April 24, 2018

My Farewell Editorial

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 (mkelley@mediasourceinc.com), 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 ffialkoff@gmail.com.

Francine Fialkoff, Editor-in-Chief

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Francine Fialkoff About Francine Fialkoff

Francine Fialkoff (ffialkoff@gmail.com) spent 35 years with LJ, and 15 years at its helm as Editor and Editor-in-Chief. For more, see her Farewell Editorial.



  1. Will miss your voice at LJ, looking forward to seeing what you are up to next.

  2. This is good news for the Library Journal. Francine Failkoff purposefully buried or failed to report stories about protecting children from harm in public libraries that she did not want people to hear, and she personally attacked people such as Ernest Istook, author of the Children’s Internet Protection Act, and Dean Marney, library director who won state and federal Internet filtering cases. I have written a blog post proving this by republishing her own words, but I am waiting for the right time to publish it. Hopefully, the Library Journal will become a journal on libraries, not a propaganda piece for ALA acolytes.

  3. Francine,

    I’m so sorry to hear that you’ll be leaving LJ. I’ve always enjoyed working with you, but, like Jessamyn, I look forward to seeing what the future brings. Best wishes.

  4. So sorry to see you go! Whatever you do, you’ll rock it. Thanks for everything, Francine.

  5. Thank you Francine, for everything. It’s been an honor and a pleasure knowing you and I hope our paths continue to cross. Wishing you all the best!

  6. I break my “limited posts on LJ” rule to say how much I admire and respect you, and I truly hope we’ll see more and not less of you in whatever new ventures you are surely dreaming up.

  7. Best wishes, Francine! Thank you for all your hard work.

  8. Christine Hage says:

    LJ is losing a great editor. You’ve done a good job and will be missed. I hope your departure from LJ isn’t a departure from the profession.

  9. Donna Smith says:

    Best wishes from one of your Communications section book reviewers.

  10. Thanks for all the great work you’ve done in our behalf. This is a big loss for LJ though, I hope, not a loss for librarianship. Like everyone else, I’m eager to see what you do next.

  11. Cindy Orr says:

    Sorry to see you go, Francine, but I’m happy for you as well. I hope you find as much post-“retirement” happiness as I have. Best wishes.

  12. Francine, you have been a wonderful editor of LJ and we will miss you. I wish you the very best in whatever comes next, and I hope you’ll continue to reach out to those of us you’ve made “movers and shakers” if we can ever be of assistance in your future endeavors.

  13. Francine, you will never know how much your contribution to the Day of Dialog and BEA events for librarians has been appreciated. A heartfelt thank you from the Reader’s Advisory desk.

  14. This took me quite by surprise. I guess In my mind, LJ and Francine Fialkoff were pretty much synonymous. Over the years, you have done a great job “growing” LJ. What amazing contributions you have made! And I know that will only continue–in whatever venues you select next. I haven’t always agreed with every one of your positions, but I have always admired your conviction and competence. To take Connie’s comment one step further, I offer you a hearfelt thank you from the field.

  15. Hello, I remember your face from my short time at Library Journal, in the book review dept. Good luck!

  16. Karl Helicher says:

    Best wishes to a terrific LJ editor and chief and a one-time book review editor too!

  17. OMG. You said “yes” to my pitch to you those many years ago for me to write a “Digital Libraries” column, which debuted in November 1997. It has been an amazing ride every since. I so appreciate your support over the years, and wish you the best of luck with whatever you choose to do. Also, let me buy you a drink at the next ALA!

  18. Francine, I have always enjoyed your editorials and hearing your lovely growly voice in person. I look forward to your next chapter, whatever it might be.

  19. Beth Dempsey says:

    There’s only one Francine Fialkoff and I’m grateful that the library industry has been lucky enough to get you. A fearless friend and tireless advocate for the people and institutions that have driven libraries forward, you’ve built a legacy that makes us all look good. I will dearly miss your voice in LJ, Francine. Like everyone else, I’m eager to hear it again in new ways.

  20. Mary K. Chelton says:

    I’m sorry to see you go, after many laughs and collaborative activities. Thanks for all your help and hard work over the years.

    Mary K.

  21. Great editing, content, and editorial views Francine.. I applaud your tenure, and wish you the best in the next challenges along your path… –My best, DrWeb aka Michael

  22. Tony Greiner says:

    Francine, it has been a pleasure reading your words, and having you edit mine. Excelsior!

  23. Dan Gjelten says:

    Francine, I didn’t realize you were about to take this step the last time we visited. I do appreciate the great work you’ve done at LJ, especially the Design Institute, but with the magazine as well. Best wishes for your coming adventures.