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The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades — from Roy Tennant

Posted by Editor on January 19, 2010

January 17, 2010
I remember what it was like to try to make it as a new librarian in the 1980s. As an academic librarian (at UC Berkeley) you needed to start building your professional resume by getting ALA committee assignments. OK, I thought, I can do this. So I did. I went to ALA, mostly on my own dime, I attended the meetings of committees I thought I would like to serve on, and I spoke up. Before I knew it, I was on a couple of committees, and as luck would have it, they were good ones. We produced some seminal publications when the Internet was young, and we blazed some new trails that the profession is continuing to follow today.

But the thing that really touched off my career was signing on to do an Internet workshop with Anne Lipow in 1992. As I like to describe it, it was like hitching my wagon to a star. Out of that workshop grew a book that was wildly successful (in library terms) and a lifetime of speaking gigs.

But that was yesterday. It’s different today, although I won’t fall into the trap of saying it was harder then. I doubt that it was, it was just different. But whether it is the 1980s or the 2010s, some things never change. And that is that talent finds a way. So now all I seem to see is talent springing up all over. I started by trying to mentor a few people who caught my eye. Then the “few” quickly became half-a-dozen. Now, at this meeting, I find myself wanting to rent a large room so I can make sure these really talented young professionals begin to make the kinds of connections that will serve them their entire careers.

They don’t need me, although they are pleasant enough to flatter my ego by allowing me to think that I can help. But I know from my own career that it’s always better if you have company, or at least people you can count on in a pinch. They know they can count on me, and the others they have met both with and without my help.

I was lucky enough to have dinner with six of these bright, dynamic individuals at Midwinter (see picture), and I can tell you that it is truly a tonic for somone my age. As a library professional who is likely entering the last decade of his career, I can’t begin to express how happy this makes me feel. I know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that I can retire, in some years hence, in total complacency. The profession will be in good hands. It already is.

People in the photograph, from left to right: Jason Griffey, Xan Arch, Cindi Trainor, Jenica Rogers, Holly Tomren, and Karen Coombs.

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