Academic journal article Reference & User Services Quarterly

Good Night and Good Luck: A Farewell

Academic journal article Reference & User Services Quarterly

Good Night and Good Luck: A Farewell

Article excerpt

In our very first editorial for RQ in the Fall issue of 1991 (vol. 31, no. 1), we described our reluctance to undertake such an intimidating responsibility, particularly in light of the quality of the work of the preceding two editors. Little did we realize at that time that we would serve for two terms as editors of RQ and then return for two terms as editors of Reference & User Services Quarterly.

That first editorial, simply titled "From the Editors," was primarily an opportunity to express thanks to our predecessors and supporters, to present new Editorial Board members and columnists, and to provide a preliminary preview of our views on the future of the journal. During our four terms as editors of the division's official journal, thirty-nine editorials appeared, one of which was authored by a guest editor. One of the privileges of editing a journal is the opportunity to wax eloquent on a topic of one's own choosing; having two editors obviously increases that eloquence by at least one order of magnitude. One might wonder why, given the opportunity to produce forty-eight eloquent statements, we fell nine short. There are two answers, each of which applied a number of times: 1) lack of space due to the need to publish articles, and 2) temporary lack of eloquence due to an absence of ideas.

Reflection on those twelve years of "eloquence" reveals a number of themes, some addressed only once but some recurring. Many of those themes have emerged or continued as enduring concerns or issues of the profession. In this, our truly final editorial (we promise!), we have chosen to revisit those themes.

Twelve Years upon the Masthead

What's in a Name?

That first editorial also took to task those individuals who had erroneously associated the official title RQ with the spurious title "Reference Quarterly." To those late to this confusion, RQ was identified in the very first issue of the journal as being an acronym for nothing. When the title was officially changed to the more formal Reference & User Services Quarterly with volume 37, the emerging controversy became how to pronounce the new, unofficial acronym, RUSQ. Although we have tended to prefer "rusk," we have also heard "roosk," "russak," "rusa-q," and "russ-q." It is clearly too late, as we end our editorship, to become prescriptive in this matter, but we take the diversity of pronunciations as a positive sign that people do talk about the journal.

The Nature of Scholarship

The second RQ editorial under our editorship, also unimaginatively titled "From the Editors," focused on the purpose and nature of scholarship, the distinction between research narrowly defined and scholarship broadly defined, and the ways in which the various components of the journal--refereed articles, columns, and reviews--contribute to scholarship. Our third editorial was the first to have a descriptive title. "Beals Revisited: Sad Tidings, Lamentation, and Anti-Research" (vol. 31, no. 3) responded to a letter in American Libraries that in essence encouraged librarians to "do their jobs" rather than engaging in research and scholarship. We concluded that it was time to "get on with the process of building the knowledge and practice bases of our profession" (304). Sadly, the exaltation of anecdotal success and "best practices" is still evident within the profession, and the research-driven knowledge and practice bases continue to grow slowly.

The Nature of the Field and of the Journal

The nature of scholarship in a professional field is impossible to understand except in the context of the nature of the field. We turned to this theme in our first three editorials for RUSQ. In "Defining the Domain: The Nature of Reference and User Services" (vol. 40, no. 1), we revisited the change of title from RQ to Reference & User Services Quarterly, explored the scope of the area of practice and research properly allocated to the journal, and--for neither the first nor the last time--exhorted the membership to contribute to the journal not just as readers but as authors. …

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