This is the inaugural issue of LIBRES e-journal under “new management” at the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. The first 23 volumes of LIBRES were published by the Department of Information Studies, Curtin University. It was then felt that a change in environment and management would be beneficial for the journal, especially as long-time editor-in-chief Kerry Smith was retiring from academe. A 23-year run is impressive for any journal. However, the world has changed a lot in a quarter of a century, and it was time to take a fresh look at the journal, try new ways of doing things, and perhaps pick a new direction to catch a fresh wind. I agreed to take up this challenge with considerable trepidation and after much persuasion from the editors!
Changes to a journal should build on its existing strengths. LIBRES was a pioneer in the open access movement, and was one of the first open-access journals in Library and Information Science (LIS). Its authorship is truly international, regularly publishing papers from the United States, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia. It receives many paper submissions from developing countries. It publishes research papers as well as scholarly essays and opinion pieces. In subject coverage, it has a particular strength in library/information service, in keeping with its name. Admittedly LIBRES is not (yet) a high-profile journal: it plays a quiet but significant role in the LIS field and profession.
As the new editor, I plan to maintain LIBRES’ focus on research and scholarly publications, to support the continued development and dissemination of LIS research. LIBRES will continue to take a nurturing attitude towards papers and authors. A dedicated editorial board review most of the papers and provide substantive guidance to the authors. Invited reviewers are used only occasionally. Considerable guidance in paper revision is given by the associate editors to authors whose native language is not English.
I am trying three approaches to invigorate the journal. I believe that a journal should play a social and leadership role in the research and professional community. LIBRES and its editorial board will try to exercise this role more actively. Relationships with particular research communities will be developed. As such, LIBRES will regularly feature special-themed sections. For this issue, the Special Section features selected papers from the A-LIEP 2013 Conference, a biennial Asia-Pacific conference that was held in Thailand in 2013. The papers in the Special Sections may not be as well-developed as the papers in the regular Research Section, but they should nevertheless be interesting and contribute to discourse in the field. It is hoped that every issue of LIBRES will have interesting papers for most LIS academics and professionals.
Important emerging areas in LIS will be identified and championed, following the interests of editorial board members. I recently organized a Workshop on Information Behaviour on Social Media, as a pre-conference workshop of ISIC 2014: The Information Behaviour Conference. A Special Section on this topic is being planned for a future issue of LIBRES. I hope that a special-topic workshop affiliated with the journal can be organized every year, with the papers published in LIBRES after a round of peer-review and revision.
LIBRES will also function as a testbed for the use of social media to develop and support research communities. There will be more discussion of this in future editorials.
Publishing an open-access journal requires substantial resources and a multi-talented team to handle all aspects of the review and publishing process, as well as online site development and maintenance. The university library was enlisted to collaborate on the venture—with NTU Libraries providing the technical, infrastructural and social media support (including the journal website and digital repository), and the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication & Information managing the academic and content aspects of the journal (including paper review, editorial support and outreach). The school also provides funding support for the journal, and the school alumni network is tapped for various kinds of talents, including graphic design and copyediting. The journal publication is truly a community effort involving the local and international, professional and research communities.
We are keen to link up with regional LIS research communities worldwide. Leave us a note and tell us about your local or regional research community and its activities.