Sunday, December 29, 2013

On This Date in 1998

Dear Connie,

I passed the gavel to my successor on December 10th with a clear conscience and a clean record. No censure. No impeachment. No reporters hounding me about extramarital activities. I lead such a dull life.

In all seriousness, my year as president of the Wisconsin Library Association can be described with a warm bundle of positive adjectives: rewarding, productive, gratifying, enlightening. Even though we have entered a no-growth period in membership numbers, we were still able to expand the scope of our organizational activities and services. I’d like to think that this was the result of my eagerness to tap the right people to chair the various board committees. I’ve always felt that my ability to delegate responsibilities has been one of my greatest strengths.

Refresh my memory, but was it this year that I stumbled across Alma Jacobs obituary? She offered me my first job when I was fresh out of library school. No interview. Just, “Hello, how’d you like to be the librarian at the Montana State Prison?” I always thought that an M.L.S. would give me increased mobility, but going behind bars, actually having to be zapped through four different grill gates, wasn’t exactly what I had in mind. But nobody else was knockin’ on my door in the mid-70s. Having lived in Great Falls for almost five years, from the fall of 1952 until the summer of 1957, I may have just wanted an opportunity to explore my past, which I did on the third or fourth weekend after my arrival in Deer Lodge. That walk through the old neighborhood was one of the most memorable experiences of my life. I saw the world I remembered as a seven year old through the eyes of someone in his mid-20s. What a jarring juxtaposition. What seemed like a destination out of my childhood orbit was just a short walk away.

So what am I doing here? you must be wondering. I’m attempting to write a series of notes to special friends without repeating myself. As a result, for the past few days, I’ve been doing a major archaeological into my brain cells. What fun!

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