New Issue: The Reading Room

The Spring 2018 issue of The Reading Room: A Journal of Special Collections has been published and is available online via the journal website: The Reading Room: A Journal of Special Collections as well as on Scholastica: Vol. 3, Issue 1, 2018 | Published by The Reading Room: A Journal of Special Collections.

In this issue:

  • Gabriella Karl-Johnson investigates the American Viewbooks Collection in the Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library at Columbia University. A recent CLIR Hidden Collections grant has increased discovery and exposure of the collection. Ms. Karl-Johnson discusses the depths of what this collection reveals to researchers via the role of contemplative cataloging.
  • Sarah Allison details how New Mexico State University Archives and Special Collections employed a SWOT analysis to evaluate and redesign their student employee program, focusing on developing competencies related to all aspects of the department as well as unitspecific work.
  • What to do with collections lacking original metadata? Erin Passehl-Stoddart shares a creative solution to this common issue for special collections. Using gamification techniques, Ms. Passehl-Stoddart was able to create and enhance metadata while connecting student employees to visual literary standards and library learning goals.

Interested in submitting an article for a future issue or serving as a peer reviewer?  Contact us at

Recent Issue: The Reading Room

The Reading Room: A Journal of Special Collections is now available for download.

Volume 2 | Issue 2 – (Full Issue, Spring 2017)

Bringing Art to the Library: An Undergraduate Art Education Collaborative with the Curriculum Materials Center
Karen Nourse Reed, Middle Tennessee State University

Making the Case for Brown University’s Stamp Collections
Sarah Dylla, Rhode Island School of Design and Steven Lubar, Brown University

A Model for Surfacing Hidden Collections: The Rescuing Texas History Mini-Grant Program at the University of North Texas Libraries
Marcia McIntosh, Jacob Mangum, and Mark E. Phillips, University of North Texas

Literary Manuscripts in the Classroom: Using Manuscript Collections to Engage Undergraduate Students
Libby Hertenstein, Bowling Green State University

What was Old is New Again: Managing Streaming Archival Films on Multiple Hosted Platforms
Jessica Clemons, University at Buffalo, and Reed Bresson, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry

CFP: The Reading Room: A Journal of Special Collections

The Reading Room: A Journal of Special Collections is now accepting manuscript submissions for its Fall 2017 issue (volume 3, issue 1). The submission deadline for manuscripts is June 5, 2017.

The Reading Room is a scholarly, open-access journal committed to providing current research and relevant discussion of practices in a special collections library setting. The Reading Room seeks submissions from practitioners and students involved with special collections in museums, historical societies, corporate environments, public libraries and academic libraries. Topics may include exhibits, outreach, digital collections, mentorship, donor relations, teaching, reference, technical and metadata skills, social media, “Lone Arrangers”, management and digital humanities.

Narrative features, research articles, and case studies are welcome. The journal features single-blind, peer-reviewed research articles and case studies related to all aspects of current special collections work.

The editors strongly encourage queries from authors regarding potential articles for The Reading Room. Please email before submitting your manuscript.

For more information, please see our website:

Molly D. Poremski
Digital Collections Librarian
221 Lockwood Memorial Library
University at Buffalo, State University of New York
Buffalo, NY 14260
(716) 645-7750

New Issue: The Reading Room: A Journal of Special Collections

Volume 2 | Issue 1(Full Issue)

Guest Post: Starting an OA journal: The Reading Room

Starting an OA journal: The Reading Room
by Amy Vilz and Molly Poremski

The Reading Room: A Journal of Special Collections is a peer-reviewed, open access journal focusing on special collections. At the time of our launch, there was a lack of comprehensive, open access journals for special collections at large, and our journal helps to fill this niche. Furthermore, we believe academic libraries are currently, and for the foreseeable future, focusing on the resources that make them unique: namely, their special collections. Given this environment, we have a large, identified community of readers, authors and peer-reviewers.

Traditionally, a special collections librarian would present research findings or a case study at regional and national conferences before the results were published in a journal, with many times a year or more lapsing between project completion and dissemination via publication. While there’s nothing wrong with print-based journals and the present and publish system per se, we wanted to offer an open-access, online, and free peer-reviewed journal, to hopefully be a bit more accessible and publish articles quickly to increase responsiveness to challenges and successes in our field.

We use Scholastica as our back-end journal platform. It’s cloud-based, there’s nothing to install, the interface is intuitive and easy to use, and it’s cost-effective. You can publish your journal on Scholastica, but we chose to have our Libraries’ Web Management team create a front-end website to showcase each issue. For metrics, Scholastica has a built-in analytics program to gauge information regarding editor performance, acceptance rate, average days to decision, manuscript progress, etc. We use Google Analytics to measure traffic on the in-house public interface.

We applied for funding for Scholastica through our institution, the University at Buffalo. In 2014, UB Libraries offered innovation grants to faculty and staff. Fees for Scholastica are limited to a small cost per unique journal submission. Our grant funding will support the submission of articles and serve as bridge money until the journal can become self-sustaining from database royalties. Current criteria for inclusion in database directories are two to three years of established publication. This seed money gives us the opportunity to test the Scholastica platform and create a back catalog of journal issues enabling us to meet the requirements of disciplinary journal indexes (i.e. Library Literature & Information Science Index) and periodical directories such as the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). A successful transition from Innovation Funding to a self-sustaining income within three years is our goal.

We created the journal for many reasons, one of which was somewhat selfish! We each had articles in mind regarding our special collections, but felt there was no appropriate journal for publication. Our ideas related to the stories our collections tell; this was the impetus for our Narrative Features. Our Narrative Features provide a unique outlet in a peer-reviewed environment. Collections tell stories, stories that are revealed by librarians, curators, and researchers within the reading room. Yet there are limited outlets for these types of articles in a peer-reviewed environment. Examples include unique circumstances relating to the donor or acquisition of materials, significance of documentation within a collection or an institution’s collecting area, or how the format of materials in a collection enhances or inhibits understanding of the collection. We also welcome and encourage interpretive works on collections. Feature articles are meant to offer insight into a collection’s significance (either a discrete collection or collection holdings at large) and address the context within its applicable field or within institutional holdings. We think this sets The Reading Room apart, and indeed, just over half of our article queries and submissions are for these types of articles.

At The Reading Room, we made a conscious effort to expand our submission base, and include articles from those using special collections (researchers) as well as students working with special collections. We did this not only to increase our readership, but the conversation in our field about how our collections are being accessed and used, and broaden the measure of scholarly impact. For example, if a researcher has used unique collection material for their research article, why not publish that article for a special collections audience in a special collections journal? We want to showcase not just how professional librarians, archivists, and curators work with special collections, but how our users and researchers work with special collections. In that way, we believe it gives a better context and measure of the impact of cultural collections.

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