From the Director: Departing Thanks and Well Wishes

It's been about six weeks since my official retirement, and I've wanted to let a little time pass before sending a note to the staff of Minitex participating libraries. My wife and I also took an extended trip to Missouri to see family and attend a dog show.

It has been very rewarding to have been the Director of Minitex over the last 27 years, to be able to work with a GREAT STAFF, and to work with all of you in local libraries throughout the three-state region. There is no way we could have developed Minitex to its current status without your support and assistance. Minitex has been successful because of your support and willingness to collaborate, cooperate, and work together to share resources with one another to use Minitex services and attend conferences, workshops, and training sessions, and support Minitex and local libraries of all types.

I want to thank each of you who sent me a card or an email on my retirement – I appreciated your comments and compliments, and have read all of them a couple of times! I also want to thank the many of you who were able to attend my retirement celebration on January 10th. it was quite a surprise to see so many people, and I appreciate the comment from one attendee who observed that people from all types of libraries were there, and, in some cases, they were meeting each other for the first time in several years. A true Minitex gathering!

I especially want to thank the following individuals who have been crucial in working with me and with my staff to develop Minitex over the years: Wendy Lougee, Tom Shaughnessy, members of the Minitex Policy Advisory Council, the staff of the Minnesota Office of Higher Education and the University Libraries, Minnesota State Library Services, and regional and multi-type library directors. I could not have been a successful Minitex Director without your support.

I've been going through old Minitex files in preparation for turning them over to University Archives, and it has been a great stroll down memory lane to be looking through files from the 1980s. I don't know how many people are still around who remember that we incorporated as a Minnesota-North Dakota-South Dakota Regional Online System in 1982, which shows how early we were planning to share resources with the coming "new" automation developments. We began to stabilize funding for Minitex during the late 1980s and started licensing IAC tapes of indices and abstracts for the region with local loading of records in the University Libraries catalog, PALS, ODIN, and SDLN in the early 1990s. The rest of the 1990s was a plethora of library developments in Minnesota and the region that transferred into this century including ELM and the MnLINK Gateway.

I look forward to seeing you around library gatherings over the next several years, and I wish all of you the best in the years to come as you maintain and improve library services to meet the evolving challenges that are before all of us.

P.S. if you have read this far, I can't quite sign off without suggesting the following lecture for you to review and to share with your staff. This lecture was given in Minneapolis last Fall during the Medical Library Association meeting. I think Plutchak has an important point, and I have sometimes changed my memoranda by changing 'libraries' to 'librarians and staff' and revising the sentence. I think you should give this serious consideration in the coming years and be sure you are recognizing librarians, library staff, student workers – all of whom make 'libraries' work. It is true that a person can come into the library as 'place,' use resources, and find whatever they were looking for. However, often they do ask staff for assistance, and everyone should remember that materials don't arrive on shelves by themselves. Someone puts them there. And, ebooks through libraries are acquired and paid for by library staff who make the best use of library funding. AskMN is a good example where over 22,000 inquiries were made last fiscal year by people who wanted to ask a librarian for help.

To quote from Plutchak's Medical Library Association Lecture:

"Libraries," I thought, "are just buildings, or gatherings of objects, or an abstract diagram on an organization chart. Libraries don't do anything – people do." It is the librarians and their professional and paraprofessional colleagues who get things done. I started suggesting to authors that they change their phrasing, that they emphasize the importance of the people behind the actions. I started thinking about the roles that librarians have played throughout the centuries and that while libraries – be they buildings, collections, or organizations – have been the tools that we have used to deliver our service to society and culture, we have allowed them to overshadow the importance of the people who actually get things done.

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