Cites & Insights: Crawford at Large
ISSN 1534-0937
Libraries · Policy · Technology · Media

Selection from Cites & Insights 7, Number 2: February 2007

Finding a Balance

The Balanced Librarian

In case it’s not obvious, I’m arguing for balanced libraries—libraries that balance continuity and change, short-term and long-term needs, reaching out to new patrons and offering even better service to existing users. I believe balanced libraries require balanced librarians. I’m using “librarian” in a much broader sense than usual: Not only ML[I]S holders, but everyone who works in a library or who works in library-related operations and considers themselves primarily a library person. For purposes of this essay, I am a librarian.

A couple of recent posts discussed people’s own need to restore some balance in their lives. Greg Schwartz posted “Snapshot” on January 2, 2007 at Open stacks. He hadn’t posted (or podcast) in two months and the post explains why.

I'm sure you spent absolutely no time wondering where I went, which is good, but I'll tell you anyway. I've been in the midst of a substantial reorganization of my life's priorities in an effort to become an overall healthier person. I'm working on being a better, more attentive and involved daddy and husband. I'm working on not spending all of my time staring at a screen. And of late, I'm working on being a better guardian of my temple, so to speak. Better diet, less snacking, more exercise, that kind of thing.

It all started with the new job. IT is a new world to me and I found myself still preoccupied with its complexity when I came home. No time for blogging/podcasting when I could be doing all the little organizational things that one can't get done during the work day. And more significantly, the preoccupation was negatively affecting my family.

He decided to act: “First, I removed all self-imposed pressure to produce, whether that was in the form of blogging, podcasting, public speaking or otherwise.” He then passed the torch on two of his long-standing unpaid professional activities. He also cut back Bloglines subscriptions and cut out some podcasts—and “made a commitment to myself not [to] do any non-critical working from home.” It’s working: “I feel more involved with my family and less obsessed with work and career, which really makes me more focused and effective during my working hours.”

Dan Chudnov posted “A lot less net” on January 3, 2007 at One big library—and sees a trend:

It's a good bet that I'm going to be “online” a lot less this year. For a variety of reasons the amount of time I've tended to spend on irc and im isn't sustainable and needs to go way down. I'll probably avoid both entirely during the workday, or if it's critical, I'll use new and more anonymous handles.

In the past I've had a pretty good track record sensing when something tech/cultural is on the verge of trendiness. In this case, I'm not so sure, but I wouldn't be surprised if we start hearing more and more about how wiped out people feel about tech in general and online tech culture in particular. Web 2.0 might be all about participation, but it's a hard bet that it'll play in the VC sticks as well as it has when people start turning off in noticeable proportions.

I'll still be around, just not so obviously. If you really need to talk, please call me. Yknow, on the phone.

Those posts (and others)—latest in a series that crops up every few months—triggered this essay. Most of it’s old, but it all needs to be said now and then.

As with balance in libraries, balance for librarians does not mean stasis. It doesn’t mean always doing 8-hour days and setting your work completely aside at 5 p.m.—unless you’ve gotten in the habit of taking work home with you and find that it’s stressing you out. Work-life balance is a tricky thing: It makes perfectly good sense for one or the other to assume primary importance at times. But not for the long term. “Workaholic” is not a compliment; very few librarians have the excuse of some Silicon Valley workaholics: You’re probably not going to become millionaires by eating, sleeping, and dreaming work for several years.

I can’t tell you what balance will be right for you, any more than I can tell you how to run your library. I can offer a few suggestions.

Small Steps

Here are three suggestions for small steps toward balance. None takes more than an hour or two out of your busy life—and I believe that, taken together, they may make you more effective. You might not get more things done (although you might), but you might get things done better.

Deep breathing

Three to five minutes, once or twice a day. At your desk. On the sofa. In an easy chair—but at your desk, particularly after a frantic call or hectic meeting or after you’ve just solved a problem, might be best.

You know the drill. If you don’t you should:

Ø    Sit in a comfortable position, feet flat on the floor. Turn off your PC’s speaker and other “pay attention!” devices if you’re at work, so you won’t hear beeps for five minutes.

Ø    Close your eyes.

Ø    Inhale deeply and slowly through your nose into your diaphragm; that should take five to seven seconds (battleship one, battleship two, battleship three…).

Ø    Hold your breath for five seconds or so.

Ø    Release the air, slowly, through your mouth—that should take at least three or four seconds.

Ø    Repeat—ten times at first, but aim for twenty. Twenty deep breaths should take about five minutes.

Ø    Do it at least twice a day, once in the morning, once in the evening.

I believe there’s pretty good evidence that regular deep breathing reduces muscle and emotional tension, temporarily lowers blood pressure and heart rate, and of course results in more oxygen for your cells. It may even reduce food cravings and improve sleep quality. In my experience, it does boost energy levels.

Hippy-dippy Left Coast Zen nonsense? Not really. It’s probably the simplest, fastest thing you can do to center yourself a little bit. If you do it right, you can let go of some stress, at least for a little while.

I don’t regard deep breathing as controversial. I do believe it works better if you’re tuned out: If the iPod’s off, the cell phone’s unattended, your eyes are closed, you’re just…breathing.

One thing at a time: the joy of unitasking

Yeah, I know. Get over it. The New Generation are born multitaskers and they’re good at it—and how can you keep up with everything if you’re not doing two or three things at once? Maybe so—maybe not. It continues to be true that every study I’ve read about shows that multitasking reduces effectiveness, although people who’ve been doing it all their lives are probably better at coping with that reduction.

If someone says “I can’t really work without X,” where “X” can be almost any other activity, I wonder whether they’ve given it a try. I think you have to work down to it: Try doing two things at once instead of three. If you read while the TV’s on and music’s playing, turn off the music or the TV. Then try turning off both. If you check your email every time it beeps, while you’re working on a project, while you’ve got your tunes, while you’re also checking up on something else—try letting go, a little bit at a time, once in a while.

I multitask much of the time. Sometimes it’s appropriate—no single task deserves all your attention. Sometimes, it’s necessary. But when something needs to be done mindfully, there’s nothing like applying your full mind: Concentrating on one task with no controllable distractions.

Give it a try on something you think is worth doing right. You might find you’ll do it better. You may also find that doing three things one at a time is faster than working on all three of them simultaneously.

Or you might not. Maybe you’re habituated to multitasking. Maybe you don’t want to focus on one thing. Under some circumstances, one distraction may be a way to guard against others. You need to find your own balance. But I believe that, for almost all of us, there’s a lot to be said for focus—for doing one thing well by giving it your full attention, at least once in a while.

Time out

Quite apart from vacations (discussed later), you can benefit from frequent brief timeouts. Get some fresh air. Get it frequently, taking walks so you can see how the seasons change. Here’s what I had to say in March 2001; most of it will hold true in March 2007 as well:

I’m writing this section on March 10, when spring seems to have sprung in Silicon Valley. Trees are in serious bloom, gardens are awash with color, we’ll probably walk a mile and a half to dinner this evening and another mile and a half back, without hauling along umbrellas and flashlights for a change. I bet the weather’s also improving where you live. Isn’t it time to go out and see? Take an hour to explore your neighborhood. Go to the nearest city or county park. Surely you can spare an hour or two.

Don’t take along your notebook computer. The point is to take a break, not move your work outdoors. Leave your PDA and cell phone home (I know some of you can’t bear the thought of leaving the cell phone home, but it’s worth a try). Concentrate on nature for a little while. Better yet, don’t concentrate—just appreciate. There’s no need to think about the miracle of spring, as long as you take part in it.

Is there a park near your library? Could you take a short lunch and spend the rest of the hour walking in the park? What’s the last time you walked around your neighborhood?

Time out doesn’t require walking in nature; dropping by a pub for a pint and a chat also counts. I think there’s much to be said for maintaining some connection with non-virtual nature; I also think there’s a lot to be said for maintaining connection with the people around you.

Done right, time out isn’t a waste of time. It may even improve your time usage. Taking time out can make your work and leisure time more effective.

The Virtues of Contemplation

I believe in quiet time. I call it contemplation, although that doesn’t necessarily mean directly contemplating something (it can). You might call it Zen. You might call it prayer, although that has religious overtones inappropriate for this discussion. I’ll use “contemplation” here if only because I’m quoting previous pieces that used that word. I’ve also become aware that different people contemplate in different ways—that for some extroverts, contemplation nearly requires conversation. It’s still a separate activity from constant turmoil, it still requires focus—and it’s worthwhile in either form.

The following originally appeared in the March 2003 American Libraries (with a different opening paragraph and possibly other editorial changes) as my “Crawford Files” column. Italicized paragraphs were subheadings in that column.

Finding This Century’s Most Important Technological Device

David Levy’s concerned about information and the quality of life. His inspiration was a discussion led by David Levy on “information and the quality of life.” As part of a speech at the 2002 Charleston Conference, Levy asked a question that he clearly regarded as rhetorical. That question inspired this column:

Who Has Time to Contemplate?

The presumed answer was “Nobody here, that’s for sure.” That wasn’t my response—and I don’t think it should be yours. Mine was, “Everybody here, if it matters to them.” Followed by, “And it should matter to you if you want to maintain your humanity.”

When Levy asked the question, I didn’t see lots of puzzled expressions from people who knew they had time to contemplate. So I chose not to challenge him. Instead, later that afternoon, I retired to a quiet spot to think about what he’d said and how people reacted. In other words, I contemplated his question and the discussion surrounding it. As long as you’re not overscheduled, a conference can be a great time for contemplation, given that a hotel room has fewer distractions than your house or apartment.

After contemplating the situation, I still believe we all have time to contemplate, but I also understand how technology can lead us to believe otherwise.

The Most Important Technological Device

What does this have to do with the column title? More than you might expect. I won’t discuss libraries as places for contemplation (which they should be), since Janes covered that so well in December. Instead, I’d like to consider some of the reasons that people avoid contemplation or fail to contemplate.

The usual excuse is busyness, being too busy to spend fifteen minutes in quiet thought. I don’t buy that. If you’re so busy that you can’t create a spare quarter-hour or half hour once or twice a week, something’s desperately wrong. You exercise three or four times a week, don’t you? Shouldn’t you exercise your deeper brain muscles once in a while as well?

For most of us, I suspect, “busyness” is another word for distractions—the media, technology, and other things that entice us to do something, anything, rather than sit and think. Distractions also interfere with contemplation. It’s hard to think deeply with a sitcom laugh track in the background. I find the combination of deep thought and staring at a Web page (or any other computer screen) almost entirely incompatible. Music helps some people contemplate, but unwanted music destroys concentration. And, of course, a ringing phone or beeping pager breaks any contemplative mood.

Thus my nomination for the most important technological device of this year, last year, or almost any year in the past century. Not transistors, not nanotechnology devices, not PCs, not PDAs, not self-circulation laser scanners.

I vote for the Off switch—the device that lets you remove distractions and prevent interruptions.

In the habit of jogging with earbuds in place connected to your Discman or iPod? Once or twice a week, turn off the player and use the time to think about things—to contemplate the world around you and yourself. (If the earbuds reduce distracting noise, leave them in. Otherwise, the sounds of nature even in an urban environment can be nice once in a while.)

Next time your favorite TV show is preempted or showing a rerun, try using the Off switch on your TV instead of channel surfing (or cueing up your next TiVo segment). You might even use the Off switch on your floor lamp if it helps.

Your phone’s ringer and your pager both have Off switches, and your mobile phone can be turned off entirely. You do have voice mail, don’t you? Fifteen minutes or half an hour’s delay in responding shouldn’t matter in most cases. If it always does, without exception, how do you ever take showers, make love, or sleep?

Thinking as if Thinking Matters

Contemplation—deep thinking—keeps us human. If deep thinking means temporarily reducing your level of technology, maybe that’s a sign. People should control technology as a set of tools. If technology controls people, we cease to be human. Find your Off switches. Use them. We all have time to contemplate. We should make that time.

If you saw me staring off into space at Midwinter, now you know why. Try it yourself some time.

Followup, Cites & Insights 3:5 (Spring 2003)

I cited the American Libraries column as part of a multipart Perspective on generalizations. Here’s part of what I had to say, leaving out the absurd generalization of Jonathan Rauch calling introverts (like me) “more intelligent, more reflective, more level-headed, more refined, and more sensitive than extroverts.” (My introverted reaction: “Give me a break.”) I also omit a portion that has nothing to do with contemplation or deep thinking.

I’ve received considerably more feedback [on that column] than I do for most “Crawford Files”—all of it positive. The column’s about contemplation. The device, for those of you who can’t be bothered to go get AL or go to ALOnline, is the off switch—a vital aid to contemplation.

As an addendum to the column, right around the time it appeared I encountered an interesting commentary on a non-library weblog run by a friend. This person, an admitted extreme extrovert, was noting that (in this person’s experience) extreme extroverts need to be around people—and that they think things through by talking about them, sometimes starting talking before they’ve really started thinking. I’m an introvert; that never really occurred to me, but it does match some experiences I’ve had.

So perhaps contemplation in the sense of “deep thinking” is a pleasure reserved for introverts. Perhaps not….

When you generalize by saying that nobody has time to contemplate, you’re wrong. (See the original column: Such a generalization was the trigger.)

When I generalize by saying that everybody needs to spend time in quiet contemplation, I’m also wrong.

I don’t see any need to retract or even modify the “Crawford Files” cited above. I believe we all need to spend time thinking deeply. I believe we can all make such time.

If your style is such that thinking deeply is a talkative, social activity rather than a quiet, solitary activity, that’s a difference between your mind and mine.

The e-tool bill of rights

Angel, The gypsy librarian, found this in an unexpected place—Fast Company, normally a hotbed of speed and technology. Joe Robinson wrote “An e-tool bill of rights” in the December 2006 issue. He’s focusing on electronic messaging—and cites yet another survey demonstrating that instant communications technology is making it harder to get things done. “The number of people who report feeling very productive has dropped from 83% in 1994 to just 51% today”—in part because of the “distraction derby that constantly disrupts focus and feeds an epidemic of false urgency.”

Angel comments on four of the ten “articles” and I agree that some of the ten make more sense than others. I recommend Angel’s post (you can find the original “bill” online easily enough). Meanwhile, here are four articles worth considering (three of the four are the same as Angel’s choices):

Ø    Article 1: There shall be no assumption of unlimited e-access simply because the tools allow it.

Ø    Article 2: The right of the people to be secure from unwarranted electronic work intrusions at home shall not be violated. Nights and weekends shall be considered unplugged zones.

Ø    Article 3: The people shall have the right to switch off email notification and other noisemakers and instead check messages at designated times to prevent attention deficit.

Ø    Article 7: The people are not on vacation if they are still in contact with the office. There shall be no requirement while on holiday to carry pagers, or check email or voice mail.

You’re probably not an ER surgeon. Do you really need to be on call 24x7? If so, forget contemplation—you’re lucky to even gain equilibrium, much less balance. Otherwise, try tuning out and turning off: It will do you good.

Balancing Life and Technology

I wrote “Life trumps blogging” in late 2005 based on posts from others and my own thoughts. Looking at it now, I realize it applies to more than just blogging. You can substitute “extra committee work” or “professional activity” or “extra hours at work” for “blogging” in the following—almost anything, I’d argue, except for your family, your health and enough of your day job to satisfy your other needs. I’m using portions of that essay here with slight revisions. You’ll find the original in Cites & Insights 5:13, Midfall 2005.

In no particular order, a sampling of similar comments, all within the last few months [in 2005], noting that I applaud all these statements:

Ø    Cindi at Chronicles of Bean: “I haven't been posting much, and honestly, I probably will continue that trend, as posting photos to flickr requires much less brain power. I don't have that much brain power to spare wordsmithing at this point!” Cindi’s primary reason: She gave birth in late September.

Ø    Lois at Professional-lurker: “I wanted to warn you that I will be posting less frequently for the next several weeks… This is all part of my master plan to focus on a finite set of things that must be accomplished by the middle of November…To accomplish all of these things without killing myself in the process, I am paring away anything that seems to be excess at the moment…”

Ø    At ::schwagbag:: “And speaking of blogging, ::schwagbag:: postings have been pretty sparse of late because there’s just so much going on at the moment.” Including moving, starting a new job, redesigning a website, moving again, weddings, a conference…

Ø    Christine at Nexgen Librarian: “It’s time to revive this blog from the dead…” Followed by an excellent commentary on real life, including “Don’t try and do more than you can do” and “F@#! living at the speed of today’s technology… I’ve discovered that acting as if technology has sped up the pace of life is ridiculous. It isn’t my world, I don’t choose to participate in that world, and in fact, I reject that world. Thus, I’ve found that I can’t blog every day (or, it seems, even every month!), I can’t return email in a lightning flash…”

Ø    Adri at Library stories: “Posts may be a little sparse the next few weeks. As some of you know the stork visited my house on 10/19 and left an avid reader at our door!”

Ø    Meredith at Information wants to be free, in a post that inspired the second part of this essay: “I used to blog a lot more than I do. I was unemployed and had a lot of free time. Now that I have a job and a house and other commitments, I had to ask myself why should I continue blogging? Is it worth the time it takes?” Her answer is, emphatically, yes, for reasons offered in an interesting commentary (October 2, 2005 at wordpress/).

Ø    Steven at Library stuff: “Blogging may be light for the next 4 or 5 days or so as I deal with a family issue. Nothing huge. I just don't know how much time I'll have in front of a computer and family comes first. Way first.”

I could quote quite a few more—in addition to a mini-wave of blog shutdowns, library bloggers who’d been doing it for a few months or a few years and formally gave up the ghost. Others just disappear, temporarily or permanently.

No need to apologize

Some bloggers are apologetic about cutting back or temporarily shutting down. Others, as with those quoted above, know better than to apologize; they note the situation and may choose to explain it. Still others just slow down or stop with no notice.

These aren’t one-day wonders who signed up for a blog as part of a course or tried out Blogger for fun, then disappeared after one post or a few weeks of posting. Look at some of the names I quoted: They include two of the three or four most widely read library bloggers.

What we have here, and what I expect to see continue, is something else. Something much healthier for those involved and, I believe, for the medium itself. You already know what I believe this boils down to: Life trumps blogging. At least it does for most sane, balanced people.

A new child trumps blogging. Family trumps blogging. Health trumps blogging. Work trumps blogging. I’m delighted to see that more and more people recognize that vacations trump blogging—that a vacation works better if the notebook stays at home (or at least stays off the internet as much as possible).

Good for you, all of you.

I’m not putting down blogging. I have a blog. I think scores of library-related blogs are worth reading; otherwise, I wouldn’t have more than 300 in Bloglines. I love the conversations that take place. I rely on blogs for quite a few of the ideas and pointers that result in Cites & Insights pieces.

For almost all libloggers, blogging is at most a secondary and usually a tertiary interest, or even lower. Increasingly, I believe most of you see it as something you do because you have something to say, not something you feel compelled to do every day, come rain or come shine, in sickness and in health.

Early on, during the shiny new toy phase of blogging, there was a reason to make that effort, to find something to blog about every day: People had to explicitly visit your site to see whether you had something new to say. Fail to update it frequently, and people stop visiting.

Thanks to RSS and aggregators, that’s no longer the case. I believe aggregation favors quality over quantity. I’m using “quality” in a broad sense—not just polished gems of mini-essays (or not-so-mini essays), but rough-hewn chunks of consciousness that reveal something worth thinking about.

Life trumps blogging. For that matter, life usually trumps writing. But for most of us, most of the time, life has room for secondary pursuits. Most of the writers noted have continued to blog or have come back to blogging, because they still have something to say.

Vacating: Real Vacations

It’s been too long since I noted the need for real vacations. It’s also been too long since my wife and I had a real vacation, for various reasons related to family, pets, and work. This discussion combines comments from earlier Cites & Insights pieces.

Psst. You, trying to read Cites & Insights on the screen while having lunch at your desk. Yes, you over there, on your 16th month of 10-hour days with nary an absence. Hey, you with e-texts loaded on your PDA so you can fit in leisure reading while you’re waiting for your fast food order, or catch up on professional reading during slow spots in a meeting, or… And particularly you with the 20 email newsletters and 1,000-line Favorites file, spending all your evening and weekend hours keeping up so you won’t get behind.

Cool it. Take a break. Do something else. After you’ve taken a break, start planning a vacation (if you don’t already have one or two planned). I don’t mean spending an hour or two browsing travel Web sites or thinking about what you might do if only you weren’t so busy and couldn’t possibly think of actually leaving since after all how would that look if you weren’t there every day staying on top of stuff and showing how urgent life really is anyway who are you to say that I should interrupt my hard climb up the economic ladder who has time for all that nonsense I thought it was your job to summarize PC reviews and interesting articles so I could crowd even more into my busy day certainly not to tell me that I need leisure time that’s for old folks and wimps better get another cup of coffee there’s a long day ahead

Go somewhere new this summer (or this spring, if you have that flexibility). You may be one of those sane people who do take at least one real vacation a year—but who tend to take the same vacation every year. Traditional vacations can be refreshing, peaceful, and eminently worthwhile. But once in a while you need to do something new.

We live in a pleasant neighborhood, with great little restaurants, beautiful parks nearby, wonderful climate, and all the glories and diversions of Northern California an hour or two away. I’d be surprised if any reader is more than two hours away from spectacular scenery, new places to see and new activities to enjoy. You can make a great vacation from a series of day trips—but sometimes even that’s not enough.

I do these reminders every so often because I know too many people treat vacations as disposable extras, not vital parts of healthy lives. (When you’re up to your nose in snow and your ears in committee meetings, budget crises and firewall failures, who has time to think about Costa Rica or the Natchez Trace?)

There’s a lot to be said for a week at home, but that’s not a real vacation. A real vacation means going away, preferably for a week or more, preferably without a computer, and at least once in a while to somewhere you’ve never been before. Real vacations should ease your soul and delight your senses while enlightening you in some manner.

Some people get the greatest pleasure from repetitive vacations—going the same place every year. I believe that’s great as part of a vacation plan, but there’s merit to travel and discovery. Maybe one week at your regular inn or ranch or amusement park or ski resort, and another week doing something new?

Plan a true getaway. Go somewhere you’ve never been. Go out of state at least; maybe try another country, another continent. That doesn’t have to cost a fortune. You’d be surprised how cheaply you can go to Iceland as a stopover on your way to Europe, for example. Central America continues to be a bargain, with the world’s second longest barrier reef off Belize and the natural beauty of Costa Rica. Going a little further, and without even hunting for bargains, I see $529 for 6 nights in Ireland or Prague (including air, land, and lodging—hotels in Prague, bed & breakfast in Ireland).[2001 prices]

Make It Real

Real vacations mean vacating—leaving home, leaving work behind, ideally leaving your technology behind as well. Taking a few days to get stuff done around the house (or lie around reading and taking walks) is great, but it’s not what a vacation should be.

To me, a true vacation means:

Ø    Being away for at least a week.

Ø    Being somewhere and doing something that discourages thoughts of work.

Ø    “Turning off”: ignoring your blog and your aggregator, letting email stack up, setting aside IM. Ideally, you’ll leave your notebooks, PDAs, and maybe (gasp) cell phones at home, although that may be too much too ask.

Where and how? Making those choices is part of the fun—and planning a good vacation has its own pleasures. If you’re in a current mental state where flying would take away half the fun, you’ll find loads of good vacation spots in driving distance—and, for now at least, there’s always Amtrak. You might find a train-based vacation to be special in its own right. There are deluxe Canadian, American, Australian, British and European train excursions in addition to regularly scheduled routes. Cruises—our favorite way to see the world—come in all price ranges, and some cruise lines are particularly attractive for family vacations.

Plan a cruise. Plan a train trip (while you still can). Look into places of interest within a few hours of your home. You don’t have to break the bank. You do have to break your daily habits and thought patterns. Enjoy the differences you’ll find if you look for them (which does mean getting away from McDonald’s and finding local color). You don’t have to go to Nuku Hiva for a touch of the exotic (although we did love it). Paducah has its exotic side as well.

Get away. It will do you good.


If you’re a balanced librarian, you’ll keep learning throughout your career. You’ll look at new areas, delve deeper into a few specialties, apply what you learn to your library’s needs, and help your library improve.

You’ll also learn to balance fascination and skepticism, urgency and continuity, work and life. You’ll learn to filter the valuable suggestions sometimes buried in confrontational assertions, while ignoring the calls for revolution and transformation.

If you’re lucky, your job will become a career and will have elements of a calling—you may even find that you’re passionate about your job. That’s not mandatory; you can be a first-rate library staff member without ever becoming so enthusiastic that you freely work extra hours or take work home with you.

Will you reach the point when you’ve heard it all, learned all you want to learn, and just want to go on doing what you do? Some do, and in some situations that can’t be avoided, but it’s never ideal. If you’re just serving time until that last paycheck, you become an obstacle to change within the library—and a library in stasis is an unbalanced library that will eventually be in trouble.

I’m not a GenXer exhorting you to youthful energies. I’m not even a Baby Boomer. I’ve been working full time in the library field since 1968, and have been in the field since 1963. I’ve had years where work wasn’t very fulfilling, times where there was more frustration than triumph, times when I couldn’t honestly say things were moving forward.

I look forward to what the next decade will bring in my overlapping interests of libraries, technology, policy, and media. I look forward to seeing what will happen and helping it along. So can you—and you can do it better as a balanced librarian.

For the rest of the story…

This essay is a draft version of Chapter 14 of Balanced Libraries: Thoughts on Continuity and Change, a new book now available at If you found this chapter worthwhile, why not buy the book?

Cites & Insights: Crawford at Large, Volume 7, Number 2, Whole Issue 86, ISSN 1534-0937, a journal of libraries, policy, technology and media, is written and produced by Walt Crawford, a senior analyst at OCLC.

Cites & Insights is sponsored by YBP Library Services,

Opinions herein may not represent those of OCLC or YBP Library Services.

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