Torch passing at promising time at JHU

BOOKS & AUTHORS

October 30, 1994|By James H. Bready

Jack Goellner's retirement next March 31 from the top post at Johns Hopkins University Press will send a ripple across U.S. scholarly publishing. It comes just as university presses, with their attached learned journals, are maneuvering to go on-line, .. nationally and internationally. And expensively. As new relationships form between electronic publishers and university subscribers, there will be some shaking up.

Whoever's next as director at Johns Hopkins University Press will sit down in the seat of catbirds. With $400,000 from the Mellon Foundation, and other grant money in sight, three Hopkins press journals have a January goal for appearing on Internet and its World Wide Web. All 42 others are soon to follow -- the first such mass transition.

Being first, of course, is where Johns Hopkins came in. Its university press is the nation's oldest in continuous operation.

The Hopkins press may also be, in one sense, the most influential. Others raid its staff when they need a new director: Harvard, Cornell, MIT, Virginia and 10 others, currently or recently.

Since December 1961, when Mr. Goellner joined its staff (he became director in 1974), Johns Hopkins University Press has made other gains. Then, it brought out about 25 books a year, and six journals; now the average is 200 books, plus 45 journals. The staff has grown from 20 to 115; the budget, from $150,000 to $13 million.

Today's Hopkins press has its own off-campus building and its ** own endowment; the consortium it set up does the warehousing, shipping and billing for itself and 16 other publishers. Throughout, the press has sustained itself without university subsidy.

Why March for his exit, when Jack Goellner doesn't turn 65 until August? One third of a century at the Hopkins press, to the day, may be tenure enough; more important, the fishing, gardening and wildflower photography seasons begin then. Summer promises a sojourn in France with his wife, Barbara (the press' managing editor; none of this retirement stuff for her -- when the vacation's over, she'll be back at work).

Authorship also awaits Mr. Goellner. His contract is with an out-of-state publisher for a collection of his essays, "mainly relating to book publishing."

They can shut down baseball, but they can't silence Oriole Park's public-address announcer. Next month, Rex Barney will be on the book racks (and the talk shows) with his second book in two years. "Orioles Memories, 1969-1994" (Goodwood Press, Box 942, Woodbury, Ct. 06798; $19.95) is mostly yarn after Baltimore yarn, but also some sharp judgments. His catcher, or collaborator, is again Norman Macht of Delaware.

When Cyril Witte wrote his dissertation on a Baltimore religious institution 40 years ago, for a doctorate from Notre Dame University, the laity neither knew nor cared. But today, baseball's followers are more numerous. Their specific interest in Babe Ruth -- on the eve of the Babe's birth centennial -- is larger. So the existence of a detailed history of his alma mater, St. Mary's Industrial School, is news.

Dr. Witte later taught at Loyola College and the University of Maryland College Park. Heading the project to publish his manuscript is David R. Etheridge of Millersville, a 1972 graduate of Cardinal Gibbons High School, which now occupies the site.

Goucher College Library has published a guide to its Jane Austen holdings, "Such a Lovely Display of What Imagination Does" ($2), by Laurie Kaplan, Nancy Magnuson, Sydney Roby and Barbara Simons.

This is the fifth such guide to Goucher Library specializations.

Calendar

* Oct. 30: Book Bash, Borders Books and Music, 405 York Road, Towson, 6 p.m.-10 p.m., benefit of Baltimore County Literacy Works; $25. 887-2001.

* Nov. 19: Writers' Conference, organized by Baltimore Writers' Alliance, at Burleigh Manor Middle School, 4200 Centennial Lane, Ellicott City, 8 a.m.-4.30 p.m.; $45 (includes lunch), $40 before Nov. 1. Checks to BWA, Box 410, Riderwood, Md. 21139. 484-3943.

* Nov. 19-20: Baker Street Revisited -- 15th annual "Weekend With Sherlock Holmes," organized by Baltimore's Six Napoleons and Carlton Club. At Pratt Library, 400 Cathedral St. 396-5494.

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