First published in 1990, World Libraries was originally entitled Third World Libraries, a publication of the Graduate School of Library and Information Science (GSLIS) at Rosary College (now known as Dominican University) in River Forest, Illinois. Dr. Guy Marco, the journal’s first editor, stated that its purpose was “to offer a forum … dedicated to aspects of librarianship in the less favored regions.” Its aim was “to illuminate the role of libraries and information in national development.”
As the identities and issues of developing countries shifted, so did that of World Libraries. The journal evolved in 1996, adopting its current title, World Libraries. Dr. Marco completed his career at the University, and Dr. Tze-chung (Richard) Li became his editorial successor. The new title acknowledged the “need for a journal that reports and analyzes development in nations that may not have associations or agencies to support extensive publications.” It recognized the School's commitments to international aspects of librarianship and information science.
In the autumn of 2004, World Libraries began evolving in yet another way: a move from print publication to online publication. Under the leadership of Edward Valauskas, known for his work on the open access journal, First Monday, students in Dominican University’s Graduate School of Library and Information Science began work on transforming a print publication into an interactive, online journal. Graduate students worked on nearly every aspect of World Libraries.
The online version of World Libraries made its debut in the summer of 2005, with a special issue on libraries in Cuba. Beyond the transformation in the appearance and format of the journal, it was hoped that making it freely available online, without subscription, would open World Libraries to a much larger audience of readers and contributors. Online publication also provided new opportunities for presenting information in visually-stimulating and interactive ways.
Graduate students at Dominican University continue to act as student interns of World Libraries, allowing them to gain valuable experience in the world of Internet publishing, while sharing their talents and skills with the Dominican and global library communities. While the look and format of World Libraries continues to evolve, its purpose remains the same: to provide a voice for librarians and libraries around the world, to give them a forum for their unique stories and perspectives.