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University Press hopes to provide real-world experience
North Georgia College & State University teaches students about the world of publishing
Valerie Fambrough, standing, Matthew Pardue, left, and April Loebick, center, work with B.J. Robinson at the fledgling University Press at North Georgia College & State University. - photo by Tom Reed


B.J. Robinson, English professor at North Georgia College & State University in Dahlonega, talks about the college's 2-year-old University Press.

There's profit and professorial, and B.J. Robinson hopes the University Press at North Georgia College & State University serves as both.

The operation launched two years ago, after a $10,000 innovation grant from the college was secured, and it is humming along thanks to money made off publishing endeavors.

Its first two works were "Billy Roper: Visual Storyteller" in 2007 and "Dahlonega's Gold" by Anne Amerson in 2008, with order forms available for both on the University Press' Web site.

"For every book we publish, we try to support the next," said B.J. Robinson, the operation's director and an English professor at the Dahlonega college.

"We're trying to essentially be independent of the university altogether, in terms of cost and production."

The operation mainly exists, however, as a teaching tool, largely for English majors with a concentration in writing and publication.

"But we do work well beyond our department," Robinson said. "The faculty board reflects that the fact we are interdisciplinary. We have students from marketing and art ... everything but the math field, which we do need because I can't do accounting at all."

Robinson said the grant was intended for "experiential learning."

"We have so many students here who are interested in publishing, but they don't really have any opportunities to get real-life experience with them," she said.

The University Press has student and faculty boards. The Faculty Board has final say over manuscript acceptances and projects.

"We developed a mission statement to focus mainly on Appalachian studies, but also the four leadership areas of the university because we do want to support the educational mission of the university," Robinson said.

In addition to providing a wide array of academic majors and programs, NGCSU also serves as The Military College of Georgia and is one of six senior military colleges in the U.S.

Currently, the press is developing a series on "War and Leadership," with a book concerning Vietnam in the works, Robinson said.

Timothy May, history and philosophy department chairman, is the general editor for that series, she said.

"We get submissions of all sorts, literary and academic," she said. "Our students read through them and consider how to evaluate them."

The press also is looking at starting a digital "books on demand" operation, starting possibly with a gender studies journal, Robinson said.

Graphic Communications Inc. in Lawrenceville currently serves as the printing arm of the University Press.

"They do a great job," Robinson said.

Student Matt Pardue of Cleveland said he has worked mainly on editing for the press.

"Dr. Robinson typically sends me the manuscript and I send her back a collection of notes on it, rather than outright changing anything in the text," said the 21-year-old English major.

"(That way), she can decide what to do with the comments and corrections I thought might be important."

He said he believes the University Press "is a great teaching tool for anyone who wants to get into publishing, which I do."

"You can get real-world experience with the publishing process, boost your resume and see how your work is received by real readers," Pardue said. "I also expect that it could be useful for networking and building contacts in the publishing field."

As for Robinson, the experience has given her another perspective of the literary field. She has published a book of poetry and otherwise has long been interested in creative writing.

"Publishing ... gives me a very objective view on authors," Robinson said. "Sometimes, writers can't see beyond their own book - they can't see the audience or even the place a book has within a publishing press' offerings.

The work "has made me, I hope, more humble."