AALL Spectrum

 

Publication analysis


About the publication

Title: AALL Spectrum

Website: http://www.aallnet.org/products/pub_spectrum.asp

Purpose, objective, or mission: Spectrum is the professional magazine for the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) and is included in association membership. This publication is “dedicated to providing informative and engaging articles of interest to AALL members, law librarians, and other legal information professionals. …. Feature articles and opinion pieces cover issues that affect legal information and law librarianship, such as licensing digital content, legislation, and the importance of public relations. The magazine also keeps members apprised of association events and activities.”1

Target audience: Members of AALL are the target audience: members are law librarians in a variety of settings, including academic law school libraries, private firms libraries, judicial and government libraries, and public law libraries for counties and states, as well as other legal information professionals.2

Publisher: American Association of Law Libraries3

Peer reviewed? No.4

Type: LIS professional and trade publication. This is an informal publication of AALL, primarily for association news and short practical pieces that would be of interest to practicing law librarians.5 Though it is not a scholarly journal, it is very well respected and has a high profile in its field.

Medium: Spectrum is a print publication sent free to all AALL members.6 The archives are available online back to mid-1998 at the Spectrum website. 7

Content: Spectrum includes articles on subjects of interest to law librarians, especially practical pieces on marketing the library and management tips. The scholarly journal for AALL is titled Law Library Journal;  Spectrum publishes informational pieces more informally written but still of practical use to law librarians.8

Frequency of publication: Spectrum is published 9 times a year (they do not publish in January or August, and have a combined September/October issue).9

About the publication’s submission guidelines

Location of submission guidelines: http://www.aallnet.org/about/policy_spectrum.asp 

Types of contributions accepted: Spectrum includes a mix of trend or feature stories, news briefs, regular columns, and opinion pieces about issues that affect legal information and law librarianship as well as Association events and activities.10

Submission and review process: The submission guidelines indicate that “Spectrum prefers a thorough, detailed query letter fully outlining your article topic, instead of sending an unsolicited manuscript.”11

Regarding article length, they note that “Feature articles are between 2,000 and 3,000 words. Columns and news articles are between 700 and 1,000 words. Shorter or longer articles will be considered.”12

After submitting a query letter, the author should submit the requested article electronically, with any graphics in a separate file. “All submissions will be edited for clarity and grammar. Whenever possible, the editorial director will contact an author to discuss questions of intention and interpretation.”13

Editorial tone: Reviewing the articles themselves, it appears that Spectrum attempts to include articles that will be of interest to firm, academic, and government librarians rather than focusing on just one type of library. The submission guidelines request “lively, well-researched and authoritative articles about law librarianship and the association. We seek articles that inform, inspire, provoke, influence, amuse, or help improve practices. Articles should demonstrate factual knowledge and provoke readers to learn more. Point out the positive and negative aspects of the topic covered. Include humor when appropriate.”14

Style guide used: The Chicago Manual of Style and Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary.15

Conclusion: Evaluation of publication’s potential for LIS authors

AALL Spectrum is the best place to engage in the informal professional conversation surrounding law librarianship. Though it is not as high profile or scholarly as Law Library Journal, it may be more widely read, and will help any law librarian make a name for him or herself. The quality of writing is very high, as are the editorial standards. However, it is not appropriate for professors seeking tenure to boost publications, as it is not a scholarly journal.

 

Audience analysis


About the publication’s readers

Publication circulation: Spectrum is sent free to all AALL members. The archives for this publication are available online at the AALL website,16 and Ulrich’s Periodical Directory indicates that they are also searchable on various LIS databases (including EBSCOhost, H.W. Wilson products, and Thomson Gale databases).17 It is possible the articles will reach non-law librarian readers through these sources.

Audience location and language or cultural considerations: The main circulation of this magazine is within the United States, but AALL does have some international members. Unfortunately, international demographics were not available on the Spectrum site, advertising materials, AALL Salary Survey, or AALL member information.18 Spectrum is written in American English, and is primarily interested in legal librarianship relevant to the United States.19 If international subjects are covered, the legal systems will require more explanation. An example of international coverage is “Beyond the Spectrum,” by Shaikh Mohamed Noordin, available for download.20

Reader characteristics: The law librarian members of AALL are primarily female, and have a graduate degree in either librarianship or law. Roughly half have a degree in both areas, and roughly half have over ten years of library experience, per the 2007 AALL Salary Survey. The average law librarian is white, female, 50 years old, and makes between $50,000 and $60,000 per year.21  All librarians in AALL are either law librarians or are interested in the organization of legal information.  This publication is run by, written by, and edited by law librarians, and as such tends to reflect the dominant views of the profession. It’s analytical; fairly negative towards vendors, but strives to be fair; focuses primarily on academic and firm librarian concerns (such as training law students or new attorneys) and to a lesser extent of government librarianship.22

Knowledge of LIS subject matter: Readers are generally professional librarians, so a high degree of specialized language and knowledge of LIS principles and information can be assumed. However, specialized information from non-law library disciplines or terms specific to certain jobs (such as cataloging or database administration) require explanation.

Conclusion: Analysis of reader characteristics and their potential impact on authors

Authors interested in publishing in Spectrum are advised to list their qualifications in their cover letters, as this audience respects degrees and library experience. Though the publication is focused entirely on law librarianship, general subjects of interest to LIS professionals will overlap in this field — for instance, information on Web 2.0 is of great interest to law librarians, and recent articles have dealt with how Second Life can be used in libraries. It is best, even with general topics, to make it evident how the subject could be useful to a law librarian.

When writing, authors should keep in mind that readers are librarians first, and will be interested in any developments in the field. The readers have a sense of humor (as mentioned in the invitation for articles) but they read Spectrum for industry news, so entirely humorous articles may not be appropriate.23

Last updated: April 20, 2016


References

Show 23 footnotes

  1. AALL Executive Board. (2006). AALL Spectrum Editorial Policy. Retrieved from http://www.aallnet.org/main-menu/Publications/spectrum/policy-spectrum.html
  2. American Association of Law Libraries. (2014). AALL Spectrum. Retrieved from http://www.aallnet.org/main-menu/Publications/spectrum
  3. ProQuest LLC. (2014). AALL Spectrum. Ulrich’s Periodical Directory. Retrieved from http://ulrichsweb.serialssolutions.com.libaccess.sjlibrary.org/title/1399332352226/111034
  4. AALL Executive Board. (2006). AALL Spectrum Editorial Policy. Retrieved from http://www.aallnet.org/main-menu/Publications/spectrum/policy-spectrum.html
  5. AALL Executive Board. (2006). AALL Spectrum Editorial Policy. Retrieved from http://www.aallnet.org/main-menu/Publications/spectrum/policy-spectrum.html
  6. American Association of Law Libraries. (2014). AALL Spectrum. Retrieved from http://www.aallnet.org/main-menu/Publications/spectrum
  7. American Association of Law Libraries. (2014). Spectrum Archives and Subject & Name Indexes. Retrieved from http://www.aallnet.org/main-menu/Publications/spectrum/Archives
  8. AALL Executive Board. (2006). AALL Spectrum Editorial Policy. Retrieved from http://www.aallnet.org/main-menu/Publications/spectrum/policy-spectrum.html
  9. American Association of Law Libraries. (2014). AALL Spectrum. Retrieved from http://www.aallnet.org/main-menu/Publications/spectrum
  10. AALL Executive Board. (2006). AALL Spectrum Editorial Policy. Retrieved from http://www.aallnet.org/main-menu/Publications/spectrum/policy-spectrum.html
  11. AALL Executive Board. (2006). AALL Spectrum Editorial Policy. Retrieved from http://www.aallnet.org/main-menu/Publications/spectrum/policy-spectrum.html
  12. AALL Executive Board. (2006). AALL Spectrum Editorial Policy. Retrieved from http://www.aallnet.org/main-menu/Publications/spectrum/policy-spectrum.html
  13. AALL Executive Board. (2006). AALL Spectrum Editorial Policy. Retrieved from http://www.aallnet.org/main-menu/Publications/spectrum/policy-spectrum.html
  14. AALL Executive Board. (2006). AALL Spectrum Editorial Policy. Retrieved from http://www.aallnet.org/main-menu/Publications/spectrum/policy-spectrum.html
  15. AALL Executive Board. (2006). AALL Spectrum Editorial Policy. Retrieved from http://www.aallnet.org/main-menu/Publications/spectrum/policy-spectrum.html
  16. American Association of Law Libraries. (2014). Spectrum Archives and Subject & Name Indexes. Retrieved from http://www.aallnet.org/main-menu/Publications/spectrum/Archives
  17. ProQuest LLC. (2014). AALL Spectrum. Ulrich’s Periodical Directory. Retrieved from http://ulrichsweb.serialssolutions.com.libaccess.sjlibrary.org/title/1399332352226/111034
  18. American Association of Law Libraries. (2014). Membership Directory. Retrieved from http://www.aallnet.org/main-menu/Publications/Directory
  19. ProQuest LLC. (2014). AALL Spectrum. Ulrich’s Periodical Directory. Retrieved from http://ulrichsweb.serialssolutions.com.libaccess.sjlibrary.org/title/1399332352226/111034
  20. Noordin, S.M. (2006). Perspective: Beyond the Spectrum. Spectrum, 10(6), 12-13, 17. Retrieved from http://www.aallnet.org/main-menu/Publications/spectrum/Archives/Vol-10/pub_sp0604/pub-sp0604-persp.pdf
  21. American Association of Law Libraries. (2014). Salary Survey. Retrieved from http://www.aallnet.org/main-menu/Publications/salary-survey
  22. AALL Executive Board. (2006). AALL Spectrum Editorial Policy. Retrieved from http://www.aallnet.org/main-menu/Publications/spectrum/policy-spectrum.html
  23. AALL Executive Board. (2006). AALL Spectrum Editorial Policy. Retrieved from http://www.aallnet.org/main-menu/Publications/spectrum/policy-spectrum.html
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