Librarians need to publish in non-library journals

Now that I’ve convinced everyone to stop going to library conferences, I’d like to make the argument that we also need to start publishing in non-library journals.  Luckily, someone has already made the point for me, in a 2007 journal article that I just came across in the Journal of Academic Librarianship by Christy Stevens.

Library journals are full of articles about the importance of information literacy instruction.  Blogs, library magazines and twitter posts all discuss the best ways to collaborate with faculty to teach students these skills.  On rare occasions, disciplinary faculty publish articles about collaborations with librarians.

But faculty aren’t reading library journals.  And they aren’t reading library blogs either.  And some faculty seem unaware of the services that libraries are currently offering (the excellent ProfHacker blog often illustrates this.)  And according to Stevens, librarians could do a better job of publishing in disciplinary education journals.  She highlights calls from various librarian authors over the past 20 years to reach out to faculty through the disciplinary literature.

Stevens examined “discipline specific pedagogical journals” – the teaching journals for college professors to look for articles about information literacy, or even just libraries.  She looked at a few of my favorites, including the Journal of Geoscience Education, the Journal of College Science Teaching, and the Journal of Chemical Education.  For each of these journals, she identified articles that mention library research and articles that focused on information literacy.  Some of these articles mentioned libraries in passing, some mentioned particular library-related assignments, others discuss information literacy in more detail. (Incidentally, I would love to see the list of publications she ended up with).

Overall, a relatively small number of articles were found focusing on information literacy or library-related assignments.  She concludes that while there is not a lot of evidence of faculty/librarian collaboration on information literacy issues in these journals, things have improved since similar studies were done 10 or 20 years ago.

Faculty are much more likely to read pedagogical publications in their own disciplines, and librarians need to reach out to faculty in order to facilitate effective information literacy instruction.

So, instruction librarians need to stop publishing great articles about faculty-librarian collaborations in library journals and start publishing these articles in disciplinary journals.

Sounds simple, right?  Let’s do it.

Stevens, C. (2007). Beyond Preaching to the Choir: Information Literacy, Faculty Outreach, and Disciplinary Journals The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 33 (2), 254-267 DOI: 10.1016/j.acalib.2006.08.009


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