As the journals liaison for the Harvard Law School Library, I’m here to get the ball rolling on a series of posts from Registrar Users in the field. The diverse community of Perma.cc Registrars includes academic law libraries big and small, from the left coast to the best coast, tech-savvy HTML wizards and those of us who prefer the unique magic of a card catalog. Our defining characteristic is our ability to engage with Perma.cc in the way that best fits our needs as users and to give feedback and make changes to the service while it’s still in beta.
As new Registrars join, we face common challenges:
- Explaining the service to journal editors and encouraging their participation
- Setting up and maintaining accounts as editorial boards change
- Allowing Vesting Organizations to operate self-sufficiently
- Training and troubleshooting for Vesting Users
- Incorporating Perma.cc into citation guides of varying format
- Working with non-journal users (faculty, clinics, library staff)
No single Registrar User in this community has all of the answers. We need to rely on one another to develop a shared knowledge base and a set of best practices that will provide both a sense of support, as well as the freedom to grow and change. For my part, here are a few reactions I have to the first common challenge: explaining the service to journal editors and encouraging their participation.
Perma.cc is on the one hand a very abstract concept and on the other a very mechanical tool. In explaining the service, we often rely on examples of Perma in Action. I find it best to direct potential users to the User Guide and to walk them step-by-step through the experience from their unique vantage points. In talking to a Vesting User, for example, I start with the process of setting up other Vesting Users – encouraging them to consider whether every journal editor will have his or her own account each with the power to create and vest links. In some cases that structure is preferable, for others, they may want to limit the number of Vesting Users to a selected group who will review the links created by others and then vest them in a second-round review.
I then demonstrate the built-in organizational tools – shared folders and annotations – that help to make the job of a Vesting User clearer and easier. I encourage new users to consider the most effective organization for links – by journal issue, author name, editor name, or date – all of these can work together through the tiered foldering system. Another great feature of Perma.cc is that if the preferred organizational structure changes as editorial boards turn over, the new guard can move links and change folder titles as they see fit – reinforcing both a support system and the freedom to make change.
Lastly, I talk about the big elephant in the room: citation format. Understandably, some journal editors are reluctant to commit to printing Perma.cc citations until the citation format is incorporated into the Bluebook. To those hesitant souls I say – which is worse? Adding an additional link to an archive using a citation format that may change or linking only to the original URL and generating a 404 error for future readers? This is not to say we should be aiming for the bottom of the barrel, but citations to internet sources are currently inconsistent and unreliable – the format itself is causing errors – so including an additional URL (using the phrase “archived at” or “available at” or simply following a semicolon) is a vast improvement, regardless of how it is ultimately incorporated into the Bluebook at a later date. Readers are used to one universal truth – standards will change.
Do you have “best practices” or experiences to share? Let’s get a dialogue going with more reporting from the field.
Email info at perma.cc if you’d like to contribute with your own blog post.