February 17, 2018

Nancy Lin | Movers & Shakers 2002

The Promise of an E-Future

Bringing electronic publishing to learned societies

After years of creating electronic products for the library market, Nancy Lin had a realization. She noticed that many of the issues she’d encountered in her work–such as developing user interfaces, standards for data transfer, organization of content, search mechanisms, and metadata management–were the very same challenges that librarians had been working on for decades.


Current position: Electronic Publishing Specialist for the American Council of Learned Societies History E-book Project

Degree: MILS, University of Michigan, 1995

E-volution: Lin has worked for more than 12 years developing electronic products

It was this realization that prompted Lin to go to library school at the University of Michigan, on a full scholarship as a Digital Library Research Associate. Today, as Electronic Publishing Specialist for the American Council of Learned Societies’ (ACLS) History E-book Project, Lin is putting her MLS to work on the cutting edge of e-book development. “My background in library science has actually helped build the framework for my work,” says Lin.

One of the most promising scholarly e-book ventures underway in higher education, the ACLS electronic publishing initiative, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, is currently working with a select group of learned societies and university presses to develop e-books in the field of history. “Over the past several years, it’s the for-profit e-book vendors that have forced libraries and publishers to face up to the difficult issues–such as format, conversion, pricing, access levels, permissions, longevity,” notes Lin. “But I think it’s critical that discussion and development also happen within the library community. So with my work, I hope to push the discussion along.”

Lin says her work with the ACLS has a simple aim: to create electronic books of unquestioned quality, thereby making the promise of the digital future a reality. Daunting? Yes. But Lin knows it will pay dividends for libraries.