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.