Previous month:
June 2006
Next month:
August 2006

End of the Road(Trip)

By Tuesday morning I was ready to be home.  I'd been gone a dozen nights and had seen some wonderful things.   I'd spent Monday in the museums and art galleries of Santa Fe and had gotten another chance to play guitar (at the Tin Star Saloon).  I'd been writing a letter a day to Lynn and had managed to read three books over the course of the journey.  Except for the fact that the weather made camping impossible, my hopes for the trip had been more than surpassed.  If I could have checked out of the St. Francis hotel, walked down the street and into my own house on Lakeridge, I would've done it in a heartbeat.

But Lakeridge is 1,400 miles from Santa Fe, so there were a few adventures yet to be had.   After breakfast at the Cafe Paris, I headed east.    The terrain in eastern New Mexico gets very dramatic again, with a long stretch of winding road taking you down another couple of thousand feet toward sea level.  Again, I stuck to the little state roads as much as I could, only very occasionally seeing another car, until I picked up the interstate in Tucumcari.

Initially, I thought I'd try to get home in two long days of driving, but by late evening I was only as far as Wichita Falls, Texas -- still nearly 800 miles from home.   By early afternoon on the following day,  it was finally clear to me that while I could, theoretically, still get to Birmingham that day, it wouldn't be until 10:00 or so in the evening, and I'd be driving that last ugly stretch from Tuscaloosa to Birmingham in a road daze, exhausted and jittery from too many hours of driving.  That seemed kind of foolish, so I worked up an alternate plan.  Vicksburg seemed more achieveable.

I'd stayed at the Remington Inn and Conference Center in Wichita Falls, a nice enough, but thoroughly conventional, little hotel, the only such I'd stayed in on the entire trip.  So I was hoping for something special on that last night.  I flipped through the Mississippi tourism guide I had with me, looking at lodging options in Vicksburg.  The hotel section had nothing interesting.  I looked at the Bed & Breakfast pages with some trepidation -- I'm really not a bed & breakfast kind of a guy (although the place in San Marcos had been perfectly fine) -- and saw a listing for the Cedar Grove Mansion Inn.  Built in the 1840s, the listing said, with 34 rooms.  With 34  rooms, it couldn't be the typical B&B, so I called and made a reservation -- the guy I talked with on the phone (Matthew) seemed nice, and offered me a very cheap room rate, so how bad could it be?

By early evening it was gray and drizzly, the kind of swampy humid day that is deep south weather at its worst.  After a week in the southwestern dryness, I felt like I was dripping.  I crossed the Mississippi, pulled off the interstate and drove along Washington Street, following the directions that Matthew had given me.  I may have been affected by the weather, but Vicksburg looked particularly grimy and impoverished -- the kind of setting I've seen over and over in the little southern towns that are trying to make a go of it with the gambling business.   As I turned down one more narrow street I was wondering what I might have gotten myself into.

Thirty minutes later, after introducing myself in the main house, getting my key, and getting pointed in the right direction to the building I was staying in, I hauled my guitar and duffel bag up two narrow flights of wrought-iron stairs and stepped into the Centennial Suite.   I put my stuff down and walked through, surely with my mouth gaping open.  I called Lynn -- "The parlor is larger than the typical Hilton hotel room.  So is the bedroom..."  My very favorite touch was having the televisions hidden behind paintings over the fireplace mantles.   I took the house tour the next morning, and assured Matthew that I'd be back -- very definitely with Lynn. 

And so the roadtrip ends, with Cedar Grove providing a nice bracket to the Robert Clay shack in Clarksdale.  I wouldn't venture to say which one I preferred.  I drove some 3,500 miles, got to play guitar out in two different cities, had numerous very interesting conversations with interesting people, wrote a bunch of letters, saw much marvelous scenery, listened to great music, and saw lots of amazing artwork.  I learned a few things.

The last few days I've spent getting mentally prepared to be back at the library.  I've been catching up on email, getting my lists of things organized.  The trip was everything I'd hoped for, but now there's lots to do, and I'm eager to get at it.   


Ready To Head Home

It seems marvelously emblematic of our time of transition that in most of the hotels I stayed in across Mississippi and Texas I couldn't get a cell phone signal (and didn't have a phone in the room), but perched on the side of a mountain at a Forest Service campsite outside of Ruidoso, New Mexico, my signal came in strong and clear.  I sat outside my tent on a beautiful evening, watching the sun set over the Sierra Blanca mountains, sipping a glass of french wine, chatting with Lynn about our days.

The campsite was only five miles out of town, but four of those miles were rough gravel washboard road ascending from 6,900 to 9,000 feet.  Not remote in the way that my favorite campsites have been, but rustic enough to keep the RVs away.     Only three of the sixteen sites were taken, so we each had plenty of room to spread out and pretend that the others were miles away.  I had my battery powered iPod speakers playing Keith Jarrett, and wrote in my journal until dusk.  When it became too dark to see, I moved everything into the tent, turned on the lantern, and read until I was too sleepy.

The birds woke me at dawn, and I felt rested and happy.   I sat outside and wrote another long letter to Lynn, wrote some in my journal, tried unsuccessfully to identify the birdsongs, watched the colors change on the mountain opposite as the sun came up.

I don't spend much time at 9,000 feet and I'd gotten pretty winded the night before setting up my tent.  It took a moment of vertigo to remind me to take it easy, and I'd taken a break to sit and call Lynn.  So I took my time breaking camp, doing just a few things at a time, and then sitting for a bit before doing some more.  By 11:00 or so, I was packed up and made my way back down to the highway and on to Santa Fe.

Now I'm sitting on the patio of my hotel, watching the storm clouds come in from the mountains, as they did yesterday.  I've spent the day in museums and galleries, and it was sunny and hot, so the drama of a bit of storm is welcome.

The exhibitions at the O'Keeffe, and the Museum of Fine Arts were quite wonderful, but the standout (not surprisingly) was the show at the Institute of American Indian Arts.  That's been one of my very favorite museums anywhere ever since I came across it on my first road trip to Santa Fe many years ago.  There's an edginess to the work there, an insistence on pushing boundaries and challenging influences that makes every exhibit electrifying.  Whether the work is by the longtime masters, or this year's students, there's a passionate belief that art matters, that images and sounds and poetry and color are what you need to make sense of your self and your place.  I always come out of there feeling richer in spirit and stronger in intention -- more capable of walking my own way through the world.

After the experience of those three museums, it was tough for the work at Canyon Road to measure up.  Don't get me wrong -- the experience of 200 or so galleries, clustered along a pretty little street, full of interesting architecture, is a wonderful way to spend some hours.    I saw many, many delightful things -- but there were very few that moved me in that quivering, deep way that the work that I admire (and need) the most does.  But I was pretty intrigued by the Nes pastels at Hahn Ross,  and there were many pieces (those tapestries!) at the Klaudia Marr gallery that I would have welcomed spending a good bit of time with. 

It was nearing 2:00, and I was ready for a break, so I stopped for lunch and more writing time.  Another good day.  But it's been a dozen days, and that's about my limit.   Time to head home.


Leaving Marfa

I call Lynn once or twice a day from the phone in the hotel lobby.  I email her when I walk over to the Pizza Foundation for lunch, or from the Book Company late in the afternoon when I stop in for a glass of wine after filling my eyes and heart with artwork.  I tell her about the people that I'm meeting and talking to and she laughs. "You?" she says. "Shy guy?  When did you get so chatty?..."

Apparently, there's something irresistable about a guy with a notebook.  I'll be sitting by myself, thinking, writing a bit.  Eventually, it becomes too much for somebody and they've got to ask and find out what's going on.  Last night, I was in the courtyard, after dinner.  I was listening to Jim Keaveny, sipping my wine, making notes.  A pretty young woman comes up -- "We see you've got some wine left, and we're just sitting listening.  We'd be happy to have you join us."  She gestured over her shoulder to the table where her husband was sitting.  Startled, I said, "Thank you, thank you -- I might do that..."  She's got a grin that blossoms, and walked back to her table.

It'd've been impolite not to go, so I packed up the notebook and grabbed my wine and headed over.  And once again, as seems to have happened so many times on this journey, I found myself in conversation with interesting, bright and curious people.  We talked about the music, about writing and language and art, about what a splendid evening it was sitting there in the courtyard under the big Texas sky.  We told stories and talked about dreams and aspirations and where we've been and where we thought we might be going.  I gave 'em the address of the blog, so maybe they'll say hello...  At any rate, I want to tell 'em I'm grateful for the invite and happy to have met them.

Finally, I excused myself to go and call Tambourine Grrl, who was engrossed in a movie, so we just talked for two minutes.  I walked up to Ray's Bar (which you recognize by the sign over the door that says "Joe's Place".)  The band was already done (what is it with these little Texas towns that close up at midnight?), so I had a beer and listened to the conversation and strolled back to the hotel.

And there were Jim and Erik, just finishing packing up their gear.  I told 'em Ray's appeared to be closing, so we came up to my suite to sip whiskey and talk.  More great conversation.  Jim talked about his songwriting, some of the things he hoped to do, some stories about where he'd been.  Erik talked about everything.  Jim and I agreed that it'd be fun someday to trade songs, but that our egos'd get in the way of actually trying to play together.  I understood completely.  How is it that out here under the big Texas sky, it seems so easy to run into a like mind?

So goodbye to Marfa for now, although I'll carry a lot of it with me.  I'm heading to New Mexico mountains to spend the night in a tent.  I'll listen to Jim's CDs on the road.  I came out here to see what kind of creation Donald Judd had found in the west Texas wilderness -- I'll bring that along with me...  and much more...


Morning Tour of the Chinati Foundation

I thought that I knew what to expect when we went into the first building at the Chinati Foundation to see Donald Judd’s aluminum box installation.  There were half a dozen of us, along with our guide, Amelia, an art student from San Antonio.  I’m familiar with some of Judd's other work from museums, and I’ve seen pictures of this particular setting.  Pictures don’t come close.  It’s not about aluminum, it’s not about repetition.  It’s about light and space and endless variation.  For the first time I really understood the affinity that Judd had for the neon sculptures of his friend Dan Flavin.  Judd was using the aluminum boxes to sculpt with light, just as Flavin was doing the same with light directly. 

The sides of the buildings are floor to roof glass, so the spaces are flooded with natural light (and on a sunny July day here in far west Texas, that is a lot of light!), and the reflections pick up all the variations of color from the landscape surrounding us.  To be immersed in that space is to be in a spiritual realm, contemplative, remote from day-to-day concerns, and yet very much a part of this world (just outside a pair of rabbits playing, and a little further out a family of deer -- the three fauns prancing around some of Judd's concrete installations in high spirits, while from time to time one of the adults nips at their heels).  It was one of the most remarkable artistic experiences I’ve ever had.

Marfa itself is a kick.  The main street leads from the highway three blocks up to the courthouse building, a wonderfully beautiful and ornate structure.  My hotel, in all its 1930s grandeur, is on one side of the street, facing the old Palace Opera House on the other.  In the lobby is a display dedicated to those exciting days when the cast of Giant hung out here while filming.  Scattered about the town are a dozen art galleries – I walked into one and was treated to a dozen or so pieces from Andy Warhol’s Last Supper series – the last major work he completed before he died.

Tucked into an old corner gas station is the Pizza Foundation, where I had lunch – big slices of excellent pizza with a great Greek salad.  Bring your own beer and wine.

The weather is better here than it was in Clarksdale, or my first couple of stops in Texas.  Upper eighties instead of upper nineties, and much dryer, so walking slowly around town is much more tolerable than it was trying to move around a few days ago.   The Chinati mountains in the distance are quite beautiful.  An awareness of the great spaces around us pervades everything. 

I can't quite get over the sense of quiet and calm.  At the moment, I'm sitting in the Marfa Book Company with a glass of wine and a good wireless connection, watching the shadows slowly lengthen.  Lucinda Williams sings softly in the background.  I've done a little email -- the library is never far from my mind -- but mostly I'm trying to give my mind space to come to a stop, to take in the beauty of the vast landscape around me, to move very slowly and to pay close attention to everything that is here.  The challenge is to be in this moment, and not constantly fretting about what needs to come next or what I don't have enough time to get to.  So far, I'm doing a  pretty good job.

This evening, dinner at Jett's Grill.  A new novel to start reading.  Tomorrow, the afternoon tour of the Chinati Foundation.



Camping In San Marcos

I abandoned the notion of camping my way across Texas when the forecasts started breaking 100 degrees.  My original plan had been that after leaving the Shack Up Inn in Clarksdale, I would spend three nights camping in some of the pretty Texas state parks before arriving in Marfa on Wednesday.  Instead, the quest became to find some interesting inns where I could get out of the heat.  And so it is that I find myself sitting in a nice little coffeeshop across the street from the San Marcos courthouse.

It was fourteen years ago that I took the first of these solitary roadtrips.   On July 1st of that year, my divorce from Sandy was final, and on the 7th I took possession of the first Little Black Car.  The two events conjoined to give me a tremendous feeling of freedom, after the emotional oppression of the previous two years.  I thought I'd celebrate by taking a little drive.  It turned into a fourteen day, 4,000 mile sojourn that took me across the northern and central plains, alternating camping and finding some interesting little hotels to stay in, setting the stage for the several road trips I've taken since then.  The rules are simple:  1) Avoid the interstate at all costs; 2) Never eat in a chain restaurant; and 3) When you see a sign pointing in a different direction that looks interesting, go there.  The rules have served me well.

It's been five years since I've had a chance to take one of these trips, however.  The production schedule of the JMLA, along with the rest of my various commitments just made the prospect of being out of pocket for two weeks in the second half of the summer unworkable.  So I promised myself that my reward for laying down the JMLA mantle would be another road trip.  So far, despite the heat, it's been marvelous.

The Shack Up Inn more than lived up to my hopes for it.  From the moment I arrived, I felt at home.  Bill started teasing me before he'd even handed me the key, Missy piped up from the couch when she heard I was a librarian, and within ten minutes we'd traded the news about both she and my brother being journalists and she and my wife both being Grinellians.  I ended up spending that evening just hanging out with Missy and Jim and the various and sundry who wandered through during the course of the night.  I felt like I'd been hanging there for years.

My shack -- Robert Clay -- was fabulous.  There are pictures on the Shack Up Inn website, and I'll post a few of my own when I get around to pulling them off of my camera.  More space than I needed, but I'm in the mood to give my mind lots of room to wander around in.  I spent most of Saturday afternoon stretched out on the big couch on the porch, sipping wine and alternating between reading the Hank Williams biography and playing guitar.  Late in the afternoon the folks in the shack next door gathered to listen to me play, so I went over to visit with them for a bit.  There's something about the place that makes everybody a little slower, a little sweeter, a little more welcoming and open, than we might be in our normal hectic lives.

I felt a little guilty that I didn't go into Clarksdale Saturday night -- there was great music at Ground Zero and at Red's, but I was enjoying the solitude, so I stayed in to write and read.  I've had good times at both places in the past, and I will again in the future, but this is a different kind of journey.  I stopped in to visit with Bill a bit before I left.  He told me a hilarious story about the day that a group of German musicians showed up, having come all this way just to go to the Shack Up Inn.  He said they stayed and drank and sat on their porch and played music all night long and that's when he knew that the place had become a Destination.   No doubt, there's a part of me that planted itself there.  I'll be back.

On Sunday night, in Jefferson, Texas, I stayed at the Excelsior House.  When I arrived, I asked for the most interesting room that they had available.  The woman at the desk looked amused, thought for a minute and said, "I'll put you in the Victorian Parlor."    The room originally was the parlor and I loved it.  I could imagine Oscar Wilde sitting there after dinner, regaling the other guests, who must've looked at him as if the most exotic bird they'd ever seen.

Here in San Marcos, I found that Lucy's, just four blocks from my room at the Crystal River Inn, was holding an open mike.  So I walked down with my guitar and played a set, hanging out until midnight and talking with a few other of the local musicians. 

Today it's been writing in my journal, letters to Lynn & Josie, the Harper Lee bio.  I spent about an hour this morning catching up on some email, but I'm trying to stick with just the basics of what I have to do.  The rest of it will wait.

And the battery on the laptop is just about run down, so I guess I'll stroll back up to the Inn.  Time to settle in for some more reading.  Tomorrow, it's on to Marfa and the Chinati Foundation.


On The Road Again

In a couple of hours I'll be kicking off the NASIG E-journals CE workshop here at Mississippi State.   The title I gave them is "Beyond the E-Journal: Now It Really Gets Interesting", but it's really a re-weaving of the various themes that I've been working on over the last two years.  The basic message is that this is the greatest time in at least 500 years to be a librarian, that we have opportunities unimaginable to our predecessors, but that to really take advantage of them requires some courage and daring and a willingness to creatively reimagine what we're doing.  I try to acknowledge that this can be a pretty scary time for librarians because of all of the uncertainty, but the possibilities outweigh the dangers, if we're willing to seize them.

Our host, Patrick Carr, along with the rest of the planning committee, organized dinner for the speakers last night at The Abbey.  Lots of great conversation and good food, but I woke up this morning thinking, in particular, about an exchange that Michael Stephens and I had.   We were talking about the long process of building an organization that is comfortable with and hospitable to change, and how one of my primary goals during my sixteen years as a library director has been to try to create an environment that attracts creative and energetic people and that gives them the support and the resources that they need to excel.  I think we're getting there at LHL and I couldn't be more thrilled to have the opportunity to work with the wonderful crew that we have there.  But obviously, my perspective as the guy in charge is very different from the bright young thing two years out of library school who now finds that their great ideas are getting slapped down by a too-cautious bureaucracy; and while they're having their idealism squarshed out of them, they take out their frustrations in their blogs, and I wonder what to say to them.

I didn't have a good answer to that last night when Michael and I were talking, but I must've been thinking about it while I was dreaming through the night, because when I woke up I thought maybe I had a glimmer.  Maybe it was sparked by Michael's comment about the necessity of developing a culture of trust.  It goes both ways -- when I get asked about my responsibilities as a director, I point out that part of my job is to make sure that when things go well, the credit goes to the people in the library who really made the stuff happen, and when things go wrong, to take the blame.  People need to believe that if they do take risks and something blows up, they're going to be protected and not left hanging out to dry.  Developing that level of trust is a major part of what I believe  I'm supposed to do.

When I think about the people who work in the library, I can also identify those who I trust to take on any project and do a great job with it.  They're the people who are energetic, and quick and don't hesitate to say yes when they're asked to do something, and who execute it with flair and imagination.  Over time, they've earned a level of trust from me that makes me quite willing, when they come to me with a new idea, to tell them to run with it.   I trust that they're going to manage it well, and if it's something that they're excited about, it's probably a good idea.

So to the frustrated young librarian, I guess I'd try to counsel patience and to think of what you can do to develop that level of trust.  You don't need to be seen as the bright young thing with all the great new ideas -- what you want is to be seen as the bright young thing who can handle whatever task is given to them.  No matter what the project, you're the one who seems to be able to get it organized, bring the right people together, and bring it in on time.  Some of those projects may seem pretty mundane and unexciting, but you have to take the long view.  What you're trying to do is make yourself indispensible.  Every library director is constantly looking at the people in the organization to identify those that can be trusted to get something accomplished.   If you can establish that kind of credibility, you're going to get a good hearing for your own new cool ideas.   But you're not going to be able to change the organization until you've earned that level of trust.  And that takes time.

In other news, my vacation starts today!  I've been looking forward to this trip for a very long time, and it was just a lucky coincidence of timing that when Patrick contacted me to see if  I could come to the meeting, it was scheduled for the day I was planning to head to Clarksdale anyway.  I've got the Robert Clay shack booked at the Shack Up Inn, and I'll head up there after the workshop closes this afternoon.  I can't wait!


A Typical Day

I've been told, on a number of occasions over the years, that I have a "radio voice."  I never quite know how to respond to that (and it embarasses me slightly, for no good reason), except  to acknowledge that it's true.   I've never aspired to a career in radio (although I did record some talking books when I was in high school), so it was with some amusement that I found myself on the phone yesterday as the guest on a segment of MyTechnologyLawyer.com Radio

This was engineered by MJ, who, along with several others, got connected with the host, Scott Draughon earlier this spring (I'm not sure exactly how that happened) to do a segment on MLA and medical libraries.  Draughon was apparently delighted with the initial offering and arranged to follow up with six more.    MJ asked me to join her for this last one, which was on how libraries get funded (the earlier ones are all archived on the MTL site).  It was pretty entertaining (for me, that is -- I've got no idea what the audience might've thought).  It's the kind of thing I like to do -- completely spontaneous.  All I knew ahead of time was that we were going to talk about "how it all gets funded".  I'd listened to bits of a couple of the previous segments so I knew that Draughon is an energetic and inquisitive host and I could trust him to keep things going.   He and his assistant got MJ and me on the phone about twenty minutes before showtime and we chatted for a minute or two about the topic while they checked sound levels and went over the format.  He'd introduce MJ, she'd introduce me and we'd be off and running for our nine minute segment.  When the music came up there'd be 30 seconds left and if I didn't wrap it up in time, he would politely cut me off so that he could stay on schedule (the show is delivered live).  Preliminaries accomplished, we hung up and I had fifteen minutes to do other stuff before they called back.  I had no idea what I was going to say.  But as I anticipated, Draughon knows how to keep it moving and MJ and I were able to be articulate and even witty and, I think, say some useful things.  It went extremely quickly.

Altogether it took up about forty-five minutes of my day and required no preparation.  Which left me time to do some work on the budget, to have a meeting with a small group I've organized here to start thinking about what we might do with an institutional repository (later in the day I set up an IR wiki for us to use in planning), to meet with the reference librarian search committee to talk about the clinical reference position we're creating in collaboration with the new patient library in the Kirklin Clinic, to tinker a little bit with the presentation I'll give in Mississippi next week, to talk by phone with Lenny Rhine, who has just gotten back from Zambia and is giving me tremendously helpful advice on how to proceed with a project we want to do there, to address some issues related to our Deputy Director search, and to deal with the thousand other little odds and ends that cross my desk or pop in through my office door on a regular basis.

I was worn out by the end of it all, so after running some errands, I indulged myself by fixing a superb (according to Lynn) fettucine bolognese from scratch for dinner, which we had with a bottle of Coppola Zin.   A little time to read, clean up the kitchen, and into bed in time for the Daily Show and Colbert.  I didn't have time to play guitar.

It was a typical day.


Permanent Change

Lynn says, grumpily, "We don't need another session on 'managing change' -- we need one on managing stasis!"    She's seen too many conference themes and programs that seem to reflect a notion that this "change" stuff is something new.

Leslie Burger's inaugural speech as president of ALA is all about the need for change -- "transformation".   I don't really  disagree with anything that she says but I confess to being a little startled.  Is "change" really such a radical notion?   From the tone of some of the responses to it, one could get the impression that, except for a few dynamic and visionary individuals, the vast mass of librarians have been mired in change-resistant postures for decades and are only now waking up.  But surely this isn't the case.

Leslie says, "Librarians and libraries have already been through a decade of great change..."  Only a decade? 

When I was at the National Library of Medicine in the mid-eighties, MEDLINE was opened up to searching by anyone -- previously only trained librarians had been able  to do this.  The era of "end-user searching" dawned.  Radical change for reference librarians who had to begin to shift from doing searches for people to providing support so that people could do better searches on their own.  Tremendous resistance and fear among librarians, along with excitement and a vision of the tremendous possibilities being opened up.

Just a couple of years earlier, while I was in library school, I assisted in the retrospective conversion process at my university -- getting rid of the card catalog.  Radical change.  Again, much resistance, and much excitement as well.

In the early seventies MEDLINE became the first publicly available online bibliographic database.   Nearly two decades before Berners-Lee invented the WWW, librarians were radically changing the way that access to the medical literature was provided.  In short order, companies like DIALOG expanded this notion across all disciplines.  Radical change.  Resistance and excitement.

I could go on.  In 1994 I did a presentation on this theme at a conference in Orlando.  Despite my aversion to cute titles, since we were in the land of Da Mouse, I called it "Why Are We Being So Mickey Mouse About Change?"  My point is that this "change" thing is nothing new.   It is the nature of the world and it is a fantasy (one that humans are particularly prone to) to imagine the past as a stable environment where people knew what was going on and what their role was, completely unlike the present, which is full of uncertainty and pressures being imposed on us from every direction.

The great danger in this fantasy is that it leads us to look at the present as a brief transitional time.  With sufficient drum-beating and cheerleading, we can reach a point where everyone "gets it" and we can become transformed.  And once we're transformed, then we will have achieved a new stable era and can go on about our business.  This is a recipe for frustration, disillusion and burnout.   Some years ago, when we fell into the business of providing IT support for several of the schools here, I ran into our Head of Systems at the elevator one evening at the end of the day.  We'd just hired a bunch of new techs and I asked him how it was going.  "They're doing really well," he said.  "They're learning the ropes, getting along, getting to know the issues and what we can do about them.  There's only one problem..."  He paused, then said, with a grin, "They think we're gonna get done."

We're not going to get done.  Thirty years ago it was the dawn of online searching and integrated library systems.  Fifteen years ago it was the rise of the internet and the world wide web.  These days it's blogs and wikis and social networks.  Fifteen years from now....?

If you're going to be in this for the long term, it is critical that you understand that the flow of change is unending.  You never step in the same river twice.  (I suspect that Heraclitus was a librarian).

There will always be resistance.  This is the nature of humans and their organizations.   Leslie says, "No one much likes change..."  This isn't quite true.  Some of us like change quite a bit, and find it to be our natural element.   It's also the case that few people are opposed to change on principle.  Most people are resistant to changes being imposed on them when they don't see that the result of the change is going to be an improvement in their situation.  Managing change requires being sympathetic to these facts, seeking allies, building excellent communication vehicles, providing opportunities for maximum input, etc.  And anybody who has followed the change management literature for the past several decades knows that none of these principles are new.

I'm glad for Leslie Burger's enthusiasm.  I think she'll be a good leader for ALA.    I'm delighted at the energy and excitement that I see is certain quarters of libraryland.  It's a fun and exciting place to be, and I'm tremendously optimistic about our future.  But I know we're not going to get done.