C&RL Spotlight

Scott Walter


It is a busy time around the C&RL virtual office as we complete preparations for the journal’s major contributions to the ACRL 75th Anniversary celebration. As I write this, the final drafts are coming in for the 75th anniversary special issue, which will be published in March. In addition to re-publishing the seven “landmark” articles selected for inclusion in the collection by our readers during last year’s online voting, this special issue will include new commentary and essays reflecting on the enduring value of these essays and their place in the library literature.

In “Libraries and the Digital University,” CNI’s Joan K. Lippincott considers the predictions about the future of libraries and higher education presented in David Lewis’s “Inventing the Electronic University” (1988). While recognizing that there were many aspects of technology development that Lewis could never have predicted in the late 1980s, Lippincott notes that Lewis was prescient in his effort to shift the discussion of technology in our field from the specifics of the use of technology in libraries to the fundamental changes that technology would bring to higher education. As she writes: “This was perhaps the most important contribution of Lewis’s article: to prompt the academic library community to think strategically about their role in the context of the mission-critical aspects—research, teaching, and learning—of their institutions.”

In “The McDonaldization of Academic Libraries and the Values of Transformational Change,” Karen Nicholson (University of Guelph) argues that the idea of “McDonaldization,” as applied to academic libraries by Brian Quinn in 2000, continues to shape the language of library research and practice. Looking back over 15 years during which concerns over “the growing influence of corporate aims and values” in higher education have only increased, Nicholson concludes that the trends identified by Quinn continue to shape academic library practice and that his critique of library leadership “largely foreshadows the current state of academic libraries,” including their focus on accountability; return-on-investment; learning analytics; and the standards, guidelines, outcomes, and performance indicators that “[make] libraries increasingly predictable.”

Finally, in “Scholarly Societies and Scholarly Communication: A Look Ahead,” Roger C. Schonfeld (Ithaka S&R) considers the ongoing place of the scholarly journal within an increasingly crowded and complex environment for scholarly communication. When new technologies allow scholars and practitioners to disseminate their work in a variety of ways, what is the role of the scholarly journal and what is the role of the scholarly or professional society that not only publishes that journal, but also has a broader commitment to supporting the professional development of its members as researchers? “C&RL has made a valuable contribution to the profession over the last 75 years,” Schonfeld concludes, “[but] like all established institutions, [it] must be continually re-imagined to take full advantage of broader trends to meet evolving needs.”

These essays, along with those written by James Neal (Columbia University), Megan Oakleaf (Syracuse University), Jill Gremmels (Davidson College), Anne Kenney (Cornell University), and David Tyckoson (CSU-Fresno), allow us not only to honor the extraordinary work that has been published in C&RL over the past 75 years, but also to consider how the journal may continue to play a leading role in identifying, disseminating, and preserving the best research in our field in the future.

And the future will be the focus of our other major “anniversary” project in March, the “research forum” scheduled for presentation at the ACRL 2015 conference in Portland. I hope you’ll join C&RL anniversary issue authors James Neal and Megan Oakleaf, as well as John Budd (University of Missouri), Denise Koufogiannakis (University of Alberta), and me for a wide-ranging discussion of the role of the ACRL in promoting research and practice in academic librarianship. “Putting the ‘Research’ in the Association of College & Research Libraries: 75 Years of College & Research Libraries and other ACRL Research Programs” is scheduled for Friday, March 27, 8:30–9:30 a.m., in the Oregon Convention Center, Room C123-124 (but check your program for any updates to the location).

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