The defunding of the University Press of Kentucky (UPKY) is an action that we condemn in the strongest possible terms. Taken together, our membership includes hundreds of independent bookstores and booksellers across thirteen states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. This resolute, joint statement of support for the publishing program of the UPKY is consistent with our shared mission - the promotion of literacy, education, and the right of free expression.
On behalf of our members, we recognize the unique contribution of UPKY’s regional publishing program, as regional books represent a significant contribution to every bookstore in the United States.
Michael Boggs, co-owner of the three Carmichael’s Bookstores in Louisville, Kentucky, wrote us, “The recent decision by the governor of my state, Kentucky, to completely defund the University Press of Kentucky sounds a death knell for a concern that has for 75 years provided its citizens and libraries with books of history, fiction, biography, nature, food, music, and folklore that spotlight the culture of my state. As a bookseller here for 40 years, I have witnessed first-hand the high level of interest among my customers in books from the University Press of Kentucky, because nowhere else can they get essential stories of the place they call home. This decision is shortsighted and imprudent, robbing the citizens of Kentucky of connection to their land, their history, and their traditions and customs.”
Nathan Montoya, owner of Village Lights Bookstore, offers his praise for UPKY as well, “Titles from the University Press of Kentucky are part of the life blood of Village Lights Bookstore. We are located in Madison, Indiana, across the river from Payne Hollow, Kentucky. Harlan Hubbard, an artist who, with his wife, Anna, settled and homesteaded Payne Hollow in the mid twentieth century, has been likened to a modern-day Thoreau. Visitors from around the world come to our store, asking about the Hubbards and Payne Hollow. The University Press of Kentucky publishes most of titles written by or about Harlan and Anna Hubbard in print today. The loss of these titles would diminish not only the richness of our store’s offerings, but the literary and cultural heritage of our entire region.”
Kentucky writer Wendell Berry wrote recently in the Louisville Courier-Journal, “our political and economic life is not going to be adequately served by the great commercial publishing companies, or by the university presses of other states. That need can only be served, and it has been admirably served, by the University Press of Kentucky. . . . Because we have sustained that press for 75 years with a very modest investment of public money, we have The Kentucky Encyclopedia and Lowell Harrison’s and James Klotter’s A New History of Kentucky, books that have the distinction of being indispensable to Kentucky students young and old; and we have in print books by James Still, Harlan Hubbard, Jim Wayne Miller, Bobbie Ann Mason, and Crystal Wilkinson that will be needed by coming generations of literate Kentuckians . . . .” UPKY is indeed, as Berry puts it, “a priceless asset.”
The UPKY is a publishing consortium made up of Kentucky's state universities, five of its private colleges, and two historical societies. The UPKY has won countless prestigious awards for publishing in many disciplines, including history, Appalachian studies, African-American studies, and literature. The UPKY also produces a varied list of books for a national audience, including military, film, and cultural history. Major book review media consistently recognize the UPKY titles. We are grateful for the publishing program University Press of Kentucky offers to our customers, and its contribution to American arts and letters.
We ask that the Kentucky legislature restore the funding of the UPKY immediately.
Board of Directors, Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association (GLIBA)
Board of Directors, Midwest Independent Booksellers Association (MIBA)