Journals and Why I Love Them

I love Journals. One of my favourite things about being a Subject Librarian is having to read and know a fair bit about all about subjects one would never normally take an interest in, and reading up on trade journals for me is a vital part of this.

Over the years, I’ve learned to love the idiosyncrasies, soap boxes and peculiar quirks individual to each trade that can only be really expressed through a journal. Unlike the Internet, a journal allows you time to see something played out, time to think about and research arguments and opinions fuller. The writers are just as angry and opinionated, but by having something in print, often with wonderfully glossy and often inappropriate photos alongside, it somehow gives the argument more gravitas. From the point of view of an outsider like me,  who has no real interest or stake in the trade or issue discussed, apart from how that trade is represented at an academic level, often these articles are beautiful pieces of abstract art.

My favourites are so because they have made me chuckle, but also made me think. From the columnist in Woodworking News, paid for by a case of wine each Christmas, who is a walking advert for UKIP and doesn’t care who thinks so because he works hared fitting windows all day and has a right therefore to an opinion, damn it, to the blistering editorials from Practical Pre-School on the way childcare is seen by the current Government (and they are right, it is a disgrace), each journal somehow manages to both completely fit in with the stereotypes you have in your head about each profession whilst also making you respect that profession more through being able to empathise with them. My new favourite thing is the current ongoing saga on Buses letters page between a bus driver from Keighley and everybody else about whether or not it is important buses run on time.

University journals are obviously a lot more varied and today I came across an absolute beauty from the early 19th century; The Black Dwarf. A London Weekly Publication that ran from 1817 to 1824 and was published as part of the Radical Periodicals of Great Britain series in 1970. This extract is from the last volume’s final address and I just love it.

“IN ceasing his political labors, the Black Dwarf has to regret one mistake, and that a serious one. He commences writing under the idea that there was a PUBLIC in Britain, and that public devotedly attached to the cause of parliamentary reform. This, it is but candid to admit, was an error. Either there is no public, or that public is indifferent upon the subject. It is true, that hundreds of thousands have petitioned and clamoured for reform; but the event has proved what their enemies asserted, and what the Black Dwarf treated as a calumny, that they only clamoured for bread.”

Love it.


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