This year Liverpool University Press will be 120 years old.
The UK’s third oldest university press, after Oxford and Cambridge, came into being on the 4th October 1899 with its founding Secretary/Director an Irish immigrant to Liverpool ‘possessed (of) a semi-divine inspiration, being endowed with a fertile imagination and a robust constitution,’ who left school at the age of 14 but rose off the back of an aptitude for languages to become the University Librarian and a globally recognised expert on the Romani. John Sampson’s threads of migration, Ireland, languages, Romani Studies and Liverpool are of course still in evidence in LUP’s publishing today, so too the founding memorandum’s specification that ‘the work of the Press shall maintain a high standard of excellence.’
Across 2019 we will be celebrating and exploring 120 years of LUP through events, blog posts, partnerships, archival research, an elegant anniversary logo, the hashtag #LUP120 and the opportunity to read some of our books and journals for free.
As with the scholarly communities it serves, LUP’s fortunes waxed and waned over many decades but the unfailing commitment of Press staff, authors and editors, and a wider community of scholars who understood the distinctive and important contribution of university press publishing, have helped to lay the strong foundation on which LUP stands today. Publishing more than 100 books a year, 33 journals and a number of digital products, and still the only university press to have won both The Bookseller and IPG awards for Academic Publisher of the Year, Liverpool University Press has been widely acclaimed for its willingness to embrace change. To that end, we have chosen to celebrate the future as well as the past in 2019 with the strapline ‘Forward-looking for 120 years.’
At a time when scholarly communication is undergoing scrutiny and the higher education policy sands are shifting, the importance of university presses has been largely under-articulated and we hope that this milestone anniversary is an opportunity to remedy that. For, as the introduction to The University Press of Liverpool: A Record of Progress, 1899-1946 (LUP, 1947) makes clear: ‘This is a continuous story which, in the main, is a tale of high ideal… There can be no better advertisement of a University than a University Press steadily producing books of high standing and sending them all over the world.’