Wednesday, June 20, 2012

What is AAUP? And Why Do We Care So Much?

This week, staff members of Texas A&M University Press are in Chicagoattending the Association of American University Presses Annual Meeting. The Annual Meeting of the Association of American University Presses predates the founding of AAUP itself. The seeds of the Association were planted during informal conversations between university press representatives who attended the yearly meetings of the National Association of Book Publishers in New York City throughout the 1920s. These informal conversations gradually became longer and more formal, with agendas, invited attendees, and minutes. In 1928, a group of university presses finally set up their own separate meeting, reserving rooms at the nearby Waldorf-Astoria.
A growing (though still unaffiliated) group of university presses continued to meet in New York annually. At the 1937 meeting, they formed the Association we still know today—and meetings continued under the new rubric of AAUP.  New York City continued as the annual meeting home until 1946, when Chicago took on hosting duties—a city it seems appropriate to return to in 2012.

The 1978 annual meeting in Baltimore was a milestone. Held during the "University Press Week" declared by US President Jimmy Carter, the meeting celebrated 100 years of university press publishing in the United Statesat our host press Johns Hopkins. The year also marked 500 years of university presses globally with the anniversary of the first volume printed in Oxford.

Perhaps the most memorable meeting of the past decade took place in New Orleansin 2006. Less than a year after Katrina, while there was some unease felt about holding a conference in a city where services were so strained, there had also been no doubt as to the Association's commitment to the city—to bear witness, in a way, but also to provide even the small economic boost of a meeting such as ours. AAUP will return to New Orleans in 2014.

Of course, in 1987 and today, we are still following the path laid down by AAUP's founders who, in 1936, discussed institutional relationships between libraries and university presses. The AAUP Program Committee shapes our annual meeting each year, putting together conference agendas on the most pertinent topics and pressing professional needs in scholarly communications. It is fitting to close with the words of the AAUP 2012 committee, who constructed a program addressing "the volatility of our industry, as well as our collective reliance on foundational skills and disciplines that have endured for decades. This year, 75 flames flicker on the candles of AAUP's birthday cake. Watch them and reflect on the past. Then watch them kindle the future."
By: Paige Bukowski