My short stint on the JLA Editorial Board

In the Fall of 2012, I was persuaded by Damon Jaggars to join the Editorial Board of the Journal of Library Administration. This week, we all resigned.

When I was asked to be on the board, I warned Damon that I had actually never published anything in library literature, and that I was generally critical of the quality of much of the literature in the field. He convinced me this would be a chance to do something about it, and that he had some good ideas for publishing a quality product. Damon is a pretty persuasive guy, and I figured it was time for me to stop grousing about the problems with library literature and try to be part of the solution. So I signed on.

Later, Damon asked me to write an article about our Library Concierge project for JLA, and again I said yes. When Damon contacted me later with an actual deadline for the article, I told him I was having second thoughts. It was just days after Aaron Swartz’ death, and I was having a crisis of conscience about publishing in a journal that was not open access. Damon reminded me (gently) that not only had I agreed to write for JLA, but I was on the Editorial Board, so this could be a problem. More importantly, he assured me that he was working with Taylor & Francis to try to get them to adopt less restrictive agreements that would allow for some form of Creative Commons license. He told me his strategy was to work from within to encourage change among publishers. Once again, Damon’s power of persuasion worked.

So, I worked on the article, and just recently submitted it. In the meantime, Damon continued to try to convince Taylor & Francis (on behalf of the entire Editorial Board, and with our full support), that their licensing terms were too confusing and too restrictive. A big part of the argument is that the Taylor & Francis author agreement is a real turn-off for authors and was handicapping the Editorial Board’s ability to attract quality content to the journal. The best Taylor & Francis could come up with was a less restrictive license that would cost authors nearly $3000 per article. The Board agreed that this alternative was simply not tenable, so we collectively resigned. In a sense, the decision was as much a practical one as a political one. Huge kudos to Damon for his persistence, his leadership, and his measured and ethical stance on this issue.

So, if anyone has an opening on an editorial board of a journal with less restrictive author agreements, I just so happen to have some free time. I’ve also got a fairly decent article about our Library Concierge Project all ready if anyone wants to publish it.

(3/23, 5:43pm, Edited to correct some spelling and add a link. CB)


43 Responses to “My short stint on the JLA Editorial Board”

  1. 1 Deborah Lenares March 30, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    This approach will hopefully be much more effective than an Internet based petition like the Elsevier “boycott.” Thank you for standing up for our convictions. (I serve as a peer reviewer for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice, an open access journal )


  2. 2 Eduhacker March 28, 2013 at 11:41 am

    Before negotiating your copyright, did you read Micah Vandergrift’s post on negotiating copyright for the JLA issue on digital humanities? Link is


    • 3 Chris Bourg March 28, 2013 at 1:55 pm

      Yes, absolutely. To my mind (and I don’t speak for the entire board), the contract Micah and the other contributors to the DH in Libraries issues should have been used as a model for a new standard contract. IMHO, expecting every author to have to do what Micah and the others did is simply not productive.


    • 4 Randtke March 29, 2013 at 12:28 pm

      Oh, no! Posterous is being shut down April 30, just one month away on short notice. And here it is in a conversation.


      • 5 naesten July 17, 2014 at 5:15 pm

        Fortunately, it’s still accessible at


  3. 6 tom (@crowdedfalafel) March 27, 2013 at 5:13 am

    In the spirit of OA, I’d suggest you publish your article right here – the readers will come.


    • 7 Chris Bourg March 28, 2013 at 1:57 pm

      I’ve certainly published lots about the Library concierge Project on this blog; but was convinced by Damon and others (oncluding my wife, who is neither a librarian nor a reader of blogs) that there are readers that a journal article will reach who would never read a blog post.


  4. 8 Lisa Macklin March 25, 2013 at 8:11 pm

    Have you and the other members of the editorial board considered creating an OA journal on the topic of library administration? Certainly one of the libraries at which you work can host an OA journal. It would be nice if librarians had more alternatives for their publications.


    • 9 Chris Bourg March 25, 2013 at 10:26 pm

      I can’t speak for the other members, but creating a new OA library journal is not on my to-do list right now. Seems like there are plenty of OA options already out there for library topics.


  5. 10 Anonymous March 25, 2013 at 6:37 am

    Chris: would love to see your article in OCLC Systems & Services: International Digital Library Perspectives. It is published by Emerald in the UK, and you only give up first publication rights (as they need to have that to be subsidized by the UK government); you keep all other rights. If you are interested, let me know.

    Dr. Brad Eden


  6. 12 jvinopal March 24, 2013 at 5:55 pm

    Congratulations on your collective action!


  7. 13 Barbara March 24, 2013 at 3:18 pm

    So I was going to suggest the Journal of Creative Library Practice, but Meredith got there first, and now I’m too embarrassed so I’m going to go lie down in a dark room for a while.

    (The good news is you’re definitely going to publish this article because everyone wants it. Also, good for you all for resigning.)


  8. 14 Beth Blakesley March 24, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    Full disclosure: I’m the editor of Public Services Quarterly, another T&F journal. But….I’m also currently the editor of Library Leadership & Management, the LLAMA journal, which is entirely open access. We might reach more of the JLA audience. At any rate, we’d love to see your article, Chris! And that goes for anyone else who is looking for an open access library management/leadership venue.


  9. 15 K.G. Schneider (@kgs) March 24, 2013 at 6:15 am

    “The best Taylor & Francis could come up with was a less restrictive license that would cost authors nearly $3000 per article.” Every time I read that, I laugh. It’s not enough that they line their pockets with the fruits of sweat equity–some of it produced by employees of public institutions, a blurry line when these employees are exempt as it could be argued they are spending public dollars to produce private content. (Then there is OCLC, a member institution. I wonder if the Global Council would entertain an OA clause for publishing.) No, T&F wants to charge authors for the right to publish their research in the public domain. That’s… well, ballsy.


    • 16 Chris Bourg March 24, 2013 at 9:08 am

      Yep … plus the fact that I have seen precious articles in LIS (or any discipline) that are really worth $3000. I get that there are costs to publishing, and that some income might be lost when content is available elsewhere; but $3000 ransom can’t be the answer.


  10. 17 amy March 23, 2013 at 9:41 pm

    i’m on both those editorial boards! DO IT! ; )


  11. 19 Meredith March 23, 2013 at 5:08 pm

    You should submit it to the Journal of Creative Library Practice! In fact, you should serve on their editorial board. You and Barbara Fister are two of the most awesome people in libraries.


    • 20 Chris Bourg March 23, 2013 at 5:20 pm

      Meredith – Thank you! I am flattered and humbled to considered in the same league as Barbara Fister … especially by someone like you, whose work and writing I have long admired.


  12. 21 Rebecca Kennison March 23, 2013 at 5:05 pm

    I think the wonderful open-access Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication ( would be very interested in seeing your piece. (Full disclosure: I’m on the ed board. Happily so.)


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