There’s a Wiki for That

There’s a Wiki for That

by Alison Peters

Here’s the deal: like many other SLIS students, I’m maintaining a full-time, non-library related job with a freelance writing career, and battling to save some time for that nifty thing called ‘having a life’. SLIS, with its refreshingly accessible online learning systems, has allowed me to find just the right niche between LIS core and other fascinating elective coursework, with lots of support from instructors and students alike. But after a couple of packed semesters, I took just one brief winter break and found that coming back for spring was a bit more challenging than I’d anticipated. Frankly, I’d gotten used to not studying, not D2L-ing, not Elluminating, not researching. At the end of my self-imposed break, I was e-learning lazy.

Other Descriptor student writers have encountered this situation. I knew I wasn’t alone. But I didn’t know how to get back to a place where I was happy, fulfilled, and heading towards degree completion (and an LIS career!), rather than flounder around with no specific focus.

Enter the LIS Publications Wiki. Browsing through my SLIS emails, I read a call for students to participate in a LIBR 298 independent study course, a call that felt like it was written expressly for me: “SLIS lecturer Laurie Putnam is looking for a LIBR 298 (Special Studies) student to develop the LIS Publications wiki during the spring semester.” Desired qualifications for the project included excellent research, writing, and analytical skills, an interest in publishing and marketing/outreach, proofreading skills, and the discipline to work independently and to take initiative. It sounded like just what I was looking for. So, I quickly brushed up my resume, emailed Laurie with my interest, and was accepted. Immediately, I realized what an amazing project upon which I’d stumbled.

The LIS Publications Wiki is the LIS world’s best, untapped hidden gem: a database of LIS-centric publication profiles you can browse through to get inspiration on publications for which to write, or to use as a research tool for a specific writing purpose. Created by Laurie as a project for students in her Publishing for the Profession course, the wiki analyzes each LIS publication’s purpose, content, and audience; provides the location and summary of submission guidelines; and, in accessible, informational language, details the publication’s tone, readership, reach and scope. The whole reason for the wiki is to encourage LIS professionals and students to write for publication. It provides the tools, all in one handy, easily-searchable and constantly-evolving wiki to allow you to decide where best to publish your work. If you have a special interest in archival science and have a newsworthy experience you’d like to get published, then do a quick search on the wiki. There are at least three publications dedicated to this focus, and each entry will let you know what type of writing the publication is looking for (scholarly? student-based? research-heavy?), and how you can query the editor to get your piece published. It’s so simple you’ll wonder where it’s been all your LIS life.

The role of the LIBR 298 student was to continue to develop new publication profiles, update current content, and reach out to editors across the globe to discover new publications in which LIS students and professionals can contribute. I contacted esteemed editors of LIS scholarly publications, mostly research-based and peer-reviewed; emailed colleagues and students in charge of LIS online forums like Hack Library School, or the ALA’s Snap Roundtable; talked with LIS professional and trade publications, i.e., publications like this one, written specifically for LIS folks, but less research and more experience-oriented; and finally, tested the waters with editors of what we like to call Civilian Publications, which consist of any ‘other’ type of publication (e.g., Huffington Post, LA Times, The New Yorker), that might be interested in an article with an LIS bent.

Completely engrossed in my work, I made huge progress, professionally and personally, introducing myself and developing relationships with publication editors, further honing my research and writing skills, and gaining valuable insight into not only what kind of LIS writing exists, but also what is still needed and what publications are seeking from writers. There’s so much out there! And LIS professionals are generally receptive, interested in hearing from you, eager to talk about ideas of value to the larger community in addition to getting the word out through their publications.

Here’s how this story ends: I’m completing another semester of LIBR 298, this time with the goal of publicizing the wiki and sharing this fabulous research tool of which most of the community is completely unaware. The hope is that more LIS students and professionals will know about it, use it for their own LIS writing and publication research, and, if so inclined, login and add to its ever-growing content.

My commitment to the LIS degree completely revitalized, I realized that what most suits me, what most interests me, is the Information Organization and Retrieval career path, i.e., research and its uses to the community. Now I can focus on my SLIS coursework accordingly, but always leaving room and time enough for those seemingly random opportunities that just might change my life.

Interested in writing for LIS or LIS-friendly publications? The wiki is waiting for you. You might be surprised where it leads.



Alison Peters has a B.A. in English, an M.F.A. in creative writing, and one day soon will reach the ultimate word-aficionados trifecta by obtaining the LIS degree. She can’t tell you her favorite book; that would be like admitting to a favorite child. But for a good time, she’d recommend Robin Sloan’s Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. Aside from being a great read, it glows in the dark. To connect, please click here.