February 2014 Editorial

Moving into the Slow Lane

Photograph of Francine Graf

After more than thirty years at Choice, I have made the life-altering decision to retire in early 2014 and begin enjoying life in the slow lane.  By the time this farewell message is published, I will be making final arrangements to transfer duties and complete my review assignments, which by my estimation total about 19,000 reviews since I began my career at Choice.  It is difficult to know where to begin in saying goodbye to a place that has been such an important and meaningful part of my life.  As editorial director, I have had the unique privilege to serve the academic library and publishing communities and influence library collections worldwide.

Launched in 1964, Choice had established a stellar reputation as a review journal by the time I arrived in 1983.  The reverence in which it was held was cemented in my mind early on while attending an ALA conference: at a reception I introduced myself to an ALA councilor as an editor for Choice, and his response was “May I kiss your ring?”

My first position was science and technology editor, and in 1983 the publishing landscape was drastically different.  No e-mail, no voice mail, no Internet—no multitasking.  It is difficult now to imagine how we accomplished so much with so little technology.  It has been exhilarating as well as exhausting to be a participant in the evolution of this complex new digital world and to bring reviews and other information products online.

To publish nearly 600 reviews monthly in print and online formats, not to mention the accompanying feature articles and web exclusives, is dauntingly fast-paced and deadline driven.  All this is accomplished by a small, dedicated staff hovering around 24 FTE, a resourceful group of people who rise to any challenge.  The support of my colleagues has made working at Choice a genuine pleasure, and is largely responsible for my long stint here, much longer than the two to three years I originally envisioned when hired.

Appointed managing editor in 1994, beginning in 1997 I would spearhead the effort to expand coverage to include reviews of Internet resources (for the first Web issue in August 1997, I selected all resources from home using my dial-up America Online account because the office connection was so unstable); participate in developing three versions of Choice Reviews Online (in 1999, 2002, and 2013); and assist in creating Resources for College Libraries, which launched in 2006.  Looking back on the turmoil of launching online products, I am thankful to former Editor and Publisher Irv Rockwood, my boss for nearly twenty years, for challenging me with these projects, despite my occasional kicking and screaming.

But it is the people I will remember most fondly.  Dedicated colleagues, who work tirelessly to make Choice a great publication; talented reviewers from all over the United States, with whom I have developed long acquaintances; authors and publishers, who produce astonishing titles on every imaginable subject; and librarians working on the front lines, whom I have had the pleasure to meet and learn from at numerous conferences.

So I bid you all farewell, and wish Choice, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, many more years of success serving the academic community.  I’ll be watching—from the slow lane.--FG