My last column for American Libraries is out. I pitched the column together with a book back in summer 2009. I remember drafting the email on my phone in an airport during a layover. I’m grateful that ALA took a chance on it.
The series was intended to run three years, but I felt it was hard to sustain after two. You can only profile so many “inspiring” libraries before it becomes mundane. That’s sort of how I feel about Movers & Shakers but that’s more of a dinner conversation at ALA. I’ve very happy with the diversity of the libraries that I interviewed, but this was a good place to stop.
The book and column were intended to support each other, however, the book drifted in a different direction and hit all types of snags. The column has been fun, but it started to feel like a chore rather than an expression and so I knew I had to let it go. Before American Libraries I wrote a column for the Journal of Web Librarianship so I think I’m burnt out of that format.
I have my hands in several scholarly and experimental writings and a whole list of “someday” projects. Over the holiday I really want to return my attention to the next book and will hopefully have it done in twelve months. It’s tough though because it’s a very emotionally driven project. I imagine it’s a different process if you’re writing about licensing or computer labs or some other practical matter. In fact my first book was very process oriented and a different experience. This one will be short but abstract and philosophical, yet hopefully accessible to a wide library audience.
Anyway, the last column is up and I saved NCSU for the end. That was my intention right from the start. I find their rags to riches story to be the most interesting narrative in library-land and it’s great how they’ve been able to sustain the momentum. I can’t wait to visit their new Hunt Library. (Video)
Looking ahead—I’m planning to gather all the NEXT STEPS columns into a PDF bundle and adding three or four additional ones, along with an introduction, and giving it away as a free eBook. By posting that goal here it will put some positive pressure on me to actually do it. I’m targeting June 2012 but it’s shaping up to be an usual year… so we’ll see.