The Press Moves to the Library: 2004-2017


Even after the University of Delaware Press was saved from closure with an agreement that almost eliminated the university’s funding of the press, there was still concern that the press would again be vulnerable in times of budgetary crisis. In the early 2000s, Provost Dan Rich proposed changing the reporting line of the press from the Research Office to the Morris Library. This would help protect the press by placing it under the oversight of May Morris Director of Libraries Susan Brynteson, a longtime press editorial board member.

As of September 2003, the press reporting line officially changed to the library. This ushered in a period of time in which the press was celebrated on campus, which positioned it well to survive a substantial operational transition.

In 2006, Brynteson and Mell spearheaded a large celebration of the 30th anniversary of the University of Delaware Press’s relationship with Associated University Presses. The well-attended event included numerous speakers, including Provost Rich, Brynteson, Mell, Julien Yoseloff, and English professor and longtime editorial board member Charles E. Robinson. This celebration paved the way for the press offices to officially move from Hullihen Hall to the Morris Library in mid-2007.

After the press moved into an office in the second floor atrium, Managing Editor Karen Druliner crafted an exhibit in the library in 2009 tracing the milestones in the history of the press. Only a year later, the press would need to find a new arrangement allowing it to continue publishing. As of June 30, 2010, Associated University Presses consortium ceased operations. In the months leading up to this closure, Delaware united with the other presses in the consortium to find a collective solution. Ultimately, the Delaware, Bucknell, Fairleigh Dickinson, and Lehigh university presses all transitioned to a partnership with Rowman & Littlefield, a commercial scholarly publisher.

This arrangement was very similar to the one with Associated University Presses, wherein the University of Delaware Press acquired manuscripts for publication and did some editorial work, but Rowman & Littlefield produced, marketed, and distributed press titles. The press continued to thrive, as it received increasing funding under the library budget in the 2010s. However, the number of publications the press published per year dwindled. There were also concerns as to whether commercial publishers made the ideal publishing partners for a university press. These issues came to a head in 2017, as a number of changes profoundly altered the leadership of the press.

In 2015, Donald Mell announced he would be retiring from the university and from the press editorial board. English professor Edward Larkin was appointed interim director for 2016. Meanwhile, Susan Brynteson announced her retirement in the summer of 2015, leaving Associate University Librarian Sandra Millard to serve as interim vice provost and director of libraries until mid-2016, when Trevor A. Dawes was appointed vice provost for libraries and museums and May Morris librarian. 

Dawes appointed Senior Editor Julia Oestreich director of the University of Delaware Press effective January 1, 2017. Oestreich had started at the press as managing editor in late 2011. Dawes also incorporated the press, which had been treated as an auxiliary of the library, into the library organizational chart. The press was moved under the Division of Research and Scholarly Publishing (since renamed the Publishing, Preservation, Research and Digital Access Division). With the merging of the University Museums into the Division of Special Collections and Museums, the library became the Library, Museums and Press, with the press as a clear and essential component of the organization.