Science librarian to serve as section editor for The Journal of Radical Librarianship


Ian McCullough, science librarian at The College of Wooster, has accepted a role as a section editor for labor as well as scholarly communications at The Journal of Radical Librarianship, an open access journal that focuses on all aspects of radical librarianship.

McCullough, who has published two peer-reviewed publications on library labor issues and recently co-organized a roundtable about unions at the Association of College and Research Libraries conference, is the first section editor for labor. “The section was created after I pointed out that radicalism and labor struggles have always been intermingled,” McCullough said. He came up with the idea after finding it challenging to find a venue that would publish his last article on labor unions and academic librarians. “This was the main inspiration behind creating this section, and I’m excited to open up a new publication option for other librarian scholars working on issues about labor in our discipline,” he said.

McCullough explained that librarians hold an interesting labor position in higher education. “We are ‘between’ faculty and staff as a job that has elements of both styles of work. We research, teach, and perform service like faculty but not to the same extent, and our teaching is typically not for course credit,” he said, “but our schedules and work life is similar to staff in terms of benefits, hours, and working conditions.” He also recognizes librarianship as a feminized profession—80 percent of librarians identify as women—that provides caring labor. “Both of these traits typically are associated with lower pay. How does this cultural placement effect our careers?” he considered. “I’d like to explore some issues about labor conditions more broadly than just the union/collection bargaining lane that labor is usually associated with.”

McCullough hopes to give librarians a space to tell their stories in the labor section of the journal. “Miami University and the University of Michigan both just organized library labor unions that are not part of faculty unions and are just for librarians. I’m going to reach out and see if any of the organizers want to tell their story with JRL,” he said. He appreciates the non-extractive publishing model of the publication. “In terms of practices, the journal is open access, authors retain all copyright, we do not ask for exclusivity and encourage authors to share their work widely before, during, and after the peer review process,” he said.

McCullough is looking forward to his role as an editor. “I think editing and peer-review are great ways to keep engaged and current in the field in between scholarly projects,” he said. “Also, doing peer review allows me to talk about the peer-review process and academic publishing as a practitioner. This will give more credibility, context, and nuance when communicating to students about the scholarly publication cycle.”

Posted in News on January 11, 2024.