The SCOOP: Librarians are Knowledge Creators, Not Just Knowledge Providers

Submitted by Christine Fruin, ATLA Member Programs and Scholarly Communication Manager

The SCOOP, Scholarly COmmunication and Open Publishing, is a monthly column published to inform ATLA members of recent developments, new resources, or interesting stories from the realm of scholarly communication and open access publishing.

Librarians as Knowledge Creators

Historically, libraries and the persons who staff them have been perceived as the primary conduits for accessing knowledge. Librarians provide knowledge to those who seek it through classification schema, bibliographic instruction, and the purchase or license of scholarly materials. However, librarians frequently are also engaged in traditional subject-based research, innovative technological projects, and development of new processes or services at their libraries that would be great contributions, in written or other form, to the broader knowledge base.

Academic librarians typically produce scholarly content out of obligation; they work at an academic institution that grants them tenure or promotion on the basis of their publication activity. However, librarians who are without institutional requirement of scholarship should still seek out opportunities to write and publish or to participate in the publishing process. As a professional community of learned individuals, librarians have an important role to play in the creation of new knowledge, whether it be as authors, editors, or collaborators with scholars in other fields, and we should seek out opportunities to share our voices and expertise beyond just the services we provide.

Opportunities with ATLA

ATLA offers members several opportunities to engage with scholarly publishing as a knowledge creator:

ATLA Publishing Program

The ATLA Publishing Program was launched to serve professionals engaged in librarianship and scholarly communication, as well as students, scholars, and religious professionals, in the disciplines of religion and theology by publishing original content. This is accomplished through official association publications of ATLA, including our conference proceedings and member newsletter, and the ATLA Press. The ATLA Press is an open access publisher producing peer reviewed and other journals to support the field of theological librarianship, as well as original open monographs on topics that highlight the intersection of librarianship and the study of theology and religion as well as support the structures for the teaching, learning, and administration of theological and religious studies programs. The ATLA Press is also currently developing a program to host journals that fall within our mission and scope and that are produced by our members and affiliates who do not currently have the internal capacity to publish and host their own scholarly journals. We recently put out a call to our members to consider sharing with us their projects or research by submitting a manuscript or proposal for consideration in one of the ATLA Press publications. Members can also engage with our publishing program through service as an editor or even a peer reviewer, which are crucial roles in the creation of knowledge.

To elevate the scholarly profile of the ATLA Publishing Program, ATLA recently joined two organizations whose services and resources will allow us to improve the discovery and access of our publications and not only develop and promote our own publishing program but also assist our members in the development of their own publishing programs. ATLA has joined CrossRef where we will deposit metadata from ATLA Publishing Program publications such as Theological Librarianship and our open monographs and in return receive assignment of DOIs that will facilitate access, discovery, and linking to published content. We have also recently become a member of the Library Publishing Coalition, an organization dedicated to supporting library publishing programs and developing resources such as curriculum and professional development opportunities for persons engaged in library based publishing.

ATLA Annual Conference – Pre-conference on Scholarly Writing

The ATLA Press Coordinating Council will host a pre-conference at this year’s ATLA Annual Conference. “Writing for the Profession: Librarians as Scholarly Authors” will feature Dr. Maria Bonn from the University of Illinois School of Information Sciences who is a publishing expert and frequent speaker on scholarly authorship and the publishing process. If you have thought about authoring a journal article, book chapter, monograph, or other scholarly work, are confused about available publishing options, or have questions about how to choose the best fit to express your work and ideas and to reach your intended audience then you should consider attending this workshop. Dr. Bonn will share with attendees an overview of the professional publishing process and how to match form and venue to writing goals. Participants will then break out into small groups to either workshop their own ideas into a scholarly paper or monograph proposal or to engage in peer review of completed or nearly completed article or other scholarly paper manuscripts.

If you have other ideas for the ATLA Publishing Program or if you would like to develop a webinar or other resource to help promote a culture of writing among theological librarians, we welcome your feedback.

Recommended Further Reading:

  • Reflection by Emily Ford on “Becoming a Writer-Librarian” in the online journal In the Library with a Lead Pipe.
  • The Music Library Association has put together an excellent bibliography of essays, articles, and books on librarians as scholarly authors.
  • Article in College & Research Library News on the pathway of writing to publication for librarians.
  • An academic librarian shares her experience in scholarly writing as part of the requirements of tenure and promotion and offers a list of creative strategies librarians can put into practice to become successful knowledge creators in the field of library and information science.

Christine Fruin is the ATLA Scholarly Communication/Open Access Publishing Manager. As an attorney and a librarian, she has worked for over a decade promoting access to and use of diverse collections through utilization of fair use, open access, and responsible licensing.

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