July 21, 2024

The Oldest Internet Publication You’ve Never Heard Of

aug1990Twenty-five years ago I started a library current awareness service called Current Cites. The idea was to have a team of volunteers monitor library and information technology literature and cite only the best publications in a monthly publication (see the first page of the inaugural issue pictured). Here is the latest issue. TidBITS is, I think, the only Internet publication that is older, and they beat us only by a few months.

Originally, the one-paragraph description accompanying the bibliographic details was intended to summarize the contents. However, we soon allowed each reviewer latitude in using humor and personal insights to provide context and an individual voice.

Although we began publication in print only and for an intended audience of UC Berkeley Library staff, we quickly realized that the audience could be global and the technologies were coming to make it available for free to such a worldwide audience. If you’re curious, you can read more about how Current Cites came to be as well as its early history.

Ever since we have published every month without fail. It has weathered my paternity leave (twins, with one now graduated from college and the other soon to be), the turnover of many reviewers, and going through several sponsoring organizations. We have had only three editors in all that time: David F.W. Robison, Teri Rinne, and myself.

On our 20th anniversary I wrote some of my thoughts about longevity and what contributes to it, which still applies. But then I’ve always been hard to dump, as Library Journal can attest. I’ve been writing for them since 1997.

So please bear with me as I mark this milestone. With only about 3,300 subscribers to the mailing list distribution (we also have an RSS feed and I tweet a link to each issue), we are probably the longest-lived Internet publication you’ve never heard of. Until now.

Here for your edification is the current number of subscribers by country:

United States 2,476
Canada 210
Australia 134
United Kingdom 69
Netherlands 40
New Zealand 33
Spain 32
Germany 28
Italy 26
Taiwan 20
Sweden 18
Israel 17
Brazil 16
Norway 15
Japan 14
France 13
Belgium 11
??? 11
India 10
Ireland 10
South Africa 8
Finland 7
Denmark 6
Portugal 6
Hungary 5
Singapore 5
Switzerland 5
Mexico 4
Peru 4
Austria 3
Croatia 3
Greece 3
Lebanon 3
Republic of Korea 3
Saudi Arabia 3
United Arab Emirates 3
Argentina 2
Chile 2
China 2
Colombia 2
Federated States of Micronesia 2
Kazakhstan 2
Lithuania 2
Philippines 2
Poland 2
Slovakia 2
Trinidad and Tobago 2
Turkey 2
Botswana 1
Czech Republic 1
Estonia 1
Hong Kong 1
Iceland 1
Islamic Republic of Iran 1
Jamaica 1
Malaysia 1
Morocco 1
Namibia 1
Pakistan 1
Qatar 1
Uruguay 1
Roy Tennant About Roy Tennant

Roy Tennant is a Senior Program Officer for OCLC Research. He is the owner of the Web4Lib and XML4Lib electronic discussions, and the creator and editor of Current Cites, a current awareness newsletter published every month since 1990. His books include "Technology in Libraries: Essays in Honor of Anne Grodzins Lipow" (2008), "Managing the Digital Library" (2004), "XML in Libraries" (2002), "Practical HTML: A Self-Paced Tutorial" (1996), and "Crossing the Internet Threshold: An Instructional Handbook" (1993). Roy wrote a monthly column on digital libraries for Library Journal for a decade and has written numerous articles in other professional journals. In 2003, he received the American Library Association's LITA/Library Hi Tech Award for Excellence in Communication for Continuing Education. Follow him on Twitter @rtennant.


  1. Judith Mills says:

    Roy Tennant is an early adopter, innovator and a thoughtful writer. I always enjoy reading his articles.

    Thank you,

    Judith Weiner Mills, AHIP, MLIS, MS, NCMA