The late 1970s saw rapid changes to academic publishing by traditional presses. With the loss of previous outlets (McClelland & Stewart opted out; Macmillan press was bought out; McGill-Queen’s press went into suspension in May 1980), the University of Calgary began the process of looking at the status of, and the options for, scholarly communication on campus.
The mandate of the Task Force on Scholarly Communication was:
To investigate and report on the history, present state and possible future development of scholarly development at the University of Calgary…including a study of the steps involved in conventional scholarly publishing and the implications of new technological developments for this process.
Harold Coward chaired the Task Force and the final report from June 1980 noted several favourable recommendations, including a proposal for the establishment of the University of Calgary Press. The report stated: “A press at the University of Calgary could …help serve the larger community of scholars in Canada as well as support scholars within the University.” The Task Force also noted that a UofC Press should reach financial stability within 5 years.
The UofC Press initially published scholarly journals and agency publications beginning in 1982; the imprint program was launched in 1984 with the first book Law,Politics and the Judicial Process in Canada edited by Frederick L. Morton and in 2010 embraced Open Access publishing via the Creative Commons.
The 1980 report also stated presciently: “We must expect that a variety of forms of scholarly communication from the traditional printed book to completely on-line formats are required…and that the diversity of these forms will increase as time passes.” The Press embraced Open Access publishing via the Creative Commons in 2010 and now publishes in print, e-pub reader-ready versions, and downloadable Open Access PDFs.