As 2008 comes to a close (where on earth did it go?), I want to take a moment to reflect on this past year.
When I think about everything I was lucky enough to do this this year, what stands out the most are the people I met during my travels, both online and offline. The best thing about social network sites is the social part, and this year my network expanded to include new friends and rediscovered old ones. In fact, that’s definitely been one of my highlights for the year — reconnecting with folks from my pre-online life, which to me is an indicator that online networks are definitely going mainstream. I’m seeing so many more non-techie friends there, and I really appreciate being able to connect with them in this way. I still don’t have a lot of time to spend on Twitter or FriendFeed, but I’ve gone back to Facebook more and more because that’s where I’m finding a lot of these folks. Plus, it runs at a speed that works well for me right now (something I’m going to write more about it in an upcoming post).
This was especially true this year when I had so many projects going on at work. I haven’t written about my job at ALA here very much, mainly because I’ve been too busy to blog much at all. However, this was such a productive and progressive year at my job that I want to highlight a few of the things we accomplished. While this is by no means an exhaustive list (and it’s certainly not reflective of the work done across the organization as a whole), these are just a few of the things that were personally gratifying for me in 2008, because I played a role in helping them happen. In chronological order:
- Gaming in libraries
The year started out big for us when we learned about the $1 million grant from the Verizon Foundation. It’s allowed us to move this topic forward very quickly, and soon we’ll start posting the tangible outcomes. Watch for more to come from this grant in 2009, which will help build on our general successes around gaming so far. In 2008, we launched the Games and Gaming Member Initiative Group, ran a big game at our Annual Conference, started a new Games in Libraries podcast, held a second successful Gaming, Learning, and Libraries Symposium, and coördinated the first annual National Gaming Day @ your library. All in all, a very good year for gaming in libraries.
- In April, Library Technology Reports published Gaming and Libraries: Broadening the Intersections, my second issue dedicated to the topic.
- AL Focus launched an incredibly popular series of videos for National Library Week. Full credit for these brilliant pieces goes to Dan Kraus.
- In August, we launched the READ mini-poster generator that does just what it sounds like it does. We’ve gotten a great response to this, and you can see some of the results in the READ Flickr pool.
- In October, American Libraries magazine celebrated Open Access Day by opening its archives and making the current issue available to everyone for free. In 2009, watch for HTML versions of current issues (not just PDFs) and expanded content. Congratulations to Leonard Kniffel and his crew for taking such a big step!
- At the same time, the AL folks decided to open up their weekly email newsletter AL Direct and let anyone subscribe. I don’t have anything at all to do with the production of it, so I don’t think it’s self-promoting to say that I think this is one of the most valuable current awareness tools in the profession. Full credit for the content and delivery goes to George Eberhart, and my involvement has been mainly to advocate that *everyone* should be able to benefit from his hard work. Now that can include you, even if you’re not an ALA member.
- Finally, ALA Connect just completed alpha testing, and now we’re preparing to start beta testing next week. This is one of my really huge projects at work, so it’s quite a relief to finally be at this point. It’s been a long and…educational road to get this far, but we’re getting very close. So far, the feedback has been pretty good, and I’m looking forward to launching it soon. This is one of the things I’ll be talking about more here in the future but for now, I’ll just say that I couldn’t end the year on a better note.
This was also an amazing year of travel for me, including special trips to the Netherlands (and the wonderful DOK), southeast Asia, and London. I know how lucky I am to be invited to speak in these places, and I’m thankful for the people I’ve met and the experiences I’ve had along the way. It’s easy to get tunnel vision about location, region, type of library, or the profession in general, and my travels reminded me of the bigger picture and dedication we all share.
I also traveled a lot domestically this year, and while I know times aren’t easy, I hope we never lose the face-to-face connections that are so valuable to our professional and personal development. Long live the conference, unconference, regional meeting, or whatever type of event brings us together. I hope that we as a profession can find the right combination of online and offline to feed our professional connections and growth.
Before this turns into one long verse of Kumbaya, though, there were hiccups in the year, and there are some things I hope to change in 2009. I’ve gotten much better about not spending too many hours just working or working only on the computer, but those changes came at the expense of reading my RSS aggregator and blogging here. I’m again examining how I spend my time to try and figure out a way to do more of both of those things. While I won’t go back to working more or give up the time I’ve gained for family and friends, I do hope to redistribute some of that time to get back to blogging more.
So hopefully you’ll see more action here in the coming year. In the meantime, I hope 2008 was a good year for you, and that 2009 is even better!