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

Selection from Cites & Insights 5, Number 6: April 2005

Bibs & Blather

Go Away—Not Now, But Soon

Have you planned a vacation this year? Great. If not, why not? It’s been three years since I admonished readers to “get outta town!” (Cites & Insights 2:4). Then, as now, I know too many people treat vacations as disposable extras, niceties when nothing more important is happening. I don’t believe that’s true. Vacations are vital to healthy, balanced lives. Planning a vacation can be part of the fun, if you do it right.

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.

Follow Your Heart

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 a lot of 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?

As I noted two years ago:

I don’t believe there’s a Cites & Insights reader who lives more than two hours from an area worth exploring, whether in the U.S. or elsewhere. Most of us fail to explore our extended back yards; maybe this is a year to be a traveler near home. Is there a “wine country” nearby? (You might be surprised!) State and national parks you never paid attention to? Historic towns—or, for that matter, the big city you’ve never approached as an outsider?

That’s still true. If you live in any of the 50 United States, I guarantee there’s a commercial winery somewhere in your state—even though some of them don’t make wine from grapes, and others bring in grapes from other states (Alaska doesn’t grow a whole lot of wine grapes, for example).

I won’t suggest what sort of vacation you should take. My wife and I have been exploring the world by cruise ship, as time and money permit, and we love it—even if we now occasionally revisit the same areas because they’re so wonderful (for example French Polynesia, Alaska, and soon Costa Rica). But we’ve also enjoyed driving vacations and, at times, vacations connected to conferences. “Chicagoland” has many interesting areas in addition to the delights of Chicago itself, for example—and San Antonio in winter can be a great place to visit.

I’m delighted to correct one comment from 2002: “Sad to say, one of America’s great neotraditional vacation possibilities is almost gone.” That was the Delta Queen Steamboat Company and its three authentic steam-driven sternwheelers, cruising America’s heartland rivers. The parent company was overextended and went into bankruptcy; as I wrote that essay, only the Delta Queen was still operating.

Fortunately, another company purchased the three Queens and the name itself, re-forming the Delta Queen Steamboat Company as an operating entity. All three boats are running again. We haven’t been on them under the new management, but I can vouch for the charm and genuine hokey Americana of the Queens—and how interesting the heartland rivers can be. The one-week cruise from St. Louis to St. Paul (or vice-versa) includes great stops and a fascinating part of the Mississippi, including more than two dozen locks and dams. We loved it. You might even find the new “split week” American Queen vacations interesting: They combine a three or four night New Orleans roundtrip cruise on the American Queen, the grandest and newest of the Delta Queen boats, with three or four nights in New Orleans itself.

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.

Policy and Library Technology

That’s the title of Library Technology Reports 41:2 (March/April 2005). I recommend it—but I would, since I wrote it. The chapters cover thinking in policy terms; the copyright spectrum; technology, privacy, confidentiality, and security; policy prerequisites and technology limitations; policy, technology, and the digital corpus; library policies and social policy issues; and sources and resources.

The issue draws heavily from the thinking I’ve done in the last four years of Cites & Insights (and before that), but it’s not a rehash of these discussions. I’ve tried to put technology into a policy framework and consider the disparate ways that policy and technology interact. It’s a coherent overall view that you won’t find here and that I haven’t seen elsewhere.

You can purchase the issue separately from ALA (visit, although it’s admittedly not cheap at $63 for the single issue. It’s a periodical issue, not a book, so I won’t make more money if you all run out and buy it. I believe it’s an important and worthwhile overview.

HTML Conversions as a Fundraiser?

Volumes 4 and 5 of Cites & Insights now have all the HTML stories they’re likely to get. That leaves volumes 1 through 3, 2001 through 2003. Maybe there are stories in those first three volumes worth providing separately. Maybe not. They’re a nuisance to process for HTML, a little more so than later editions—not a huge effort, but a nuisance. Maybe I’ll get around to it. Maybe not.

Here’s a challenge: If you would like to see stories from earlier issues made available in HTML form, pay for them. Not me, but some worthy cause.

Send a donation of at least $100, preferably over and above what you’d normally donate, to one of the following:

Ø    Freedom to Read Foundation

Ø    Nature Conservancy

Ø    American Civil Liberties Union

Ø    Doctors without Borders

Ø    World Wildlife Fund

Ø    America’s Second Harvest or one of the local Second Harvest agencies

Ø    Habitat for Humanity

Send me email ( indicating that you’ve done so. I trust you (to some extent). You don’t need to dedicate the donation in any way, and I don’t require a receipt or proof that you’ve made the donation.

For each email I consider legitimate (mostly meaning it’s from a real person, and only one per person), I’ll do HTML stories for one issue of Cites & Insights, working backward chronologically from 3:14. I believe there are 41 eligible issues. Heck, for $4,100 to a variety of causes most of which I directly support, I’ll do a little work.

If 41 of you make reasonable-size donations, the whole run gets converted. If you don’t, it might or might not. Hey, a little charity is good for you anyway.

Cites & Insights: Crawford at Large, Volume 5, Number 6, Whole Issue 62, ISSN 1534-0937, a journal of libraries, policy, technology and media, is written and produced by Walt Crawford, a senior analyst at RLG.

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