In which your narrator packs lots of boxes.
From the depths of my packing for relocation to Miami, I bring you some questions about the scholarly journal in the age of digital reading.
As I go through my bookshelves, I’m confronting an amazing number of issues of scholarly journals that I subscribe to, in paper, and have never had time to read. Even though some of them offer online-only subscriptions, I’ve been partial to receiving the paper journals. There’s utility in an object: it hangs around my house/office, reminding me that I can find out about really fascinating new research if I just take the time to open the journal.
But have I actually made time for reading them? Regrettably, no.
Even so, when I start going through the issues, I see at least one item that I think, “Oh, I really want to read that, and this object reminds me that I want to read it.” PDFs on a laptop just don’t have the same physical-reminder value. So I’m having trouble deaccessioning my journals off to the great departmental book-giveaway shelf. I know I can always look up the articles online, but there’s still something seductive about having an unbroken run of a major journal sitting on the shelf.1
Until one finds oneself packing boxes.
So, I’d love your comments on any of the following:
- What do you (personally) do with back issues of scholarly journals, now that you know that you’ll be able to find that article online?
- If you’re a member of a scholarly society that offers an online-only option for its journal, do you prefer that option? Why or why not?
And, more relevant questions for my future, hopefully less-pack-ratty self:
- What do you (personally) do to keep up with newly published articles in your historical fields or areas of interest?
- What strategies do you use for making sure you don’t get behind?
- How do you (personally) take notes on your ongoing scholarly reading when you’re not doing it for a particular research project?
I and my aching lower back thank you.
- Back-issues of certain subfield journals, like GLQ and Law & History Review, rarely tempt me to weed them from my collection. Topic-focused special issues on things I care about, likewise. Editors, take note. ↩
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