ASSOCIATES (vol. 2, no. 2, November 1995) - associates.ucr.edu
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WHAT'S IN A NAME? An Informal Study of Library Association Journal Titles by Gene Kinnaly Senior Technical Advisor Arts and Sciences Cataloging Division Library of Congress Washington, DC 20540-4315 email@example.com Background: 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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 reporting. General: 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 Association. 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 situation. Maine: 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) Ohio: 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 only) continued by: Bulletin (1979) continued by: OLA Bulletin (1985) OLA Bulletin merged with: 1) Ohio Libraries (?), 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? Conclusion: 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 thing. 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 librarianship? 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?