Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Current Cites and Longevity

Roy Tennant’s recent Library Journal post (On Longevity) celebrates the upcoming 20th birthday of Current Cites (CC). In his post, Roy ponders out loud about longevity, and proposes some thoughts about what it has taken for CC to survive and thrive for 20 years.

One of the genuine highlights of my library career so far, is the privilege of being a CC contributor. Prompted by Roy’s post, here are some thoughts of what CC has meant to my career so far, along with an addition to his formula for longevity.

I think I first discovered CC around 1999 / 2000, at the time I finished my library degree and started work as a professional librarian. CC became a ‘must-read’ as I attempted to get up to speed with library-related technology issues. Each issue of CC provided at least one article worth reading, and sometimes every article mentioned was worth tracking down. CC became one of those emails I frequently forwarded to colleagues, along with a strong recommendation to subscribe themselves. CC became available via RSS around the same time I was discovering feed readers, and so the feed was one of the first I added to my new Bloglines account.

In August 2008, Roy sent a brief note to the Web4Lib email list, inviting people to become contributors to CC. At that time I had done some writing for work, and was managing a small collaborative library-related writing initiative. I had written and presented one or two conference papers, and so was bold enough to email Roy a sample citation. His simple reply to me was “Welcome to the team!”. You couldn’t wipe the smile from my face for days! Since then, I’ve managed to contribute a few more cites, and I enjoyed meeting Roy at the VALA conference in Melbourne earlier this year. We had a great conversation over a meal, where he also introduced me to the delights of skordalia :-)

So what has CC meant to me?

  • It gave me a wonderful introduction to library technology issues

  • It has provided an avenue for me to write outside of my current work duties (even if they are short citations)

  • It prompts me to scan the table of contents of peer-reviewed journals, reports and publications that I might otherwise skip over in my emails and RSS feeds

  • My fellow CC contributors continue to provide a stream of interesting articles and publications that I don’t discover any other way

On Longevity - Based on these experiences with CC, I’d like to add one more idea to Roy’s list of longevity factors: Involve and encourage others. The willingness of Roy and other CC editors to invite and encourage folks like me to contribute to a project can be a contributing factor in ensuring longevity. Sometimes it can be hard letting someone else work on your pet project, but sharing the load, inviting others to be involved, and encouraging and developing your collaborators can be worthwhile task to help ensure longevity.

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