C&RL Spotlight

Scott Walter

How “open” of an open access journal is C&RL? In a recent essay posted to In the Library with a Lead Pipe, Micah Vandegrift and Chealsye Bowley proposed a new metric—the Journal Openness Index (JOI) Factor—designed to evaluate the degree to which a journal is open, “in terms of scholarly communication practices like copyright assignment, journal policies for open access self-archiving, and open access publishing.”1

C&RL performed well in their analysis (and will perform even better in any future analysis with recognition of our promotion of author rights through the use of the Creative Commons CC-BY-NC license for all work published in the journal), but Vandegrift and Bowley’s essay is evidence that we are working in an environment where authors, editors, and publishers committed to shaping the future of scholarly communication are constantly faced with a question once employed by The West Wing’s fictional President Jed Bartlet: “What’s next?”

In recent years, and with the support of the ACRL Board of Directors, the editorial board of C&RL has worked with ACRL staff to turn our association’s flagship journal into a venue for exploring the future of scholarly communication in an open access environment. After adding open access preprints to the journal, we removed the six-month embargo on access to current contents in 2011. In 2013, the complete backfile from 1939 to the present was added to C&RL website, extending open acesss to the entire run of the journal.

Moving into a digital-only publishing model in 2014, we looked beyond open access to see how we could promote greater community among our readers and authors through the establishment of a social media program, and through the development of new programs such as our C&RL Online Fora series. Less than a year into each of these efforts, C&RL boasts more than 500 “likes” on Facebook (and over 1,000 followers on Twitter), with Facebook posts routinely reaching more than 300 people (even with the much-maligned changes to Facebook’s approach to placing content into your News Feed), and popular posts reaching more than 1,000. The Online Fora, which promote forthcoming work in the journal while providing the added value of an opportunity to engage authors directly using Google Hangouts, have been similarly successful, with more than 125 people joining us for the April 2014 program highlighting research into the “culture of assessment” in academic libraries.

As the JOI Index suggests, C&RL is already very open, but what’s next? As you read this, the editorial board is preparing for the 2014 ALA Annual Conference in Las Vegas, where we will consider next steps such as revising the journal’s “Instruction to Authors” to reflect the opportunity to include open datasets as a component of publication, moving forward on a pilot project using open peer review, opening access to C&RL information through the use of digital object identifiers (DOIs), employing altmetrics to better document the impact of scholarship published in the journal, and more. Look for further announcements in each of these areas in the coming months.

Also in the coming months, look for information about the 75th anniversary issue of the journal, scheduled for publication in March 2015. As we have just announced on the ACRL 75th Anniversary website, more than 300 of our readers helped us to select the following studies to be included in this special issue:

  • Robert S. Taylor, “Question-Negotiation and Information Seeking in Libraries,” originally published in C&RL, volume 29 (May 1968) (The “People’s Choice”)
  • Constance A. Mellon, “Library Anxiety: A Grounded Theory and its Development,” originally published in C&RL, volume 47 (March 1986)
  • David W. Lewis, “Inventing the Electronic University,” originally published in C&RL, volume 49 (July 1988)
  • Carla J. Stoffle, Robert Renaud, and Jerilyn R. Veldof, “Choosing Our Futures,” originally published in C&RL, volume 57 (May 1996)
  • Brian Quinn, “The McDonaldization of Academic Libraries,” originally published in C&RL, volume 61 (May 2000)
  • George D. Kuh and Robert M. Gonyea, “The Role of the Academic Library in Promoting Student Engagement in Learning,” originally published in C&RL, volume 64 (July 2003)
  • Kara J. Malenfant, “Leading Change in the System of Scholarly Communication: A Case Study of Engaging Liaison Librarians for Outreach to Faculty,” originally published in C&RL, volume 71 (January 2010)

Links to all of these essays are available through the ACRL 75th Anniversary website at www.acrl.ala.org/acrl75. Next, we will be working with invited authors to prepare companion essays reflecting on the ongoing relevance of these landmark studies and preparing for a forum on the 75th anniversary of the journal (and where we go from here) at ACRL 2015 in Portland. Thanks to everyone who took part in the voting to help us to identify the articles to be included in this special issue, and congratulations to all the authors whose work was included in the list of finalists for consideration.

The ACRL Plan for Excellence (www.ala.org/acrl/aboutacrl/strategicplan/stratplan) articulates a strategic commitment to “[accelerating] the transition to a more open system of scholarship,” and C&RL has been a concrete example of that commitment since we took our first step toward open access. No one said it would be easy, and occasionally the field shifts, but we remain committed to using all the tools at our disposal to ensure that C&RL remains an advocate for, and a leading example of, open and engaged scholarship in our field.

1. Vandegrift, M. Bowley, C. , “Librarian, Heal Thyself: A Scholarly Communication Analysis of LIS Journals,” In the Library With the Lead Pipe, http://www.inthelibrarywiththeleadpipe.org/2014/healthyself/.
Copyright 2014© American Library Association

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