Recently I became re-acquainted with School Library Research (SLR), AASL’s open-access research journal available on the AASL website. I was looking for research about self-censorship and found that SLR contained many other articles within the broader realm of intellectual freedom. Here’s a sampling of what I found:
- Information access to resources for students with disabilities (2013),
- School librarians responses to district policies denying access to social media tools (2013) ,
- Collection development of LGBTQ-themed resources (2013),
- Self-censorship by school librarians (2010 and 2002 ), and
- Motives behind the challenges to And Tango Makes Three (2011 ).
Finding these articles made me wonder if others have also overlooked SLR.
To learn more about SLR, I contacted its co-editors, Dr. Ruth Small, professor at Syracuse University’s iSchool, and Dr. Mega Subramaniam, associate professor in the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland. Following a Q & A format, you’ll learn about SLR from Ruth and Mega.
- What is unique about SLR?
- Ruth: “SLR is a jewel in the crown of AASL. It is a highly respected journal, the only top-rated journal in the school library field to focus on research on the various aspects of school librarianship. Our reviewers are among the most rigorous in the field and, as a result, the articles we publish are of the highest quality” (Small).
- Mega: “Articles published in SLR have the greatest reach—potentially reaching school librarians, school library educators, and school library researchers all over the world. While we do not document impact numerically (SLR co-editors just began the process of determining how to do this), the benefits that open access journals have on the growth of our field is unprecedented” (Subramaniam).
- What is the value of SLR’s articles to school librarians?
- Ruth: “Professionals in any field must keep current with the research of that field in order to be better informed about best practice and current trends. Librarianship has been evolving at lightning speed in the past several years, and it is through their professional literature that school librarians are able to keep up with this evolution. It is also of great value to pre-service librarians; it gives them an opportunity to understand the issues of the field” (Small).
- Mega: “Research must always inform practice, and practice always informs research. Because we are a field that is strongly embedded in practice, all the articles that are published in SLR are based on genuine issues and opportunities in the field. School librarians should regularly refer to the SLR when a threat or opportunity arises in their building. Additionally, they can also identify scholars that have published in this area, and get in touch with them to ask further questions” (Subramaniam).
- Has SLR changed during your time as co-editors?
- Ruth: “In our first few months as co-editors, Mega and I quickly realized that, with the number of reviewers on our editorial board and the areas of expertise they represented at that time, (1) we could not keep up with the large number of submitted manuscripts pouring in that needed to be reviewed without greatly imposing on each reviewer and (2) while no reviewer can be knowledgeable/expert in every area of research, there were a number of manuscripts being submitted that focused on new and emerging or special topics or that used uncommon research methodologies that were beyond the expertise of our very capable reviewers. We took our argument to the AASL Board and they approved the proposed expansion of our editorial board, as well as our idea of an external panel of scholars with expertise in various topics” (Small).
- Mega: “We have expanded the editorial board from six to eleven members, with a range of scholarly expertise within school librarianship. We now meet our editorial board members twice a year to obtain their feedback on the reviewing process. Additionally, we also have about 20-30 scholars from our sister fields (such as learning sciences, education, reading specialists, STEM experts, etc.) as an ‘external expert panel’ that we tap into when we need assistance in reviewing articles that have multidisciplinary content” (Subramaniam).
- What happens when the co-editors receive a manuscript?
- Mega: “When an article is submitted, the Editors determine whether the article meets our review criteria. If so, the Editorial Assistant blinds the article for review (removing all identifying information and references from the document). The Editors send the articles to two reviewers, who can be members of the editorial board or an external expert panel. Within four to six weeks, the reviewers reply with their recommendations and comments. After taking the reviewers’ input into consideration, the Editors make a final decision: ask the authors to make major or minor revisions to the article, reject the article, or accept the article as-is and send it for copy-editing, after which the article is published. The entire process takes an average of 85 days” (Subramaniam).
Interested in submitting your research to SLR? Co-editor Mega Subramaniam will be a panelist at the session “The Write Stuff : Insider Publishing Tips from Editors of Peer-Reviewed and Practitioner Journals” at the ALA Annual Conference in Orlando on June 26, 2016. After the session, she will be available to meet with potential SLR authors and interested readers.
Don’t miss AASL’s stellar research journal. Consider how you can use SLR to solve problems and keep up in the field.
AASL. School Library Research. http://www.ala.org/aasl/slr/ (accessed May 12, 2016).
Small, Ruth. Email message to author, May 9, 2016.
Subramaniam, Mega. Email message to author, May 21, 2016.
AASL School Library Research banner image used with permission. http://www.ala.org/aasl/slr/archive/.
Author: Helen Adams
A former school librarian in Wisconsin, Helen Adams is an online senior lecturer for Antioch University-Seattle in the areas of intellectual freedom, privacy, library ethics, and copyright. A member of the AASL Knowledge Quest Advisory Board, the ALA Intellectual Freedom Committee, and a KQ blogger, she is the author of Protecting Intellectual Freedom and Privacy in Your School Library (Libraries Unlimited, 2013) and contributor to The Many Faces of School Library Leadership (2nd edition, Libraries Unlimited, 2017). Email: email@example.com.