Sunday, November 28, 2010's Journal List

This article was brought to my attention today, and it discusses the creation of's list of journals. For those who've been reading my blog for a while, you probably remember my earlier post where I mention it as a great resource for new LIS students. For those who haven't read the blog for that long, is a site I love because it's a social networking site for academics: I love getting to connect with folks all over the world, and I wouldn't have found them otherwise!
The reason folks are excited about's journal list is that you can follow journals online and receive updates, but you also benefit from the social component (i.e. what are my fellow students/professors reading to stay current?) The article mentions another site (ticTocs) that allows you to search journals in a similar way, although I don't have any experience with it.
I just went through and added a smattering of journals to my list (you can view them here), and I was pretty impressed by the selection. However, there was one big discrepancy I noticed, and that was a lack of Open Access journals! I'm sure there are some OA journals in the list (although I didn't have the time to go through all of the thousands of entries to verify that), but I could not find my favorites, like First Monday, B Sides, and Library Student Journal. I love that they are open to suggestions, however, and so I hit the 'suggest a new journal' button and fired away! As OA becomes a more accepted venue for scholarly publication, I'm excited to see these journals get more recognition and more followers! If you don't have an account, I would definitely recommend getting one. Once you do, just go to   this link and start following! And make sure to suggest journals you don't see, I bet they would appreciate having an even more comprehensive list!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

My World War I Research is Finished!

Tomorrow everyone on this side of the pond will be tucking in to large plates of food in celebration of Thanksgiving. That holiday came a day early for me when I (finally!) finished writing my paper on World War I-era Iowa libraries. The project evolved a lot from when I started about a year ago, and I ended up with a paper that is about 190 pages long (including tables, bibliography, etc.) I learned a lot about my writing style and about how I work best, and I think a few of those things might be good to jot down here for my fellow students (in LIS programs or otherwise) who are undertaking large writing projects:
1. It always takes longer than you think it will: I thought this project would take me 6 months. In fact, the research took 6 months, and the writing took another 6 or 8. A lot of the reason wasn't that I couldn't write more quickly, it's that I tend to have more 'on' writing days and more 'off' days. When I'm at my peak, I can assemble my ideas quickly, support them well, and use better wording. When I'm not, it's much more of a struggle just to outline a chapter, nonetheless write it. Plan ahead, and budget lots of time.
2. Everyone has their own method; learn yours and stick to it: I was at the receiving end of criticism from some folks because they felt that my writing and editing process wasn't 'right.' Mostly it boiled down to the steps I take, and the fact that I always insert my endnotes last because it gives me another chance to go over my writing and check my sources. I am much more flexible when it comes to shorter projects, but when I'm compiling an epic tome I know now exactly what I need to do in order to write, edit, and finish. Once you figure out a system that works for you, stick with it! You'll be much less stressed out.
3. You'll still be stressed out: There's really no way to get around it. Embarking on, conducting, and finishing a large project are all very stressful activities. Make sure you have your ducks in a row in other areas of your life (i.e. are you able to count it toward a thesis/independent study credit to give yourself more writing time? What activities are you able to neglect for a little while to free up your schedule?) Also, make sure you have a few good support people in place. I have my awesome boyfriend and a few good friends who've all helped with practical things (like preparing food and cleaning), to sharing down time with me, to advice on writing and research.
4. Keep your project in perspective: Yes, it is stressful. It eats up a lot of your time and you find yourself staring at the same resource five or six times hoping to get one more usable sentence out of it. Remember that you will feel amazing when you are done, and be nice to yourself while you're working! If it takes you a little longer to finish a section, you feel like your writing wasn't up to par on a certain day, or you just need a break from the thing for a day or two, that's OK! Everyone has different limits: you know yours, and you know you've worked hard. So if your hard work doesn't pan out the way you want, you did your best and that's still something to be proud of.
5. Get lots of advice: Having friends, faculty, and family that you can wrangle into offering some free reading/editing is so valuable. Another set of eyes often catches things you miss, and someone new to your work can offer a perspective on what they needed clarified, which will help you better understand the perspective of your readers (and helps you step outside only your perspective as a writer).

I am currently polishing up a book proposal in the hopes of having my writing formally published. This is very exciting, but it also makes it so I feel cautious about placing my work online lest it interfere with a future copyright held by the publishing house. That being said, I know there are a lot of folks doing exciting research on library history or other subjects who I'd love to share findings with and compare notes! So, contact me if you'd like to learn more about the project or hear a bit about what I found!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Another article on Scribd

Second time this week! 
I posted my article: "Learning from the Past: Digitization and Information Loss" on Scribd where you can read it for free using this link. It was originally published in B Sides this last May, but since B Sides is awesome and lets authors keep control of rights over their work, I can distribute it as I wish! To see the article on the B Sides site, go here.  
"Learning from the Past" is an article that provides an overview of digitization issues and current solutions to information loss for those who are somewhat new to the subject. 
As always, let me know if you have any questions or noticed anything in the article that piqued your interest!

Monday, November 15, 2010

ALA Talk available online

Hello readers!
I had initially planned to publish my talk from the Library History Round Table symposium at the American Library Association's Annual Conference in a peer-reviewed journal, but it occurred to me that my other talk (from Library History Seminar XII) is going to be on the same research, and most likely in the same journal. So, I added my conference talk to my Scribd account to share with everyone! While you're there, you can follow me with your account too. Sometimes they get picky about downloading things if you haven't uploaded your own work, so I can also e-mail the PDF of the talk to anyone who is interested. Otherwise, go here to read the document in full online.
The talk discusses three of the six libraries I researched (Burlington, Davenport, and Mt. Pleasant) more in-depth, whereas my talk from September discussed al 6 libraries, but with somewhat less detailed attention paid to each in order to keep within time constraints. The published version of that talk will be about 25 pages, so that will give me a chance to pay a little more attention to each of them.
If you have any questions or comments, let me know!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Library of Tomorrow...Yesterday!

I ran across this rather lengthy quote while adding to my chapter on libraries from 1914-1916, and was so pleased by it I couldn’t wait to share it with you! It’s from the 1914 annual report, written by Iowa City Public Library’s librarian, Helen McRaith. Unfortunately my Internet was down yesterday (and most of today), so I had to contain my excitement until now:

“The modern idea of the function of a library is this—to study the literary needs of its own community and then to endeavor to meet these needs to the fullest extent, even if tradition must be violated in so doing.
The old-fashioned library was a cloistral place appealing only to the scholar, who moved silently among dust-covered tomes. The modern library possesses a different atmosphere and one more akin to that of a business office; most of the readers have the appearance of seeking information which will be of assistance in their daily problems rather than abstract knowledge.
There is a similar change in the appearance and attitude of the librarians. Formerly they seemed to look on the library as an end in itself and as a collection of interesting curiosities, they were willing to let it remain a stagnant literary pool. Now they must be alert specialists, keen to keep a stream of vital, useful knowledge flowing from the library to all parts of the community.” (Iowa City Public Library 1914 annual report, pg 1).

This reminds me so much of some of the current discussion circulating around the changing field of librarianship, even though it was written almost 100 years ago. Her writing has the same tone of excitement that I feel in my own blog and in reading the posts of other LIS bloggers, about the library as a place of expanding opportunities and of librarians as being people who are redefining the field rather than just participating in it.
There are a couple places in particular where her writing sounds like it could have been lifted out of a modern blog (and then had the language antiquated a bit, of course): there is so much concern right now about justifying the value of libraries, and a lot of that justification comes through pointing out that the library is used for practical purposes, as McRaith says, “…seeking information which will be of assistance in their daily problems rather than abstract knowledge.”
I especially love her last sentence: what a great comparison to the expansion of library science to include (or create) so many information studies-related specialties! Today, the public library is seen as a place where all community members can come in and access information, but there is also a view that access should be protected and increased. The Library Bill of Rights was not adopted until the 1930s, and prior to that there was more of a focus on encouraging ‘good books’ than allowing access to any materials the patron wanted. While her statement could just as easily be talking about guiding the stream of reading through promoting ‘good reading,’ it also sounds a lot like our current discussions of keeping on top of trends, promoting access, and even our discussions of the Internet and libraries (as an Open Access fanatic, it also reminds me of some of the justification we use for OA publication!)
Interesting how history repeats itself!