September 2013 Editorial

Reimagining Success

Photograph of Mark Cummings

Like many people in publishing, I began my career with what I thought would be a temporary “break” from academic studies, but which in short order became a passion that today, over thirty years later, has yet to be extinguished.  During those early years it was my privilege to work with some of the finest scholars in my field, but the experience of watching their work come alive in the hands of skilled publishing professionals gave me an appreciation of how collaborative is the transfer of information and ideas—how the scholarly enterprise comprises an ecosystem of many and varied roles.

Writing in these pages in his first letter from the editor almost eighteen years ago, my predecessor, Irving Rockwood, made just such an observation, referring to the “remarkable and talented group of people” whose understated activities render such a vital service to the library and scholarly community.  And so in my own first letter as editor and publisher of Choice, it is my privilege before anything else to pay respects to the staff of the publication for their skill and professionalism and for the care they put into their work.  Homage is due.

Walking into a new position is a humbling experience, one that does not grow less so regardless of how many times one does it. I suppose it is inevitable at moments such as this to look for guidance in established practices, and in that respect I am fortunate to be surrounded by a staff of extraordinary tenure and by protocols that operate so smoothly as to belie the complexity of the work they produce. Not that the past few years have been times of complacency.  The recent launch of the third version of Choice Reviews Online, the publication of Resources for College Libraries, and the implementation of new back-office publishing systems (to name only a few of the initiatives of my predecessor) bear witness to the vitality of Choice in the face of profound changes in the way information is created and disseminated.

And yet....  And yet the pace of change in the information environment is accelerating so rapidly that I doubt that anyone reading this column can remember the last time he or she went to work confident of what their world would be like even twelve months hence.  The truth is, we are all navigating extraordinary waters, relying on our ingenuity and resourcefulness to create the future. These are exciting times, to be sure.

Choice occupies an important niche in the scholarly library ecosystem, but it is a niche challenged by developments in technology and information management that were unimaginable at the time of its founding fifty years ago.  We recognize this, and thus over the coming year the staff of Choice will be looking to you, our friends and subscribers, to help us understand how we can serve you best.  We will be relying on you for information and guidance in much the same way you rely on us.  So my beginning here at Choice is also an invitation, an invitation to join us in reimagining this wonderful publication as we enter our second half-century of service to the scholarly community.—MC