During our time on the Faculty Mentoring Committee, a common area of interest we receive from mentees are mentoring opportunities regarding writing and publishing. This has prompted the committee (Craig Fansler, Melde Rutledge and Summer Krstevska) to share about our writing experiences via newsletters, journals, books, and blogs and how they came about. We hope this helps provide insight to the various writing opportunities available out there to share your knowledge, experience and research- and the different ways you can take advantage of them and make them happen for you! Please feel free to briefly share any of your experiences or tips in the comments section.
Finding a Peer Reviewed publication
During my experience as a mentee, I was working on an article, but had no idea where I could send it for possible publication. Because this was my first article, I felt intimidated by the entire process. In some ways, I felt I’d never find a place for my article, and also, maybe my article wasn’t that interesting. See what happens when you listen to your brain? My focus on being a mentee was to continue refining my article and working with my mentor (Hu) to find a publisher. As I discussed my publisher search with my mentor, we had lunch with another librarian, who suggested a few options. Following the mentor relationship, I was able to get my completed article, Found! Restoring and Digitizing the Cuala Press Sample Book (2012) published by one of the suggested publishers, North Carolina Libraries, is published by the North Carolina Library Association. I also submitted an article to North Carolina Libraries in 2013, Developing a Continuity of Operations Plan, which I co-wrote with Ellen Daugman. Using my experience teaching book repair workshops, I wrote an article about this in North Carolina Libraries in 2020, Book Repair Workshops in North Carolina: This is How We Do it
Newsletters and Journals
The North Carolina Libraries publication was followed by several publications in both peer reviewed and non-peer reviewed publications. In 2009, I reached out to an ALA publication, Library Worklife, to write about my work assisting history classes with exhibits in the library. I had done this collaborative work for ten years, and had no idea where it could be published. In this case, I directly asked Library Worklife, and they said yes, and The Library in the Classroom (2009) was published.
About this same time, I was a member of a national organization, The Guild of Book Workers, which had a newsletter. I wrote several articles for this GBW newsletter. These articles are Preservation Librarianship (2018), An Interview with Bill Hanscom (2017), and A Workshop with Don Rash (2010). Newsletters are usually not peer reviewed, but both of my submissions reached an international audience.
I wrote two articles for the Society of American Archivists Newsletter, Outlook. The articles were about our collections housed in Special Collections & Archives: The Dolmen Press Collection: One Collection, Many Uses (2014) and Director’s Cut: Italian Realism and the Giuseppe De Santis Papers (2015). Many newsletters put out a call for submissions, but I found they often are receptive to inquiries as well.
I also began writing with friends/colleagues and co-wrote several articles for the Society of NC Archivists (SNCA). The first article for JSNCA (Journal of North Carolina Archivists) Inside the Box: Incorporating Archival material Into Undergraduate Information Literacy Instruction (2011 with Audra Eagle Yun), came about because I taught a LIB100 class with then Archivist, Audra Eagle Yun using primary materials from our Dolmen Press Collection. We used books, correspondence and imagery from this collection to enable our students to create exhibits in ZSR. Our article reflected our process for this class. The second article for JSNCA came about because my co-authors and I were serving on a Web Archiving team for ZSR to archive web-based material related to ZSR and WFU. This was early in the activity of web archiving, and so we wrote an article about our method of archiving web-based material. This article, The Missing Link: Observations on the Evolution of a Web Archive (2014 with Rebecca May and Kevin Gilbertson) detailed our process and reasoning for this work. The third JSNCA article was Bringing Dolmen Press Printing Blocks Further Into the Light (2017 with Stephanie Bennett) described the Dolmen Press printing plates collection and our collaborative process for description, and the unique idea that we actually printed the plates which is not the usual thing with archival collections. These articles involved collections we were working on inside ZSR and were all peer reviewed.
Working with Technology and a writing group
Later, I was just beginning to be involved in teaching LIB100, and headed by Lauren Pressley (who was then a ZSR librarian), a group of us wrote an electronic textbook, Research Like a Librarian. This was intended to be a text that would be indefinitely updated as practices changed. We received a STEP grant (Summer Technology Exploration Program) for this project, solicited authors and held our own peer review process. The STEP Grant is offered each summer for those interested.
When working on a Continuity of Operations Plan for ZSR Library, I co-wrote a book chapter: Emergency Planning (R)Evolution: Making a Comprehensive Emergency Plan for the Present and the Future (2015 with Mary Beth Lock and Meghan Webb). This process involved dividing up the content among three people and working together to combine the writing smoothly. Following this adventure, the three of us wrote a follow-up but related article for the same publisher, (R)Evolutionary Emergency Planning: Adding Resilience Through Continuous Review (with Mary Beth Lock and Meghan Webb 2016.
Book Reviews are a good way to get your feet wet and are usually short. I’ve done several of these for Technical Services Quarterly. Carolyn McCallum and Steve Kelly are editors, and have asked me to write reviews in my area of interest, and are easy to work with.
Finding a place for peer-reviewed publication
As I’m writing this blog post, I’m in the midst of working on a peer reviewed publication with Mary Beth Locke and Elizabeth Ellis. Along with Craig’s advice of talking with a mentor and other peers about what publications to publish in, the process my writing collaborators and myself underwent to decide where to publish included a few other helpful steps that I’d like to share. Initially when first meeting we discussed what we wanted our study to cover and how we’d accomplish that. We then made a list of peer reviewed publications that not only targeted the audience we were hoping to reach, but also had a scope that covered our study’s topic(s). We did this by searching the literature on the topics related to our topics and seeing where those articles were published as well as listing publications that we like and/or read that are relevant. Our list included the names of each publication, its scope, the criteria for submission (length, citation style, suggestion submission date and timeline for editing and publication) and whether the publication was open access or not (this was a criteria important to us, but may not be to you). When we narrowed down our top choice of publication, we reached out to the editor to ask further questions about the process, whether they’d be interested in including our study in an upcoming issue and if there was a strategic time to submit the article to them for acceptance.
Finding a place for book chapter publication
My experience thus far writing book chapters has always been prompted and inspired by coming across calls for chapters via listservs I’m a part of. These listservs, in this case, are all related to my subject-area of business, but despite the specific niche, there are often both subject-specific and more general library-science-related calls for proposals being promoted. For example, the first book I submitted a chapter to was for a book titled Business Information Literacy. The book chapter I’m collaborating on currently is going to be in a book titled, Towards Inclusive Academic Librarian Hiring Practices
Finding a place for newsletter publication
Similar to my experience coming across book chapter calls for submissions via listservs, I have also come across the opportunity to publish in a business librarianship newsletter this way. This was actually how I got started writing professionally and was my first publication solo as a librarian. It was great because though the newsletter is frequently read by other business librarians and the process itself was less formal than if I had submitted a peer-reviewed article. I didn’t know this at the time, as a new librarian, but looking back I think this helped me continue to be excited to write professionally due to the lack of intense formality around the process. It felt very approachable and achievable. I would strongly recommend any librarian looking to get started writing and publishing to seek out a newsletter, or blog, related to your position. For example, the newsletter I’ve been referring to is the BRASS Academic Newsletter, which is a publication of the Business Reference and Services Section of ALA.
Making your own place for publication
Around the time I was starting at Wake Forest, I became a member of BLINC (Business Librarianship in North Carolina, a section of NCLA). At my first BLINC meeting, I met three other new business librarians, two of which were also academic business librarians (the other librarian, a public librarian, was Morgan Ritchie-Baum!). We quickly bonded over how scary it is to be in a new job, especially one where you get intensely subject-specific questions daily on topics you do not have a degree in, with jargon that is intimidating. We wished there was a source for new academic business librarians to turn to. We decided to start our own academic business librarianship blog. We’ve been successfully running BizLibratory for almost 4 years now. This endeavor has not only allowed me to learn so much from my peers but also has been an outlet for me to share my experiences, ask questions, and reflect in an informal, low pressure way. It has also had the unexpected benefits of being content to be included in my annual reviews, promotion dossier and a fun topic to present on at conferences. I have also been pleasantly surprised at how consistently publishing through BizLibratory has allowed me to develop a writing practice that has helped me when collaborating with others on other writing projects. If you feel there is no place for information out there specific to your professional writing or interests and/or doesn’t feel helpful to you professionally, I would strongly encourage you to start your own blog. Someone else out there is looking for the same place and/or information as you and not finding it. You can add to the conversation by placing your voice there.
Similar to Craig, I have also written book reviews in Technical Services Quarterly, courtesy of Carolyn McCallum and Steve Kelley, who asked if I would like to write a review about two digitization themed books. I was happy to do so. It was a great opportunity to have my writing published in an established LIS themed publication, and continue to build my writing profile. The first book I was asked to review was Digitizing Flat Media: Principles And Practices, which covers the process of digitizing flat media (books, maps, slides, papers, posters, micro formats, etc.) for people of all levels of digitization. The second book review I was asked to write was for Digital Library Programs For Libraries And Archives: Developing, Managing, And Sustaining Unique Digital Collections. This book covers the task of implementing and sustaining digital library programs from the perspective of an administrator or manager.
At ZSR, probably the most immediate writing opportunity is through our blogs: Here @ ZSR and Inside ZSR. Our blogs have a considerable reach both within and outside the campus community. This can be a great way to build confidence in your writing while also highlighting your work and sharing your professional development experiences.
Since arriving at ZSR, I have utilized Here @ ZSR to promote our Digital Collections. This includes the new collections and materials we’ve made available, and also the ways we contribute our collections to other platforms.
I have also written posts that feature some of the students who work in the digitization lab, and posts regarding unique experiences, such as my visit to Chicago to attend the A. R. Ammons exhibit at the Poetry Foundation. The paintings on display were also digitized in the digitization lab and used in the Poetry Foundation’s promotional materials.
Inside ZSR has been a great way for me to share my professional development experiences, such as conferences and activities such as my time with the NCLA Leadership Institute. There was also a fun visit to Chapel Hill and Duke to see how these institutions operated their digital production labs.
If you are just getting started, the Communications Committee provides a great resource on ideas and guidance for library blog posts within its ZSR Communications Portal.
Opportunities are also available to write blog posts for other organizations, such as ACRL. This will need some investigation, or you may come across a call for writers. For the 2020 DLF (Digital Library federation) Forum, I applied and was selected as one of ten participants to share my experience attending that year’s installment of the DLF Forum. The post is featured on their blog.
If you’re thinking about writing professionally and don’t know where to start, reach out to the faculty mentoring committee! We’re happy to chat with you and/or pair you with a mentor!