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Movers and Shakers and Candlestick Makers

(Sorry, I just had to rhyme.)

Library Journal has announced its annual Movers and Shakers, and it’s a very good batch. Unfortunately, LJ’s website is so kabobbled that you’re best off exploring M&S 2008 through Jessamyn’s short list or Connie Crosby’s longer list.

I was the “second” on the nomination for Tim Spalding, so I’m passing out cigars over his selection to M&S. I think some librarians are embarrassed by that old-tyme books-’n'-reading religion, as if their bumper stickers say I’D RATHER BE GAMING. Yet I haven’t worked in a traditional library-with-books since 2001, and every year I am a little more in love with reading. Of all the personae I inhabit, my reading self is the kindest, most interesting, and most unpredictable. The radical, transformative heart of librarianship is to take society’s pre-programmed thinkers — the products of our educational systems and our TV culture — and turn them into lifelong readers.

Many other good folk got the nod this year, including Pete Bromberg. Pete, has it really been a decade since we worked in the same library? Marshall Shore’s nomination tickled me, since “saying no to Dewey” seemed to irritate many librarians by its very success.

I see many other good, deserving names, too many to list. It’s a good crop. The list pushed me toward two meditations.

First, I know of many “movers and shakers” who haven’t been on any of these lists. That would include the Evergreen crew, the four Karens (Coyle, Markey, and Calhoun — Coombs was last year, if I’m not mistaken), Jeremy Frumkin of OSU’s LibraryFind project, and a few more who are either very code-focused or a bit long in the tooth. (When I raised the age issue, one person said his director was a M&S last year, and she’s all of fifty years old. I suppose he had to drive to her nursing home to shout the nomination into her ear trumpet.) So some of us need to nominate the coders and the grizzled mavericks and other people who are like, you know, reinventing the organization of information for cryin’ out loud.

Second, when I raised this issue on Twitter, predictably, some people thought I was fishing. I am not. That’s because right now, there’s very little M&S in my professional life. The time for me to be an M&S was in the late 1990s, before LJ dreamed up Movers and Shakers and I was hot on the filtering issue (and also migrating databases from CD to Web, introducing wifi, etc.), or earlier in this decade, when with a team of ace librarians I ramped up a state-funded informational website. In retrospect, we did some rad stuff, we did. And I liked being in charge. It’s Nice To Be The Queen.

I’m not complaining. (Trust me: it’s a joy to walk into My Place Of Work and be greeted by smiles. Every. Single. Day.) It’s just how cycles of life and work go. I do interesting and I hope valuable work, but then, I’m in a building overflowing with many people who do the same.

The fact is that LibraryLand brims with talented people doing a great job every single day. If you are not among them, buff up your c.v. and start hunting. As a smart fellow said to me recently, for his next job he’s thinking less about what he will do than about who he will work with. You spend too much time at work (and these days to be “present” at work extends far beyond the 8×5 week) to not be surrounded by talent and passion.

I do have an idea I’m going to write about soon. It may strike a chord with librarians, or it may not — or more likely, I’ll need to build a following (if one is even needed within LibraryLand). Sometimes I forget that when I started investigating Internet filtering, I received a chilly reception from many quarters. I even had a post removed from a library discussion list after a filter vendor spooked a silly rabbit of a list moderator. In those days, such resistance only piqued my interest in the issue. (And I remained persona non grata among the intellectual-freedom absolutists for insisting that access for children was a separate issue from access for adults. My take? Reluctance to admit that killed our chances with CIPA, turning it from something we fought to something we “implement.”)

But I digress. I have an idea. It’s a good one. Last night in our writing workshop we talked about being generous with manuscripts — a group of five writers is a pretty dang good witness to ownership, should any of us ever have a problem, which we will not — but careful with ideas. So I’m thinking through how and when; I’m mulling over funding, leadership, marketing, etc. It’s spring — a good season for germinating ideas.

Posted on this day, other years:

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9 Comments

  1. KG:

    Thanks for your great discussion. And glad you found my list helpful.

    It took me a while to clue in that “movers and shakers” is meant to be “up and coming”, something I wish they would explain in the introduction.

    As you say, there are so many talented librarians out there it is a challenge to honor them all.

    I’m sure you would have been honored if the timing had been better. ;-)

    Cheers,
    Connie

    Wednesday, March 19, 2008 at 8:07 am | Permalink
  2. You continue to move and shake the library world. You don’t need to fish for anyone to come to that conclusion. Of course, if “Move and Shake” does mean “up and come” , then the problem is that you’ve been moving and shaking for too long.

    The fish don’t understand that they are wet, I guess. (how’s that for a mixed-up metaphor?)

    The Tim Spalding recommend is a work of genius, “But He’s Not an MLIS” people be damned. Truth is he’s done some librarian-ish things better than any MLIS did. Give me a do-er over a degree-er any day.

    Wednesday, March 19, 2008 at 10:16 am | Permalink
  3. Thanks for the nod Karen :-) Yow! It’s been almost 11 years since our days at the EPA. We must have both been 15 when we worked there ;-)

    I left some comments over at Info. Wants to Be Free that I think are relevant to your post, so here they are (slightly edited):

    There are so many people who deserve recognition, and I think some of them (and Karen I’d put you squarely in this category) might not be nominated or selected because people perceive them as already beyond the mover/shaker level. I don’t mean that age-wise, I mean that status-wise. For example, Leslie Burger is certainly a mover/shaker, but who would think to nominate her? (And wouldn’t we all be surprised to see her chosen?)

    One other comment about the selection process (based on my assumptions from other selection processes I’ve been directly involved in.) It’s not just about who’s “the best”. It’s also about having a diverse group of people who are doing different things. If you’re moving and shaking by doing cool things with technology, but have the bad luck of being nominated in a year when 20 other cool people are doing cool things with technology, you might get passed over for someone doing cool things with community building. Try again next year, when the mix may be different, and the likelihood of being selected after repeated nominations is in your favor.

    Thanks again for the shout out. It means a lot to me :-)

    Wednesday, March 19, 2008 at 5:29 pm | Permalink
  4. Well, but: I think the folks I listed are doing stuff that’s fresh and cool at the moving-shaking level. They may have long careers with all kinds of responsibilities (though Jeremy is young, and so are the Evergreen people!) but they’re again in a phase of their worklife where they really are movin’ and shakin’. Don’t be puttin’ people in no boxes, Mr. Pete ;-)

    Wednesday, March 19, 2008 at 5:57 pm | Permalink
  5. The LL wrote:

    Hello Ms. KG,

    Thanks for bringing up this issue. What I want to know is: when will they give out a M&S award to snarky librarian bloggers? I believe I have not been acknowledged for the smirking, eye-rolling factor I have brought to the profession.

    –The LL

    Wednesday, March 19, 2008 at 6:54 pm | Permalink
  6. Or the sparkly pink dresses! let’s not forget the sparkly pink dresses!

    Wednesday, March 19, 2008 at 7:11 pm | Permalink
  7. Max wrote:

    Love this post KGS. I really like this section of your post relating to buffing up the c.v. It’s so important to work in a place where you enjoy what you do and hopefully enjoy the people you work with… I remember after I started at SOLIworld, one of my co-workers said I would lose my jolliness and become bitter like the rest after 6 months. 1 1/2 years later she was confused as to why I was not bitter yet. It’s been 5 years at the moment – and I will say I’m not bitter! However my feelings toward MPOW and my job are very different than when I first started. ‘Nuff said.

    Wednesday, March 19, 2008 at 7:47 pm | Permalink
  8. Hi Karen, Hmm.. I didn’t think I was putting anyone in any box. Don’t disagree with what you’re saying, but not clear about what in my comments you’re hearing as box-in-people-putting.

    I did wake up this morning thinking that “status” was the wrong word (I knew that when I typed it, but didn’t know what the right word was.) After a night’s sleep, I think I was looking for “accomplishment-wise” rather than “status-wise”.

    To distill: Lots of amazing people doing amazing stuff might not get formally honored in any given year for reasons that have nothing to do with how amazing they are.

    And that’s all I have to say about that.

    Thursday, March 20, 2008 at 9:13 am | Permalink
  9. Pete, not a biggy… I do think lives and careers are more circular and rippled than most of our culture recognizes.

    Thursday, March 20, 2008 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

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