In the Library with the Lead Pipe

Publication Profiles > LIS Scholarly Journals > In the Library with the Lead Pipe

Publication analysis

About the publication

Title: In the Library with the Lead Pipe

ISSN: 1944-61951


Purpose, objective, or mission: From the website’s About page: “Lead Pipe believes libraries and library workers can change the world for the better. We improve libraries, professional organizations, and their communities of practice by exploring new ideas, starting conversations, documenting our concerns, and arguing for solutions.”2

Target audience: Educators, administrators, library support staff, technologists, and community members.3

Per co-founder Brett Bonfield: “We do our best to reach beyond librarians, administrators, etc. and also engage people who care about the same things that we care about, such as publishing, reading, knowledge, intellectual freedom . . . all the intersections between librarians and other fields, professions, avocations. We do this by trying to avoid jargon and by telling good stories, and we also do it by interviewing non-librarians and by asking non-librarians to write for us or serve as peer reviewers.”4

Publisher: The editorial staff of In the Library with the Lead Pipe5

Peer reviewed? Yes,6 by at least one external and one internal reviewer7

Type: An LIS scholarly publication that crosses over into the professional and trade publication category.8

Medium: Online.9

Content: The goals of Lead Pipe are to start conversations and to propose solutions to LIS problems and concerns. The content includes essays by the editorial board and articles by guest authors, including “educators, administrators, library support staff, technologists, and community members.”10 Articles range from advice to LIS students, to notes from LIS professionals in the workplace, to favorite books and commentary on current LIS-related news items such as retaining LGBTQ staff and library use of social media.11

Frequency of publication: Monthly.12

About the publication’s submission guidelines

Location of submission guidelines:

Types of contributions accepted: Constructive criticisms and commentary from people experiencing the library from the inside as librarians, administrators, and support staff, as well as community members who interact with libraries. The goal is to provide perspective from all aspects of the library community. The editors encourage article proposals from LIS students and those new to the profession.13

Examples of material published include:

  • Original research with a discussion of its consequences and an argument for action.
  • Articles arguing for a particular approach, strategy or development in librarianship, with practical examples of how it might be achieved.
  • Transformative works with additional explanatory or interpretive content. For example, a transcription of an interview or panel discussion, with a substantial introduction explaining the importance of the subject to librarianship and a discussion of related literature.14

Submission and review process: Prospective authors are asked to submit a 200-word abstract, a link or attachment to writing samples, and a current resume or CV using the email address listed on the submissions page. Authors may also submit a completed article, from 2000-5000 words, with citations as necessary.15

A staff member will respond to submissions within three weeks to indicate whether an article is appropriate to Lead Pipe publication goals in terms of content and style.16

According to Lead Pipe author instructions, “The author does the hard work of actually writing the article. Articles may have multiple authors, but in this case one author must be designated as the primary point of contact for the Editorial Board. Authors are also responsible for identifying an external reviewer. The external reviewer should have some professional connection to or knowledge of the article’s topic, and is expected to provide expert review and constructive feedback. The external reviewer does not necessarily have to be librarian. Authors may work with someone they already know or reach out to the professional community. The Editorial Board is happy to offer guidance in identifying and contacting an appropriate reviewer if needed.”17

Per co-founder Brett Bonfield, “Our goal is to make sure the article is factually accurate, well written, well edited, and interesting.”18

The process from selection to publication takes at least six weeks, with Lead Pipe editors requesting feedback and drafts from the author as necessary. This is a highly collaborative process where editors work closely with writers to produce the most fabulous writing possible for the site. Prospective authors should consult the Guest Author Instructions, Framework for Guest Author Proposals, and Peer Review Guidelines before submitting.19

Editorial tone: Informal and engaging; informative yet relaxed. The articles are peer-reviewed, but speak to the entire community of people who work in and use the library. They are thoughtful, positive articles that pose challenging questions and educate readers on diverse aspects of the LIS world.20

Style guide used:  The Lead Pipe includes an in-house style guide in its submission guidelines. Authors may use any citation style, as long as it is consistently applied within an article. The editors encourage use of the first-person for many articles, and request that authors avoid use of the passive voice.21 See the site’s detailed Style Guide for more information.

Conclusion: Evaluation of publication’s potential for LIS authors

This is an extremely LIS-student-friendly publication open to a great variety of topics within the field.22 The site has a registered ISSN number and although it has been awarded titles such as “€œBest General Blog”€ in 2012 from the Salem Press Library Blog Awards, the editors “feel that this rich peer review process sets us apart from scholarly blogs and puts us in the realm of “journal.”23 Many writers have referenced the site through other publications.24

The editors “encourage creative thinking, envelope-pushing, and constructive criticism,”25€œ while “articles indulging in non-constructive criticism will not be accepted.”26


Audience analysis

About the publication’s readers

Publication circulation: Not specified. According to a survey performed by Arthur Hendricks of 67 university library professionals, 3 of those 67 (4.5%) mentioned In the Library with the Lead Pipe as a blog that they regularly read.27

Audience location and language or cultural considerations: Currently all members of the editorial board work in the United States,28 and articles are written in American English.29 However, given that Lead Pipe is an internationally recognized, well-respected, yet informal journal that was previously a popular peer-reviewed blog, a more global readership may be assumed.

The publication style guide requests that authors “. . . incorporate a global perspective in the context and arguments of articles (e.g., by considering what the broad international profession should do, not just what the American Library Association or U.S.-based librarians should do). It is acceptable for an article’s focus to be on one geographic region, but this should be made clear in the article, and avoid phrases like “across the country” without mentioning which country.”30

Reader characteristics: Editors take pride in having diverse skills and interests, and bring all of that knowledge to the website, making it an interesting site to read even by those outside the profession. Lead Pipe is directed towards people involved in libraries in any capacity, from librarians to support staff and community members.31

Knowledge of LIS subject matter: Strong.32

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

The journal is one of the longer standing open source, peer-edited and -reviewed LIS sites, dating back to 2008. It is read and referenced by librarians internationally, and provides good information and topics of conversation for librarians and those interested in the LIS community. It is an informally written site but still presents scholarly articles along with editorials and opinion pieces, and would be a good platform for LIS students who wish to network and share ideas and concerns through writing articles for a community of peers.

Per editor Brett Bonfield: “We think of ourselves as a journal and we publish “articles,” not posts, and those articles are indexed by EBSCO for its library database products. We’re not aggressive about it or anything–we were delighted by the Salem Press blog award, for instance–but it’s a distinction that has meaning for us. We love a lot of LIS blogs and we love a lot of LIS journals, we just think we have a bit more in common with the journals than the blogs.”33

Last updated: June 30, 2019


Show 33 footnotes

  1. ProQuest, “In the Library with the Lead Pipe,” Ulrichsweb Global Serials Directory, accessed June 30, 2019,
  2. “About,” In the Library with the Lead Pipe, accessed June 30, 2019
  3. “About,” In the Library with the Lead Pipe, accessed June 30, 2019,
  4. B. Bonfield, personal communication, March 17, 2013
  5. ProQuest, Ulrichsweb Global Serials Directory.
  6. ProQuest, Ulrichsweb Global Serials Directory
  7. “Lead Pipe Publication Process,” In the Library with the Lead Pipe, accessed June 30, 2019,
  8. “About.”
  9. ProQuest, Ulrichsweb Global Serials Directory.
  10. “About.”
  11. “Archives,” In the Library with the Lead Pipe, accessed June 30, 2019,
  12. “Archives.”
  13. “About.”
  14. “Submission Guidelines,” In the Library with the Lead Pipe, accessed June 30, 2019,
  15. “Submission Guidelines,” In the Library with the Lead Pipe, accessed June 30, 2019,
  16. “Submission Guidelines.”
  17. Lead Pipe Publication Process.”
  18. Bonfield, personal communication.
  19. Lead Pipe Publication Process.”
  20. “About.”
  21. “Style Guide,” In the Library with the Lead Pipe, accessed May 3, 2017,
  22. “Archives.”
  23. Ellie Collier, “And the Survey Says . . .,” In the Library with the Lead Pipe, September 5, 2012, accessed May 3, 2017,
  24. “Awards and Good Words,” In the Library with the Lead Pipe, accessed May 3, 2017,
  25. “About.”
  26. “About.”
  27. Arthur Hendricks, “Bloggership, or is publishing a blog scholarship? A survey of academic librarians,” Library Hi Tech 28, no. 3 (Summer 2010): 470-477,
  28. “Editorial Board,” In the Library with the Lead Pipe, accessed June 30, 2019,
  29. ProQuest, Ulrichsweb Global Serials Directory.
  30. “Style Guide.”
  31. “Style Guide.”
  32. “About.”
  33. Bonfield, personal communication.
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