One Year Later – Or – An Attempt at a Brief Goodbye

14/02/2012 § 12 Comments

Dear friends,

The way I see it, there are a few different ways I could write this. I could be super sappy, writing about how much this blog has meant to me, what a joy its been to work with such amazing peers/colleagues, how proud I am to see Hack Library School grow into the productive and active resource that I wished I’d had in school. Or, I could write a nice technical overview of all we’ve accomplished; averaging 750 hits a day, almost 20,000 hits in August, a revolving team of writers mentoring one another as thinkers and professionals, 70,000 retweets since day one, one award, numerous thanks, and steadily rising subscriptions and regular readers. I could throw in some nice pseudo-snarky, blog-voice and offer some witty asides with a :) and a cultural reference or two. I could brag and congratulate and wish well, and all of that would be true and worthwhile.

I haven’t been writing much lately. As I moved into a full time job I sort of lost the drive to spend more time at night reading, writing and engaging. I have been “always on(line)” since I started my MLIS, and I’ll say its really nice to not have to be anymore. I’ve stepped into the background and in doing so have seen that this hack library school idea, which I never claimed or wanted to own, belongs to the community of readers; librarians, students, para-professionals, archivists. I’m happy to have had the opportunity to have a voice that was heard, and I hope to regain that voice in my professional life. Looking back, as one is wont to do in these moments, I learned much more than I shared. I developed ideas, opinions and, dare I say, beliefs about what information means to the (post?)modern world and what my role is therein. And through this medium, the ubiquitous weblog, I wish the same for you all.

I’m not sure how this started, but when I was writing emails to the HLS Editors and Writers, especially when our spirits were particularly down or enviously high, I would conclude my note with the phrase “Go Forth,” stolen unabashedly from Levi’s marketing campaign that makes me want to live another life as a teenager in the midwest. It was a funny sentiment, as if I wasn’t so much leading the charge but commissioning disciples. But it stuck, and I still think it fits. Through this one measly year we have taken on topics from our digital future, to transparency in our educational institutions, to group work, and numerous ‘hacks’ – technological, ideological, practical, professional, and everything in between. We have engaged, provoked, challenged and argued. My only hope is that will continue to be the goal of this blog – to push boundaries and hold each other and especially our administrators, professors, and professional organizations to high standards of work and professionalization. Who knows what will happen to the library? Who knows what will happen to the book? Who knows when and where ‘information’ will overtake humankind? All we know is that these things are important, and that we care to do something about it. So… go forth.

I had the pleasure of having lunch with John Jackson, a budding leader in our profession and a man I respect very much, at ALA Midwinter last month. We talked about our work in academic libraries, life, food, etc. But the thing that stuck with me, and one that I continue to turn over in my mind, was our brief agreement that the ‘Big Tent’ ideal looks very different from the professional side than it did from the student side. I am an optimistic person, and have not a skeptical bone in my body, but I worry about my portraying the unity of all librarians as something we can just speak into existence. I want, very much, to maintain productive working relationships with information professionals of every stripe, and I know that it won’t be an easy thing. Last year, on this day, to kick off what Hack Library School would become, Britt Foster wrote an excellent post extolling students to fight for the big tent while in school, and despite my current difficulty in seeing it, I think it still rings true. I hope you’ll reread it and pull your own conclusions from it.

Now I’ve gone and rambled my way into a philosophical hole. (There’s the spunky wit we were all waiting for, right?). I’ll close simply:

Hack Library School was nothing more than a good idea at the right time and fortunately for all of us the right group of people believed in it enough to dedicate some long nights and many unpaid words to it. My eternal thanks goes out to Kim Leeder for encouraging the idea from a seedling, to Julia, Nicole, Heidi, Britt and Lauren for nuturing it from a Google Doc, to a wiki, to a blog (The OG Hackers should already know that we are destined to be dear friends for life), to Annie for being relentless, excited and so damn interested in everything (Annie hounded me to join the blog when we were barely a week old), to Zack for being bold, brave and willing to disagree, to Turner for his wisdom and deep thinking, to Rebecca for her spunk and willingness to write with great depth, to Rose for reconsidering my offer to join the blog and strongly advocating for the ‘hacker’ mentality, to Teresa, Ashley and Laura for graciously becoming the fresh voices that put us on the library blogosphere’s radar this past Fall, and lastly to Amy, Chris, Celia, Topher, Paul, Joanna, Bri and Kevin for beginning to build on the foundation that was laid.

I’m proud to say, as I step away from the blog, that it will continue under a new editorial team. Julia, the sole remaining original hacker and resident LIS PhD student, will be the Editor in Chief. Annie and Rose will serve as co-managing editors running the daily ins and outs, and becoming the public face of HackLibrarySchool (read: send emails to them now, instead of me ;)). I wish many more years of hackery, many more complicated topics, many more challenging comments, and many more writers to belong to this idea.

Without wax,

Micah V.

PS. I’m also pleased and honored to let you all know I’ll be joining the team of bloggers at In The Library With the Lead Pipe! A dream come true for my future as a professional writer in online spaces.

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§ 12 Responses to One Year Later – Or – An Attempt at a Brief Goodbye

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