Who Me? Write an Article?

Editor’s Note: At the Illinois Library Association Annual Conference on October 1, 2004, I attended a session called “Start Publishing Now!” It featured new and experienced writers describing their motivations, hesitations and process for writing. If you want more information on why and how to write, see also Lala Rogers article, “Write Now!” on page 12 of the October 2004 issue of the ILA Reporter.

Originally published by the North Suburban Library System (IL) in the NSLS.info weekly newsletter, August 2003.

That’s what many librarians thought before they had something published. “Actually, it was easier than I thought it would be” says Sally Decker Smith, Head of Adult Services, Indian Trails Public Library District. In fact, her first attempt was a “Sally in Libraryland” essay in the ILA Reporter. Since then, her popular essays have become a regular feature in that publication.

Nann Blaine Hilyard, Director, Zion-Benton Public Library District, is co-editor of “Perspectives,” a regular column in Public Libraries. This opportunity was introduced to her through a friend. Still, she is modest about thinking of herself as an experienced writer. Nann also has a strong and helpful voice as a regular contributor to the Publib listserv, and agrees this can be a good way for beginners to get practice writing and sharing professional ideas.

Write What You Are Passionate About

Paul Kaplan, Acting Co-Director and Head of Adult Services at Lake Villa District Library, began with writing book reviews for Library Journal. “They are good practice because they force you to be concise. and they build your confidence as a writer.” He notes that Library Journal and School Library Journal are always looking for reviewers. From there, he advises, “write what you are passionate about.” Paul suggests these tips keeping longer pieces interesting:

  • Start with an interesting or humorous opening line
  • Break up long text passages with bullets (Think “resume” look)
  • Vary the style
  • Keep to a few simple ideas.

A Gentle Nudge Can Be Helpful

Mary Pergander, Head Librarian, Lake Bluff Public Library, recently had her first article published in Public Libraries. “I started by doing the research for fun,” she says, “I was enrolled in an MLS program at the time, and I was also able to use my research as an independent study project for credit. My advisor then suggested I get it published. When I looked scared, she made that a requirement! I am so grateful she did. Although I had always perceived getting in print would be very difficult, that proved not to be the case!”

Where Can You Be Published?

Professional journals are constantly seeking articles and other materials. Publications such as Library Worklife , American Libraries , Public Libraries , School Library Journal , Library Journal , and other professional journals include details on how to submit materials for publication on their Web sites and in their print issues.

Another good place to get your feet wet is the your regional newsletters or e-newsletters.

So.give voice to your professional opinions, share your creative ideas, contribute to your profession, and develop your skills by writing and submitting something soon!

Convinced? ALA-APA is seeking regular columnists and writers for Library Worklife. If you are interested, contact the editor. Submission guidelines are here: www.ala-apa.org/newsletter/submissions.htm