Wednesday, November 14, 2012

University Press What?

University Press Week. It’s a nationwide celebration and information-fest: University Press Week. Why? Because America’s university presses do the work of God, and no one seems to know what a university press even is.

This summer in Missouri, we almost lost our state’s treasured, foremost scholarly publisher, the University of Missouri Press.

You all, if I didn’t blog very much this summer, one reason was that I was incredibly distracted—distraught—pulling my hair out—over the despicable news coming from University Hall in Columbia. The administrators tried to shut down the press!

I want to make two points here.

First, send them money. I mean, hallelujah! The UM System administrators changed their minds and the University of Missouri Press has been saved! But although the press was in decent economic shape before the debacle happened, the administrators’ summer-long gutting of the press created a barrel of new problems. And money will help.

An anonymous donor has stepped up and offered to match all gifts made to the University of Missouri Press—THIS WEEK—so you’ve got until Nov. 17 (Saturday!) to take advantage of this opportunity. A $100 gift becomes $200. A $500 gift becomes a thousand. And so on. (Up to $10,000.)

These contributions will be added to the Press’s endowment, helping to ensure the Press will be financially secure, and able to keep publishing important books well into the future.

And your contribution is tax-deductible! Click here for a link to the Press’s contributions website. By the way, since the clock is ticking, I’m pret-ty sure they would be happy to accept your contribution over the phone: 573-882-7641.

Second, educate yourself and others about what university presses are. “University Press Week” is being observed nationwide. If you’re a tax-paying citizen, you should know about the great value you get from your state’s flagship university press. I suggest you start by perusing the University of Missouri Press’s blog.

This week their blog includes a post explaining why we need university presses—listen! Every citizen ought to understand these points, since most state university presses are publicly funded and contribute in major, solid ways to our state and national culture and knowledge (click here to go to that post).

A disclaimer, or whatever: I used to work at the University of Missouri Press, yep. I was an editor there for thirteen years and was laid off in 2008 when they had to make budget cuts. I was the editor with the least seniority, so my position was cut. It hurt tremendously to be laid off, and although I can’t help but still be kinda sore about that situation, my appreciation of the Press, its staff, and their mission hasn’t wavered.

And no, I'm not getting anything out of this blog post. It's not like they're paying me or anything. I simply, genuinely care. I don't believe in "trickle down" economics, but I do believe in percolating, infusing, disseminating knowledge.

Now, get out your checkbook or credit card, and go to the University of Missouri Press’s contributions page.

And I thank you deeply.

P.S. A note on the books I've chosen to highlight here in pictures. The University of Missouri Press has been publishing important books for more than half a century. I'll bet you've seen some of these, maybe even have a copy on your shelves somewhere. Or perhaps you should check them out! Here's the link to the Press's online catalog.

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