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An Introduction and the Year Ahead

Elegance of language may not be in the power of all of us,
but simplicity and straightforwardness are. ~ Henry Alford

These words are on a plaque on the podium where my institution’s library staff meet monthly (in-person and virtually) for the University of Rochester’s River Campus Libraries all-staff meeting. For the past 11 years, I have looked at this quotation many times during others’ presentations and for my own. As the next College & Research Libraries Editor, I feel thrilled, excited, fascinated and nervous. It is an honor and a challenge to be the next in line to steward scholarship in our profession through this journal.

Leading up to officially becoming the Editor on July 1, I have been Editor-Designate, working very closely for the last year with C&RL former editor, Wendi Arant-Kaspar. I am grateful to have been able to work with Wendi in this capacity, as she has been (and is) a kind, brave, and constructive mentor and colleague. I am also grateful to the Board and ACRL staff David Free and Dawn Mueller for their patience and unwavering support. As I begin my term as Editor, I would like to share a few things (of many) I have learned so far:

  1. Reviewers’ work is essential and plays a vital role in the journal’s development.
    This seems like an obvious statement, but seeing it from an editor’s perspective, I build on and coordinate with C&RL’s community of writers and readers. I am grateful to all the Journal’s reviewers (past and present) for their time and commitment in reading and providing feedback to potential authors. Not only is it valuable for the authors but as Editor, I get glimpses of the expertise, perspectives, and experiences to help make better informed decisions about the submissions. They help shape C&RL and make it evolve. Whether or not a manuscript is accepted, it is that connection and input that is always valuable. I think it is safe to remark that from now through the duration of my time as Editor, I will always be looking for reviewers to broaden the pool of readership and expertise for C&RL’s prospective authors.
  2. The Editorial Board members carry a diversity of experiences that purposefully contribute to the care and feeding of the journal.
    Recently, in an Editorial Board meeting, I asked the Board members to look ahead in the coming year and share what they think our priorities should be. One idea is to find ways to include and encourage more staff and student perspectives in the Journals’ authorship and readership. Another idea is to increase engagement with C&RL’s community of authors and readers. This could be via efforts to promote the articles written and extend discursive conversation. After experiencing the isolation of COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns, I believe we are searching for more engagement and connections. It is fortunate to learn with and from the Board, as they endeavor to keep the journal relevant and responsive to the present and future.
  3. There are different workflows for different types of work on the Journal. There is the day-to-day management and the projects that help sustain and grow it.
    The Journal regularly receives a robust number of submissions and keeping up with each step of an article’s process is the everyday part, but there are also essential projects always in the works or on the horizon. Besides releasing C&RL’s Authorial Name Change Policy1 this May, we have other projects that are in progress. Some have been stalled by the pandemic, and the Board and I are picking up the pieces to work toward realizing them.
    Another project is to investigate ways to instill C&RL’s CRediT Taxonomy.2 In addition to crediting an article’s contributors prior to review, could this involve giving credit and acknowledgement to all reviewers for each submission? Could this lead to transparent work practices such as initiating an open peer review process that is voluntary, professional and transparent for authors and reviewers? It is the idea and philosophy that is valued, but there is still work to be done on how to implement it in everyday work.
    In the past, there have been C&RL issues in which the articles benefited from an open, developmental peer review. From what I have heard, there were many positive experiences gleaned from this practice. There are advantages and disadvantages to practicing open peer review and this will be practiced again in future issues.
    There is work in process to implement a C&RL data policy that is beneficial for the journal and for the authors. Editorial Board members Minglu Wang and Adrian Ho are working on this project and we hope to complete it this year.

There are past projects to continue as well as current and future projects to plan for and accomplish. As a community of authors, readers, staff, faculty, students, researchers, everyone: with you, I want to continue to work to make this journal inspirational, engaging, and useful for academic and research library work, service, teaching, and research.

Notes

1. Amy Lazet and Brian M. Watson. “The Case for Retroactive Author Name Changes, College & Research Libraries, 83, no. 3 (2022), available online at https://crl.acrl.org/index.php/crl/article/view/25432/33301.

2. Sarah Fitzgerald, John Budd, Penny Beile, Wendi Kaspar. “Modeling Transparency in Roles: Moving from Authorship to Contributorship.” College & Research Libraries, 81, no. 2 (2020), available online at https://crl.acrl.org/index.php/crl/article/view/24669.

Copyright Kristen Totleben


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