Monday, June 29, 2015

CFP: The Active Librarian -- New Journal for Public Librarians

The Active Librarian

I write to inform you of a new publication in our field, The Active Librarian, an open-access, online, peer-reviewed journal devoted to enhancing the services of public librarianship by publishing repeatable, data-driven best practices.

Phew: that's a mouthful.  And the last time I'll type like that.  At least in this email.

The Active Librarian seeks to centralize best practices for us public librarians.  We are not afforded the many professional development opportunities academic librarians receive, despite the significance of our work and the necessity of keeping it current and fresh.  We at TAL argue that we need a centralized online location, a "republic of letters" (though far more
inclusive than the last one!), for public librarians to access, discuss, and distribute best practices.  A full description of the journal, and how it differs in both purpose and submission from other journals, follows my signature below.

You can access the journal directly at -- it is a work in progress, many magnitudes in progress, and we are soliciting the following aid:

We are seeking referees, submissions, and graphic designers for our inaugural issue.  You know, there can only be one first issue -- although I grant that there can be only one of any issue -- so start drafting your submission now. You do not need to be a public librarian to referee or to publish with us, but be advised that our content will be exclusively about public librarianship.

We aim to publish one volume per year with 9 issues, although we shall adjust the publishing schedule to meet supply, demand, and other such capitalist nouns.  We would like to publish volume 1, issue 1, for October 1st. Note that we are flexible with the journal's evolution and will not rule out a "rolling submissions" format -- where this journal goes ultimately depends on its community.

Between and within published issues, we are also hosting a discussion forum, where librarians can exchange ideas, query one another, and plan professional development opportunities together.  Like the journal itself, this forum will evolve to meet the community's needs.  Even if you have no intentions to publish with us, come join our forum to build a community of active and engaged librarians.

Thank you for reading, and please send me any questions, comments, concerns, words of encouragement, spam, recommendations, and spare vitriol you have lying  (laying?) about.

Michael J. Carlozzi
Librarian for Information and Technology Services
Canton Public Library
786 Washington St.
Canton, MA 02021

Libraries fulfill vital community needs. Since such needs are always changing, librarianship requires actively evolving professionals.  Public librarians in particular must acquire a wide-ranging set of skills and talents: outreach and marketing, computer networking, digital literacy instruction, collection development, and much, much more.

Traditionally professionals develop their field through active research, using conferences and publication venues as primary means to share notable work. Public librarians do not readily enjoy these development opportunities. Unlike our colleagues in academic positions, we often cannot attend distant conferences or take sabbaticals; we cannot purchase expensive database subscriptions, limiting our exposure to cutting-edge research; and many of us do not have time apportioned for pursuing large-scale research projects.  But our work benefits from the same professional exchange as academic librarians; the patrons we serve are no less important, and our community outreach is arguably greater and more critical.

We need a centralized repository of clear, direct, and specific resources to expand best practices and to replicate successful programs.  Such a collection will help us better meet the needs of our patrons and our profession.

The Active Librarian serves this role.   Our publication reports on concrete, specific initiatives, services, programs, and protocols.  They provide clear explanations for these proposals with the intention of being repeatable by other public librarians.   In short, another library should be able to take the information in our articles and use that information to develop, implement, or enhance its own service.  Ultimately The Active Librarian aims to enhance the profession by publishing needed programmatic analysis and assessment. Following a central tenet of librarianship - free access to all - TAL will publish as an entirely open access journal, free to all.


TAL is a practical rather than academic journal. We adhere to important practices of publishing original work vetted by peer review. However, we forgo overly-rigid academic norms in order to emphasize application. For example, a TAL article does not need a literature review, an exhaustive references list, or some deep statistical analysis. Instead, you need a good idea and a clear, direct explanation of that idea so that it becomes repeatable. Would other libraries benefit from the work you have done? What are the features of your work and steps it takes to implement it? How do you know assess the program to know it's "working"? These are general questions that can guide TAL articles.

Submissions report on an initiative, program, or service at your library.  For example, you may have recently adopted an adult literacy program.  Turning your program into a successful article will mean developing a clear description of the program and its target audience, offering a lucid outline of the programming involved, providing an example of lesson plans used, and reviewing any steps to assess the program's efficacy and the progress of its participants.  We would also encourage a follow-up submission, where you would report on assessment findings and describe any adjustments you had made or plan
to implement.

Acceptable topics include any library-related idea that can be generalized to and applied by other librarians -- i.a. fostering an educational partnership, configuring credit card payments, developing a community "make space," writing a troubleshooting guide for Envisionware's Time Management service, becoming a passport processor. Put simply, if you do something well, we want to hear about it.

We invite you to submit to TAL if you think your project is best publicized widely and freely, and understood as practical application rather than theory-building or historicizing.  Feel free to contact us if you are unsure whether your project “fits.