After 35 years at LJ, and over 15 years at its helm (as editor and editor in chief), I will part ways with LJ as of September 1. You may still see me working on some LJ project or another—it’s hard to say good-bye completely.
The combination of the ever-accelerating changes in libraries over the course of the last several decades and the changes in both magazine and book publishing during that same time have made my role here exhilarating.
My dad used to say it took three months to learn a job and six months to be bored by it. I took his assessment to heart, but circumstance and timing proved otherwise for me. When I started here as an assistant editor on the Book Review (handling history, sports, social science, travel, and a few other subjects), I was newly married sans children. I can chart my daughters’ development along with my career, and in some senses LJ was my baby, too.
Because of you, because of libraries, I don’t just have a career—I have a career I am proud of. Libraries aren’t another consumable, built for obsolescence. They have a higher mission, one that inspires passion. One of my first publishers, Fred Ciporen, taught me that at LJ we could combine conscience and commerce. We could be successful, and at the same time we could be good and do good. We could be a conduit between librarians and the vendors in the library market.
One of our first missions, ongoing since the early 1990s, was to forge relationships between publishers and adult collection development librarians and to urge the American Booksellers Association Convention, now BookExpo America (BEA), to recognize librarians as book buyers, integral to the book world. That helped foster connections in adult services that were similar to those that existed on the children’s side, and it helped put more libraries on publishers’ radar. This work goes on today in LJ’s education and research role around ebook adoption, and it is manifest every year when LJ kicks off BEA with Day of Dialog, bringing publishers, authors, and distributors together with librarians.
LJ publisher the late Ron Shank, who had a passion for libraries, too, helped me pursue LJ’s own brand of advocacy. Together, we launched Movers & Shakers in 2002, identifying the future leaders of our libraries. The 550-plus Movers named to date continue to deliver on the great promise we saw in them.
We also launched a series of events, including the twice-yearly Design Institute (DI) and an annual Directors’ Summit. The former burgeoned into a supplement (mailed with this issue) and the makeover of several libraries, including one of my proudest accomplishments: a pro bono revival of the Alvar Street Library in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. We’ve since gotten out of the makeover business, but the DI and Directors’ Summit go on.
I’d like to thank Media Source for seeing the value in LJ and School Library Journal two years ago. Being a library company, Media Source understood the importance of the publications to librarians and libraries. Jobs were saved, and new opportunities emerged, such as Lead the Change, Patron Profiles, Book Verdict Release 1.0, and a variety of webcasts and virtual events.
There’s so much more to LJ than when I came here all those years ago. I’ve been privileged to be a part of it. Michael Kelley (firstname.lastname@example.org), who moved from news to executive editor when Rebecca Miller became SLJ editor in chief, will be interim editor in chief. Feel free to contact him or any of the editors with whom you already have relationships.
As I say my good-byes, I am aware of how lucky I have been to work at LJ with smart, creative people, including the current staff, some of whom have been here for years. I’ve been taught by one of the great librarians, my predecessor, John N. Berry III, who passionately transmitted the values of the profession and the ethics of advocacy journalism.
I’ve also been incredibly lucky to work with all of you. I’ve met the best and the brightest, whether they were “names” in the field or not. I’ve been overwhelmed by your willingness to share your expertise and insights. I couldn’t possibly begin to list the hundreds (thousands) of librarians who’ve kept me informed—and challenged.
I now turn to new challenges in the library world. You can reach me at email@example.com.
Francine Fialkoff, Editor-in-Chief