I have been immersed in a wonderful ordinariness: completing my first full year as dean, moving my doctoral work toward the proposal-almost-ready stage, and observing the calendar in my personal life. In November I pulled Piney III, our Christmas tree, out of his box in the garage, and he is staying up until next weekend. We missed him last year, so he gets to spend a little more time with us this season.
Meanwhile, I spent a few spare moments this week trying to wrap my head around a LibraryLand kerfuffle. An article was published in American Libraries that according to the authors was edited after the fact to include comments favorable to a vendor. I heard back-alley comments that this wasn’t the full story and that the authors hadn’t followed the scope, which had directed them to include this perspective, and therefore it was really their fault for not following direction and complaining, etc. And on the social networks, everyone got their knickers in a twist and then, as happens, moved on. But as someone with a long publishing history, this has lingered with me (and not only because someone had to mansplain to me, have you read the article? Yes, I had read the article…).
Here’s my offer. I have been fairly low-key in our profession for a couple of years, while I deal with a huge new job, a doctoral program, family medical crises, household moves, and so on. My term on ALA Council ended last summer, and while I do plan to get involved in ALA governance again, it’s not immediate.
But once upon a time, I made a great pitch to American Libraries. I said, you should have a column about the Internet, and I should write it. I had to walk around the block four times before I screwed up enough courage to go into 50 East Huron and make that pitch (and I felt as if I had an avocado in my throat the whole time), but thus the Internet Librarian column was born, and lo it continues on to this day, two decades later.
My pitch these days is that American Libraries steal a page from the New York Times and appoint a Public Editor or if you prefer, Omsbudman (Omsbudwimmin?), and that person should be me. Why me? Because I have a strong appreciation for all aspects of publishing. Because I’ve been an author and a vendor. Because I may be an iconoclast, but most people see me as fair. Because a situation like this needs adjudication before it becomes fodder for Twitter or Facebook. Because at times articles might even need discussion when no one is discussing them. Because I came up with the idea, and admit it, it’s a really good one.
A long time ago, when I was active in Democratic Party politics in Manhattan, a politician in NY made himself locally famous for saying of another pol, “He is not for sale… but he can be rented.” One thing about me, despite two books, over 100 articles, being a Pushcart nominee, being anthologized, etc.: I am not for sale or for rent. That has at times limited my ascendancy in certain circles, but it makes me perfect for this role.
If you’re on the board of American Libraries, or you know someone who is, give this some thought. We all have a place in the universe. I feel this would be perfect for me, and a boon for the profession.