August 1, 2014

Happy Birthday, LJ!

lj1876 224x300 Happy Birthday, LJ!Today LJ turns 135, no mean feat. I’m sitting here with the yellowed, rather crumbly Vol. 1, No. 1, dated September 30, 1876. For that one year only, it was the American Library Journal, cofounded by Melvil Dewey (yes, that Dewey). It was also the Official Organ of the American Library Association (until 1906), also founded in 1876, also by Dewey.

How does it feel to be so old? More important, how’d you survive so long?

There are some clues in Dewey’s essay on “The Profession,” in that first issue and in an editorial in the same issue.

“It is not enough if the librarian” is a keeper of books, a curator, a disseminator.
“[W]e look for a throng of people going in and out of library doors as in the markets and stores….It is in the interest of the modern library, and of those desiring to make its influence wider and greater, that this journal has been established.”

“In a word, the American Library Journal hopes to collate for the librarian every view or fact which may be of use or interest in his work, to the saving of time, money, and effort for him, and, as a final aim, to the advancement of this honorable profession.”

We still write for that profession, in Dewey’s day and beyond largely dominated by men, now largely female-dominated.

We’re proud to practice advocacy journalism and to enhance the influence of those who work in libraries. And we still deliver the views, including critique, and facts and products that help librarians in their work. The formats have changed and the content has broadened, but the basics are still the same.

It feels good to be so old.

Francine Fialkoff About Francine Fialkoff

Francine Fialkoff (ffialkoff@gmail.com) spent 35 years with LJ, and 15 years at its helm as Editor and Editor-in-Chief. For more, see her Farewell Editorial.

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Comments

  1. Congratulations! On the subject of advocacy journalism, Bob Gibson, Executive Director of the University of Virginia’s Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership, recently said: “Advocacy journalism can be a very valuable thing: people with a cause, people who want to change the world, people who want to take the country in a different direction. And there is more of that. There are more organizations that are doing long-term investigative reporting and generally they do buy into advocacy journalism. There are others that are forming that are taking the traditional tact of pursuing the truth wherever it leads, without a preordained direction, and we tend to trust those, I think, a little bit more because they have a track record—the good ones—of being balanced.” (Gibson appeared on the Charlottesville, VA, politics interview program Politics Matters with host and producer Jan Madeleine Paynter discussing journalism http://bit.ly/pm-gibson)

  2. Francine, congratulations on this important milestone. I hope that in another 135 years, an editor at L.J. will pull out the same first issue and make similar remarks to the the ones you have made. I have been reading L.J. for 42 of those 135 years and the magazine has really taken off under your leadership with new formats and new points of view. You have been a leading champion of freedom of expression within our profession, and I hope that you continue to advocate for the inclusion of a wide diversity of views and styles within the pages of L.J.

  3. While we do practice advocacy journalism at LJ (and I’m proud to say so), we’re pretty rigorous about balanced reporting, too; take a look at some of the stories news editor Mike Kelley has written. Even those on the firing line have acknowledged that Mike treated them fairly. And just because we advocate for libraries/librarians doesn’t stop us from calling out ALA, particular libraries, or individuals, e.g., see paragraphs 2 and 3 of an upcoming editorial in the October 15 LJ: http://www.libraryjournal.com/lj/ljinprint/currentissue/892057-403/heed_this_career_advice.html.csp

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