Year End, 2013

I don’t know what quite to make of it when the first thing that comes to mind about 2013 is that Facebook started allowing photo replies. For most, this is the little photo icon they ignore on the comment box but for me it’s a whole new world. Pictures (in particular ones with captions or memes) are my best reaction to what other people post. I don’t know if it’s the visual aspect or if just speaks better for me than words can, but it’s been the something I’ve enjoyed since they started allowing it. It’s one highlight of the year for me.

Some might think that my engagement and marriage would be the first thing to come to mind, but it’s only the best thing that happened in 2013. Besides, after you spend months prepping for the wedding, the experience of the wedding day, and the aftermath (married people, you know what I mean) that you live with it so much that the topic becomes background noise. Don’t get me wrong; I enjoyed wedding planning and preparation and I’m quite happy with The Wife. It’s just the way my brain works: “Ooo, Facebook photo replies! Yay wedding!” It doesn’t always order things in terms of level of importance as my school teachers would attest.

Professionally, it was on the quiet side this year. I wrote a column piece for American Libraries, co-unorganized for the Programming Unconference Northeast with the wonderful and talented Erin Shea, and did advisory work for EveryLibrary. Glancing over my writing output, I had some good blog posts over the course of the year. Next year, I’m excited for a keynote opportunity with the details to be announced once things are settled. That will be a great thing for me to focus on and I’ve been jotting down notes and ideas as they come to me. It’s going to be fun!

Part of me wants to make a few comments about some subjects (I’m sure regular readers can probably guess) before the year draws to a close, but for once I’m just going to not poke those sleeping bears. Not that I couldn’t or shouldn’t, but my own internal calculations tell me that the effort is not worth the result. Even as someone with the inclination to name names, I’m just going to simply leave this vague lest the partisans appear once more in the comments and social media doorstep.

I’ve offered predictions in the past, but not this time around; it’s not that I don’t have any, but I just am not inclined to share any. Perhaps if someone plied me with liquor at ALA Midwinter I might divulge, but nothing is otherwise compelling me to share at this time.

I realize that this is a recap post that has been played close to the vest. The year end has caught me at an introspective and peaceful moment which drags blog production to a low. I’ve started a personal blog on Tumblr which will get less professional stuff and more personal (read: stream of thought) stuff so you can read me there as well.

I hope you find your peace this year ends and carry it with you to the next one.

Year End, 2012

Without trying, I’ve ended up on a blog vacation lately. I think the rationale falls between being on a downcycle of interest in writing (it happens) and a lack of interesting library topic matter. Yes, there are things afoot in the library world, but they are things that have not compelled me to put fingers to keys for the sake of blogging. I still continue to share links (on Twitter and now trying to revive my Facebook Page), but nothing has really cried out to me, “Hey, you should write about this!” I had been thinking about writing a year end post for over a week now, with different starts and points that I wanted to make ranging from cautious optimism, unmitigated gloominess, and pure navel gazing. Rather than continue the internal debate, I just decided to start typing and let the chips fall where they may.

As I look over at my project and idea board, it stands relatively empty and unchanged for the last month or so. The only “active” project on there is a note for EveryLibrary and it is there to just remind me to check in every now and again with its progress. Thanks to my highly selective personal amnesia and a finely developed sense of situational unfairness to myself, it made me wonder whether I had done anything this year. It was a review through my calendar that reminded me that I had helped organize a very successful local unconference (Handhelds in School Libraries), spoke at another conference (Computers in Libraries), attended the bi-annual Public Library Association conference in Philadelphia, hit the road with Sophie Brookover for the New Jersey Library Roadshow as part of Snapshot Day, and ran a rather robust adult program schedule at my library that included a seven week summer program series featuring local authors and artists as well as teaching weekly computer classes. So, as it slowly dawned on me, I have a warped sense of accomplishment. Some might find this list to be exhausting (a small few might think of this as the “before breakfast” list), but I finally came to terms that I had done something and that I will be exiting this year having made a difference.

To be honest, I’m pretty much enjoying not having much on my professional plate. My attentions have been focusing elsewhere lately, mainly to learning more country line dances as well as adding in swing and ballroom. In some respects, I’m finding it to be a much more satisfying pursuit as it starts to push the work-life balance backs towards equilibrium. I took two big vacations this year where there was nothing library related happening and it was (without a doubt) truly glorious. I am looking forward to a lot more of this kind of fun in the coming year.

In looking towards the new year through the professional lens (perhaps the obligatory portion of every year end post you’ll read from libraryland), I believe that next year will hold a lot of the same from this year. Ebooks? With the remaining large publishers in the process of merging, yep. Copyright? With the Wiley case heading to the Supreme Court, yep. Intellectual property (on the heels of SOPA and RWA bills) will be back in a bigger way. Budgets, especially those in school districts? Indeed. Database pricing and access (along with vendor practices) as seen as in Jenica Rogers vs. the ACS? Yeah. Combined with a reheated ongoing relevancy (non-)crisis, I think next year will look a lot like last year.

Awhile back, I wrote a post about librarians picking needless fights. I’m starting to rethink parts of what I wrote then. I think the departure point from last year to this one should be librarians picking more fights. Not frivolous ones like the Amazon lending service, but bigger ones that will start nailing asses to the wall on important issues like copyright reform, fair practices in eBook lending, vendor negotiation transparency, open access, and digital content rights. It needs to go beyond the underlying anger and frustration that dwells within online petitions and cosigned press releases statements. The transition that needs to happen is moving from well mannered “I wish they wouldn’t do that” anger to downright pitchforks-and-torches prom-scene-from-Carrie naked hostility. If the road to whatever collective future libraries have involves paving over obstacles set up by these organizations, then the line from the profession has to be “move or learn to breathe through asphalt”.

I’m guessing there will be some people reading this who will advocate for the continued use of the softer touch, let’s-be-partners approach that has been flailing away for the last couple of years. You are more than welcome to continue this fruitless strategy, begging to become an equal partner with groups that have no interest in libraries other than as subordinate customers. And when this fails yet again, I will be polite enough to mouth the words “I told you so” rather than speaking them. It is time to go beyond them to the content creators (authors, publishing faculty, etc.), customers and constituents, and even the laws that control the intellectual property realm.

I’m hoping for a bloodier, it’s-on-like-Donkey-Kong year for library issues. The long time simmer is vastly overdue to reach a boil. Libraries aren’t going anywhere and it is high time to raise our flag high again in disputed territories.

Happy holidays and a happy new year, folks.