reposted from the A&A listserv:

Greetings, All!

I hope the start of the fall [semester] has been kind to everyone. Here I am, sending out yet another call for tidbits for the Spring 2016 issue of RBM

We’re interested in getting some samples of successful social media approaches to cultural heritage collections. I know it’s hard to define “successful”, and I know that many of you are probably doing fabulous things that have yet to be discovered. However, I’m afraid we have to cut it off somewhere!

So if you, your institution, or someone/somewhere you know has received recognition for your activities on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, etc., please share it with us. We might be able to feature some tidbits of your work in the spring issue. And since we’re trying to do an online supplement to this issue, we might have the opportunity to link to things that wouldn’t function in print.

Please tell us: what you’ve been doing (including hyperlinks and/or screenshots as appropriate), the type of recognition it has received, and what (if any) tangible impact it has made on a specific collection or the cultural heritage/special collections field overall.

Don’t be afraid to toot your own horn. Flaunt your social media savvy!

Since this is smaller stuff, and won’t require much time to review, I’ll set the deadline as February 1, 2016.

As always, please email me at with questions, comments, or your submissions. I look forward to seeing what fabulous, innovative things you’ve been doing.

All the best,

Jennifer K. Sheehan, Ph.D.
Editor, RBM: A Journal of Rare Books, Manuscripts, & Cultural Heritage
Exhibitions Manager
The Grolier Club
47 East 60th Street
New York, NY  10022
phone: 212/838-6690 ext. 2

Inaugural Issue: The Reading Room, A Journal of Special Collections

Reposted from the Archives & Archivists listserv:

My colleague and I are pleased to announce the inaugural issue of The Reading Room: A Journal of Special Collections.  The issue is free to view/download at .

This first issue includes 6 articles that represent the scope and depth of special collections at large:

  • Elizabeth N. Call and Matthew Baker assess the impact of American Protestant missionaries during the Armenian Genocide as documented in The Burke Library at Columbia and other repositories.
  • Elizabeth Knazook illuminates why 19th century books with original photographs are under-represented in special collections.
  • In celebration of our first issue, we include a roundtable discussion of five poets and their interpretation of the art and function of curation: Michael Basinski, Marie Elia, Nancy Kuhl, James Maynard, and Edric Mesmer.
  • Anne S.K. Turkos, Jason G. Speck, and Amanda K. Hawk share their successes and challenges in initiating the digitization of hundreds of football films at the University of Maryland.
  • The influence of political and historical events in Uruguay on the creation of the Simón Lucuix Río de la Plata Library and the circumstances of its accession by the University of Texas at Austin is investigated by María E. González.
  • Rose Sliger Krause’s case study describes efforts at the Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture/Eastern Washington State Historical Society to offer researchers unified intellectual and physical access to archives and museum materials.

Enjoy the issue!
Amy and Molly

Amy Vilz
University Archivist
University at Buffalo

Molly D. Poremski
International Languages and Literatures Librarian

Send Me Your Photos!

I like to post my posts to Facebook to help promote this blog. However, I have no image associated with it so it looks rather blah. I’d love suggestions on photos for the header image. If I get enough, I will rotate through them periodically. I’ve done some general Google searching but nothing struck me. I started searching DPLA and realized, who better to find cool photos than archivists? Images should be related to writing or publishing, but I’m open to suggestions. Post a link in the comments, submit suggestions, or email me at ccoest[@]


The Battle Between Active and Passive Voice

One challenge with scholarly writing is to not write like we speak. It’s easy to do, and sometimes, like this blog, it is acceptable. Passive voice it is one of the most frequent issues I come across with article submissions. I, too, have experienced being corrected by my professors about my use of passive voice. Or: I, too, experienced professors correcting my use of passive voice.

A question posted to the Chicago Manual Q&A points to Purdue OWL and Language Log posts. I find this post particularly amusing. UIUC has a nice brief and clear explanation of different tenses. And UNC also has a good description. As Chicago notes, it’s not an all-or-nothing and some use is acceptable. As many point out, it’s not a grammar but a stylistic issue. That said, it makes for much tighter and clearer writing to use it only when necessary.

Once you notice it, it can be fairly easy (albeit time-consuming) to fix passive voice. Look for uses of was, were, has, have, are, is, was being, is being, has been, have been, paired with a verb. We speak using those words and phrases all the time. In conversation, that’s acceptable. In scholarly writing, it should be limited. Often, you can delete “has” or “have” without losing the meaning: “I have worked at Boise State University” to “I worked at Boise State University.” Uses of “was” or “were” can be changed to the past-tense of the verb: “I was thinking about starting a blog” to “I thought about starting a blog.” It can be hard to decide whether or not to use passive voice. My approach is to take each sentence and think whether there is a different and more concise option.

This takes practice. The more you correct it, the less you will do it later. Once you notice it, you will see it everywhere. That said, don’t let it impede your writing practices. If that’s how you write a draft and doing so helps your flow of writing, don’t stop as it can be corrected later. If possible, correct it prior to submitting for publication. Editors will be appreciative.

CFP: Provenance Audiovisual Special Issue

Provenance recognizes the evolving needs within the profession and is working to address those changes when possible. For example, we published a special issue on advocacy in September 2013 (

Provenance would like to create a special issue dedicated to audiovisual archives and archivists. Despite two journals dedicated to archival audiovisual topics ( and, Provenance will take a different approach. What we propose is to create an issue where there may be written content, but the bulk of it would be original audio and visual “articles.” Submissions should be specifically about processes, procedures, projects, collecting, digitizing, providing access, or other aspects about managing audiovisual collections.

Following the model of innovative projects such as “More Podcast, Less Process,” we are seeking alternative means of disseminating research and ideas. Audio and video are powerful tools for demonstrating practices, projects, policies, or other content. We invite you to be creative in how you utilize these formats.

Proposals should be up to 750 words and include an abstract of the project, why an audiovisual/written format is ideal to present the topic, and the type/format of the proposed submission. As this is a new format for Provenance, proposals will be reviewed by the Editors for creativity, clarity of thesis/topic, and appropriateness to audiovisual formats. Editors will provide guidance and additional specifications to accepted authors to ensure a high-quality end product.

Suggested submissions include but are not limited to:

  • virtual tour or review of tool or procedure
  • podcasts
  • video tutorial
  • written article combined with audio or video or procedures

Submissions should not be:

  • recordings of conference presentations
  • entire oral histories or digitally reformatted materials

This will be published as an online-only issue, openly available to everyone, in fall of 2016. We recognize that because this process is new, we want to provide enough time for submission, review, and edits to produce an issue. The suggested timeline is as follows:

September 2015 – send out call for proposals
November 15, 2015 – proposals due
December 2015 – editors select proposals and notify all submitters
May 15, 2016 – deadline for final submissions
May-June 2016 – editorial review of submissions
July 2016 – minor revisions of submissions (if needed)
August 2016 – final review by authors/editors
September 2016 – published online (

Written submissions can be submitted via the online system: Audiovisual submissions can be emailed or shared through Google Drive/Dropbox to the Editor at


  • Audio files should be in .mp3 format; video files in .mp4 format.
  • Contributors can also provide embed codes from YouTube, Kaltura, or others if his/her institution utilizes other platforms.
  • All submissions should include a transcript of the audio or video to increase discoverability.
  • No minimum nor maximum word length for traditional article submissions.
  • Consult with Editors for other options.

Written submissions should adhere to established guidelines: Audiovisual submissions will not be peer-reviewed in the traditional sense. Because there are no standard guidelines for reviewing audiovisual content, the focus will be on quality of viewing and content. This process will be flexible and is subject to change.

Provenance looks forward to working with you!

Thank you,

Cheryl Oestreicher
Editor, Provenance, Journal of the Society of Georgia Archivists

Heather Oswald
Associate Editor, Provenance, Journal of the Society of Georgia Archivists

Jennifer Welch
Reviews Editor, Provenance, Journal of the Society of Georgia Archivists   

Peer-Review, Part 1 of Many

One can’t talk about journal publishing without talking about peer-review. When heard, spoken, or read, that term elicits many negative emotions in authors. Fear of rejection, anger at reviewers, frustration with the process, insecurity in reading feedback, to name a few. There’s no way to alleviate that, but there are ways to cope. The Onion recently had an article that captured it well.

It’s not easy to read criticism, but the reviewer’s critique is meant to help an author improve his or her writing. If you read it less as critical and more as assistance to strengthen an article, it’s a little easier. What can be especially frustrating is not knowing how a submission will be evaluated. As each journal has different submission guidelines, each also has a different evaluation process. American Archivist provides their rubric for everyone to look at. In reviewing the information about Provenance, it motivated me to add our evaluation questions. Most journals provide some guidelines but few offer details on the evaluation process. I cannot speak for other editors, but I believe the process should be helpful, not a hindrance to authors. The more guidance provided to authors, the better the submissions will be.

Few people start as publishable writers; it takes years of practice. Right before I defended my dissertation, my chair showed me his latest manuscript which was covered in red markings and comments. At the time, he’d been a professor and writer for 15 years. As he told me, all writers need feedback. Going through the dissertation wringer helped me take feedback as intended: to improve my writing. Two years after I finished my dissertation, I had two peer review articles published, one in Archivaria and one based on my dissertation in Reception. For the latter, one reviewer pointed out that I tended to put my topic sentences at the end of paragraphs instead of the beginning. It was a moment of clarity and great advice that I continue to use in everything I write. My own writing has been much improved not just from the feedback from my own submissions, but through reading reviewers’ reports for Provenance.

Writing is tough, and revising based in feedback can be tougher. To start, an author should read through the reviews and take several days to think through the points before starting any revisions. Some are easy fixes, but some take a lot of work. Try to think objectively and not take anything personally. That’s challenging, as any author puts much effort into writing and it can take many, many hours of labor. The ability to take a step back to think objectively and not personally is a beneficial skill in any publishing process. After a brief time, go through point by point and start revising. It’s important to remember that you are not required to incorporate all the suggestions, but you should offer an explanation to the editor if you don’t. Always keep in mind the critique is for your benefit.

I plan to have several posts about peer-review, and I welcome questions or suggestions of points to address.

The Importance of Submission Guidelines

I received a suggestion to discuss following submission guidelines for journals. While it seems simple enough, I (as have other editors) have received submissions where it’s apparent guidelines were not thoroughly read. There are some flexibility and at times there are minor issues if not followed accurately, but it’s very helpful for editors when submissions adhere to the guidelines.

One of the most obvious, and the most challenging for both author and editor, is citations. Most journals use Chicago style, but library or other programs may use APA or MLA. The percentage of submissions I’ve received formatted in other than Chicago is small, luckily, but I have asked authors to redo citations. It is a tedious process to redo, and I’m sure not enjoyed by author nor editor. I’m most comfortable with Chicago style, as that’s what is used for Provenance, and what I used in my history PhD program. Even though I’ve been using it for years, I regularly use the quick guide to make sure formatting is correct. I know that authors will make errors and that’s okay, as long as overall it follows the appropriate style. Library or other programs may not use Chicago, so if an author is submitting a paper written for a class that creates extra work. It’s well worth investing the time. More about citations in a future post.

Because scholarly journals are peer-reviewed, it’s important that authors not include their name on the submission. This is something fairly easy for an editor to fix, but it is an extra step that can easily be alleviated. Margins, page numbering, type of document (such as Word), how to include illustrations, and length are all easy requirements to adhere to.

Authors have a responsibility to read the guidelines. To my knowledge, no article will be denied if it doesn’t adhere to guidelines, at least for Provenance. However, editors greatly appreciate it when authors follow instructions. My advice is for authors to read the guidelines multiple times as they work on submissions.

In return, journals have a responsibility to authors to provide clear guidelines. Provenance‘s guidelines are few and straightforward. American Archivist not only provides guidelines, but many tips on writing different types of submissions. I frequently refer authors to this site as I find it very helpful. Archival Issues has an extensive style guideJournal of Archival OrganizationArchivariaJournal of Western Archives, and other journals provide detailed guidelines.

A challenge for authors is that all journals have different requirements. In a quick review of the ones mentioned, all are very different. Provenance has few requirements, while Archival Issues has an extensive style guide. When in doubt, email the editor. I regularly answer questions prior to receiving a submission and I appreciate when authors take initiative to ensure it meets the requirements. These questions also help an editor clarify guidelines; if one person has a question, others probably do too. Previous Provenance guidelines mentioned “embedding” footnotes and I received numerous questions about this. It referenced formatting used long ago, and because of the questions I removed that stipulation. I want the guidelines to be helpful so questions and feedback will help strengthen them for future authors.

Guidelines exist to help both the author and editor. For the author, the help create a solid submission. For the editor, they help with putting the journal together. Authors that closely pay attention to the guidelines make editors happy. In my experience, most submissions have done well but I’ve heard from other editors who have had more challenges. It only takes a few minutes to read through them, especially if over time you submit to multiple journals. The editors will appreciate your efforts.