Skip to main content

Editorial by Ian G. McGregor, February 1989

For several years now I have felt that some major changes were needed in the Newsletter. Beginning with this issue, readers will start to notice a transformation from a publication which in many resembles the Society’s Journal to a more popular level publication both in appearance and content. The story of the Newsletter should be briefly summarized for new readers.

It first appeared in the February 1970 issue of the Journal as four green-coloured pages stapled into the Journal and separately numbered. Its editorial content was the responsibility of the now long-defunct Committee on Coordination of Centre Activities. In an editorial it was stated "This is the first issue of the National Newsletter (for want of anything better to call it)." There was also a call for "an interesting, apt and preferably bilingual name" for the National Newsletter.

Then in February 1978, a major change occured in the National Newsletter. It was physically separated from the Journal by the new editor Frank Shinn and appeared as a 16-page supplement on white paper. An editorial in the February 1978 Journal by the Journal editor Lloyd Higgs, currently our National President, stated "this is being done for production reasons only and is not to be misconstrued as any indication of a separation of the amateur and professional interests within our Society."

The basic format of the newsletter would remain the same for the next 11 years basically because it worked for the technology available and the volunteer staff time available. During this period Frank Shinn completed his editorship, was succeeded first by Ralph Chou, and then by the present editor.

Since the newsletter was no longer bound with the Journal, some libraries began to catalogue the newsletter separately from the Journal. However, the page numbering system still retained the letter "L" before the page number as it had since 1970. In 1987, the "L" was dropped since there was no reason to retain the old system.

A major problem facing all newsletter editors is how to print current news. For many years, the University of Toronto Press needed the material a full two months before the month of publication. This made "news" at least three months old before it is in the hands of members. Hardly a "standard" for a newsletter.

The arrival of the home computer permitted changes in the production of the newsletter, and beginning in 1986, material was submitted to the Press on floppy disk. It saved time at the Press but caused more work for the Editor. Changing the newsletter format must be done carefully as there are many potential problems which can occur.

The development of desktop publishing opened a new door to the newsletter. Last year, I began to hold discussions with the Design Department of the University of Toronto regarding a design change. Using desktop publishing and laser printers the production of the Newsletter can be done independently of the Journal. The two publications only have to meet for packaging and mailing. The lead time would also be appreciably reduced.

A totally new format for the Newsletter is currently being considered. The Newsletter will have a much larger page size and an attractive colour masthead on the cover. There will be a 2 or 3 column format.

I had hoped the new format would be in place for this issue but demands of home and office gobbled up my free time for the crucial first issue. As a result, the changes will take place in two stages over the next year.

Stage One: To help in the design process and to make the transition easier for readers and librarians, some fundamental changes have been made. First, the National Newsletter is now the Newsletter. The use of the word “national” has long been inappropriate for the publication and it had never been intended to be permanent. Furthermore, since there were already a lot of words which had to appear in both English and French in the new design, some potential clutter is removed. This change was approved at the National Council meeting of January 28, 1989.

As well, after consulting with several head librarians and examining hundreds of periodicals, it was decided a new volume series should start. The December 1988 issue of the National Newsletter was listed as Volume 82 Number 6. Now, there have not been 82 volumes of National Newsletter, only 19 volumes have been printed. Therefore, the February 1989 issue of the Newsletter is Volume 1 Number 1.

Stage Two: This is the big change. The Newsletter moves to a larger format more appropriate for a newsletter, a colour front masthead and 2–3 column format. It will have a very readable appearance. I expect lead time will drop to about three weeks from the current two months. My target issue for Stage Two is February 1990.

I hope you find the changes make the Newsletter more interesting and attractive.

Clear skies!