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Core Periodicals list history and description

The AASL Core Periodicals List is intended for a first-degree-program in architecture (for architecture libraries in North America)

Attachment: AASL Core Editions Historical Comparison, compiled by Kathy Edwards, Architecture Librarian, Clemson University


The UK group ARCLIB offers a similar journals list for their members.

Original description by Michael Leininger (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) for the Association of Architecture School Librarians (AASL) with additional comments over the years by AASL core list committee members

While it is clear that every architecture school library needs a healthy assortment of periodicals, it is not always clear which titles are essential and which are not. Librarians are in an ideal position to make this assessment but they too have not always agreed. The need for a Corelist was first suggested several years ago by Pat Weisenburger (Kansas State University) at an annual meeting of the AASL. She proposed a list of titles "without which we cannot operate," and has held fast to that principle as, over succeeding years, members of the group wrangled over additions and deletions. Each year, it seemed, a new list was constructed, depending upon those involved with the project at the time. As new members saw the list for the first time they too suggested and fought for additional titles. A list of ninety was pruned one year and bulged the next.

Eventually, a smaller committeee volunteered to "nail down" the list, hoping to achieve harmony with fewer voices. A method, however, remained elusive. Fortuitously, Jeanne Brown (University of Nevada-Las Vegas) and Judy Connorton (City College of New York) were about to conduct an extensive survey of architecture schools for the Art Libraries' Society of North America. They agreed to include a list of periodicals on which respondents could check off their holdings. The results of this survey, with responses from nearly half the schools, were tabulated by Michael Leininger and presented at the annual meeting in Seattle in 1995. Titles were grouped as to whether they were acquired by all, all but a few, half, and so on. It was then the task of the final reviewing group (Kay Logan-Peters (University of Nebraska-Lincoln), Weisenburger, and Leininger) to use the survey data to construct a list of the titles which most clearly serve the needs of a first-degree program, while also reflecting a consensus of practice within the profession.

Because the schools surveyed included a range of programs, from the undergraduate to the PhD levels, titles held by only half were deemed likely in support of higher level research and were dropped from consideration. Foreign language titles presented another problem. Schools with very small non-U.S. enrollments tend to limit foreign language materials while other schools seek global coverage regardless of language. A balance between the two is difficult to achieve. For this reason, a core group of titles is included in the main list while an optional but highly recommended group is added as an International Titles section. Planning journals included here are considered basic to an architecture program but do not contstitute those required for a planning program. And several titles from the fine arts are excluded since they are usually purchased in support of art curricula, but their coverage of architecture make them core candidates.

Many libraries include periodicals and serials (reference sources, indexes, monographic series) within one budget. Therefore, a strict addition of the prices of the titles in this list does not constitute an ideal serials budget. Too, it is understood that enrollment patterns, geographic location within urban and regional contexts, programmatic concentrations, and budgetary factors, will account for unavoidable variations in a school's need for titles, many not included here. The factors that make each school unique contribute to the uniqueness of its library as well. The Association of Architecture School Librarians endorses this list as a basic "must have" group of titles, a starting point rather than an end.

Update, 1998: Since 1995 a few changes to this list should be noted. Progressive Architecture and Design Quarterly have ceased publication. A call for nominations in the Spring of 1998 yielded one new addition, the German journal Detail, added to the optional international list. El Croquis, originally on the optional list, has been moved to the Core list, by general agreement. URL's to journals' websites are added when known but updated infrequently.

Update, 2002: At the 2001 annual conference in Baltimore, Martin Aurand and Margaret Culbertson volunteered to coordinate a revision of the Core List. After several discussions on AASL-L and a discussion at the 2002 conference in New Orleans, a revised list of titles was agreed upon. It was also decided to include electronic titles, when appropriate, to expand the Supplemental List to include domestic titles, to add the parenthetical phrase "for architecture libraries in North America" to the title, and to add a note acknowledging the need for each library to include the regional, state, and local publications appropriate to their area. These changes were approved by the Executive Board in December 2002.

Update, 2017: AASL Core List of Architectural Periodicals, 5th edition (2017)

As the professional librarians’ association most closely linked to serving the creative and scholarly needs of Architecture faculty and students, AASL members are committed to identifying and providing access to the best resources in support of the ever-changing field of architectural design. To this end, AASL has assumed responsibility for creating a reference list of core professional, trade, and scholarly periodicals most appropriate to the needs of first-degree programs in Architecture.

AASL members compiled the first core list in 1995. The need for such a resource was initially suggested a few years earlier by Pat Wiesenberger, then architecture librarian at Kansas State University. Sharing her thoughts at an annual AASL meeting, Pat proposed preparing a list of titles “without which we cannot operate.”

This principle has defined the core list through four subsequent editions. Throughout the list revision cycles, team members’ professional experience and knowledge of the current state of architecture, informed by survey, listserv, and other input from members, have been key. Work on the list’s 5th edition began after the annual meeting in 2014, with survey data gathered from faculty via ACSA News combined with input from both AASL and ARLIS/NA members via organization listservs.

The compilers of the 5th edition-- Barbara Opar of Syracuse University, Kathy Edwards of Clemson University, and Rose Orcutt of the University of Buffalo–also expanded the scope of data they gathered about each title beyond that provided in earlier lists. The availability of indexing as well as format (print, electronic) influenced list selections, as did the quality and extent of graphic documentation (e.g. plans, sections, notation of scale), image quality, the length and substance of articles and project coverage, notable contributors, and the extent of geographical coverage. Overall publication quality, robustness, reputation, and longevity mattered. New in this addition are language information, peer review status, impact data (when available), publication frequency, and other notations. (See criteria, below). Browsing statistics for current print titles were also factored in, based on Barbara’s observation at Syracuse that patrons’ browsing habits frequently extend beyond key titles.

In survey responses and in conference discussions that followed annual list-work updates, some librarians expressed deficiencies in the longstanding categories of ‘core’ and ‘supplementary’. The list revision team listened, and after much discussion and consideration, devised the present categories of Fundamental, Recommended, Topical, and Titles to watch.

Category Definitions:

Fundamental titles are the best architecture and design publications reasonably accessible for academic libraries.

Recommended titles extend a collection’s scope and reach to include peer-reviewed scholarship in architectural theory and criticism, top-tier professional periodicals from beyond North America, and basic titles in planning, landscape and garden design, urban design, and interior design.

Topical titles are either highly specialized or regionally focused. 

Titles to watch are either new promising additions to the design publications landscape--or proven titles in a state of transition--that have yet to prove their market viability.

AASL presents the 5th edition of the Core List of Architecture Periodicals as guidance for faculty and students and a working tool for collections librarians. NAAB accreditation teams also may find the list a valuable resource in the evaluation of the robustness of an architecture program’s information resources.

New or small schools may only be able to add select fundamental titles, while larger institutions may even consider more topical journals or additions from outside the immediate field. Regionally important titles should become part of every collection. Hopefully this list will enable users to become more aware of the breadth of architectural periodic literature.

Screening criteria for a ‘core’ architecture periodical:
Relevance to the profession (including consideration of currency)
Geographical scope: global/regional/national
Topical scope (does it reflect trends and issues within or affecting the profession)
Typological scope: breadth, or focus
Editorial content:

Depth and relevance
Length of articles

Availability (supports institutional subscriptions/access)
Graphic standards:

Clarity of format
Overall design quality
Graphic coverage: plans/sections/elevations/axonometric/site plans/photographs/analytical graphics
Graphic reproduction quality
Photographic quality and appropriate abundance
Inclusion of scale/dimensions

Access to content: i.e., inclusion in the Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals and/or other major indices
How exemplary of its publication category: academic/scholarly, professional/trade, consumer

For peer-reviewed periodicals: availability of impact data, measuring the importance of journal by the frequency of yearly article citations.

Attachment: Core List Spreadsheet: Fundamental, Recommended, Topical, Titles to Watch (and Discontinued, for informational purposes)

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