Thursday, September 21, 2006

C & RL News: ACRL Program Summary

Sometimes, after reading a new acquisition, do you ever revisit the review that prompted you to make the purchase and wonder if you and the reviewer read the same book? This happened to me somewhat recently with several juvenile ARC’s I picked up at ALA in New Orleans. In most instances, my opinion of the books in question closely mirrored the professional reviews. When I retrieved the most recent edition of C & RL News from my mailbox a few days ago I was pleased to see a ACRL session Publish Don’t Perish: Helpful Hints for Authors. The following summary is by Jan Kemp, Lamar University:

"The program “Publish, Don’t Perish: Helpful Hints for Authors” was cosponsored by the ACRL New Publications Advisory Board and the ACRL College Library Section Research Committee. The speakers included Tony (Charles A.) Schwartz (Florida International University), Marie L. Radford (Rutgers University), and Patricia Glass Schuman (Neal-Schuman Publishers).

Schwartz described some of the ways librarians can identify and refine a worthy topic for research, for example, a subject thought to be complex is actually simple or a subject previously thought to be simple is actually complex; and something that is generally considered to be good is bad or vice versa. He noted that when faced with the requirement to publish to meet tenure requirements, a librarian would be well advised to select a subject area they know well and to focus on a research question for which they already know the outcome and the conclusions. He suggested that only after meeting the requirement for publication should a librarian embark upon research in an unfamiliar area.

Radford’s presentation included tips on how to increase “writing productivity and enjoyment,” including write in short, regular sessions; solicit and welcome suggestions from others; work to your interests; and develop the habit of using a writing notebook to save ideas. She also emphasized the importance of time management, using Stephen Covey’s time management matrix to illustrate the need to spend time in planning and writing to lessen time spent “writing on deadline” in a crisis mode.

Speaking from the perspective of the book publisher, Schuman recommended that writers begin by determining the purpose the book will serve, the audience for the book, and why the book is needed. Schuman offered a list of “important topics for today’s library publishers,” including “acquisitions, management, marketing and public relations, and digital/virtual reference,” among others. "–C & RL News, September 2006

I particularly enjoyed Dr. Radford, she was an engaging speaker who didn't pull any punches. Beyond her handouts detailing her "Radford Rules for Increasing Writing Productivity and Enjoyment," she addressed time management and barriers keeping potential authors from writing. What resonated with me was her assurance each person in attendance was already involved in an interesting project at work that would be suitable for an article. A published author, renowned presenter, and blogger (Library Garden), Dr. Radford stressed the importance of writing every day.

This ACRL session is one of the reasons I wanted to investigate blogging with a partner. I agree that every librarian is involved in interesting projects, but it is often hard to take the time and practice the craft of writing daily. A blog partnership is beneficial, taking away some of the stress of having to 'carry the load' alone. Plus, it is a nice collaborative project.

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