MLA Newsletter Editor Annual Report 2020

submitted by Jacey Kepich

List of Previous Goals and Progress Made

At the conclusion of the Norfolk meeting, Sandy Pearson and I were named newsletter co-editors. We brainstormed with the web editors how we envisioned a future newsletter, with the goals of improving accessibility. Our spring 2020 proposal to the MLA board highlighted the advantage of publishing on Wordpress, as opposed to a traditional PDF. We stated that our goal was to share information in a timely manner through an agile platform that is inclusive and accessible to readers within and without our organization. We aimed to solicit content from a variety of perspectives, content that not only reflects our members’ work, but responds to needs and opportunities impacting our profession. The MLA Archivist and Web Manager have confirmed that proper archiving will be possible in this new format.

At the end of summer 2020, Sandy resigned unexpectedly due to personal obligations. Since then, I’ve continued to consult our web managers, but challenges with the MLA website – including a pending migration – have made it difficult to move forward. Without a formal channel in place for soliciting and receiving newsletter content, it is difficult to describe to the membership how the new format will work.

I also​ ​spoke with Lisa Shiota, MLA Publicity Officer, to discuss whether or not migrating the newsletter online would overlap with MLA blog content. We agreed there was some potential for overlap, but we would try routing longer-form content to the newsletter, and reserve the blog for short posts. Rather than try to duplicate her work, I envisioned a weekly ‘news roundup’ that would pull Wordpress content into an email newsletter with announcements and highlights, similar to the weekly email newsletter of the Association of Research Libraries, whose headlines link to stories posted on their website. I shared this idea with web editor Steve Henry, who looked at MailChimp and MailPoet as two possible email options.

List of Future Goals

Because 2020 has been a challenging year, it seems appropriate to compile stories – personal and professional – for a COVID-19 special issue prior to the national meeting in March. I may need to consult the web editors whether or not Wordpress would be an appropriate format or if a traditional PDF would better serve this purpose.

I will also continue to work with the web editors to create an online submission pathway for newsletter contributors, and announce plans to MLA membership as soon as possible.