Here Comes the Sun: Morphing Library Journals

Information Technology and Libraries (ITAL) has a new editor, John Webb, and he’s outlined an ambitious agenda for the journal in his initial editorial in the March 2005 issue (volume 24, no. 1).

That issue includes articles on e-books myths, the International Children’s Library, and the Music of Social Change (MOSC) project. It’s a very promising start that suggests that he may he able to reinvigorate ITAL.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with ITAL, it is a low-cost refereed journal published by the Library and Information Technology Association. There is free access to selected articles published in the journal from March 2001 to March 2004. There is no information on the Web site about any other issues (including the current one), except a note about potential retrospective digitization.

In case you haven’t noticed, OCLC Systems & Services now has a subtitle of "International Digital Library Perspectives." Since the journal now seems to be primarily about digital libraries, why the title wasn’t changed completely is bit of a mystery. It is a refereed "for-fee" journal with no free access, which is published by Emerald. It’s edited by Bradford Lee Eden.

Both of these journals have high-quality free competitors in or significantly overlapping their niche (e.g., Ariadne, D-LIB Magazine, and RLG DigiNews). To a lesser degree, they also overlap with other significant free (e.g, First Monday, High Energy Physics Libraries Webzine, and Issues in Science & Technology Librarianship) and free-with-embargo-access journals (Learned Publishing). Not to mention some major for-fee global competitors. This presents the editors with paper recruitment challenges, especially since US authors now happily cross the big pond when they seek homes for their papers.

Both of these morphing journals are worth keeping an eye on.