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UNG Press celebrates 10 years as small publishing house

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Since its formation 10 years ago, UNG Press has released 43 books ranging from nonfiction and scholarly works to a children's book penned by UNG President Bonita Jacobs. It is quite a feat for a small university press, which is highlighted in March for Small Press Month. BJ Robinson, left, is the director of UNG and Jillian Murphy is the assistant managing editor.

For a small organization with a three-member staff, University of North Georgia (UNG) Press has more than accomplished its mission to promote education and research with an emphasis on innovative scholarship and pedagogy.

Since its formation 10 years ago, UNG Press has released 43 books ranging from nonfiction and scholarly works to a children's book penned by UNG President Bonita Jacobs. It is quite a feat for a small university press, which is highlighted in March for Small Press Month.

"We never thought about output," said Bonnie "BJ" Robinson, director of UNG Press. "But we are 'The Little Engine that Could.'"

Part of its output includes Open Educational Resources (OER), which are digital textbooks that students can download for free. UNG Press is the leading university press in Georgia for OERs through its partnership with the University System of Georgia (USG), Affordable Learning Georgia (ALG), and eCore.

"We have saved students more than $12 million through OER," said Jillian Murphy, assistant managing editor of UNG Press and a 2016 UNG alumna. "Students can choose to buy the print textbook form, but it is a much lower cost, and the digital version is completely free."

As it marks 10 years, the scholarly, peer-reviewed press prepares to release a new textbook that embodies its mission of scholarly work and pedagogy.

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John Cagle, a part-time faculty member of criminal justice at UNG and retired GBI special agent in charge, authored the book, "Write to Protect and Serve."

"Write to Protect and Serve" is a practical guide for law enforcement officials on how to write reports.  John Cagle, a part-time faculty member of criminal justice at UNG and retired GBI special agent in charge, authored the book after discovering gaps in the current textbook.

"I didn't feel the students in UNG's Public Safety Academy were getting all of the information they needed to understand the skill set," he said.

To teach his students how to take accurate notes and convert them into a report, Cagle penned a "no frill, no fluff, down-to-earth" textbook with real-life scenarios and audio files. He pulled a majority of his content from his online class and transformed it into a 126-page book.

UNG Press and Cagle plan to submit it to police academies and criminal justice programs for use.

"With this book, we can fill a gap in the industry," Murphy said.

Robinson pointed out no affordable textbook or exercise book dedicated to law enforcement reports such as "Write to Protect and Serve" is available.

UNG Press does not limit itself to textbooks, pedagogy or scholarly works. It publishes works of nonfiction and specialized works on a single topic. It also publishes fiction and literature focused on the region or the South.

In November 2018, UNG Press published its first children's book, "UNG The Gold I See: The Legacy of UNG's Dahlonega Campus." It tells the story of a young boy and his family during their visit to UNG’s Dahlonega campus.

"Publishing a children's book is really unique for a university press like us, but it met our regional focus as well as our service learning," Murphy said.

Service learning is how UNG Press started.

Robinson, a professor of English at UNG, noticed some of her students in the English department were in limbo career-wise after graduation.

"Once they got their degrees as teachers, some realized the teaching field was not a good fit for them," she said. "And I couldn't understand why they didn't look at opportunities in publishing."

Robinson decided to create one for them. She researched publishing programs and discovered a creative writing program that began a book publishing press. It allowed students to gain real-world experience in the publishing process from beginning to end with hands-on opportunities.

Thanks to an innovation grant and faculty input, UNG Press was born and continues the service-learning opportunity for students.

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