Open Access Part 2

A few weeks ago I wrote about open access. Upon further reflection, what I did not address are defunct journals; I only looked at active ones. It’s quite a project to find defunct journals, much less whether they are available online. However, these journals also deserve mention as it is not just the current journals that contribute to our scholarly history.

I decided to do a little digging. My search was minimal and I know I did not find all of them, so please let me know of others. While some of these journals may be forgotten, if we can find them in print that can lead to advocating for making the content available.

I started by searching WorldCat. I used “archives” and “library” as keywords and limited to serials, which yielded nearly 4,000 results. I found a subject heading for Archives–Periodicals, which brought the number down to about 2,600. Of course, many were not archival scholarly journals but here’s a few that I found:

Available online:
The Archivist (Public Archives of Canada):
The Canadian Archivist:

Available in print:
Pennsylvania Archives
Archives (British Records Association)
Ms. Archivist

This exercise allowed me to find current journals I wasn’t aware of, including African Journal of Library, Archives, and Information Science, Collections: A Journal for Museum and Archives Professionals, The Indian Archives, and Journal of the South African Society of Archivists (now added to the Journals list).

I’d love to hear about other journals that are no longer in print or are not open access. Perhaps if we identify these, we can figure out ways to advocate to make them available online.

CFP: Practical Technology for Archives

[from the A&A listserv]

Practical Technology for Archives is an open-access, peer-reviewed, electronic journal focused on the practical application of technology to address challenges encountered in working with archives. Our goal is to provide a timely resource, published semi-annually, that addresses issues of interest to practitioners, and to foster community interaction through monitored comments. Submissions may be full articles, brief tips and techniques, AV tutorials, reviews (tools, software, books), or post-grant technical reports. Please visit for more information.

The editorial board of Practical Technology for Archives is calling for proposals/abstracts for Issue no.5 (2015:Winter).

The submission timeline is as follows:
Proposals due: September 25
Selections made: October 9
1st drafts due: November 6
Draft reviews: November 20
Revisions due: December 4
Publication: December 18

Submissions should be sent to:
Practical Technology for Archives
Randall Miles
Managing Editor

Publishing Events at SAA in Cleveland

Next week I hope to see you in Cleveland! I am always happy to chat with anyone who has article ideas or questions about publishing. You’ll find me wandering around, hanging out at the Bookstore, the Write Away! Breakfast, and the Let’s Do Lunch “Archives for Libraries.” I’ll resume regular posts after SAA.

It was my attendance at a Write Away! Breakfast in 2011 where I started to get to know SAA staff and others involved with publishing. I had a taste of publishing having just co-authored my first article for Archival Outlook about taking the ACA exam (also published in the ACA newsletter). I had recently become a peer-reviewer for Provenance. Most importantly, I started to realize my passion for publishing.

Conversations at and after that first breakfast led to connecting with others to submit a program proposal about publishing (unaccepted, unfortunately). Continuing that conversation led to an appointment to the SAA Publications Board. That led me to gain invaluable knowledge of how publishing works, meet amazing people, and receive wonderful opportunities. Since then, I compiled and wrote an introduction for the SAA Sampler: Archival Advocacy and am now writing the third edition of the Archival Fundamental Series book on Reference and Access.

Networking doesn’t guarantee publication, of course, but it definitely helps you find other people who are interested, who can advise, and who can support you as you enter the world of publishing. You just never know when an opportunity will arise!

Here are events that you can attend:

Bookstore: 8-5:30 Wed, 7-5:30 Thur-Fri, 7:30-10am Sat. Meeting Room 19.

New members, students, and First-Timers are encouraged to meet in the Networking Cafe/Bookstore from 8-8:45 Thur.

Let’s Do Lunch (brown bag; registration required, email Anne Hartman at ahartman [at], in the subject line, indicate: “American Archivist Discussion Group” OR “Archives in Libraries Discussion Group”): 12:15-1:30 Thur. (Note: I don’t know if there are seats left)

Bookstore, Toast to Authors: 2:45-3 Thur. Join in hoisting a glass of lemonade to those who have contributed to SAA publications — journal, magazine, books, modules, and case studies—in the past year.

Write Away! Breakfast: 7:30-8:15 Fri. An informal discussion with Publications Editor Chris Prom, The American Archivist Editor Greg Hunter and Reviews Editor Amy Cooper Cary, and SAA staff Teresa Brinati and Anne Hartman on how you can contribute to the professional literature.

“Office Hours” in the Exhibit Hall: 12:30-1:45 Fri. An opportunity to chat with The American Archivist Editor Greg Hunter, Publications Editor Chris Prom, and Dictionary Working Group Chair Rosemary Pleva Flynn.

Open Access

I received a request to discuss “the fact that so many archives journals are not available to many archivists because they do not eventually become open access” (thank you for submitting a topic!). This is a challenging topic, not just in archives journals but scholarly publishing in all fields.

In 2014, I finished a two-year project to put the back issues of Provenance and Georgia Archive online. This was in progress when I became Editor in 2012 and went back several years (see my article in Archival Outlook for details and history). Since both went online and including the 2013 special issue on advocacy, there have been about 30,000 downloads/views of articles and full issues. The numbers are gratifying and indicate that archivists desired, and use, this resource. Archivaria went online in 2006, American Archivist in 2007, and AA published “Open-Access Publishing and Transforming of the American Archivist Online” in 2011. This article has a great overview of the complexities and definitions of open access. And Hathi Trust has some content available.

In particular, I want to briefly comment on point 5 (p. 487). With Provenance, we paid to digitize the back issues. Though not an exorbitant amount, it was a factor. We were very lucky and I’m eternally grateful to Kennesaw State University, who agreed to host the journal free of charge through their digital commons. Costs are not just hosting (annual subscription with Bepress), but also design of the interface, which they also didn’t charge us for. Academic institutions are often in the best place to provide this service, which means that small, non-profit, and/or non-academic affiliated institutions have an extra challenge to figure out open access.

Lastly, there are the costs of human labor to initiate as well as sustain the journal. I can’t say how many hours Kennesaw staff put in, and though I didn’t track closely I estimate I put in at least 300 hours (volunteer) to get the journals online. As noted in my AO article, this was contact with the vendor, quality control on all the files, and creating metadata. I spent a lot of time correcting skewed pages, cropping, and saving individual articles for better access. At over 600 PDF files and thousands of pages, it took several months. Though both journals have been available for more than a year, I still make behind-the-scenes tweaks (and correcting spelling errors) on a regular basis and am continually learning how to navigate the system. It’s been a great experience and I’m glad to have the opportunity, but it definitely takes time and commitment. It was more than 10 years from when it was first proposed by a previous editor until completed last year.

The submitted question prompted me to go through the list I compiled and do an unscientific analysis. Having never explored these journals with the specific point to see if back issues were available, I am surprised, and pleased, at how many provide access to back issues. However, I did not go through to see specific dates of embargoes, therefore I don’t know precisely the amount of access. The above question didn’t provide specific examples of what he/she was looking for, so if I’ve overlooked something let me know.

Several new journals purposely opted for open access: Archive Journal, Archival Practice, Journal of Contemporary Archival Studies, Journal of Western Archives, Practical Technology for Archives, The Reading Room: A Journal for Special Collections, and SLIS Connecting. Others created an online platform for back and current issues (see list, and let me know if any journals are missing), and just this past June IASA made their journal and bulletin available. The majority provide access to back issues, though often recent issues are embargoed. I found that The Moving Image is available in JSTOR, recent issues of Archives and Manuscripts is available through Taylor & Francis, though one has to have a subscription to access those databases. Archives and Records and COMMA (both international journals) are pay or subscription only. Some journals restrict access as a member benefit; if one pays to belong to an organization, access to the journal is one of the perks. Academic archivists and students are more likely to have access to some or all of these through their institutions, but that leaves out non-academics. That is an unfortunate, and detrimental, example of the digital divide within our profession. I wish I had suggestions on how to reconcile that.

I agree, having all content, especially back issues, is a resource we all desire and can benefit from. Reading literature helps us grow as archivists and have a deeper knowledge of our profession. I do understand the business side of it too. What I don’t agree with are the companies or journals, like Elsevier, that ask authors to pay to have their content open access, and it seems to be a trend in science journals (read an explanation in Nature). In my opinion, that’s unethical and goes against the purpose of scholarship. As we are in the business of providing access to information, I’m glad that (to my knowledge) library and archives journals are not likely to go that route.

Publishing, in general, is in transition in our digital age. It has been for a while and in my opinion I think it will be some time, if ever, before it settles down. E-books, self-publishing, open access journals, institutional repositories, and so forth are transforming the options to disseminate information. I do hope that more journals provide open access to back issues, and someday current, and that we continue our practices of sharing information.