Focus and Scope

Libraries fulfill vital community needs. Since such needs are always changing, librarianship requires actively evolving professionals.  Public librarians in particular must acquire a wide-ranging set of skills and talents: outreach and marketing, computer networking, digital literacy instruction, collection development, and much, much more.

Traditionally professionals develop their field through active research, using conferences and publication venues as primary means to share notable work. Public librarians do not readily enjoy these development opportunities. Unlike our colleagues in academic positions, we often cannot attend distant conferences or take sabbaticals; we cannot purchase expensive database subscriptions, limiting our exposure to cutting-edge research; and many of us do not have time apportioned for pursuing large-scale research projects.  But our work benefits from the same professional exchange as academic librarians; the patrons we serve are no less important, and our community outreach is arguably greater and more critical.

We need a centralized repository of clear, direct, and specific resources to expand best practices and to replicate successful programs.  Such a collection will help us better meet the needs of our patrons and our profession.

The Active Librarian serves this role.   Our publication reports on concrete, specific initiatives, services, programs, and protocols.  They provide clear explanations for these proposals with the intention of being repeatable by other public librarians.   In short, another library should be able to take the information in our articles and use it to develop, implement, or enhance its own service.  Ultimately The Active Librarian aims to enhance the profession by publishing needed program analysis and assessment. Following a central tenet of librarianship - free access to all - TAL will publish as an entirely open access journal.


Peer Review Process

All articles undergo a peer-review process unless an article is solicited by an editor.  

The editors determine whether an article passes initial review (i.e. it is appropriate for publication in TAL), after which the article is submitted to at least two referees in a blind process wherein the referees are anonymous to the authors.

Submissions may be accepted, accepted with minor revisions, accepted with major revisions, or declined.  


Acceptable Submissions

TAL is a practical rather than academic journal. We adhere to important practices of publishing original work vetted by peer review. However, we forgo overly-rigid academic norms in order to emphasize application. For example, a TAL article does not need a literature review, an exhaustive references list, or some deep statistical analysis. Instead, you need a good idea and a clear, direct explanation of that idea so that it becomes repeatable. Would other libraries benefit from the work you have done? What are the features of your work and steps it takes to implement it? These are general questions that can guide TAL articles.

Submissions report on an initiative, program, or service at your library.  For example, you may have recently adopted an adult literacy program.  Turning your program into a successful article will mean developing a clear description of the program and its target audience, offering a clear outline of the programming involved, providing an example of lesson plans used, and reviewing any steps to assess the program's efficacy and the progress of its participants.  We would also encourage a follow-up submission, where you would report on assessment findings and describe any adjustments you had made or plan to implement.

Acceptable topics include any library-related idea that can be generalized to and applied by other librarians -- i.a. fostering an educational partnership, configuring credit card payments, developing a community "make space," writing a troubleshooting guide for Envisionware's Time Management service, becoming a passport processor. Put simply, if you do something well, we want to hear about it.

Please note that academic librarians are encouraged to submit if their work can be generalized or applied to public librarianship, or if they are working in partnership with public libraries.  

We invite you to submit to TAL if you think your project is best publicized widely and freely, and understood as practical application rather than theory-building or historicizing.  Feel free to contact us if you are unsure whether your project “fits.”

International (non-American) submissions are welcome.


Ensuring a Blind Review

To ensure the integrity of the blind peer-review for submission to this journal, every effort should be made to prevent the identities of the authors and reviewers from being known to each other. This involves the authors, editors, and reviewers (who upload documents as part of their review) checking to see if the following steps have been taken with regard to the text and the file properties:

  1. The authors of the document have deleted their names from the text, with "Author" and year used in the references and footnotes, instead of the authors' name, article title, etc.
  2. With Microsoft Office documents, author identification should also be removed from the properties for the file.

    For Microsoft 2003 and previous versions, and Macintoshversions of Word:

    • Under the File menu select: Save As > Tools (or Options with a Mac) > Security > Remove personal information from file properties on save > Save.

    For MacIntosh Word 2008 (and future versions)

    1. Under the File menu select "Properties."
    2. Under the Summary tab remove all of the identifying information from all of the fields.
    3. Save the File.

    For Microsoft 2007 (Windows):

    1. Click on the office button in the upper-left hand corner of the office application
    2. Select "Prepare" from the menu options.
    3. Select "Properties" for the "Prepare" menu options.
    4. Delete all of the information in the document property fields that appear under the main menu options.
    5. Save the document and close the document property field section.

    For Microsoft 2010 (Windows):

    1. Under the File menu select "Prepare for sharing."
    2. Click on the "Check for issues" icon.
    3. click on "inspect document" icon.
    4. Uncheck all of the checkboxes except "Document Properties and Personal information".
    5. Run the document inspector, which will then do a search of the document properties and indicated if any document property fields contain any information.
    6. If the document inspector finds that some of the document properties contain information it will notify you and give you the option to "Remove all," which you will click to remove the document properties and personal information from the document.
  3. For PDF files:

    • With PDFs, the authors' names should also be removed from Document Properties found under File on Adobe Acrobat's main menu.