and the Press have partnered on many projects in the past few years, and co-locating in Alden gives the Libraries and Press many more opportunities to collaborate in the future,” he said.

Jeff Kallet, sales manager for Ohio University Press, said,“We’re already enjoying the collaborative environment of the Library, through both planned and random encounters with staff. The energy of the Library is great—you really get a sense of learning in progress when you see so many students hard at work.”