How to Submit Stories to American Libraries

American Libraries is ALA’s full-color magazine and the primary perquisite of membership in the American Library Association. Each issue features articles on professional concerns and developments, along with news of the Association, library-related legislation, and libraries around the country and the world. Expression of diverse viewpoints and critical interpretation of professional issues make the magazine the premier forum for the exchange of ideas.

What should I know about COPYRIGHT issues?

American Libraries owns the copyright for all articles commissioned or accepted for publication.

What does WORK FOR HIRE mean?

Work for Hire means that the publisher owns the work and may edit, add or delete copy or change it to fit a layout or to conform to editorial standards. The editor has final approval over the content and layout of the article, but will reach out to authors to discuss substantial changes.

What are the copyright RIGHTS that American Libraries buys?

Exclusive North American rights are retained by the magazine until three months after publication, unless another arrangement is made in writing. American Libraries retains rights to have the published material reproduced, distributed, and sold in microform or electronic text, such as to aggregators for online access.

How much EDITING should I expect?

On accepted manuscripts, the editors will retain the right to make editorial revisions, deletions, or additions that in their opinion support the article’s focus. Editors will make every possible effort to review copy with the author prior to publication, especially regarding any proposed substantive changes.

Will I see GALLEYS or final LAYOUTS?

Galleys and layouts are not provided to the author because of the need to coordinate the many elements that go into the composition, design, and layout of the magazine within inflexible printing schedules.


Illustrations are commissioned for certain articles and features.

What is our STYLE?

Informal, but informative. Factual article must be inviting and readable, with all statements backed by responsible research and interviews with several expert sources. The Chicago Manual of Style (15th ed.) supplemented by specific American Libraries style will be used in editing articles for publication. Footnotes are not used, but a few references may be allowed within the text.

What is the FORMAT I should submit?

Electronic submissions are preferred. Submissions should be sent to Hard copies are acceptable and should be double-spaced, letter- or near-letter-quality on plain bond. One copy suffices. Manuscripts submitted as hard copy must be accompanied by a self-addressed envelope bearing sufficient postage for return. Hard-copy submissions should be mailed to American Libraries, 225 N Michigan Ave., Suite 1300, Chicago, IL 60601.

What kind of PHOTOGRAPHS do you use?

Color photos are preferred for use with manuscripts or as picture stories. High-resolution digital jpeg images (300 dpi, approximate size of 3×5 inches) should be sent to

What is the LENGTH of your stories?

600–1,500 words.

Will I get a PAYMENT?

Honoraria of $100 to $250 are offered for some articles, paid upon acceptance of manuscript for publication. We do not pay for articles written about your own institution.

Must my idea be an EXCLUSIVE SUBMISSION?

It is assumed that no other publisher is or will be simultaneously considering a manuscript submitted to American Libraries until that manuscript is returned or written permission is provided by the American Libraries editors.

What is your REPRINT POLICY?

Permission is usually granted for authors to reproduce their contributions as published in American Libraries. A reasonable number of copies are sent to each author. Special arrangements may be necessary to reproduce illustrations. Custom reprints of articles already published in American Libraries are available; contact Mary Jo Bolduc, 800-545-2433, x5416.

Will you ACKNOWLEDGE receiving my manuscript idea?

Unsolicited manuscripts are acknowledged when received.

When will I hear a REPORT on if my idea is accepted?

The editors try to report on manuscripts within 4–8 weeks. Written reminders from the author after this period are welcome, and usually result in a prompt reply.

How will I know what the PUBLICATION DATE is of my accepted article?

On acceptance, an estimated date of publication may be provided to the author. Usually manuscripts can be published no sooner than two months after receipt.

How can I submit an ANNOUNCEMENT about new hires, promotions, retirements, awards, and obituaries?

For consideration, send notices and photographs to

Do you accept LETTERS?

Yes, we welcome letters to the editor about stories that have appeared in American Libraries or American Libraries Online, or other matters of professional interest. Letters may be up to 300 words long and are subject to editing for clarity, style, and length. Send to