Movers, shakers, self-promotion, and C&I

I know better than to comment at The Shifted Librarian. Truly I do. It always gets me in trouble–particularly because Jenny Levine’s writing sometimes pushes my buttons, and because disagreeing with Jenny Levine is dangerous sport. But…

A while back, various bloggers were putting together various lists about all the ways libraries were driving away “techie librarians” (not the phrase all of them used). I read the lists. I have no doubt many of the complaints are valid.

Then, in this post, Jenny Levine changed the rhetoric by following a quote from a comment with this line:

How do we start the discussion about keeping our movers and shakers?

Suddenly, there was that pat phrase, the LJ Seal of Stardom, “movers and shakers.”

Maybe I overreacted.

Here’s my comment, in full:

Maybe you need to ask whether you just want to keep “movers and shakers,” the high-profile, self-promoting elite, or whether you’d also like to keep the people who make sure the innovations work properly and keep working. You know, the ones who’ll probably never be in LJ’s annual festival and might not be on the speaking tour, but who have the skills and determination to see projects through to the end. (Once in a while, a determined project person becomes higher-profile, almost by accident, and usually to their considerable astonishment, but that’s not the typical pattern.) Or are us drudges disposable?

Now, I’m sorry, but does anyone out there truly believe that “us drudges” is meant to be taken literally, as saying that anyone who isn’t a Mover and Shaker is a drudge? Sure, some of the Movers and Shakers aren’t self-promoters; that word was probably overreaction.

I won’t quote Jenny Levine’s entire response; this entry is going to be long enough as is and you can read the whole comment stream from the earlier link. Here’s a relevant portion:

Walt, interesting that you’d call yourself a “drudge,” considering how much publishing (American Libraries, books, etc.), speaking (repeated references in your blog, ALA Top Trends Panel in June, etc.), and now blogging ( you’ve done. I’m also not sure where “self-promoting elite” comes from if you’re not including yourself in that (cites & insights, etc.), and not too many drudges get invited to Microsoft’s Search Champs conference (as you were)!

I never said don’t keep a well-rounded staff; you’re obviously reading my post through your own filter. Maybe you’re not aware of them, but there are awards out there for support staff person of the year, trustee of the year, reference librarian of the year, director of the year, etc. that nicely highlight all job roles in our profession. In addition, there are plenty of “drudges” from all walks of librarianship blogging and writing journal articles, which has brought them fandom, readers, new friends, and public notice. Frankly, I’m stunned you’d discont those folks so easily. After all, even “movers and shakers” and “self-promoting elite” had to start out as unknown, young babes in the woods, too. Share with us how you went from drudge to self-promoting elite and I’m sure we’ll see that same pattern.

It’s gone on since then. I thought earlier about bringing part of the conversation over here, but thought better of it–until “Matt” made a comment that I pretty much entirely agree with, but referred to me in a manner that suggested that he thought I felt differently, that I was missing the point. So I tossed in a brief little comment about why I’d gotten embroiled in this discussion in the first place:

Matt, I’ll comment here again since you mention me. Yes, there should be progress and dialogue, respect and credit (which runs both ways). There’s a sentence in your comment that gives me pause (does not being high profile automatically mean that “the work in and of itself” is all the reward you should expect?), but never mind.

Here’s the thing: All of the various lists about how to lose techie (or whatever) librarians were going along. Fine. I might gather some of them up and comment. I might not. I thought the various lists had to do with problems affecting low-profile techies as well as high-profile techies. It was Jenny L. who specifically talked about movers and shakers, changing the tenor of the whole discussion. To reverse your comment: Those who do get a lot of fanfare and credit, the so-called movers and shakers, presumably have their rewards: Fanfare, credit, and most likely an easier time moving to a better job if they get frustrated. (In some cases, maybe those who are frustrated with their library situations just aren’t a good fit and really should be elsewhere; in other cases, probably a majority of cases, there needs to be more mutual respect, understanding, and awareness. Of all “generations” for all “generations.”)

I only got involved here because of Jenny Levine’s sudden addition of “movers and shakers” to the discussion. That simple.

Here’s Jenny Levine’s response to that comment, in full:

Walt, it’s only “simple” in the sense that you define all non-“movers and shakers” as drudges. Talk about over-simplifications….

Hopefully this word count is small enough for you. 😉 *

Sigh. I see three different questions here that bother me a lot, so much so that I’m writing this post when I should be writing about library access to scholarship:

  • The easy one: Is it really possible that Jenny Levine believes that I’m sincerely labeling everyone but the official Movers and Shakers as drudges, including myself? Am I forbidden from using rhetorical contrast? Is it really necessary to be that doggedly literal? How is it possible to read that comment and believe that I’m “disconting” (or even discounting) the people I believe are overlooked because they’re not Movers and Shakers?
  • The tougher one: Am I wrong in believing that Movers & Shakers get a little too much attention in the field, and that they may just possibly have less to complain about than the people who make sure the job gets carried out properly (who probably aren’t devoid of ideas either)? Is the star system really what will move libraries forward in serving their communities?
  • The toughest one, I hope: Do most of you regard Cites & Insights as self-promotion, as Jenny Levine labels it?

That one’s toughest because, if you do, then I’m outta here. Or, at least, C&I is outta here.

After all, if it’s self-promotion, it’s incompetent: Speaking engagements have declined to pretty much zero, I haven’t been submitting articles or proposed columns elsewhere, and I could probably write a book every year or two with the time I take doing C&I. (As I noted in a response, I am not speaking at Top Tech Trends at ALA, since I dropped off that group more than a year ago–but, at the request of the committee, I will be moderating the presentation this summer.)

Of course, if it’s self-promotion, it also seems odd that, when I refer to it, I don’t always pound home the full title, Cites & Insights: Crawford at Large. (The only reason I haven’t dropped the last three words is because they are part of the official title and I don’t want to deal with getting a new ISSN and all that…but the type for that portion of the banner keeps getting smaller, and the “real title” doesn’t include the last three words.)

So, where do we go from here?

I’ve had a great run–never as a Mover & Shaker, but as a contributor in a number of different areas. I’ve been able to accomplish a lot more than I ever expected, mostly through keeping on keeping on. (Starting out by writing MARC for Library Use because it had to be written and nobody who was qualified to write it would touch it–so I wrote it out of sheer desperation.) And yes, I’ve even done a few dozen keynotes and a few dozen other speeches, always by invitation, never through self-promotion.

I like to think that I still contribute to the field, primarily through C&I.

But damn, there’s a lot of other stuff I could just as well be doing. All of it suiting my basically-lazy personality better, some of it more fun. If Jenny Levine is right, then maybe it’s time to hang it up.

Comments invited–here or via email [easiest: waltcrawford via gmail].

*Footnote: The smiley face is WordPress’ doing: It auto-translates certain emoticons from text into icon. The original response has a semicolon, hyphen, right-paren.

29 Responses to “Movers, shakers, self-promotion, and C&I”

  1. tangognat says:

    I think that you’re taking the comment thread too seriously. If you still like producing Cites & Insights, keep working on it. I’d miss it if you stopped writing it.

  2. jessamyn says:

    I guess I don’t get what’s any different from the self-promoting that you do and the self-promoting that Jenny does. I don’t see self-promoting as a bad thing, I just don’t see it as an end in and of itself. Drawing attention to good things that you do for the purpose of sharing it with others seems to be a good thing, and something this profession could probably use more of, since we tend to be a bunch of wheel-re-inventors.

    There’s a vast difference between just saying “Look at me” and saying “Look at this neat thing that I did.” This is especially true in the academic realm where a certain amount of self-promotion is almost necessary for tenure and status. I’m not sure what it means when you say that you have been invited to speak “never through self-promotion.” How did people hear about you? In short, I see C&I as somewhat self-promotional — it’s what you think and have researched about a number of topics — but I also don’t think that’s a bad thing.



  3. Mark says:

    Walt, I need some time to think and I may end up emailing you … but, please, please do not go away! If you choose to write books instead of C&I, great. Write what you want to write and what you think is a contribution that you can and are willing to make. I certainly appreciate it! And I know a few others that do too, but I’ll let them speak for themselves.

    I am doing my best to learn from you via this weird web world because I find your’s to be one of the few middle road sort of voices out here. Maybe a bit curmudgeonly at times, but I like curmudgeonly when it has a purpose and value. I guess that is the simplest answer I can give, “I find much of value in your voice Walt.”

    Thank you for being here and for doing what you do.

  4. Kathleen says:

    I have thought the “mover & shaker” designation was for newer librarians. I have had two people that I nominated selected. This year it was Bart Birdsall who read gay=themed YA books through a megaphone in front of the County Commission after they passed an ordinance against Gay Pride. Bart is a building level school library media specialist.
    Future Libraries: Dreams, Madness, & Reality was a recommended book for students at my school and they have been pleased to have a chance to continue to gain your insights through C&I altho two told me they don’t like the pdf and wish you would put the content on here.

  5. I think you perhaps overreacted a little. “Movers and Shakers” is a catchphrase (kind of like Library 2.0 that way), and with catchphrases come some connotations that don’t exactly match up for everyone.

    For what it’s worth, I agree that part of what’s important is not only maintaining the people who create new Cool Stuff and promote it, but those who adapt the Cool Stuff and make it work for patrons in specific environments. These librarians don’t generally get the recognition that the creator does, but that’s true in every profession. What they do is make it accessible, and that’s as, if not more, important as innovating in the first place.

  6. walt says:

    Thanks all; I’ll keep on watching comments. Kathleen: I would note that nearly every essay in C&I since 2004 is also available as an HTML separate for those who can’t abide PDF. Amanda: I do love your second paragraph. Jessamyn: Word of mouth, I assume.

  7. html version says:

    O, sorry to be so dense but where is it? [HTML separate]

  8. Steve Lawson says:

    On self-promotion, I’m with Jessamyn. If you self-publish you are self promoting (just like me; everyone look at the link to my blog, above!). Nothing bad about that, and if it is *merely* self-promotion, no one will read it for long. I have a post/essay on blogs and zines and community and cliques and self-promotion that has been percolating in my brain for months now. Maybe this summer I’ll have time to actually write it.

    You ask “Am I wrong in believing that Movers & Shakers get a little too much attention in the field…?” I don’t know; I think you might be. None of the other librarians at my workplace have mentioned the list. When I see people like Meredith Farkas and John Blyberg on the list, I feel good about it; I think that is a “win” for the kind of librarianship that I want to see succeed. But in the end, I don’t think the list matters much.

    Maybe there is a distinction to be made here between the “Movers and Shakers” (the popular kids in the yearbook) and the “movers and shakers” (the kinds of energetic, creative people who get stuff done in every workplace).

    Oh, and please keep up the good work with C&I. Maybe it would be a more effective self-promotional tool if you just called it “Walt!” and put photos of yourself on the front page.

  9. Greg says:

    Maybe I’m going to seem flip here, but your whole perspective on this seems pretty off-base to me. Seems like you implanted a whole mess of personal angst onto Jenny’s use of the phrase “movers and shakers.”

    In no way did I read her phrasing as a change in rhetoric on her part. I knew what she meant: people who make things move and shake in their organizations. Nothing confusing there. No subtext. No suggestion of “high-profile, self-promoting elite,” which, since you are clearly connecting her usage to the LJ designation, reads as a real slap in the face to the designees (who are, of course, nominated by their peers and not via self-promotion).

    In one of your comments on her post, you wrote “It was Jenny L. who specifically talked about movers and shakers, changing the tenor of the whole discussion.”

    That wasn’t my experience. You changed the tenor of the discussion when you described movers and shakers as “high-profile, self-promoting elite.” That was your definition, not hers, certainly not mine.

    I guess what I’m really saying here is I feel you had a valid point to make about working to keep not only the ideas people, but the people who actually make ideas work. That constructive comment was overshadowed by your overtly negative commentary on “Movers and Shakers” and your “drudges” remark. The sarcastic tone of your comment engendered the according responses. And then you went out of your way to highlight Jenny’s typo in your post here. What kind of discussion does one really hope to propagate with those tactics?

    But then I also fail to comprehend this whole rage against self-promotion angle. Librarians are horrendously bad at self-promotion, so why do we recoil at any earnest attempts at it? And now you’re questioning whether you should be publishing, because, heaven forbid, you might be perceived as self-promoting?To be honest, I fail to see where all this alleged self-promotion is happening anyway, but I’m surprised that someone of your apparent strength of conviction would require that much reassurance.

  10. [Reprinted from LIS News message board –MN]

    The easy one: Is it really possible that Jenny Levine believes that I’m sincerely labeling everyone but the official Movers and Shakers as drudges, including myself?

    Walt, you need to develop a thicker skin. All indications are to me that you suffer from the thin skin of the creative artist.

    Keep in mind that you are not responsible for the short-sightedness of other people, only your own. It is in no wise a reflection on you that someone else chooses to be deliberately obtuse and to interpret your words in the worse possible light solely so they can pick a fight with you and try to bully you around. Which is what this looks like to me from the little I’ve seen.

    The tougher one: Am I wrong in believing that Movers & Shakers get a little too much attention in the field, and that they may just possibly have less to complain about than the people who make sure the job gets carried out properly (who probably aren’t devoid of ideas either)?

    Movers & Shakers like Bill Gates? Gates is not MS in and of himself. He’s just the founder and owner and basically lucked into a few gigabucks of personal worth. Oh, he has a part to play in ensuring the economic health of the company, but he doesn’t do the coding. It’s the drudges in the cubicals who have to put with the pointy-haired bosses who do that. But when’s the last time anybody said: Oh, yeah, those MS drudges finally corrrected that security flaw. Whenever anybody bitches about Windoze, they always blame Bill Gates. The biggest yucks are when Gates boots up his computer at a big presentation and it locks up or crashes. So he probably doesn’t actually have less to complain about, he just has different issues on the burner.

    Unfortunately for the drudges, Movers & Shakers are high profile, and overshadow those others who are creative and sometimes come up with the new paradigm.

    Do most of you regard Cites & Insights as self-promotion, as Jenny Levine labels it?

    No. I don’t read it regularly because it does not hold my interest (which is a statement about me, not about C&I), but the few times I have read it I have found it to be largely cogent and outward viewing. Expressing your personal views is not necessarily self-promotion. I engage in self-promotion by using the URL to my site in message signatures and as a link at message boards, but the site itself isn’t about me. I don’t announce that I’m available for functions and post full contact information.

  11. stevenb says:

    Just publishing a personal newsletter or blog in andof itself has nothing to do with self-promotion. You can do this and have the publication be about the content, not yourself. Where it crosses the line between publication (surely publishing an article in a traditional library journal isn’t SELF promotion – it’s IDEA promotion) and self-promotion is when you use your publication to promote yourself and your work in an obvious effort to gain attention to your work – and hopefully – to further increase your speaking engagements, requests to publish, appear at conferences and on webcasts, etc. If anything, I think C & I does far more promotion of other librarians, their viewpoints, and their publications – than it self-promotes the author. That said, I don’t equate being included in a LJ M&S with self-promotion – although if someone is a shameless self-promoter then he or she can certainly run with it and exploit it for that purpose. Is self-promoting inherently wrong? Not according to some folks. Isn’t it just tooting your own horn, and haven’t librarians for too long been hesitant to share their accomplishments with others? On the other hand, who doesn’t find shameless self promotion somewhat obnoxious. But a good number of us are likely to be guilty of it at one time or another so I guess we overlook it when colleagues do it. Just for fun, go back and take a look at the first class (2002) of LJ M&S. Which of those folks are still moving and shaking? Which ones seem to have gotten to the top of the class – and do you think they achieved it by virtue of self promotion or selfless hard work – or because others believed they had something of value to share. Walt – perhaps you have blown The Shifted Librarian’s comment about M&S somewhat out of proportion. Is it a reaction to what you perceive as an overload of shameless self-promotion in the LISblogoverse? Whatever the case, when the phrase “shameless self promotion” is mentioned, you are the last person that comes to my mind.

  12. Bill Drew says:

    Walt, You have much to offer us “drudges” and the elite “movers and shakers” out here. It can be very frustrating to me to see the movers nad shakers year after year because I am doing many if not all of the same things in my place of work and in my workshops and such. The movers and shakers were lucky enough to have someone nominate them. Having heard you in person and having had a chance at conversation with you over dinner and drinks at a conference in Ohio, I find you are not a self promoter. You have much to offer. I have been accused of self promotion in the past. I actually believe a certain amount of self-promotion is necessary. 😉

  13. I haven’t read the initial comment thread, but I thought I might have a small bit to offer to this one. Like Greg, I did not take the “mover and shaker” comment as any kind of change in the conversation.

    It occurs to me that this might be a regionalism.

    My Mid-West parents did not use the phrase movers-and-shakers to mean “high-profile, self-promoting elite” but something much closer to your other concept: “people who make sure the innovations work properly and keep working.”

    Since Greg and I and Jenny are all in the center of the country, I wonder if we’re just using the term differently than others. If you never use or hear the phrase “movers and shakers” except in conjunction with one list by one magazine, it would mean something much different to you than it does to me.

    Anyway, as long as you keep writing C&I, I’ll keep reading it–and I wouldn’t be if it was merely self-promotion.

  14. walt says:

    Re HTML version: The home page for C&I shows each essay in the current issue that has HTML separates as a live link, opening the HTML separate. Similarly, the tables of contents for 2004, 2005, and 2006 show such live links whenever HTML is available. Since the HTML names are relatively meaningless (“v6i6a.htm” for the first essay in C&I 6:6, for example), they’re not listed separately.

    Others: I need to come back and read these before commenting.

  15. I’ve hesitated to join the fray (if that is in fact what it is). Sometimes silence is better than putting in one’s $.02. First of all I just want to encourage you, Walt, to not cease publication of C&I. I read each issue even though not every article is of equal interest to me.

    Secondly, this situation of “loaded” terms and possible misunderstandings illustrates for me, once again, how easy it is to misunderstand which in turn so easily leads to hurt feelings or frustration. I can certainly understand one of your initial points, which is that Jenny Levine’s use of the phrase “movers and shakers” can be interpreted as “loaded.” Personally I have a negative reaction to it because I have a somewhat negative view of the LJ process, even though I highly regard and am thankful for those who have received recognition by means of LJ’s work. Having read Jenny’s post and all associated comments there and here, though, I think her intent was innocuous and not intended to be divisive.

    Third, I think there is an underlying conflict at work here that relates to the issue of self-promotion via whatever means. I have had comments from other librarian colleagues to the effect that having a blog obviously is the way to get name recognition. No false modesty here, but my blog is not in any sense well known, certainly not as well known as yours, Jenny’s, and many others. Yet people have commented to me that they see my name “everywhere” these days. I am conflicted about this. Sure, I like recognition as much as the next guy or gal. But I am uncomfortable with self promotion and I certainly abhor shameless self promotion. I wonder sometimes if that is what I am doing, unwittingly, by having my own blog. I don’t have an answer to this underlying issue or tension.

    At its core I guess one of the things that motivates each of us (well, me, at least) to do what we do — whether that is write books, speak at conferences, mentor LIS students, publish and maintain a blog or wiki or what have you — is to have a bit of influence, to have an impact on the profession and those around us, to make a positive difference. Is that a bad thing? I don’t think so.

    Walt, you’ve certainly had (and continue to have) a positive impact on me. I don’t always agree with you and I think, frankly, that’s a good thing. But one of the reasons I pay attention to what you might have to say is my sense that you don’t take yourself too seriously. Keep up the good work.

  16. Meta-comment – Walt, you have definitely found one of the keys to building subject readership when running a blog – controversy with the local A-listers! 🙂

    Double points for a theme of populism vs. elitism.

  17. Kathleen says:

    I nominated a local librarian as a Mover & Shaker because he stood up for Gay Pride and got in some hot water at work for doing so. I thought if he were were selected it might give him some support from the profession at large as he fights for Gay teens. Bart did not know that LJ had the series. I excerpt a few lines from his profile below. I thought his courage deserved recognition. He is not a self-promoter..I did it!
    Pride and Protest—Bart Birdsall
    By Staff — March 15, 2006

    Respect and empathy define Birdsall’s insistence on supporting his students and standing up for his beliefs. …as a teen Birdsall “suffered shame and self-hatred that he does not want our teens to experience.” From holding an April “Breaking the Silence” event to helping students start a Gay-Straight Alliance, Birdsall puts his principles into practice.

    Recently, a display of books by GLBT authors at the West Gate Regional Library was removed after the Hillsborough County Commission voted against promoting gay pride at any county facility. Birdsall sent emails from his home account to the library’s director, protesting this censorship, and was warned by the school board to keep his political opinions away from work. Two days later, he stood with a bullhorn in front of the public library where a county commission meeting was underway, reading aloud from books taken off the display. (A lawsuit is pending against county commissioners.)

    Birdsall says, “My freedom of speech means more to me than any job…and some gay teen may be watching. I will stand here and read for her or him, so she/he sees an adult who stands firm and isn’t afraid to be openly gay.”

  18. walt says:

    OK, let’s see what requires a response (other than “I’m definitely reading and thinking about all of these, and thanks for writing”).

    First, I was wrong to couple “self-promoting” with LJ’s Movers & Shakers. Period. My apologies. I believe most of those on the lists are there because of the work they’ve done. I should not have suggested otherwise in the heat of the moment.

    In my frustration at what I saw (and still see) as a shift in emphasis from “we need to treat each other better” to “we need to treat the stars better” (and I admit I may still be misinterpreting), I treated two overlapping circles (think Venn diagram) as a single circle. They’re not.

    I’m acquainted with a fair number of LJ’s Movers & Shakers, admire the work done by almost all of them I’m acquainted with (and many of them I’m not acquainted with), and know they’re certainly not all or even mostly self-promoters (in the sense that Stevenb gets–and Stevenb gets the distinction I didn’t make very well). In closing out my comments on JL’s post, I offered a similar but briefer apology. [A sidenote: LJ’s list supposedly honors only younger/newer leaders–except when it includes older ones. Which it does, in some cases. Nothing wrong with that.]

    Greg–well, you’re validating my suspicion that there are two different levels of scrutiny for posts. Some people are to have their words interpreted in the most innocent/favorable possible context. Others are to be interpreted strictly and negatively, if possible. It does make life interesting, trying to figure out where you are in that spectrum.

    Stevenb–well, thank you. You make a useful distinction. And I note that you and several others think that I may have somewhat overinterpreted Jenny Levine’s remark. That may be true. Jenny Levine is clearly in the “she doesn’t mean anything negatively that you interpret negatively, so it’s your problem” category. But at least you and a few others (but clearly not Greg) don’t assume that it’s all in my head.

    Steve O: You also make useful distinctions regarding self-promotion. And I certainly don’t expect, or want, anyone to agree with me all the time. Geez, that would be strange…and boring.

    Bill D.: I’m delighted that at least one person picked up on “drudges” as intentional hyperbole. Maybe I’m not quite at the “100% to be read literally and as negatively as possible” end of the scale…at least for you.

    Steve L.: Actually, what I’d need to do is set up a large rotating set of pictures and make sure one of them shows up with every post; it would also make sense to give myself a nickname (the Codger Pseudo-Librarian?) and use that name, or Cites & Insights, as my affiliation signature on articles and speeches (if any), rather than the boring old “Senior analyst, RLG,” which suffers from being the same affiliation (and job title, but that’s another story) I’ve had for, urgh, nearly 27 years now. And yes, I’m having fun here, Greg.

    Everyone else: Thanks one and all, for your thoughtful comments. But I think this response is getting (getting?) too long as it is…

  19. walt says:

    [A quick note about Kathleen’s most recent post: I didn’t see it before I wrote my responses, although I think my general apology covers it. For some reason, Spam Karma 2 held it as possible spam–and then approved it without my intervention. Strange. I would, of course, have retrieved it from the spam holding file and approved it.]

  20. Greg says:

    This is the second blog comment thread in the past 24 hours in which I’ve come to regret my involvement. I, too, should know better than to comment here, but, c’mon now, Walt, two “levels” of scrutiny does not a spectrum make.

    Now, let me be clear about one thing. My comments above are meant to shed light on the responses you received in Jenny’s comment thread. I’d never even seen the comment thread until your post yesterday. That’s because I didn’t perceive a change in the rhetoric by her use of “movers and shakers” and didn’t think there was much of interest to be said about the original post.

    But when I went back and read those comments, prompted by your post, I was very much struck by what I perceived as a very uncalled-for condemnation of the LJ Movers and Shakers. It didn’t take any special bias of interpretation to see that, Walt.

    I, much like Bill Drew (who, like you, is a mover and shaker in my book), had no problem seeing the drudges comment as your usual endearing snarkiness, but you’d already laid down some pretty strong words. Words that you’ve already apologized for using.

    Look, I respect both you and Jenny. I read everything either of you writes. I’m going to agree with your notion that people read other people with different filters. If that wasn’t the case, why bother listening to different voices? But I’m going to disagree with this positive/negative dichotomy you’ve set up and argue that I read everyone differently. With Jenny, I expect a certain evangelical tone. With you, I am always on the lookout quick wit and sarcasm, as well as your thoughtfulness. In this isolated case, I think your quickness got the better of your thoughtfulness, that’s all. You’ve already made the appropriate amends for that.

    I, for one, am glad you’re still having fun.

  21. Angel says:

    I think for this drudge the lesson is pretty clear: whatever you do, don’t upset the powers that be in the librarian realm of the blogosphere. I did wonder about the notion of managers working to value all workers versus valuing the stars (who by the way likely have options of mobility where other workers may not). Actually, I was thinking in terms of succession, some things T. Scott said about HR (see his post on unnumbered librarians), and a couple other things I saw. But I think I am keeping that for my journal. The writing on the wall is becoming clearer over time.

    As always, best and keep on blogging.

    P.S. While I think C&I qualifies as a service to the library community (and I am sure other communities as well), if you were to decide to take it offline, it would be missed. Heck, keep making it and send me a copy as a zine or whatever. I’d even pay for the postage.

  22. walt says:

    Greg: Yes, you’re right, it’s a spectrum–but it’s still a set of perceived levels that encourages me to avoid commenting on JL posts. (It’s also true that I find evangelism grating; always have. Probably just as well; my voice is such that I could have become a tent-show evangelist if my religion and/or principles were different than they are.) I think Angel’s post here is along the same lines…and, Angel, you know your comments and disagreements are always welcome here!

    Angel: Based on responses so far, I’m not inclined to abandon ship. I think I seriously need a break soon, but that’s different, and “a break” would be just that, possibly almost invisible to you. (Well, actually, I have a pretty good idea what’s likely, and it involves not having any “real” issue during the core summer period, when there seem to be fewer readers anyway. More on that as I’m clearer about intentions. However, barring a sudden late rush of people saying “Yep, Walt, C&I is just egregious self-promotion,” a few sunny days here might be enough to resolve the current situation.)

  23. Matthew O'Neil says:

    I’ve been offline for a few days while this developed, but I must ask who wants to be a Mover & Shaker. All of the people I have known both in the information & knowledge professions and outside have quickly gone from Mover and Shaker to flash in the pan.

    Those who promote themselves, how wonderful they are, what great work they do seldom produce anything of substance. As for reading their writings, in my half decade tenure in these professions I have read many things, but I only regularly return to those of substance. I have found that those of librarians turned speakers or some such shift are not useful and indeed their writings are self promoting. This contrasts with your writings including Cites & Insights Walt at Random, which are useful, topical and their author didn’t leave librarianship for a self promoting speaking tour.

    I think it comes down to a sense of authority, C&I has authority because of many things: Its author, its regularity, its history, its point of view. The M&S writings, be they on their blogs, in the journals, or on websites don’t, to me, have the same authority -perhaps because they don’t fill a need I have but are little more than digital noise.

    I’m not sure I would want to be a Mover & Shaker, I would just want to be a good librarian (or whatever I metamorphose into) noted for my substantive work and not my self-aggrandizement.

    I sincerely hope you get your sunny days as not only do I enjoy C&I, it fills a need as well.

  24. walt says:

    Matthew: Thanks for the good wishes. I won’t say much about the rest of your post, since there really are different kinds of Movers and Shakers (both in the real world and in LJ’s series).

    I’ve received a few private communications on the cluster of issues here. They’re troublesome, not for me (they’re all quite positive in that regard) but for the ongoing openness of blog conversations. Maybe more on that later, maybe not: It’s a tougher issue than this post dealt with, I think, but it’s one that only indirectly involves me.

  25. […] Just because you blog, does that make you a self-promoter? What about publishing an article in a library journal? Are you just communicating ideas or research with colleagues, or are you out to be an “A-list” academic librarian? These are some of the questions raised by a blog post by Walt Crawford last week. Apparently he had some concerns about a reference to “movers and shakers” (LJ’s annual collection) made by The Shifted Librarian. I won’t rehash what created a fair amount of commentary; you can read Walt’s post for that – which will give you a better sense of why I’m writing about self-promotion. From my perspective the vast majority of academic librarians who simply publish, present, or blog are not self-promoters. If you’re good, others will know it and that may result in some unintended recognition. I think that’s how most folks end up as LJ Movers & Shakers. And like every award handed out in libraryland, there are many deserving folks who are not recognized. So I just linked to a post I wrote a while ago. Am I self-promoting my own writing? What if I link to an article I wrote in a journal? I think I’m just trying to get you read something related to the conversation. You may think I’m trying to broaden my personal sphere of influence. Certainly we all occasionally see evidence of shameless self-promotion in an attempt to obtain speaking engagements, requests to contribute articles, or to broaden one’s reputation in the profession. We have to accept it will happen, and live and let live. If you have a good idea or something worth communicating, share it with ACRLog (like Brian Mathews did – which garnered a few mentions in the LISblogoverse). Don’t let concerns about being accused of shameless self-promotion keep you from communicating ideas or news that could benefit your colleagues. I think most academic librarians have the good sense to know where the line is between enthusiasm for sharing ideas and shameless self-promotion – and to avoid crossing it. […]

  26. Maureen G says:

    Late to the party here.
    Personally I think the reason most people have blogs (at least some library blogs) isn’t so much as self-promotion but the need or want to share like ideas with like minded people. I have a blog myself. I read list servs, journals, surf other libraries web sites, not so much out of boredom but because of the possibilty of new ideas/views that had not occured to me before. Example “x” library now offers storytime as a pod cast. As a soon to be children’s lilbrarian I think about how that idea could work with my new library and how I could possibly integrate that into my own community. Is that something that is necessary for the children in my soon to be new town? Will it be useful or a waste of space? But it is also the possibility that I could provide something, in some new way, that I like any maybe others would enjoy as well. That is personally what Iget from blogs or web sites or list servs. That and the opportunity to communicate with other librarians in other areas of the country or world.
    Self promotion does exist somewhat in blogland, but how much of that is from the blogger himself or just a result of the blog having appeal and becoming popular is another issue. If someone writes a blog and no one reads it is that self promotion? Then again if someone writes a blog and everyone reads it is it self promotion? (Yes a little joke here over the old “If a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it…blah, blah, blah.)
    (And yes there are those who construct a blog, write a column etc because they are meglomaniacs, but I do not think that is the case with all bloggers, columnists)
    LJ’s “Movers and Shakers” ah to touch that topic. Nope I am going to leave that one alone.
    Walt I like Cities and Insights because it has useful information for me. No I do not view it as self-promotion. Do I know of you because of that column? Yes. Am I going to start writing you fan mail and ask for an autographed picture because of it? Nope. (humor everyone, just humor)
    Drudge. Personally when I read anything online I keep in mind that one word can be powerful. But I also try to keep in mind because I am reading text without the luxury of reading facial expressions, tone, inflection etc, I do not know if it was seriously meant as a slam or just written in frustration, quickly etc. This is in no way meant to argue with those who felt the term was inappropriate, just my point of view. The term did not bother me.
    Don’t hang it up. Discourse, debate, arguing, whatever you want to call it, can be good. If we all agreed we’d all be really, really bored.
    Disclaimer: these views are mine and mine alone and do not represent the view of any library, organization, political party etc, etc, etc. (humor again)

  27. walt says:

    Hi Maureen,

    Thanks for the note. Points all well taken. It’s worth noting that I said “drudges like me” or something of that sort (probably not those exact words); it was shorthand for “people other than the Stars.” Dorothea Salo picked up exactly that meaning, and offered “peasant” as a synonym.

    Now that Bloglines has restored “Walt at Random” there’s little (read no, unless natural/personal disaster intervenes) chance of my hanging it up.

  28. Brad Kruse says:


    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Reviewing and taking stock occasionally is a good thing. Just a couple of other thoughts.

    1) Did you really call all non-limelighted heroes, ‘drudges’? On reading your initial statement, I got the impression that you were taking a shot at the notion of celebrating only those on ‘the list’, which you pointed out categorized the non-listed as menial. Drudges. I never saw where you referred to anyone or their work as ‘drudge’, only the role so many had been cast in.

    2) The tougher issue — are the M & S getting too much attention? Two thoughts here.

    2-a) you cannot have a hero without a disaster. Someone provided a disaster for every hero, only we don’t always track down the disaster provider. Especially when the disaster arises from doing ‘business as usual’.

    2-b) Too much attention? I think rather that too many people aren’t getting enough attention. Spread the wealth and attention around, and perhaps some goal might be achieved. Something like, happier people, more work getting done.

    2-c) On the other hand, we gather and promote our heroes to emphasise what we call success, and to highlight how the heroes achieved that success. Whether at a county fair in the vegetables building, or pinning medals on the battlefield, the award ceremony is nearly random but serves a purpose to the awarding organization: shows defeat of obstacles, and shifts attention from the disasters and obstacles to ways of overcoming those disasters and obstacles.

    3) I recall ‘Parkinson’s law’, (People in a hierarchy tend to rise to their level of incompetence). In ‘Peter’s Prescription’ one way to survive is to generate a document on a regular basis. Paraphrasing, ‘if you don’t generate documents regularly, the organization doesn’t know you exists’ (Does this mean we should be submitting a weekly synopsis, an ‘executive summary’, of our blogs, if our supervisor doesn’t check our blog regularly?). So in one sense, blogging is survival, not self-promotion. An academic cannot ‘publish or perish’ without self-promoting. Generally I see acceptance of much scholarly publication, without serious charges of self-promotion. And how do you participate in the blogosphere without promoting something, including yourself? Perhaps Jenny is simply using one tactic for self-promotion.

    When you label a store, a blog, a product, a book with your name, you share an identity, yourself with your labor. You both self-promote (see my name on this blog? If you trust me, you can trust much of what I put in the blog), and you ‘brand’ the labor (See how good this blog is? The other works with my name are also good, when you find them.) Self-promotion, quality control, ‘good will’, they all seem to be true. I have received a few ‘marketing’ emails that shamelessly self-promote, that use their name to lure you from one commitment of time and money to the next.

    Please don’t dwell on the fact that today is Friday, although many around me seem to think that being Friday is significant for some reason. Remember, Monday is only a couple of days away!


  29. walt says:


    1. It was a joke. “Or are us drudges disposable?” Note the “us drudges.” The comment as a whole was unfortunate and incorrect, because I confused two circles: the small circle of, well, let’s call them shameless self-promoters, those out to make a name for themselves more than they’re publicizing good works, and the large and mostly non-overlapping circle of movers and shakers (either the LJ anointed or lower-case m&s).

    2a-c. The serious point, which I won’t back away from, is that it’s easy to overlook the people who complete projects, keep them running, and generally are essential to any operational technology, in favor of the Stars. And that it’s as important to keep the Implementers as it is to keep the Stars (another overlapping pair of circles, to be sure). So yes, I’m agreeing with 2b. 2a and c are more complicated (heros and stars aren’t necessarily the same…)

    3. I’ve explained this too many times now: I meant self-promotion for the sake of self promotion–what Steven Bell has called “shameless self-promotion.” And my original comment was, for what I hope is the last time, too quick and too sloppy.

    As for Friday: I like to think there’s room for a little levity on Fridays. And I’m beginning to think some of these discussions need a little more levity.