On Saturday, Walt Crawford, friend to many of us, foe to the absolutist, “library voice of the radical middle,” author, blogger, lover of stone fruit and old movies and the Lovin’ Spoonful, and probably the foremost expert on blogs by library people in the English-speaking world, announced that he had lost his job and that he might thus not be able to go to ALA this year or to continue Cites & Insights. In the course of chatting with a few people about this, Laura Harris said it would be really great if the LSW could somehow sponsor Walt to go to ALA, with any extra money going toward Cites & Insights. Meg Smith came up with a clever way of soliciting help on FriendFeed without Walt knowing about it. After Steve Lawson and Rochelle Hartman pointed out this morning’s post from Walt, though, we decided we’d better go ahead and tell him, and I’m very happy to say that he has accepted our sponsorship.
Since Saturday night, when we first announced this project, 26 people have so far donated $815. If you’d like to help out (I figure this will get Walt to Washington, D.C. and lodged for a bit, but he might want to get back to California at some point), you can send your contributions
- to me via PayPal (my account is newrambler at gmail dot com)
- to me by check (Laura Crossett, Send Walt to ALA Fund, PO Box 85, Meeteetse, WY 82433)
- directly to Walt via the PayPal button on Cites & Insights
I was a wee baby blogger five years ago, when I first heard the name Walt Crawford. Everyone in the library blogosphere was abuzz (we were not yet a-twitter; Twitter didn’t exist then) with the word that Walt Crawford was going to start blogging. I’d never heard of the guy at that point, but I went ahead and subscribed to this new blog, and to the RSS feed for this other project of his that people were always raving about, a monthly ejournal called Cites & Insights. I soon learned that Walt was smart and funny, that he had a great talent for reading and synthesizing information, and that he had little patience for grammatical gaffes. A few months later, I met him in person at the first ever OCLC Blog Salon at ALA in Chicago, and I learned that he was also personable and generous (Walt, you may not remember this, but you offered to share a cab with me, and you were deeply apologetic about not paying the whole fare, since you had to get off first).
What I really learned, though, was that Walt wasn’t cool because he had a blog (although it was cool that he had one). Walt was, and is, cool because he takes us seriously. He reads our blog posts and our FriendFeed conversations; he points out the flaws in our logic, and then he writes cogently and well about the ideas he sees emerging.
I don’t always agree with Walt, and he can be exasperating (although who among us is not, at some time or other? — I certainly am), but I admire and respect the work he has done. His one-time co-author, Michael Gorman, famously ranted about the “Blog People.” A lot of us ranted and raved about that, and proudly put up “Blog Person” badges on our sites, and added Gorman pictures to the lolbrarians group. Walt didn’t do any of those things. He read our blogs, and he thought about them, and he wrote about them — and he continues to do so.