Getting to ALA, Keeping a hand in–or not

My previous post and some accompanying email have resulted in a fair number of messages, mostly direct, a few indirect, for which I’m grateful.

One fairly immediate issue has to do with whether I’ll be at ALA in Washington. This concerns budget, but also a promised speech during the conference (which would, apparently, be my 2010 speech–I seem to be back to one per year). That relates, somewhat indirectly, to a longer-term question having to do with the status of Cites & Insights (and, I suppose, this blog).

Namely…the question of whether my work is meaningful (and appreciated) enough to continue, or whether I should abandon it and spend time entirely on other things, maybe more local. Part of going to ALA or other conferences is keeping in touch; the question is whether that’s worthwhile.

A dear friend asked whether I really thought my work was appreciated. I responded, well, yes, I seem to have pretty good readership and a few people tell me so now and then. (Heck, more than 45,000 pageviews and downloads for one notorious issue so far…not bad for a nonentity in the field.)

Then this dear friend nudged me a little bit: “So, are they buying your books or donating to help keep Cites & Insights going? Does so-called appreciation really mean anything?”


Well, four people so far have donated to keep C&I going.

As to book sales to individuals…perhaps the less said the better. (I don’t really know who does, or rather doesn’t, buy the books. If you exclude library-held copies as reported in, that leaves an even dozen sales of But Still They Blog, 50 for The Liblog Landscape, 28 for Academic Library Blogs, 52 for Public Library Blogs, and 214 for Balanced Libraries…and, well, no more than seven for the various paperback annuals of C&I. I think all those numbers are too high–I’d guess other library purchases not [yet] accounted for in play a significant role.)

So far, I don’t really have a convincing answer for my dear friend. Or one that convinces me that “keeping a hand in” justifies the cost of ALA. The upsurge in donations and sales since that last post amounts to zero, but these are still early days…and, yes, I know, you all have your own financial issues.

The dear friend is suggesting that maybe it’s time for me to wholly retire from the library field. Is the dear friend right?

Followup…: I’ve been informed, just a few minutes ago, of clear evidence that the dear friend is wrong, and I am grateful for that evidence. It looks much more likely that I will be going to ALA Annual, at least this year…and keeping on with C&I while we see what future possibilities arise. Oh, and may I just say “LSW FTW”?

On an only slightly related note, my apologies to a few people whose comments, on posts that were mirrored from another blog, have been deleted along with those mirrored posts. It no longer makes sense to have the mirrored posts in this blog; the comments make no sense without the attached posts.

5 Responses to “Getting to ALA, Keeping a hand in–or not”

  1. Bob Watson Says:

    Good luck, Walt.

    As far as “keeping a hand in” it’s rather more, I think, a case of deciding whether or not to stay at the racetrack … watching the horses run. There are winners and there are losers, but the track itself hasn’t necessarily gone anywhere.

    You do a far better job than most at describing the action.

  2. walt Says:

    Bob: Thanks, and that’s an interesting way of putting it. I suspect that, after 2011 (when I’d like to attend ALA and Midwinter if finances, etc. work out–admittedly partly because of great locations), I might cut back in any case–but there’s something about physical attendance and F2F discussions that’s still less than ideally replaced by virtual means, much as those have worked well for me. (What a sentence!)

  3. will manley Says:

    Walt…you’re the only one who can answer the question posed. If you’re heading into full time retirement then you need to follow your bliss. Forget about other people in this equation (other than family members). Do what fulfills you. This is your time. Good luck.

  4. Stephen Michael Kellat Says:

    I bought one of the books! I’m not a library building, a mineral, or a vegetable either. :-)

  5. walt Says:

    Stephen: Thanks…and I’m aware some book purchases were by individuals.

    Will: Yes, I’m the only one who can answer the question–but I really don’t plan to retire from the community of library people (and particularly not the community best-represented by the Library Society of the World), because that is part of what fulfills me. So it’s complicated, and will probably remain so for quite a while.

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