The TC Library was founded by academics concerned about the library indexes (sometimes called 'databases') available for research in technical, professional and scientific communication. Most indexes are created and maintained by commercial publishers, and sometimes -- for business reasons -- don't represent research interests as they would as if run by librarians or academics. In the case of tech comm, our field is small enough (and has a significant portion of our work published outside traditional journals) that no single comprehensive scholarly index for tech comm had ever been developed. To research in tech comm, library patrons had to search numerous tangential indexes, and still didn't gain a complete review of work in our field.
Examples? Well, if you wanted to research in technical communication you could look at the ACM Digital Library, which has excellent resources but whose parent organization (the Association for Computing Machinery) isn't primarily about TC. Or you could try Communication Abstracts or Sage Communication Studies, though these are more about journalism and mass communication than technical communication (a distinct field). You might look at ERIC (Educational Resources Information Center), which indexes works about education, which sometimes includes documentation and instructional design. Or IEEE Xplore, because the IEEE's Professional Communication Society publishes excellent work in our area. You might even try the MLA International Bibliography, which focuses on critical materials on literature, languages, linguistics, and folklore, but which occasionally ventures into rhetorical and professional communication topics.
But overall, traditional publishers weren't particularly interested in our field(s).
And this made research quite complicated and time-consuming, even for professional academics who were familiar with these indexes and how to use them well. It certainly discouraged students and practitioners (people who work in the field, outside the academy) from reading new academic research in our field.
Add to this that libraries are charged significant fees by most index publishers, that libraries often aren't permitted to provide access to indexes to patrons not formally affiliated with the school, and think about past discussions in our field about academic/practitioner dichotomies, and you may conclude (as we did in 2001) that some sort of noncommercial alternative is necessary -- a single index to enable both academics and practitioners find the best work in our field, free of charge.
So the members of our editorial board created this site, in part, to provide a free, open alternative for librarians, library patrons, and those interested in library-like research but without easy access to a university research library. We've worked with librarians since the site's inception, and have taken care to design our user interfaces and to develop privacy policies consistent with ALA and ACRL standards and practices. We've attended LITA/LAMA and learned a great deal from colleagues working on similar projects. Since we've been added to the Primo and EBSCO databases, most libraries now link to our database as a scholarly publication. But below, please find a selected list of some university libraries who currently link to the TC Library from their list of librarian-edited research indexes, from special topics pages for particular subject areas, or both:
- Arizona State University: Digital Humanities at ASU
- Austin Community College: Library Services
- Bates College: ILS Learn
- Camosun College: Technical and Professional Communications
- Carnegie Mellon University: Humanities Databases
- Carroll College: Library Databases
- Cincinnati State University: Websites for Technical Communication
- Colorado State University: WAC Clearinghouse
- Harvard University: Business And Corporate Communications
- Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne: Teaching Writing
- James Madison University: Writing, Rhetoric and Technical Communication Resources
- Madonna University: Professional and Technical Writing: A Resource Pathfinder
- North Carolina State University: Rhetoric and Composition Research Guide
- Northeastern State University: English Resources
- Nyack College: Online and Print Resource Bibliography
- Purdue University: Professional Writing Research
- Stanford University: Copyright Web Sites
- Temple College: Speech and Presentations
- Trinity University: Helpers for Searching the Web
- University of Arizona: Technical Communication Resources
- University of Cambridge: Internet resources in the humanities
- University of Delaware: Internet Resources for Writing
- University of Georgia: Top Websites: Computers: Human-Computer Interaction
- University of Massachusetts-Lowell: Research Guides: Technical Writing Resources
- University of Minnesota: Selected Resources for: Communication, Technical Writing
- University of Notre Dame: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries
- University of South Alabama: Engineering and Computer Science Databases
- University of Texas, El Paso: Technical Writing
- University of Virginia: Science, Technology, and Society Research Guide
- University of Washington-Seattle Libraries
If you're a student or professor who uses this site but knows that your institution's library doesn't currently include this index in its list of recommended databases, please consider contacting your liaison librarian, letting them know about this service. You might consider sending this URL address, which may help to explain our purpose.
If you're a librarian who supports users or patrons interested in technical, scientific or professional communication, please feel free to include our site among your recommended research indexes. Linking to any URL inside the TC Library is always permitted (and encouraged). This site has always been and plans always to be free of charge to all users. Then, please let us know that you've done so, so we can add your library to this list.
--Geoffrey Sauer, Director, The EServer TC Library