Posted by: Steven Harris | July 2, 2009

The long and winding road…

TLRA book I’ve been working on for a while is finally seeing the light of day. Kathy Johnson and I have been editors on this project for what seems like forever. The whole thing got rolling in 2002 (or more like 2001 with the initial planning) at the ALA conference with a program for ACRL and the Literatures in English Section. (Do I even remember WHERE that conference was? Well, it was Atlanta, I see from the ALA website.) We had a great panel talking about methods of doing library instruction for literary research. A recording of the program was made, which unfortunately didn’t turn out so well because all the speakers didn’t speak right into the microphone. I’m still quite proud of my introduction for that program though.

The panel included luminaries of literary bibliography like James Harner, James Bracken, Helene Williams, and William Wortman. Naturally, we thought afterwards that it would be nice to preserve the program in book form. We didn’t quite get all of the speakers to contribute to the volume. So we decided to put out a call for papers, including both literature faculty and librarians. That call generated a lot of submissions and kind of expanded our idea of what the book was about. Working with all the authors was a great experience thoughout.

Once we had submissions for the book, however, things began to slow down. In 2004 I changed jobs from being the English librarian at the University of Tennessee to being the head of collection development at Utah State University. That was a big move for me professionally and geographically. The book got delayed. I was finding it really hard to take on my new duties and work on outside projects. Then (in 2008)… I moved AGAIN! To be Director of Collections & Acquisitions Services at the University of New Mexico. More delay. Mostly my fault. It wrenches my heart to think that people may have been counting on this publication for their promotion and tenure!

The editorial folks at ACRL and for the series Publications in Librarianship were really great to work with as well. Thanks: Craig Gibson, Tony Schwartz, Kathryn Deiss, Dawn Mueller, and all the unnamed editorial reviews. We outlasted at least one series editor! But finally we got the rewrites done. The I’s dotted. The T’s crossed. And the book, according the ALA store, is available for purchase. I still haven’t received my copies to verify its existence. Maybe I should have held this blog post until that time. JINX!

Through all of this, I’ve experienced so much professionally that I don’t seem (to myself) like the same person at all as the English literature librarian who started this process. Ironically, due to some frozen positions and retirement at UNM, I’ve volunteered to take over the English librarian duties: the greatest job in librarianship! So now I get to be head of collections AND a literature librarian. What’s this going to do to my next book project? Oh well. That one is just me. No co-authors to annoy.

Thanks to everyone who contributed in some way. It’s been an educational process. The long and winding road is over!

PS: we’re on ACRL Flickr and Worldcat!

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