Publishing Studies enhances the SLAIS ‘information rainbow’: Professor Iain Stevenson establishes the UCL Centre for Publishing in 2006
SLAIS, the UCL School of Library, Archive and Information Studies, under its then Head of Department Professor Dave Nicholas, developed a proposal in 2005 to establish a new research and teaching focus in publishing. The vision was to work across the information industry spectrum (or ‘information rainbow’) from libraries and archives through to publishing, both analogue and digital, in response to the blurring of boundaries between information professionals, publishers and scholars. The Bloomsbury setting and SLAIS’s existing programmes provided a unique chance to develop industry-facing research which would drive changes in scholarly communication. Uniquely at that time, it brought publishing studies into an information management academic department.
The new Centre aimed to be international, bringing students from around the world, and building a network of research collaborators. The Centre's location in central London made it an ideal base for collaboration with organisations outside UCL, such as app developers, bookshops, museums, galleries, libraries and archives, as well as collaborating with the Digital Publishing Forum and the Institute of English Studies in the University of London.
A new MA in Publishing was to be established. Critical to the success of the undertaking was to recruit Professor Iain Stevenson as the new programme Director. Iain had once been a doctoral student at UCL (in geography) and had extensive publishing industry experience including with Longman, Macmillan, Pinter, Leicester University Press, Wiley, and The Stationery Office. He had joined City University, London in 1999 to set up an MA in Publishing Studies in the Department of Journalism which was very successful. Iain’s research interests were in the history of cartographic publishing and the history of British publishing. By 2006 he was Professor of Publishing Studies at City.
In October 2006, Iain was tempted ‘home’ to UCL to the new chair of Publishing in DIS where he set up and ran the MA in Publishing until his retirement in September 2015. The new MA provided students with a chance to study publishing as a distinct academic discipline, and to combine that with strategic and professional industry skills. Students from around the world prepare for careers in publishing through academic learning with research active staff who are also experienced in the publishing industry, visiting speakers and industry placements. By 2015, the MA in Publishing was the largest Masters programme in DIS.
In 2017, DIS established the annual Stevenson Memorial Lecture to commemorate the first UCL Professor of Publishing and to celebrate the successes of the Centre for Publishing, its staff and students.
D. Nicholas, SLAIS, UCL Centre for Publishing: proposals for a new focus for the Arts and Humanities, 2005
DIS webpage, Professor Iain Stevenson, https://www.ucl.ac.uk/information-studies/iain-stevenson