Last spring the Publications Board conducted a survey to assess members’ needs to strategize the future of publications. This survey assessed topics of interest, as well as how members want to receive and read books. The latest issue of Archival Outlook has an article describing the results of the survey. About 1,600 people responded, and the results are quite interesting. SAA book publications are important not just to advance the profession, but to help fund the organization. As the article states, “Books published by SAA help our members increase their sum of professional knowledge and to partake in a shared vision for archival practice.”
Ebooks have been a bit slow to take off in the profession, but is likely to grow over the next few years; more than half indicated they prefer print but close to half predicted they would access an ebook in the future. Personally, I like both. Ebooks allow me to search and sometimes I find it easier to use them when I’m writing. I can copy/paste quotes, and also don’t need to balance a book and my laptop while reclining comfortably on my couch. However, I still like seeing them on my bookshelf and find it easier to quick grab a book to look something up or hand it to an intern or staff member to read.
More than half indicated interest in a subscription model, which I’m intrigued by. I like the idea of being able to search across publications and easily access literature. For me it would serve a dual purpose: quickly finding multiple sources for answers, as well as the ability to read/review books prior to purchasing. And, of course, fewer books to check out from the library or order through interlibrary loan.
As a current book author, I constantly think about what information archivists need to grow in their jobs and how my book will be used. Reference, access and outreach ranked 5th out of the 10 topics assessed. However, my interpretation is that topics ranked higher – digital records/digitization, arrangement and description, preservation and conservation – all lead to access. While my book will not go in-depth about those areas, I discuss them in relation to reference and access.
I look forward to seeing how SAA publications evolve and develop based on this survey.