Relevance and reward, 2

Has it really been that long since “Relevance and reward, 1“? Apparently so. How time flies…

Progress report 1: From Abbott Memorial Library to Woodbury Community Library, I’ve swept through Vermont–another state I’ve never visited but feel as though I know better than I did a few days ago. No large public libraries at all, not even one serving 40,000 or more…

Next up: Wisconsin, and that’s gonna take a while–381 libraries, more than any state I’ve done so far, and a warmup for the final two (if I do them), Pennsylvania’s 453 libraries and Texas’ 561.

As for the rest of the book: Done with the draft of Chapter 6, the penultimate chapter before the second geographical chunk and the four-month followup. Also getting much better title suggestions from ALA Editions.

The first part of this post was about my writing and where it makes sense to spend time and energy–the need for some relevance and possibly other rewards.

As part of that post, I noted that my speaking invitations have dried up, as have my print columns. It’s quite possible that there will be some speaking invitations in the future related to the books I’m doing now, particularly the micropublishing book. But otherwise, I think both of those areas require a different kind of whine:

Younger and more involved voices should be doing these things

Maybe that’s all I need to say. But, being Walt Crawford, I’ll drone on with an expansion.

If I get invited to speak on community micropublishing, or for that matter on public library use of social networks, it will be because of books–and not me-too books. Nobody’s done what I’ve done with micropublishing and library involvement. Nobody’s done as broad a study of actual public library use of social networks as I’m doing. In those areas, I have unique things to offer–at least for a while.

In other areas, not so much.

And, frankly, if a conference planning committee wants a speaker on most library-related topics where I could do a bang-up job, I’m fairly certain that there are real librarians actually working in the field (in libraries!) who are younger than I am, have spoken less often than I have, and would do a better job.

They’re the ones who should be speaking. The field needs to hear from a range of voices, including those who aren’t On The Speaking Tour, those who don’t seem to pop up at every conference. And the field needs to hear real experiences and arguments based on real library experience, not just theory and broad assumptions based on narrow evidence.

And, in general, to the extent that there are still columns in library-related magazines, they’re the ones who should be writing them. Ideally, for a few years–then stopping (or moving to a different outlet) and letting someone else take over.

Hi, Brian Mathews (with one t). Congratulations. You did good.

I love state and regional library conferences–with almost no exceptions, I’ve enjoyed speaking at them and attending them (I habitually went to the whole conference and as many programs and events as made sense). Ontario, Texas, Washington, North Carolina, Alaska, Kentucky, Florida, Wisconsin, Colorado, Connecticut, New England, Michigan, New York, Victoria (Australia), Minnesota, Ohio (ALAO), Maryland, British Columbia, Georgia (COMO), Arizona, Tennessee, Nevada–all great. (Well, Nevada was difficult, but that had everything to do with health and nothing to do with the conference.) Also a bunch of conferences at different levels…military, marine sciences, New York regional groups, AALL, Music Library Association (I’d say MLA but there are so many MLAs…), AMIGOS, Harvard College, University Circle, NCCIHE…and more.

And I’m not angling for invitations back to any of them or to the states I haven’t visited–unless they want to hear about these current projects. For pretty much all the topics I’ve addressed in the past, I believe they’re better off with other voices…more relevant voices, especially those who can use the professional rewards.

So, apparently, do they.

That’s a good thing.

Progress report 2: Cites & Insights is still dead in the water. It’s not formally on hiatus yet; it’s not actually gone. There may yet be a November/December issue. Or maybe not. And, based on reactions to date, it appears that it really doesn’t matter to much of anyone. Which may also be OK.

Not as wordy as last time, at least. Now, on to Abbotsford and a bunch of other Wisconsin libraries…

 

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