Librarians Get on the Collaboration Bus With New Journal

Article ImageAn idea that has been years in the making will finally come to fruition at the ALA Midwinter Conference, Jan. 23–26, in Denver. A new, online open access journal called Collaborative Librarianship will see its inaugural issue be released to the public at the conference; and it should be no surprise that working together is at the heart of this project.

Managing editor Ivan Gaetz, dean of libraries, Regis University, says the seed for the new journal was planted at the Colorado Academic Library Consortium in 2005, when the group focused on the economic and institutional crisis facing libraries. "From the outcome of the summit we thought, how can we further advance the notion of working together?" says Gaetz. "This whole notion of library collaboration is so fundamental to what libraries have been about for decades and important for our survival and ability to thrive. …"

Gaetz sees the idea of online collaboration between libraries as part of a much larger trend, and he is glad to help bring his community into the fold. "It’s amazing how the whole notion of collaboration is rising to the forefront within the business community and other organizations. I think we’re really in step with what’s going on in the larger community," says Gaetz. "It’s generating a whole new level of interaction."

After doing some research on the idea of collaborative librarianship, Gaetz says it was pretty evident that there just were not many resources on the subject. As far as he could tell, the one main competitor had not put out anything since early 2006 and had a subscription fee.

Gaetz says that because this journal is all about working together, accessibility is key. Making this publication open access was of the utmost importance. One of the key factors in making Collaborative Librarianship free to users is the software being used to produce it: Open Journal Systems (OJS), which is produced by the Public Knowledge Project, out of Simon Fraser University. Not only is OJS free, but Gaetz also says he felt confident when choosing this software because so many other online journals—more than 900—use it. He adds: "It looked like it had a very, very good administrative component. We could really manage the journal very well from the one software setup. They’ve got a very substantive handbook to guide you. … The great number of other journals already using it gave us confidence that it’s well-supported."

Each issue of this digital-only journal will contain four sections: Scholarly Articles, From the Field, Reviews, and News. "Because it is online there is a certain immediacy, and because it’s online we hope to have a very extensive reach," says Gaetz. The crew at Collaborative Librarianship—which includes an extensive list of advisors from all across the U.S., Canada, and Mexico—is really taking the idea of working together to heart, as the entire journal will be written, edited, and produced online. Everything will be handled through the OJS software. Authors submit material; then, emails are bounced back to them. At any point, an author can find out where his or her submission is.

Joe Kraus, a software specialist for Collaborative Librarianship, explains: "The OJS software and the main website will disseminate the articles (PDF format) that are published in the … Scholarly Articles, From the Field, and Reviews [sections]. The OJS system allows all of the various authors, editors, proofreaders, copy editors, and referees to easily communicate with each other in a logical manner while the manuscripts are being worked on. The content of those three sections are released to the public once a quarter, while the ‘News’ section can be updated as needed." The News section of the site is already up and running, using’s blogging capabilities, but the more labor-intensive sections will be revealed at ALA.

Gaetz says the team will solicit scholarly articles but will also accept unsolicited submissions through the website. The editing process, as well as peer reviews for the scholarly articles, will all take place online so that library professionals from all over the country, and the globe, can work together to reach out to people who are not necessarily part of their community.

According to Gaetz, the team is still trying to figure out the best way to incorporate comments and blogging capabilities, but he hopes to include them. He adds: "This is a work in progress, and it will really develop and thrive on the participation in the library community. People shouldn’t be relying on a few experts. … [E]verybody collectively is invited to participate and advance the idea of collaboration."