Man Plans. God Laughs. 2011 in Review

Hey, remember last year at this time when I said that I wanted to have a really boring 2011 and not do anything too “interesting.”

Um. Yeah. That didn’t quite happen.

The past year hasn’t been a bad one by any stretch of the imagination.  Actually, it’s been quite good and huge improvement over 2010.  2011 ain’t been boring, that’s for darn sure.

I tried to be boring.  I really did.  The first six weeks or so of 2011?  Super, super quiet.  I hunkered down and really concentrated on doing the best I could at my job.  I pried myself away from my computer and got some hobbies aside from ranting at people on the Internet. I mean, Thompson Reuters could have announced that they were merging with Lexis and I wouldn’t have really batted an eye.

It was kind of nice.

It didn’t last.

A quick summary:

  • Early in the year, Harper Collins announced they were going to limit libraries’ ability to circulate ebooks to 26 checkouts.  Essentially, instead of “owning” an ebook, libraries were only being offered a one year license.  That shook me out of my fog and I wrote “We All Live Downstream” which is one of my more favorite things I’ve ever written but no one seemed to pay attention to it so I’ll just shamelessly link to it again here.
  • AALL hosted a Vendor Colloquium.  I wasn’t invited.  But that’s okay, because I could watch the live stream and follow tweets OH WAIT NEVER MIND.  I don’t know what long term effects that meeting had/will have on librarian-vendor relations, but it did seem to act as a wake-up call to AALL and they are making an effort to be more open and transparent.  So yay.
  • Because of the above two, I met Michael Ginsborg, a firm librarian from California.  Eight months after that first phone call and a ton of hard work from Michael and a bunch of other librarians, the AALL Consumer Advocacy Caucus was born.

Then things got really exciting.

  • I went on an amazing retreat in Cambridge, England where I spent an intense week discussing the meaning of higher education in America and considering what my role in the academy was.
  • I got invited to the OTHER Cambridge – the one in Massachusetts – and attended the Future of Law Libraries Workshop at Harvard and basically had a master class in the history and culture of law libraries.  I got to meet Bob Berring and I didn’t say “fuck” in front of everyone when they actually let me take the podium and speak, so I was pretty thrilled with the day.
  • What made both of these events EXTRA interesting is that in the middle of them, John Mayer offered me a job at CALI pretty much out of the blue.
  • I got to be on a panel at AALL to discuss with sort of an amazing line up of speakers.
  • And I won an award! Which I’m still thrilled and shocked about.  (It may seem a little tacky and humblebrag-y to mention this, but I never win awards! And I’m still shocked! Write your own year end summary if you don’t like mine.)
  • I moved to a new city (Chicago – and I’ve never lived in a big city before) and started a new career (the details of which I wasn’t exactly clear on at the time I agreed to it.)
  • I hosted a British law librarian that I met via FriendFeed for  week as he toured around Chicago area law schools, which was a fun cultural experience for me too.

Yeah. It hasn’t been boring. And y’all don’t even know about all the private life stuff that I don’t ever publicly talk about!

I think 2011 will be remembered by me as the year where I had to make a lot of really big decisions in a really short amount of time.   I think I did okay.   I’m very content, at any rate, with occasional trips into outright happiness.  Which is not to say that I don’t miss being a librarian – I do, sometimes so much my chest aches a little.  I loved the actual work of the job and interacting with law students, and also because my identify as a librarian was so important to me and now it’s gone; I feel like I lost my tribe and I’m not quite sure exactly what my new tribe is or who all is in it.  I mean, I’m not wandering the desert alone like the guy in Kung-Fu, by any means, but I definitely feel like I’ve lost an automatic entry into some spaces.

As you may have noticed, Gentle Reader, I don’t blog (or tweet. or Facebook. or Friendfeed. etc.) as much as I used to.  Partly it’s because I am still figuring out when it’s appropriate for me to join certain public conversations, partly it’s because whatever itch was getting scratched by blogging etc.  in the past is being satisfied in other ways, and partly it’s because I have better things to do.  That last bit is not a comment on the value of professional blogging – even the kind I do that sometimes feels like me vomiting out my thoughts and feelings on a subject instead of substantive “reporting.”  I think all blogging (and other dialog avenues) are important in their own ways.  The fact is that I’m really quite shy and introverted and in order to get up the requisite head of steam to write something for public consumption and then steel oneself for the reactions and interactions…man, that just harshes my buzz and takes time away from things I’d rather be doing and people I’d rather be interacting with.  And I honestly just don’t care about a lot of things that don’t directly impact me on the day to day right now.

(ETA: I think Jason Scott [who I get to meet next summer at AALL! SQUEE!] sort of summed my feelings up in a blog post I saw after I hit publish here. “These days I’m the Archive Team Guy. I’m the Archiving/Preservation Guy. My speeches are still fiery, my rage is still in effect, and my boundless need to make things better and more accessible still burns bright. It’s just getting things done now. I like being this guy. I think I’m going to stay being him.” I’m maybe not as fiery or ragey, but I’m getting things done which is a better feeling outlet than blogging about what I’d like to see happen.  )

So, 2012?  Who knows. I think it’s clear that I suck at making predictions or plans.  And another thing I’ve learned this year is that sometimes the big things don’t really appear to be big at the time – and good things happen completely randomly and without any expectation of it at all.  So I guess my only plan for 2012 is to be open to possibility.


  1 comment for “Man Plans. God Laughs. 2011 in Review

  1. December 20, 2011 at 7:20 pm

    I think 2011 will be remembered by me as the year where I had to make a lot of really big decisions in a really short amount of time.

    I think I had a sibling of your 2011 — that describes my year EXACTLY, only with different decisions to make.

    Here’s to those choices panning out well in 2012.

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