Editorial July 2013

THE LAST LAUGH

Photograph of Francine Graf

In last month’s editorial Irv Rockwood, Choice editor and publisher since 1995, announced his retirement.  As I write this editorial, Irv is still wrapping up affairs in the office, but shortly he will depart to enjoy another chapter of his life.  Many of you know Irv from his editorials, in which he offered his insightful perspectives on publishing and industry issues but also poignant and entertaining pieces on his personal life.  But those of you who have not had the pleasure of meeting Irv in person do not know about Irv’s signature quality--his big, hearty laugh, an infectious laugh that fills a room and has buoyed staff through good times and bad.  The saying around Choice is “just follow the laughter and you’ll find Irv.”
 
The importance of Irv’s laughter cannot be overstated.  As they say, “laughter is the best medicine.”  Irv created a convivial, positive, supportive work atmosphere that greatly contributed to staff camaraderie.  A nicer person you will never meet.  In the darkest, most stressful times, Irv could be counted on to introduce much-needed laughter and perspective.  Despite daily chores and frustrations, Irv always made time to stop by offices or the staffroom and lighten the mood with his latest news and antics.  No doubt Irv had sleepless nights worrying about work issues, but he never transferred this angst onto his staff.  The goodwill he engendered was instrumental to his success.
 
He was an easy conversationalist and was often the life of the party.  Irv’s many stories of his boyhood days growing up on a farm are hilarious, and to this day we are all amazed that he didn’t land in jail, or worse, for the pranks he and his high-school and college pals participated in.  For example, on picture day in high school, when all dressed up for class photos, Irv agreed to be stuffed in a trash bin by his friends, which they all thought very entertaining until the principal caught him.  And if you ever meet Irv, you can ask him about the Choice Halloween party where he came dressed and coifed à la Howard Stern.  Irv was our Mel Brooks.
 
Amidst all this levity, Irv accomplished an extraordinary amount in his tenure.  His first big accomplishment when he arrived was transforming work routines by putting a computer on every desk and automating many functions.  He then proceeded to develop the first online version of Choice in 1999, followed by the second version in 2007; plans are underway to launch version 3 soon.  In 2006 Irv also revived the seminal collection development tool Books for College Libraries, with the impressive online Resources for College Libraries; oversaw the planning, construction, and purchase of Choice’s new office condominium; and most recently launched the and most recently launched the Choice E-Collection and just this spring, the Choice/ACRL Webinar program.
 
Our final farewells and last laughs will be bittersweet.  As Irv prepares to depart, we offer him sincere thanks for being such a great boss and for his outstanding leadership.  And Irv, no matter where you go or what you do, may you always have the last laugh.— Francine Graf