American Libraries


Publication analysis

About the publication

Title: American Libraries

ISSN: 0002-9769 (Print) and 2163-5129 (Online)1


Purpose, objective, or mission: American Libraries is “the flagship publication of the American Library Association,” dedicated to publishing news “about all matters of import to libraries and librarians.”2 Per the Editorial Policy, part of the ALA Policy Manual section 10.2: the editor is charged with “a particular responsibility to convey to the membership and other readers full and accurate information about the activities, purposes, and goals of the Association.”3

Target audience: ALA members, the majority of whom are professional librarians in the United States.4

Publisher: American Library Association (ALA)5

Peer reviewed? No.6

Type: LIS professional news magazine.7

Medium: American Libraries is a print publication, with occasional digital supplements. American Libraries Online is the online edition.8

Content: American Libraries “features articles on professional concerns and developments, along with news of the Association, library-related legislation, and libraries around the country and the world. Expression of diverse viewpoints and critical interpretation of professional issues make the magazine the premier forum for the exchange of ideas.” 9

Frequency of publication: The print edition is published 6 times per year, with a digital-only July/August issue and occasional digital supplements.10

About the publication’s submission guidelines

Location of submission guidelines:

Types of contributions accepted: American Libraries solicits contributions of 600-1,500-word articles, including book reviews, features and opinion pieces on topics of general interest to members of the American Library Association. Letters to the editor are also accepted.11

Submission and review process: Manuscripts should be submitted via email to Hard copies may be mailed to American Libraries, 50 E. Huron St., Chicago, IL 60611. After submission, there may be “editorial revisions, deletions, or additions that in their opinion support the article’s focus. Editors will make every possible effort to review copy with the author prior to publication, especially regarding any proposed substantive changes.” Authors should hear back about their manuscripts within 4-8 weeks.12

Editorial tone: “Informal, but informative. Factual articles must be inviting and readable, with all statements backed by responsible research and interviews with several expert sources.” The editor encourages the “expression of diverse viewpoints and critical interpretation of professional issues.”13

Style guide used: Chicago Manual of Style (15th ed.).14

Conclusion: Evaluation of publication’s potential for LIS authors

This 100+-year-old magazine is a well-respected publication with a wide audience. It would not be scholarly enough in tone to carry much weight for someone building up publications for tenure, but it is a credible, professional publication that provides a forum for practical information sharing among members of the LIS community. American Libraries publishes feature stories and opinion pieces as well as letters to the editor, and occasionally opportunities for columnists arise. Strong writers with appropriate story ideas should be encouraged to submit work here, whether they are LIS practitioners, educators, or students.


Audience analysis

About the publication’s readers

Publication circulation: Over 62,000 member organizations, individual members, and paid subscribers.15

Audience location and language or cultural considerations: A geographic breakdown could not be found, though American Libraries does offer rates for the US, Canada, and International subscriptions.16 It is probably safe to assume that the majority of ALA members reside and work in the United States. American Libraries is published in English, and readers are likely to be completely comfortable communicating in English. However, overuse of regionalisms should be avoided to appeal to the diverse and widespread American audience.17

Reader characteristics: Because readers are usually members of the ALA, the vast majority work in a variety of libraries and have a high level of education.18 As librarians, these readers are likely to be interested in library topics and sympathetic to library issues. However, it is not safe to assume that readers are homogeneous in terms of how they believe problems should be solved. Letters to the editor and point-of-view pieces indicate that readers can be highly opinionated. The editorial policy states that the “expression of diverse viewpoints and critical interpretation of professional issues make the magazine the premier forum for the exchange of ideas.”19

Knowledge of LIS subject matter: Readers are likely to know a lot about general library topics and issues. Still, the audience includes all types of librarians, so authors would want to avoid highly specialized topics and language. For example, public librarians may not be familiar with (or interested in) the particular jargon and issues of military librarians, and technology specialists may not be familiar with the jargon of catalogers.[19. American Libraries, “About.”

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

Because this is a professional rather than a scholarly publication, appropriate submissions would be practical rather than theoretical. Possibilities might include current topics in librarianship, or unique twists on topics of general interest to the broad LIS community such as management, advocacy, and general-interest technologies. American Libraries readers have in common a professional or personal interest in libraries, but the audience is large, and readers’ specialized interests will be quite diverse. For this magazine, general library topics would be appropriate — articles on things like library technology, marketing, or management, the kinds of topics that would be relevant to all librarians, no matter what kinds of libraries they worked in.

Authors could assume that American Libraries readers would understand general library language and that basic terms would not need to be explained (the editors of American Libraries, for example, assume that readers will understand ALA’s common acronyms, such as ACRL). However, authors should try to avoid the kinds of topics or jargon that might be related to a specific library environment or aspect of librarianship, such as academic libraries or cataloging. Articles on highly specific topics or for particular ALA subgroups would be better directed toward the publications of the related ALA divisions, such as College and Research Libraries News or Children and Libraries.

Last updated: June 30, 2019


Show 19 footnotes

  1. ProQuest, “American Libraries,” Ulrichsweb Global Serials Directory, accessed June 30, 2019,
  2. American Library Association, “About,” accessed June 30, 2019,
  3. American Libraries, “About.”
  4. American Libraries, “Advertising,” accessed June 30, 2019,
  5. ProQuest, Ulrichsweb Global Serials Directory.
  6. ProQuest, Ulrichsweb Global Serials Directory.
  7. ProQuest, Ulrichsweb Global Serials Directory.
  8. American Libraries, “About.”
  9. American Libraries, “Submissions,” accessed June 30, 2019, 
  10. American Libraries, “About.”
  11. American Libraries, “Submissions.”
  12. American Libraries, “Submissions.”
  13. American Libraries, “Submissions.”
  14. American Libraries, “Submissions.”
  15. American Libraries, “Advertising.”
  16. American Libraries, “Subscriptions,” accessed June 30, 2019,
  17. ProQuest, Ulrichsweb Global Serials Directory.
  18. American Libraries, “About.”
  19. American Libraries, “Submissions.”
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