From the President: ALCTS and the Machine Age

In this last column as ALCTS President, I’m coming to you from my Art Deco living room. It features a variety of sleek, streamlined cabinets that I have filled with vintage glassware, pottery, and books. One is topped off with a Stromberg Carlson radio from the late 1920s. It works, although it takes a few minutes for the tubes to warm up. Other surfaces are an excuse for me to indulge in my fondness for table lamps. After dark, especially in the winter, I love to turn them all on and enjoy their glow. Now, the upholstered furniture is not vintage, but it blends well with the room. One chair is often occupied by our English Foxhound Baxter. We adopted him from our local Humane Society. He was probably a hunting dog abandoned by his owners at the end of the season. This cruel practice happens a lot in my part of Virginia. I’m happy to report that Baxter has taken well to his new life of creature comforts!

This room’s walls are adorned with framed magazine covers like this one from The Dance. The artwork was done by Erté, the Russian-born French artist and designer best known for his costume design for theater and ballet. I especially love the greyhound on the cover (no offense, Baxter). During the holidays, I’ll switch it out for this Erté cover from the December 1931 issue of Harper’s Bazaar. (Mine is in better shape than the one in this photo.) And then there’s a mysterious, original watercolor that’s a dead ringer for this October 1924 cover of Vanity Fair. Was it done by a skilled subscriber who simply copied it? Or do I have a piece by William Bolin, the artist who painted the original? I suspect the former but hope for the latter. In any case, this piece is the one I always think about when I watch The Antiques Roadshow.

Okay, so I like vintage stuff. Readers of these columns know that already. What do Art Deco magazine covers possibly have to do with ALCTS? Well, we’ve had some significant changes to our Association’s serial publications this year and those changes are a response to the electronic world in which we find ourselves. I think of that world as our own machine age, the age that so inspired Art Deco style.

This year, the ALCTS News has become a fluid, digital news source constantly refreshed and updated. Outgoing Editor Alice Pearman has shown patience and good humor with its complicated and slow-moving website development process, tenacity to keep at it, and bravery in releasing a not-quite-perfect product. Her creativity and all around cheerfulness and forward thinking attitude has resulted in breaking new ground in the reporting of ALCTS events. Alice has over three years built long-standing relationships with the membership and groups that will benefit future editors in the years to come. She has survived the long history of managing loads of ALCTS content and reports after ALA Annual and Midwinter. Alice has infused the News with new ideas, a fresh look, and a great foundation upon which the News can thrive. It was my great pleasure to award her an ALCTS Presidential Citation for this work at ALA Annual in Las Vegas.

Also this year, the ALCTS Board voted to move our flagship journal, Library Resources and Technical Services, to an e-only publication model. This decision was not undertaken lightly. Instead, it was the result of extensive study under an ALA Emerging Leaders report and significant consideration by multiple ALCTS Committees. The change to an e-only model will be effective in January 2015. We thank Editor Mary Beth Weber for her leadership in this transition.

Changes in the LRTS publication model also led the Board to consider Open Access issues. That consideration began during Carolynne Myall’s presidency. The topic proved to be intricate enough that it continued into mine. I’m delighted to report that the Board approved a statement on Open Access in early June; you can access the statement in the ALCTS News.

We owe a debt of gratitude to Carolynne for starting our Association on the road to this statement.

Don’t Try This at Home

On a final personal note, serving as ALCTS President while becoming a first-time library director is not something I would generally recommend. I am infinitely indebted to my Executive Committee (Past President Carolynne Myall, President-Elect Mary Page, and Councilor Brian Schottlaender) and the ALCTS Board for your wonderful support and good humor during this two-big-jobs-a -once period. All of us are further beholden to our exceptional ALCTS staff members, Christine McConnell and Julie Reese. Each and every day, Christine and Julie dance backward in high heels and make the whole production look effortless. And then there’s Charles. Our Executive Director has the audacity to retire in February 2015 and the dedication to plan for it since 2012 or so. None of us can really imagine ALCTS without you, and we treasure your efforts to help us plan for it anyway. Thank you for the privilege of writing my last President’s column on your watch.

With my warm regards to our entire membership,

Genevieve S. Owens
ALCTS President 2013–2014