To extend our community outreach, the library partners with many municipal, non-profit and business organizations that make Princeton such an extraordinary town. This month Princeton University Press (PUP) is in the spotlight. We are fortunate to have such a well regarded and community-minded press just up the road from the library.
The collaboration between PUP and PPL extends back many years. In 2008, an effort to create a dedicated author series began when Janie Hermann (newly appointed to lead programming efforts at the library) met with publicists from PUP to determine the kind of event that would work well at the library. The first event in April 2008, with Brown University mathematician Thomas Banchoff, was featured in an article in Town Topics and was a resounding success. Since then, thanks to its partnership with PUP, the library has hosted such luminaries as Henry Louis Gates Jr., choreographer Bill T. Jones and dozens of scholars on a wide range of topics, and the author series continues to be a great success.
Recently, we spoke with Christie Henry, director of PUP, to learn more about the press and its mission, focus and role in Princeton.
How long has Princeton University Press been in Princeton?
We have been in Princeton for well over a century – 115 years in 2020. University alumnus Whitney Darrow started Princeton Alumni Press in 1905, a small printing operation that published the Princeton Alumni Weeklyin a rented office above a drugstore on Nassau Street. He joined with another Princetonian, Charles Scribner II, to reincorporate the Press as a nonprofit publisher in 1910, and in 1911 the Press relocated to a beautiful building designed for publishing on 41 William Street, which we still happily inhabit today.
What is your primary area of focus?
Books! We publish about 250 new books a year, across disciplines – from poetry to philosophy to physics. As a scholarly nonprofit press, we publish nonfiction for students, scholars and engaged readers across the globe.
How does your mission align with the library’s?
We share with the library the knowledge that books can enthrall, educate, empower and enable readers and listeners. And they help build communities, inspire conversations and open worlds and sight lines to new horizons. Books, like libraries themselves, have an ability to convene people and ideas. And the vital partnerships between libraries and publishers ensure that books are accessible to readers and listeners.
With whom do you work most in the community?
This is an amazing community to be a part of, generous in its knowledge and profound in its commitment to ideas and learning – an inspiring location for a publisher.
We are fortunate to have many partnerships and collaborations in the community. We work closely and in many ways with the University. Our board of trustees includes 10 University leaders and faculty, five of whom are also on our editorial board. They consider every peer-reviewed project we wish to publish, and their expertise and generosity gives shape to our imprint. We enjoy a diversity of collaborations with authors and advisers throughout the University community.
Members of our volunteer committee have partnered with various organizations including Friends of Princeton Open Spaces on trail cleanup, with HomeFront on numerous activities and with Cornerstone Community Kitchen on serving meals. We have been welcomed to the Princeton High School for Career Day. Our Princeton-based teams savor the range of food and beverage options in this community, from Small World to Halo Pub.
We are incredibly fortunate to share a community with one of the most vibrant and creative independent bookstores in the world, Labyrinth Books, and many Press authors have had the chance to engage with readers at Labyrinth events. Our teams also savor time with each other, and we have enjoyed co-sponsored social and learning events alike.
And on numerous occasions, we are very lucky to partner with the Library for events. These are wonderful ways to celebrate the ecosystem of books, and the synergies we have as different organizations with shared commitments to building communities around books and ideas. We also have greatly appreciated the chance to learn from the library staff, on topics such as e-book acquisition, which in turn shape our decisions as a publisher.
You can see a selection of the books published by Princeton University Press (as well as some about the press) in the library’s collection, here.
Written in collaboration with PPL staff member, Janie Hermann.
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