ASSOCIATES (vol. 2, no. 2, November 1995) -

Table of Contents

                        WHAT'S IN A NAME?

     An Informal Study of Library Association Journal Titles


                          Gene Kinnaly
                    Senior Technical Advisor
              Arts and Sciences Cataloging Division
                       Library of Congress
                    Washington, DC 20540-4315


Over the last few months there has been a controversy concerning
the name of the journal of the Virginia Library Association.
Linda Farynk, the President of VLA, suggested changing the name
from "Virginia Librarian" to "Virginia Libraries".  The
co-editors of the journal, Dan Ream and Lucretia McCulley,
strongly disagreed.  I thought I would check to see what other
state library associations used for *their* journal titles.  So,
I did a little research.

I'm most familiar with the Library of Congress database, so
I started there.  Seeing that there were states missing from the
LC database, and continuation titles referred to but not found, I
then checked OCLC.  These were the only two databases I checked.
In total, I found 121 bibliographic records for the library
journals of 48 state library associations.  I'd like to share
with you some of what I found.

Please let me know ( of any glaring mistakes,
additions, or corrections.  I have tried to be as complete as
possible in my searching, and as accurate as possible in my


Here's the breakdown of the words which appear most frequently in
library association journals (excluding "association" and any
part of the name of the association):

       bulletin               27
       libraries              22
       newsletter             17
       librarian              15
       library                 8
       journal                 7
       quarterly               2

There were instances where more than one of these words appeared
in the same name. In Michigan and Virginia, "Librarian
Newsletter" was at one time the name of the journal.  In New
Jersey and New Mexico, "Libraries Newsletter" appeared.
I found one instance where the name changed from "libraries" to
"librarian" (Tennessee) and one instance where the name changed
from "librarian" to "libraries" (California).  On the average,
each journal changed its name 2.5 times.  There were some titles
that changed often (Maine and Ohio seem to be the winners here)
and some that *never* changed, including the library journals for
Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Nebraska, New York, North
Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

The longevity award for the journal title in publication for
the longest period of time without a title change goes to
Illinois.  "Illinois Libraries" began publication in January,
1919.  The oldest journal title I could find goes back to 1906.
"Library Occurrent" started in April of that year, and continued
until 1980.  In 1981, it was continued by "Indiana Libraries".

Glimpses of History:

Some of the notes recorded as part of the bibliographic
information for these publications offer a glimpse of U.S. and
world history.  For example, "Tennessee Libraries" suspended
publication from Feb. 1933 through Dec. 1937 - probably a
casualty of the Great Depression.  The Ohio Library Association's
"News Bulletin" suspended publication from July 1933 through
September 1934, no doubt for the same reason.

The "Idaho Librarian" suspended publication from Nov. 1946
through January 1951 - I wonder why?  My best guess would be that
the problem was one within the state or within the library
association.  Then again, it had just started in April of 1945 -
perhaps it was having problems getting established?

And volume one, number one of the "HLA Journal", published by the
Hawaii Library Association, was issued in June of 1944.
Considering the attack on Pearl Harbor, there is something very
appropriate in the "HLA Journal" being issued at the same time as
the Allied invasion of Europe.

Unique Names:

Most of the journal titles are fairly standard.  They
incorporate words like newsletter, bulletin, and journal, often
with the name of the state library association.  But others are
... quite different.  The state can sometimes be easily
determined by the title; in other cases, the title doesn't offer
a clue.

Someone familiar with the Chesapeake Bay's blue crabs might
figure that "The Crab" is the Maryland Library Association's
journal.  "High Roller" would most probably refer to Nevada's
journal, although Las Vegas has more and more competition these
days.  "Maine-ly Libraries" and "The Maine Entry" - pretty
obvious, I think.  And "Mo Info" - this one might take a little
more thought.  It's the newsletter of the Missouri Library

But how about "The Good Stuff" - are there any clues?  Are
there any guesses?  It's the journal of the North Dakota Library
Association.  How about "Catalyst" - which state is (or was)
represented by this title?  The answer: well, there are two
answers, because two state library association used this name.
Both the Iowa Library Association and the South Dakota Library
Association used this same title, at the same time.  Iowa used it
first, and in the early '70s South Dakota also used it.  Then
with the Jan./Feb. 1976 issue, the South Dakota title was changed
to "Book Marks", yet another unique name.

But perhaps the most interesting name comes from Minnesota.  In
1972, the "Bulletin of the Minnesota Library Association" was
changed to "Lakeland Libarian [sic] : the journal of the
Minnesota Library Association.  It's hard to tell if the use of
the word "libarian" was deliberate or accidental.  A note appears
on the OCLC record for this title, stating that the "title
appears on some issues as: Lakeland Lib*arian."

Whether this spelling was deliberate or not, the title was
short-lived.  Only three issues of "Lakeland Libarian" were
published, and the title was quickly changed to "North Country
Librarian", yet *another* unique name.

The Name Game:

I mentioned earlier that Maine and Ohio were the winners
of the "titles that changed often" award.  As far as I can tell,
Maine has had eight different titles connected with the state
library association journal, and Ohio has had twelve!  These
titles include simple title changes (continuations) as well as
mergers of two or more publications.  Let's look at each


       Bulletin (1939)
         continued by: Newsletter (1971)
           Newsletter merged with: Downeast Newsletter (?)
             to form: Downeast Libraries (1973)
               Downeast Libraries merged with: Mediacy (?)
                 to form: Downeast Libraries & Mediacy (?)
                   continued by: Maine-ly Libraries (1991) (one
                              issue only)
                         continued by: Maine Entry (1992)


       News Bulletin (1931)
         continued by: OLA Bulletin (1948)
           continued by: Ohio Library Association Bulletin (1965)
             continued by: OLA Bulletin (1973)
               continued by: Bulletin (1976)
                 continued by: OLA Bulletin (1979)  (two issues
                   continued by: Bulletin (1979)
                     continued by: OLA Bulletin (1985)
                       OLA Bulletin merged with: 1) Ohio
                           (?), 2) Ohio Library Trustee (1939),
                         and 3) Ohio Friends of the Library
                                   Newsletter (?)
                              to form: Ohio Libraries (1988)

It would seem that library journal names were far more stable
early in their lives, and far more prone to change later on.  Is
the same true for other serials?


My motive in conducting this research was to find compelling
arguments for the proposal to change the name of the Virginia
Library Association Journal.  Perhaps I would find numerous
library journals which had all included "librarian" in the
title, and which had switched to "libraries."  In fact, I only
found one case like this.  But, it won't be the last!

Perhaps I would find many library journals with "libraries"
in the name.  In fact, this was the second most common word in
library journal titles, and proved to be more popular than
"librarian."  I admit I was hoping to find the more inclusive
"libraries" to be more common than "librarian", and it was for
the sake of inclusion that the proposal to change the name was
first put forth.

Perhaps I would find that many, many library journals have gone
through title changes over the years, and in fact this is exactly
what I found.  One of the arguments against changing to "Virginia
Libraries" was that it did not represent good librarianship and
would create a lot of needless work for library staff (and, I
might add, mostly library *support* staff!).  But apparently
other library associations have managed the added workload, and
have not felt that a title change in and of itself was a bad

What I *didn't* expect was that I would have *fun* doing this
research; that I would enjoy tracing the twists and turns of
title changes and title mergers; that I would see reflected in
bibliographic records some of the events of the times; and that I
would find so many very interesting and individualistic titles...
proof positive that working in a library and having a great sense
of humor are *not* mutually exclusive.
I also found, to my amusement, that Virginia's journal has gone
through two title changes already!  It started as "Virginia
Librarian" in April, 1954.  It changed to "Virginia Librarian
Newsletter" in the spring of 1977, and changed back to "Virginia
Librarian" with the first issue of 1986.  An example of bad

As far as the controversy surrounding the "Virginia Librarian"
goes, I'm happy to say that my research will soon be out-of-date.

The VLA Council voted, without dissent, to change the name to
"Virginia Libraries."  The title change will be officially
announced in the last issue of the current title, and beginning
with the first issue of 1996, "Virginia Libraries" will be the
name.  That makes two journal titles switching from "librarian"
to "libraries" -- might there be more in the future?