Making the Case 3: Research and other improbabilities

“Making the case” for what, exactly? Well, really, for “semi-” still being part of my self-description as semi-retired. Oh, and for going to ALA conferences (or any library conferences) after this year, as part of staying involved in the field–which, for reasons of real economics and household harmony, needs to involve some appropriate earned income.

To recap:

  • Making the Case 1 notes the solution I’d find most desirable–finding ongoing sponsorship for Cites & Insights or (and) Walt at Random.
  • Making the Case 2 starts with a surprise (the shutdown of the Library Leadership Network) and considers the possibility of a new site providing diverse essays that can inform library leaders (and managers) and possibly generate conversations on relevant topics.
  • Making the Case 2.5 explains some fine points (that 1 and 2 aren’t either/or, that finding a home for much of the LLN content is relatively easy but also less interesting, etc.)

I think this is the last of this post series, both because it’s getting close to ALA Annual (the ideal spot to discuss these possibilities) and because I’d rather get back to other topics.


I’d love to be involved with some group involved in real-world library research, and I believe I’ve demonstrated my ability to carry out focused, transparent projects.

I did some of those projects on speculation, hoping that they would result in some modest amount of income either from book sales or, potentially, from speaking or other invitations. The results–not only monetary, but even having the research noticed–have ranged from mediocre to abysmal. It’s hard to justify doing any more projects except out of pure personal fascination, unless there’s some up-front sponsorship.

At this point, I don’t see how this is likely to happen. I’d love to be proved wrong.

Other improbabilities

When I was first looking for a new gig, three years ago, I did get a couple of offers–one to teach a library school course (after designing the course), one to do seminars. It’s also been suggested that I should become a consultant (hmm: suggest that someone out of work become a consultant–what a novel idea!)

Why haven’t I followed up on these possibilities? Turns out John Scalzi has a post today at Whatever that speaks to this situation: “The Self-Awareness of Incompetence (or Lack Thereof).” An excerpt:

I think there’s a critical intersection between being willing to try things you’re not good at (or good at yet) to learn and experience them — and thus accepting that there’s an interim period of incompetence in the area while one gets up to speed — and the self knowledge (or lack thereof) that no matter how much effort you put into something, you won’t ever reach a sufficient level of competence. Or in shorter words, there’s a cross street between “try something new” and “give it up, already,” and I think it’s interesting to find out, when people get to that particular curb, if they actually know where they’re standing.

I’ve done loads of the former–starting with computer programming and going on from there–with, usually, reasonably good results. I’m willing to continue.


  • I really don’t believe I’d be more than mediocre as an adjunct faculty member at a library school, and I do believe that if LIS students are to be taught by non-MLIS holders, those non-MLIS holders should be a whole lot better than mediocre.
  • I know I’m not enough of a self-promoter to be a successful consultant, and the question “Consult about what, exactly?” keeps coming back to haunt me. I’m not closing this off entirely, but it’s clearly not My Future.
  • As for webinars, quite apart from the ungainly name…well, not impossible, but it appears that I’m no longer in demand as a speaker (possibly for good reasons), and I think I’d be even less spectacular as a webinar presenter.

So, well, I haven’t followed up on these. Maybe that’s wrong.

Otherwise, there are always columns, articles and books. I have one book proposal (yes, with somebody else publishing it) in the works now. I suspect I’ll have one or two others along the way, although the sheer multitude of books in the field (ten at a time?) gives me pause. (One topic that’s been near & dear for many, many years might be ripe for book treatment…) Always possible–columns and articles. But with all of those, maybe books more than others, the issues of compensation and value add come into play. That is: I don’t want to write books that I don’t believe add substantial value…and most books and articles don’t really yield much of a revenue stream. They’ll be part of it, I think, but not a major part. (Psst: Thanks to the two people or institutions who’ve purchased But Still They Blog this month!)

And I think that’s it for the cluster.

Availability during ALA: Most any time Friday from noon to 6 or so, any time Saturday (period, so far), and Sunday from, say, 2 p.m. through dinner time. But contact me beforehand, ‘cuz I still travel without a netbook or notebook or iPad or iTouch or…  waltcrawford at gmail dot com.

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