AALL Spectrum

Publication analysis

About the publication

Title: AALL Spectrum

ISSN: 1089-86891

Website: https://www.aallnet.org/resources-publications/publications/aall-spectrum/

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 “provides informative and engaging articles of interest to AALL members. The magazine informs readers about the ever-changing, multifaceted world of legal information professionals on areas including the transformation of law, career and leadership development, accessibility, education, information technology, and best practices. The magazine also keeps members apprised of Association events and activities.”2

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.3

Publisher: American Association of Law Libraries4

Peer reviewed? No.5

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.6 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.7 The archives are available online back to mid-1998 at the Spectrum website.8

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.9

Frequency of publication: Spectrum is published six times a year.10

About the publication’s submission guidelines

Location of submission guidelines: https://www.aallnet.org/resources-publications/publications/aall-spectrum/editorial-policy/

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.11

Submission and review process: The publishing guidelines indicate that “Spectrum prefers a thorough, detailed proposal letter that fully outlines the article topic.”12

Regarding article length, they note that “Feature articles should be between 2,000 and 2,500 words. News and department articles are typically between 800 and 1,200 words. Shorter or longer articles will be considered. “13

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, grammar, and length.” “Whenever possible, the author will be contacted by either the AALL Spectrum editorial director or AALL publications manager to discuss questions of intention and interpretation.”14

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 “authoritative, well-researched articles about legal information and the profession.  Articles that inform, inspire, provoke, influence, or help improve practices are welcome additions to AALL Spectrum. Each submission should be an original, educational piece.”15

Style guide used: Spectrum follows The Chicago Manual of Style Seventeenth Edition and Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition for style and usage, as well as an AALL Style Guide.16

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,17 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).18 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.19 Spectrum is written in American English, and is primarily interested in legal librarianship relevant to the United States.20 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.21

Reader characteristics: AALL reports over 4,000 members, roughly half of whom work in an academic or law school setting. The most populated Special Interest Sections of AALL members are Academic Law Libraries and Private Law Librarians & Information Professionals.22  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.23

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.24

Last updated: March 24, 2019


Show 24 footnotes

  1. ProQuest, “AALL Spectrum,” Ulrichsweb Global Serials Directory, accessed March 24, 2019, http://ulrichsweb.serialssolutions.com.libaccess.sjlibrary.org/title/1521387398626/111034
  2. American Association of Law Libraries, “AALL Spectrum Editorial Policy,” accessed March 24, 2019, http://www.aallnet.org/main-menu/Publications/spectrum/policy-spectrum.html
  3. American Association of Law Libraries, “AALL Spectrum,” accessed March 24, 2019, https://www.aallnet.org/resources-publications/publications/aall-spectrum/
  4. ProQuest, Ulrichsweb Global Serials Directory.
  5. American Association of Law Libraries, “AALL Spectrum Editorial Policy.”
  6. American Association of Law Libraries, “AALL Spectrum Editorial Policy.”
  7. American Association of Law Libraries, “AALL Spectrum.”
  8. American Association of Law Libraries, “AALL Spectrum Issues Archive,” accessed March 24, 2019, https://www.aallnet.org/spectrum_issue/
  9. American Association of Law Libraries, “AALL Spectrum Editorial Policy.”
  10. American Association of Law Libraries, “AALL Spectrum Editorial Policy.”
  11. American Association of Law Libraries, “AALL Spectrum Editorial Policy.”
  12. American Association of Law Libraries, “AALL Spectrum Editorial Policy.”
  13. American Association of Law Libraries, “AALL Spectrum Editorial Policy.”
  14. American Association of Law Libraries, “AALL Spectrum Editorial Policy.”
  15. American Association of Law Libraries, “AALL Spectrum Editorial Policy.”
  16. American Association of Law Libraries, “AALL Spectrum Editorial Policy.”
  17. American Association of Law Libraries,  “AALL Spectrum Issues Archive.”
  18. ProQuest, Ulrichsweb Global Serials Directory.
  19. American Association of Law Libraries, “Meet Our Members,” accessed March 24, 2019, https://www.aallnet.org/community/membership/meet-our-members/
  20. ProQuest, Ulrichsweb Global Serials Directory.
  21. Noordin, Shaikh Mohamed, “Perspective: Beyond the Spectrum,” Spectrum 10, no. 6: 12-13, 17, https://www.aallnet.org/wp-content/uploads/_mediavault/2017/11/pub_sp0604_Persp.pdf
  22. American Association of Law Libraries, “By the Numbers,” accessed March 24, 2019, https://www.aallnet.org/community/membership/by-the-numbers/
  23. American Association of Law Libraries, “AALL Spectrum Editorial Policy.”
  24. American Association of Law Libraries, “AALL Spectrum Editorial Policy.”
Comments are closed.