Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Journal of Learning Spaces Launched by UNCG Librarians



A team led by UNCG librarians has launched The Journal of Learning Spaces to provide a scholarly, multidisciplinary forum for research articles, case studies, book reviews, and position pieces that examine higher education learning spaces in the context of space design, use, and management, as well as assessment, evaluation, and pedagogical practices. The journal employs the library’s Open Journal System (OJS) software, which hosts several other online journals for the University and its faculty.

The editorial team includes Joe M. Williams, Head of Access Services, who is serving as editor-in-chief, as well as Associate Director Kathy Crowe, Assistant Director Mike Crumpton, and librarians Jenny Dale and Beth Filar Williams. Several other UNCG faculty members in related disciplines also serve on the editorial board.

The journal’s first issue was published in December 2011. Two issues per year are planned, and there will be no subscription fee. Both html and pdf formats will be offered.

The following is an interview between Williams and Library Columns editor Barry Miller

How did the idea for The Journal of Learning Spaces start?
JW: I have been interested in learning spaces on both a professional and personal basis, and I also have been interested in working with an open access journal publication. These two interests came together, and were shared by several of my colleagues within the library and the University. Chancellor Brady has also put an emphasis on learning communities as a vital part of UNCG’s future, which made us decide to take advantage of UNCG long history in this field, going back to the founding of the Residential College in 1970, the oldest such learning community in North Carolina.

What’s the purpose of the journal?
We want to be a forum for discussing learning spaces, both physical and virtual, from a multi-disciplinary perspective. We see articles on this subject being published in various disciplines, but too much of the discussion is within silos, whether they be libraries, instructional technology people, facilities people, teaching faculty, or others. We started our journal project with people in libraries, library and information studies, interior architecture, residence life, teaching and learning, and education, but we really want anyone with an interest in this topic to be aware of our journal.

Have you had any surprises?
I have been pleased with the amount of interest we have gotten among colleagues willing to serve on the editorial and advisory boards and to work on the journal as peer reviewers. I thought that would be the hardest part, but we have had a lot of people step forward to help. We began with a core group of people within UNCG, but have since expanded to include people from all over the U.S, at this point. UNCG is an ideal-sized university in which to do this kind of project. It is easy to get to know people in related areas, and the infrastructure is here to support our efforts. Prior to publishing our first issue, we had over 200 registered readers for the journal – I think that shows there is real interest in this topic nationally.

What are your biggest challenges in starting this new journal?
We found that getting submissions was a little slower than we expected. At first, we put out calls for papers in various disciplines and in different listserves. With our second issue, e we will also target conference proceedings, and begin pointing individuals toward our journal.

What has been the role of the Open Journal System software in starting the journal?
It has been essential. Without this software, which makes it possible to produce a journal without a lot of technical knowledge, but still conduct peer review, communications with authors, reviewers, editors and advisors, we would not have undertaken the creation of the Journal of Learning Spaces. It allows the whole process to be automated, to a great extent.

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