Eira Tansey

How to keep up with all the archivist/academic librarian literature

With apologies for the click-baity title, I’ve been cobbling together a calendar that I think a lot of other archivists might appreciate, and it’s time to roll it out.

I’m not really sure how I came up with this idea, but several months ago I decided I wanted to become a lot more …thorough? in my approach to keeping up with archivist/academic library literature. So I made a Google calendar that would tell me when to read certain journals, based on the publication schedule. For example, if a journal is published 4 times a year, it should appear 4 times on the Google calendar (with a few exceptions). Rather than assigning journals to a calendar day, they are assigned to a day of the month (so, the first Tuesday of February as opposed to February 3).

I didn’t try to sync up a journal’s new issue release date with a closely matched day, because that way lies madness (so in other words, if the new issue of a journal comes out in May, you might not get around to reading it until July). This whole thing started pretty organically. Right now it’s up to 50 titles. I wanted to share this with y’all because I find that although librarians and archivists are good at organizing stuff for lots of people, we’re pretty bad at organizing it for ourselves.

So you might be thinking “I don’t have time to read that many journals!” Neither do I. That’s why I started this calendar. I rarely do a deep read of more than 1-2 articles a week. I set aside a few minutes every day to check the calendar and pull up the journal. Most days, I just skim the table of contents. If an article title doesn’t REALLY call out to me, I don’t bother reading it. Life is too short.

I keep a large spreadsheet for brief notes on what I’m skimming/very occasionally actually reading. A lot of the notes look like this:

Journal of Library Innovation 1/7/15 Skimmed TOC. One article I glanced at re: integrating an archival collection into classroom instruction

I’m applying the three strikes rule to journals. If a journal racks up three continuous notes of “Skimmed TOC” with nothing else of interest, it’ll get axed from future iterations of the calendar. This is pretty likely to happen because I don’t really vet the quality of several issues of a journal before I add it to the calendar.

I hope folks find this helpful, and please leave me any feedback. I’ve seen a few things out there that say archivists/academic librarians tend to read from a pretty small body of professional literature. This calendar can help broaden everyone’s reading habits.

There are two versions of the calendar: one at GitHub (basically a visual representation in a CSV file, and additional documentation/FAQ on what journals are included and their scheduled frequency) and a Google calendar. You can add this to your own Gcal account if you want. Here is what the Google calendar looks like:

Categorised as: projects


  1. […] in the documentation, “Frankly, some of [the titles] are almost disturbingly mediocre.” Click through to read more and get the calendar at her blog. I haven’t closely compared her list to my […]

  2. Catherine says:

    Hey, cool! I came here through the Hack Library School Weekly Roundup. I’ve been looking for a calendar like this. I’m entering the second year of my MLIS program and I find it difficult to get a handle on the breadth of scholarly and professional literature. Thanks!