JR Draft

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DRAFT, please do not circulate

Code4Lib Journal

Issue 1

Introduction from the Coordinating Editor

This is a critical time for libraries. The social environment around libraries has changed such that libraries need to transform as well. This is specifically a critical time for library technology. Digital services, content and tools have become a part of nearly every aspect of library operations. The “digital library” is already here, and most of us work in one. But these digital libraries of today need to be transformed into the digital libraries of tomorrow to meet radically new needs while carrying forward libraries’ principles of quality provision of information, and bringing libraries’ tradition of collaboration to bear on new challenges. This mission of this journal is to cover “the intersection of libraries, technology, and the future,” providing practical information to help the library community envision and achieve our technological future, one step at a time.

We are at an exciting juncture, with new opportunities to face these serious challenges. The same network and information technology that is responsible for foundational shifts in our environment makes possible tools to face this new environment that would have seemed a futuristic fantasy a decade ago, while the internet provides an ability to collaborate with each other over a distance on solutions, accomplishing through cooperation what limited resources make infeasible individually. Libraries are increasingly realizing that while there are risks to undertaking a transformation of our technology and our organizations, there are even greater risks to maintaining the status quo. In order to take full advantage of these possibilities, libraries are increasingly realizing they need to step up to a leading role in technological innovation towards our users’ needs, alongside our vendors.

The Code4Lib Community

One locus of pragmatic innovation has been the Code4Lib community [1]. Inspired in part by the social dynamics of distributed open source projects, Code4Lib is an annual conference and, more importantly, an informal online social and professional network embodying values of transparency, cooperation, and pragmatic problem solving. This dynamic community fosters collaboration and encourages the sharing of skills and ideas [2,3,4]. But paradoxically, this amorphous informality can make it hard for someone new to the field—or wanting to take a new look at the field—to find a comfortable entry point to the community and the resources it has to offer.

We hope the Code4Lib Journal can embody the successful values of the Code4Lib community, while providing increased access to the collective knowledge and experience held in our various informal professional networks (Code4Lib and others) and local organizations, increasing cross-pollination among library technology innovators.

This Journal is an Experiment

The Code4Lib journal project aspires to balance a variety of sometimes competing goals. We want to provide quality articles providing useful information and discussion on bringing library technology into the future. We want every article to be a useful intervention into our communities of practice. We value readability over formality, and hope to meet high standards for quality and utility. At the same time we want to ensure an easy process for authors, letting authors share their important work and ideas with as few barriers as we can get away with. The journal is intentionally edited rather than refereed, and we try to contribute editing advice to help authors improve their articles without aggravation. We are committed to the Journal’s free online availability, to increase its visibility and impact in addition to its accessibility. We want the immediacy of a blog, the usefulness of a professional conference, the reliable quality of a good scholarly journal, and the participatory nature of our online communities, all in one easy to read and easy to produce package.

And we are trying to accomplish all of that on a shoestring, with an all volunteer editorial committee sharing management and editorial responsibilities in an informal, open, and productive way as per the Code4Lib ethic. Our Coordinating Editor will rotate with every issue; I’ll be passing the baton to Eric Lease Morgan.

That is, the Code4Lib Journal project is very much like some of the innovative library technology projects many of us work on in our daily lives, balancing competing values and priorities with limited resources. And we’ve tackled this project the same way we do those, with a ‘can do’ spirit and an agile development approach—that is, we’re making it up as we go along.

So how is the experiment working out? We think we’ve got a great first issue. This is due to the great work of our authors, and of the editorial committee. I am not alone among the Editorial Committee in discovering that inventing a journal—even one solely online which is intended to be relatively informal and agile—is more work than I personally expected. All of our authors and editorial staff deserve to be proud of what we’ve produced together through hard work.[5] But ultimately only the judgments and actions of you, our readers, can measure our success. If you think this first issue is evidence of a worthwhile endeavor, you can contribute to its future success.

How Can You Help?

You can read our articles, suggest our articles to others, and continue the discussion found in our articles in your blogs and listservs. You can also continue the discussion right here in the journal, as we’ve intentionally enabled comments on all of our articles, taking advantages of the unique affordances for multilateral communication in online publishing and communication. We want every article here to be part of an ongoing conversation towards cooperative innovation among libraries.

You can submit articles to us, and when you run into a colleague with an interesting project or idea, you can suggest that they submit articles to us. We’re happy to accept articles and proposals at any time, although there will of course be cut off dates for particular issues. We welcome anyone interested to participate in the operation of the journal by joining our public discussion list for journal business [6]. At some point in the future, we will solicit more official members of the Editorial Committee too.

We hope that this Journal can be one more contribution to the developing culture of collaboration around library technology, and we welcome you to join in our experiment.

Jonathan Rochkind

Coordinating Editor (for Issue 1),

The Code4Lib Journal

Code4Lib Issue 1 Editorial Committee

Carol Bean

Jonathan Brinley

Edward Corrado

Tom Keays

Emily Lynema

Eric Lease Morgan

Ron Peterson

Jonathan Rochkind

Jodi Schneider

Ken Varnum


[1] http://www.code4lib.org

[2] Barrera, Antonio and Chilana, Parmit and Clarke, Kevin and Giarlo, Michael (2007) 2007 Code4Lib Conference Report. Library Hi Tech News 24(6). pp. 4-7. http://eprints.rclis.org/archive/00011670/

[3] Frumkin, Jeremy and Chudnov, Dan. (2006) Code4Lib 2006. Ariadne Issue 47, April 2006. http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue47/code4lib-2006-rpt/

[4] Chudnov, Daniel. (2007). code4libcon Shows What a Participatory Conference Looks Like. Computers in Libraries. 27(5), May 2007. pp 37-40

[5] Special thanks to Jonathan Brinley for providing the nuts-and-bolts web management that many of us wanted to leave at our day jobs.

[6] http://groups.google.com/group/c4lj-discuss/ .