Computers in Libraries
Vol. 21, No. 10 • Nov/Dec. 2001 

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Librarians as Authors—What a Concept
by Kathy Dempsey 

In this issue that covers Our Evolving Roles, our writers have mentioned various types of jobs that traditional librarians have moved into. They cover some obvious ones, like trainers and techies. And they cover some less-obvious ones, like business owners, jugglers, and "technology tour guides." But there's another role you could be playing that they've left out, and I'm happy to cover that one: What about librarians as authors? That's one thing I'm always looking for.

Here at CIL we get an interesting mix of librarians and information professionals who write our features and columns. Since our features are written by different people every month, their backgrounds vary greatly. But I can make some general observations: Almost everyone who writes our features is from either academic or public libraries. We seldom get corporate,special, or government librarians, and we almost never get any school librarians!

Why is this? My guess is that academic librarians are encouraged to write and publish. It's often seen as simply part of the job (especially if they have faculty status). Public librarians are often doing innovative things and they like to share their experiences with their peers. As for the special librarians, perhaps their day-to-day work is so research-oriented that they don't feel they're as concerned with the technology. I understand that in some corporate situations, the work is proprietary and they're not encouraged to share anything. (In fact, in the past I've had a few incidences where an author's work needed to be approved by corporate counsel, both after the initial writing and then again after I edited it.) Finally, where are the school librarians? We know they're out there and we know they subscribe.

I want to make sure you're not all thinking, "Gee, CIL only takes articles from really important people and I probably don't have anything worth saying, anyway." Nonsense! We are "by librarians, for librarians," and that means you! If you're dealing with technology today, then you probably have a story to tell. It doesn't have to be an heroic tale of how you built a new tech center; it can be a simple story of how you accomplished your goals with little money or little staffing.

OK, so you're ready to write and now you need the details. Everything you always wanted to know but were afraid to ask is spelled out on our Web site. Go to and click on "How to Contribute to CIL." As you move through the site you'll find links for our calendar of themes for all of 2002, a detailed FAQ section, and our Online Query Form, which is how you'll send me your article ideas. We also print a shorter "How to Contribute" document in nearly every issue of the magazine; this month it's on page 23.

So how about it? Librarians as authors of interesting and helpful magazine articles ... what a concept! That's what we're all about here at CIL. Join in!

Kathy Dempsey, Editor

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