Libraries at University of Nebraska-Lincoln


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The Public Knowledge Project (PKP) is entering its third decade. Like any project that has been around this long, PKP is facing the substantial responsibilities of maturity, seeking ways that will enable it to best serve the thousands of people who utilize our software to operate and index the journals and presses with which they work. It is out of this sense of responsibility that PKP, in the fall of 2017, submitted a proposal to the Laura and John Arnold Foundation boldly entitled “Sustaining Open Access’ Most Widely Used Publishing Software.” With this planning grant, PKP contracted the consulting services of BlueSky to Blueprint, with its principal Nancy Maron embarking on an exploration of PKP’s standing and prospects among a sample of those involved in scholarly publishing, including current, former, and potential users of its software.

Getting unvarnished feedback from the community, through a third party, has given us the opportunity to see ourselves through the lens of others. This view has enabled us to reflect on our values, our activities, and our operations, and, with the help of a two-day workshop, facilitated by Nancy Maron, we have also reflected on what actions we might take to ensure that PKP continues to grow and evolve in ways that are sustainable. We are certain about several things:

• At our heart is our mission to provide free open source software to anyone, anywhere, as a means of lowering barriers to creating, presenting, and sharing scholarly content.

• We are an academic-led initiative, and are firmly a part of the community we serve. We will never be acquired by a commercial entity.

• In order to continue to provide best-in-class service to our thousands of users worldwide, our not-for-profit, academic-led initiative needs to operate in a way that makes best use of business strategy to ensure that our products and services are competitive with offerings of all types, and that our internal operations are efficient and productive.

• Our community of users is everything to us, and we will find more ways to actively support, educate, and engage them in the years ahead.

At the same time, it has become clear that we need to find new ways to better support our work. To this end, we present a summary of our interpretation of the findings, both the positive and negative, along with the actions we intend to take to improve how we operate. This is surely not the only way to interpret the findings report, but it reflects what we, the PKP Team, have learned about ourselves, and the vision that we have for the organization. We welcome additional input, both in response to this document and to the report that gave rise to it, as we move forward on implementing changes.