Testimony of a Press Hand

When my advisor told me that I should look into the internship that had opened up with the Bucknell University Press, my first thought was: we have a press? It was the end of my Junior year at Bucknell, I was an English major, and yet I had never even heard of the Bucknell University Press. When I came into the Press for an interview, I found myself winding down a labyrinth of stairs and hallways into the basement of Bucknell’s Management building, Taylor Hall. Here, in this hobbit hole, was the Bucknell University Press. Upon my arrival, I was interviewed by the Press’s two and only regular employees—Pam Dailey and Greg Clingham. Besides an editorial board of about 11 other Bucknell faculty and staff (who meet with Pam and Greg four times per year), these two were the main forces behind press operations. As a Senior at Bucknell, I was to become a third hand, serving at the Press’s intern for the 2014-2015 academic year.

As I became acquainted with life at the Press, Pam and Greg geared my tasks toward my interests in art and writing. I learned to use InDesign and Photoshop to put together promotional materials like posters, press releases, and discount flyers, and I had the chance to interview the artist of the covers of the Press’ Contemporary Irish Writers Series, Gráinne Dowling. I was also assigned the job of starting up a Bucknell University Press account on Facebook, so we could have a presence on social media and hopefully get the word out to campus that a university press did in fact exist! The year flew by, and it was sad to say goodbye as graduation grew near, but I had acquired a unique glimpse into the workings of a small press that I would always value.

A few years later, I returned to Bucknell University to obtain a Master of Arts degree in English Literary Studies. One academic year passed by and Pam offered to take me on for some summer work. So I found myself at the Bucknell University Press once again, and it only felt natural to jump back into things. By this point in time, the Press’ social media presence had grown to include a Twitter account in addition to Facebook. Occasionally, I would post announcements here, but most of my time was spent designing ads and flyers in addition to an article on the history of the Press’ book catalogues for the Bucknell University Press blog page. The summer flew by, until it was time to say goodbye again. I spent the first two weeks of August 2017 abroad in Europe, and when it was time for the new semester to begin I returned to find out that my graduate assignment would be to work at the Press again as an editorial assistant. It was not goodbye after all!

Since August, I’ve continued my work here at the Press. Many things have changed from the time when I began my internship here in 2014. Among frequent social media posts, blog articles, interviews, contests, and author events, the presence of the Bucknell University Press has grown across campus. Other changes are in the works as well, including the transition from our partnership with Rowman & Littlefield to a new collaboration with Rutgers University Press beginning in 2018. Also new in 2018 will be a more central location for the Press at the Humanities Center on Bucknell’s campus. Located next to the Bertrand Library and adjacent to Vaughn Literature, which houses the English Department, this new building will take Bucknell University Press out of its current location in the basement of the Management building and into a space more suited to its genre. Surrounded by other organizations in the humanities, there are hopes that the Bucknell University Press will continue to grow with a more prominent presence on campus and in the scholarly world at large.

My on-and-off time at the Press has taught me much about what goes into running a small university press, as well as how much can change over the course of a few years. In celebration of University Press Week, which was instated in 1978 by President Jimmy Carter “in recognition of the impact, both here and abroad, of American university presses on culture and scholarship,” I reflect on my own experience at the Bucknell University Press and all that I have learned along the way. The Press has certainly contributed to shaping my own culture and scholarship at Bucknell, as I am sure it has done for many others in the greater press community.