How We Created The Emerald Handbook of Modern Information Management

Toby Pearlstein, Editor, The Emerald Handbook of Modern Information Management

The Emerald Handbookhad two editors; sadly James Matarazzo died in April 2018 shortly after the handbook was published, but his co-editor, Toby Pearlstein, has written the following:

“Our original pitch to Emerald to create an entirely new Handbook, distinct from the previous eight editions, concentrated on our desire to create a resource that would not only be able to be used as a text to help educate new information professionals, but would also be a pragmatic ready reference covering topics in which current practitioners would find opportunities to enhance their contribution to their organization’s success and/or to the sustainability of their careers.  By including all types of libraries from a variety of geographies we also hoped to foster cross-pollination of ideas and practices.   We asked each of the authors to create a story arc for their chapter that covered background/history of the topic, how the topic was currently challenging the profession and them in particular, and a case study of how the author addressed that challenge.   This was the easy part of the process.

Finding almost 40 authors who could help us accomplish this goal was not so easy and keeping them and ourselves on deadline – even more challenging.  Jim and I had a system for collaborating, whether it be for an article or for a work of this size.  We had the good fortune to live in adjacent towns so spent many a morning at each other’s homes or at a local diner over breakfast working our way through what we hoped to accomplish with each writing project.  While there wasn’t a lot of yelling, there was definitely a lot of spirited discussion until we settled on that “hook” around which the publication would develop.  For the Handbook we labored over lists of potential authors who could write knowledgeably about the topics we had selected.  We sent invitations or called those potential authors we knew personally; not all of our first choices were available to meet our deadline and for some topics the authors didn’t come onboard until several months had passed.  In round one of reviewing the manuscripts, we each read them and discussed if they met our expectations.  Usually we had to get back to the author more than once with requested changes, additions or clarifications we wanted them to make, which they all were remarkably cooperative about making.  Round two was the final read through of each chapter, as well as the materials we wrote ourselves to see if it all hung together.  We realized at that point that we had the order of things all wrong and switched the whole Table of Contents around to what we felt was a more “real-world” flow.  Each chapter would stand on its own and would also be able to be combined with other chapters as seemed practical to the reader to give them a holistic view of those topics which logically overlapped.

About one year into this process, our final role as editors was to read aloud the chapters to each other to double check that everything was understandable, flowed well for the potential audience, and as a whole met our expectations.  You can’t imagine how excited we were to learn at this point, that we did not have to reconcile the form of all the footnotes!  Emerald assured us their copywriters would take care of this and we breathed a huge sigh of relief.

The final submission of the manuscript was followed by about another month of the publisher checking with each author on various points and ensuring that all illustrations were properly permissioned.”


K&IM Refer 35(1). Winter 2019

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