We deal with Holiday Big-Highway-Accident-Time Weekends by avoiding them. Thus, among other things, I was marking up the vast array of source material for the “Finding Balance: Libraries and Librarians” essay in the July C&I (which I hope to publish a few days before ALA). And, for that matter, writing the first few thousand words based on the first 20 or 30 items.
Since the first 20% of the source material yielded a partial essay that would be issue-length if kept at that rate, I turned ruthless on the remaining source material, including re-reviewing a bunch of stuff I’d already marked up but hadn’t yet written about.
That turns out to be all for the good, I think, even if it did mean a few hours wasted time. I’ve probably tossed 2/3 of all the source material, maybe more; what’s left appears reasonable, with the intention of yielding an essay that’s somewhere between 1/4 and 1/2 of a typical C&I issue: A “principal theme” but not the whole thing. That may even leave room for more of the “Copyright Balance” discussion that was clearly too long for a single issue.
So what gets left out? Some individual items that, on rereading, seemed less worthy of comment than at first. But mostly:
- “Further Library 2.0 discussion”–a few more notes related to the term itself. I dropped these because I’ve concluded that people fall into one of three categories: 1. Those who insist on using the term to promote themselves, their organizations as somehow forward-looking library vendors, or whatever; they’re not going to change. 2. Those who are building new services and features and showing how others can use what they’ve done; most of them are now avoiding any “us vs. them” rhetoric and appear to be using the term as a convenient label (which it is). 3. Those who really don’t give a da*n, but who get upset by contentiousness. Since I’ve given up on influencing the first group, I dropped the discussion because it’s no longer relevant to the other two groups.
- “Who”–a bunch of notes related to discussions of personality cults, shameless self-promotion, and all that. This was all marked up, and in a way it hurt to leave it out. But…well, first, it really didn’t relate well to the general topic of libraries and balance. Second, while I do think that shameless self-promotion is like pornography (I know it when I see it), that’s not good enough. My current version, “Promoting YOU rather than pointing out what you’ve done,” may not be much better. Finally, perhaps most important, it’s plausible for others to suggest that I fall into the SSP category: After all, my brief stint as an American Libraries columnist was under “The Crawford Files” banner, I had a section in Library Hi Tech News called “Crawford’s Corner,” and the subtitle of C&I is “Crawford at Large.” I have responses for that (those eponymous titles arose because my inability to focus on a narrow range of topics makes other names difficult), but not necessarily suitable responses. Even more to the point, events of the past few weeks made me wonder how I would go about getting a new job, if the need arose. At age 60, as a systems analyst/library automator, I concluded that “building a great 2-page resume and putting it out there” would run into That Which Does Not Exist (there is no age discrimination in hiring anywhere, nosirree)–and that my only real recourse would be to keep my vita up to date (I don’t have a 2-page resume) and go out there looking for “someone who has use for Walt Crawford.” That was not so much humbling as revelatory: Maybe I shouldn’t be putting down “the brand of me.”
- “Continuing Extremism”–a few examples of people who still offer extreme views on some of these issues. That includes one blogger suggesting that baby boomer librarians have nothing to offer and should all retire and just disappear, continued assertions from a small number of people that Everybody Must Get Stoned (that is, Every Librarian Should Be Blogging and Using IM and…), and those who make a habit of SHOUTING in comments on other people’s weblogs when other people raise mild questions about the universality of Hot Technology or, heaven help us, suggest that circulation and book sales figures actually do mean that some people other than academics and librarians still care about books. Extremists will always be with us. I finally tired of pointing them out. For this round.
- Elsewhere: I substantially trimmed “philosophy” pieces, reduced the “problems and skeptics” coverage, and just generally tightened things up.
So there we are. All in all, I probably dumped 30-40 pieces of source material, which probably translates to 6,000-12,000 words of quotation and commentary. I’m certain it was the right decision.
Update: If you’re wondering what changed in the new version of this post: I added one letter to two different words, in one case to correct a clear agreement error, in the other to clarify a possible grammatical error. Much as I might be tempted to remove what may be more personal/job/career information than I perhaps should have included, it goes against my informal “blogging ethic” to do so. So I didn’t.