Labor Day Jottings


In New Jersey,  Labor Day is the other bookend to the prime time summer season that starts with Memorial Day. As people wind down and prepare their beach houses for the winter to come, I started this day by cleaning the apartment, shopping for odds and ends, and organizing for the week ahead. I’ve been stealing glances at my project bulletin board (pictured above; left side is NOW, right side is FUTURE, and yes, it is deliberately out of focus) and wondering which ideas or projects should get attention in the near future. Not everything that goes up there will come to fruition, but some ideas stick around to the point where I feel I have to jot them down or lose them forever. Hence, it goes on an index card and makes its way to the board.

In looking back on the past two to three weeks, I didn’t realize that in saying “I feel tired” I really meant to say “I’m going on a bit of a hiatus”. As much as I should have declared a blog vacation, history has proven that I tend to immediately break that fiat by finding something to write about and getting right back on the blog horse. Even so, despite stating that I felt a bit worn down by a year’s worth of various activities, I am a bit of a fibber since I’m working on a project* right now that has been going on for the last few months as well as organizing the Librarians Online poll which has over 1,100 replies as of the date of this blog entry. (Many thanks to the people who promoted, shared, and otherwise helped in getting the word out.)

I’d like to chalk up my lack of blogging to a slow news month, but that’s not entirely true. I’ve been following the ongoing story about how Amazon is cutting school libraries out of their Kindle world (most notably written about by Buffy Hamilton; follow her blog if you are interested in hearing how her eReader program progresses using Nooks). There’s the terrifying implications of a Second Circuit decision regarding First Sale and country of origin for books. (“In last week’s ruling they decided that first sale did not apply even when the work manufactured abroad was sold in the U.S. with the authorization of the copyright holder.”) Last week I noted that Wikileaks opened its entire archive to the world, thus continuing the debate as to the value and merit of organizations like Wikileaks and the true historical and archival value of these diplomatic cables. In the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, I’ve been waiting to get more news about some libraries in New Jersey that got walloped with flooding and wind/water damage. (At the time of writing, there appears to be another weather system coming through that will bring more rain to the area.) Perhaps slow news month is a fib as well, but it’s better than the word volcano of “yes there is news but the majority of it did not rise to the level of actual commenting” statement.

In cleaning out a pile of papers and junk mail, I happened upon a piece of paper with a quote on it. It was in my handwriting though I could not remember when I had made note of it. It’s from Jack Kerouac’s book On The Road and I thought it appropriate for a question that’s been on my mind.

But then they danced down the street like dingledodies, and I shambled after as I’ve been doing all my life after people who interest me, because the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes "Awww!"

I’ve been thinking about the voices I read or listen to in the profession lately. In looking at my Google Reader at my “must read” list, I compare them to the voices of our trade publications. While I am happy to find some crossover (Jason, Roy, Meredith, Will, Joyce, and Liz), it’s the dissonance between my list and the trade publications that makes me wonder. Perhaps I am not the intended audience for some of these columns and articles; I can see that as not everything revolves around the public library world. Perhaps it doesn’t really matter since the people I can listen to is not limited to the trade publications anymore with the rise of the personal soapbox known as the Internet. It’s just been an interesting thought experiment to look at the differences between what our professional magazines think is important versus where I think the future trends and actions of libraries exists.

Who are your ‘mad ones’ to follow? If you have other thoughts on that question, please share them. I look forward to any comments. Otherwise, for my American peers, I wish you a restful Labor Day holiday; for all others, enjoy your Monday.


*Since I can’t really talk about the particulars of this project at the moment, I will give you the “STAY TUNED” teaser because I think people will enjoy it. Yes, I probably should not have mentioned it in the first place but I wanted to confess that even when I’m saying I’m tired I’m still working on something. I don’t know if this is more of an indication of dedication or madness, but it certainly keeps me out of other kinds of trouble.

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