Publication spotlight: School Library Journal

School Library Journal (SLJ) is an LIS professional publication that highlights topics immediately relevant to information professionals who serve children and teens. SLJ includes many useful book reviews as well as articles on common-interest topics like diversity. The publication features a casual yet informative tone that should appeal to anyone interested in LIS issues as a whole.

SLJ is one of my favorite LIS publications due to its articles’ attention-grabbing titles, detailed (but spoiler-free) reviews, and surprisingly broad scope. Don’t let its name fool you; as you’ll see in the “Variety of Topics” paragraph below, SLJ isn’t just for school librarians.

Attention-grabbing titles. Since readers’ time is limited, having an informative, attention-grabbing title is crucial. The perfect title is specific enough for readers to decide if they want to read the rest of the article but concise enough to keep their interest. A great example of a title that meets both these parameters is “Graphic Novels Offer Windows, Mirrors on Mental Health.” Right away, this article’s audience is clear (graphic novel readers and/or individuals interested in mental health issues). At the same title, the title is deliberately broad, keeping readers’ interest (i.e., “graphic novels,” as opposed to a list of specific graphic titles). SLJ’s article titles consistently meet these criteria.

Detailed, yet spoiler-free reviews. When reading a book review, readers look for a unique blend of summary and opinion. The summary should be detailed enough for readers to tell if the book sounds like something they would enjoy reading without spoiling any major plot points. Additionally, the reviewer’s opinion of the book should be clear, concise, and backed by supporting details. SLJ’s review of the 2018 YA novel Children of Blood and Bone exemplifies these characteristics, and the journal’s reviews as a whole are reliably insightful and spoiler-free.

Variety of topics. Although SLJ is geared toward school librarians, the journal covers topics outside the realm of school libraries as well. For instance, a 2018 article addresses the Denver Public Library’s response to the opium crisis. Since I have experience working in public libraries, I value articles that address issues pertinent to public libraries. After reading this article, I would feel comfortable recommending SLJ to other professionals interested in public libraries as well. Indeed, thanks to the sheer breadth of topics SLJ covers, I would even even feel comfortable recommending it to LIS professionals in general.

Last but not least, I want to reiterate that SLJ isn’t a scholarly publication. Articles should be informative but written in an engaging, approachable manner (along the lines of a professional blog). Keeping these factors in mind when submitting to SLJ will go a long way toward helping your article stand out from other submissions.

For more information, please visit School Library Journal’s wiki page.


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