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The original read/write internet - LM_Net

You Know You're a Librarian in 2005 when... 5. You know more librarians in Texas than you do in your home state because of LM_Net. 

Peter Milbury and Mike Eisenberg, the moderators par excellence of LM_Net for the past 15 years, announced this morning that they are passing the torch.

For those of you who don't know about LM_Net, it has been the mainstay mailing list for an estimated 100 million school librarians in 2 million countries, on a dozen other planets, and at least two identified alternative universes. It produces in excess of a billion e-mail messages each day - 10 billion on "recipe day." (These number are rough estimates.)


I was an early subscriber and participant on LM_Net - back in 1992 when I first joined. I am not sure if I was among The Hallowed First One Hundred or not, but I was in there pretty early. And this was 1200 baud modem dial-up, line interface, pre-www, uphill-both-directions-in-the-snow Internet days. Not soft and easy like you young'uns have it today with your blogs and wikis and RSS feeds. And the computer screen was hard to read by candlelight too.

Anyway, I owe LM_Net big time. Here's why...

It was my second year as library media supervisor here in the Mankato Schools and I came home very, very angry and frustrated one night. I was getting lots of push-back from the librarians I had inherited with in the job. I was determined to make them tech integration specialists and they seemed determined to remain print-only librarians. I turned on my computer, opened my e-mail, and just let rip about the reactionary, troglodytic, myopic, etc. nature of librarians, especially school librarians, concluding that they had better damn well wake-up and smell the coffee or they would all be replaced with techs and not to let the door hit them on the butt on the way out. I knew as I was writing it that I had better sleep on the matter, re-write the message, and THEN send it to my friends on LM_Net.

What I had forgotten was that I had a new e-mail client (Eudora) that automatically sent my queued mail as soon as the program was opened. The fiery diatribe was sent out, and as we all well know, an e-mail once sent can never be taken back.

Let me put it this way, I got a little reaction from the message. I knew librarians had good vocabularies, but even I learned some new words from the responses to that LM_Net message. I believe other LM_Netters opened my e-mails from then on simply wondering what idiotic thing I might say next.

I kept contributing to LM_Net and eventually some of my postings became columns and columns became articles and articles became books which led to speaking engagements etc. (The column version of that nasty e-mail became The Sound of the Other Shoe Dropping, I think.) In LM_Net I found my voice, and more importantly, like-minded colleagues who offered encouragement and support.

I spent a few minutes earlier today looking over some names from the earliest LM_Net archives still available (March 1994).  Forgive me in advance to all those I've left out.

  • Betty Dawn Hamilton
  • Mary Alice Anderson
  • Carol Simpson
  • Michele Missner
  • Frances Jacobson
  • Ken Haycock
  • Floyd Pentlin
  • Paula Gallard
  • Eugene Hainer
  • Marg Stimson
  • Esther Sinofsky
  • Gail M. Szeliga 
  • Ann Symons
  • Diane Durbin
  • Debbie Abilock
  • Guusje Zimmerman Moore

Quite a line up and I'm guessing some of these folks are still alive and some even have many of their marbles yet today. Amazing!

I also have to LM_Net to thank for introducing me to lots of really, really smart and interesting people, both virtually and in person, including Joyce Valenza. At the 1997 AASL Conference in Portland, Joyce and I were both invited to participate in "Late Night with LM_Net with Your Host, Mike Eisenberg." I told lame Ole and Lena jokes, but Joyce was the hit of the evening, doing impressions of single-cell organisms. And Mike kept all of us LM_Netters in line.

Mike and Peter have kept us all in line on LM_Net very well over the past 15 years. It's been a civilized, useful, supportive resource that has been the best professional development of my career.  A remarkable accomplishment since managing librarians is, as the saying goes, like herding cats. Unlike science teachers or kindergarten teachers, school librarians are usually the sole practitioner of their craft in their buildings. The virtual community built by LM_Net (a professional learning community before they were so named) was a lifeline and sanity-keeper for lots of us.

Hats off to you, Peter and Mike. You're a credit to your profession. 




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Reader Comments (14)

Although I have posted my thanks to LM_NET publicly, I wanted to share just two of the ways LM_NET has helped this DownUnder colleague.

Firstly, through the list I "met" fabulous people like Doug J and there have been occasions when I've written to him personally for advice. This has been most generously given and when I quote the source of my information, suddenly my perspective is given an integrity never before possible.

Through the list I also met Jo Dervan and we set up the first Australian-US teddy exchange that I know of, and all of SPangles adventures were shared online. Spangles had a hug eeffect on the kindergarten students I was working with (they still talk about him seven years on) and my daughter remembers Spangles getting us behind the scenes at so many places as we toured Victoria that Christmas. So many people were fascinated by the idea of an email exhcnage between international schools that the whole teacher-librarian profession got huge publicity.

I could go on but ...

So thank you Doug for your words and offering another opportunity to show Peter and Mike how they have touched the lives of so many.

Canberra, Australia

November 1, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterBarbara Braxton

I still have that shirt from "Late Night with LM_Net" in Portland! Thanks to Mike and Peter for facilitating the many conversations and guidance we have all gleaned from LM_Net for the past 15 years!

November 1, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterRob Darrow

Hi Barbara,

So nice to hear from you!

LM_Net really was the first "world-is-flat" sort of experience I'd had as well. I always appreciated the Ozzie voice, especially since you all seem to be pioneers in distance ed.

I just like thinking there are people all over the world who care about kids and libraries and books and such. A-MA-ZING!



November 1, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Johnson

I too want to send my thanks to Mike and Peter for their vision to establish such a valuable community of school library practitioners. I quickly learned that education really does not have borders. I was able to sit at my computer in Barrie, Ontario Cananda and learn from talented and knowledgeable teacher-librarians (media library specialists) around the world. For a number of weeks I was a lurker, while I understood the protocols of participating within a listserve. My first target was to make a request for online resources for primary students on the topic of farming as they prepared for a visit to the International Plowing Match in Ivy, Ontario Canada. My searches on the internet-- using Alta Vista years ago, led me to many university web sites on farming and agriculture. But, LM_NETTERs came to my rescue. The Moo milk site is still up and mooing. From there I have been able to research many more topics by being a passive viewer. The topics range through the grades to the technical decisions of selecting a new library automation system. I am able to be on the cutting edge of knowledge of challenged material and plagiarism strategies across the grades. We have also shared some emotional times together such as 9-11, fires in Australia, floods, tornadoes, school shootings, sick children, union issues as our jobs have been eliminated. The support felt through the messages has been encouraging and reasuring. We have cried together and laughed together as well.
I currently moderate three local listserves for the teacher-librarians in our board. Of course I knew where to get the basis of the design of the protocols for our listserves -- LM_NET of course. Mike and Peter, you are courageous leaders in the best profession there is. May your new paths lead us to new endeavours.
Warm regards,

November 1, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterPat Elliott

I'm still here and still a librarian (16 years in the same library) - I don't post much on LM_NET anymore - I've moved on to blogging and have started an internet book business in my spare (?) time. I still subscribe and read LM_NET every day and couldn't do my job without it.

I do miss Betty Dawn Hamilton!
Thanks for a great trip down memory lane

November 1, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterGuusje

Hafa Adai from the Island of Guam. I have truly appreciated Mike and Pete as you moderated LM_NET . Coming from a University background the folks on the listserve have been my lifesaver more than once. Here in Guam we are so far away from everyone. When I needed advice they were there with only a few key strokes. I appreciate your sacrific of time and knowledge and look forward to the new chapter the list serve with give to each one of us!

November 1, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterBob Shuck

As a proverbial lurker, and one who rarely posts to the whole group unless I am asking a desperate question, I thank YOU Doug for your insightful posts and sharing your great ideas. I wish I had been around to read the original "nasty" email!

November 2, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterEllen Taylor

Hello. When I turned sixty, I decided that 30+ years in Indiana libraries was sufficient and the first job opportunity I saw on LM_NET was in Caracas, Venezuela. I got it, by Skype and camera. The VE government, knowing how dangerous school librarians are (???) declined to approve my VISA. But I had a fabulous time at that job and in that school for a couple of months. Before we had to leave the country, I found a job in Pensacola, FL---on LM_NET, of course!! I enjoyed a semester there before the gypsy in me took us to Georgia. Now I'm waiting for the wonderful creation that is LM_NET to head me to a new job!!
Thanks to Mike and Peter and ALL of you on LM_NET for making the job easier and more of an adventure!

November 2, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterDianne Murray

I posted my thanks on my own blog! Thanks to you too Doug for your library leadership and contribution to the professional learning community of lm_net.

November 2, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterKim

Great blog, Doug! Thanks for a glimpse into the past of LM_NET. I can say without hesitation it has been an absolute lifesaver as I navigate these new waters. I have a couple of lists on which I'm one of the "originals" (Welsh Terriers and working moms) and there is such a sense of family and community, regardless of where we physically lay our heads each night.

As an aside, several of your articles have been assigned in my grad class this semester, Doug. Thanks for the info you provide -- at all levels.


November 2, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterPaula Joseph-Johnson

Peter Mibury most graciously has given me permission to post this more accurate account of LM_Net's growth over the years. I guess I overestimated little... Doug

Dear LM_NET Colleagues,

Thank you all so very much for your wonderful comments and messages of
appreciation that you have shared for Mike and myself. We are very, very
moved and deeply touched by your words, memories and expressions for us.

Some members have asked about the growth on LM_NET, so I am sharing an
edited version of the weekly report that I have been sendingto Mike and
myself each Monday morning since we began back LM_NET in June of 1992.

The comments accompanying each week's figures somehow connected to our
growth, issues we were dealing with at the time, or simply the world or
local or personal events affecting our lives. I hope you enjoy this set of

Peter Milbury, LM_NET Moderator Emeritus

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 2 Nov 2007 10:14:36 -0400 (EDT)

6-15-92 61 Getting started
1-11-93 424 Picked up 16 in two weeks. 500 here we come!
6-44-93 934 Grew by 53, our biggest week, thanks to the Nebraskans
1-10-94 1,285 The "Big Mo" is back!
6-13-94 1,882 Movin' on up again....
1-16-95 3,322 135 more LM_NET community members
6-12-95 4,065 Baseball must be catching on again!
1-15-96 5,283 Happy Birthday Dr. King!
6-17-96 5,874 A new high!
1-13-97 6,754 Heading towards 7,000
6-16-97 7,610 Summer plateau
1-5-98 8,554 Get ready for the climb to 9,000!
6-15-98 9,170 NECC LM_NET in San Diego
1-11-99 10,204
6-14-99 10,846
1-10-2000 11,832
6-12-2000 12,367
1-1-2001 13,416 Welcome to the real new millenium! :-)
6-4-2001 13,725 They like us again!
1-14-2002 14,346
6-3-2002 14,505 Hotmail problems lost us a lot
1-13-2003 15,013
6-9-2003 15,375
1-12-2004 15,897 Upward toward 16K!
4-5-2004 16,197 LM_NET Wins Choice Award: Best Educational List
6-14-04 16,130 at NECC New Orleans
1-10-2005 17,086 Onward and upward again!
6-6-2005 17,268 and 13 years this week!
10-3-2005 11,768 Seems to be a "probing" plateau
1-16-2006 11,621 We shall overcome....
6-5-2006 11,438
1-9-2007 11,412
6-11-2007 11,560 VPN Troubles
10-29-2007 11,311 Welcome to our new LM_NET Moderators!

Peter Milbury, LM_NET Moderator Emeritus pmilbury at
Library Media Teacher/CA TeleMentor, Chico, CA

November 2, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Johnson

What wonderful memories these posts and names have brought back! Hello, All! I am still here and still online, although I retired in 1998.

Thanks, Doug, for the heads up on Peter and Mike's passing of the torch. I had not heard that. Thank you Peter and Mike, and thank you Doug for providing this blog. Guusje, thanks for mentioning me -- I've missed all of you, too.

Another online friend, Gus Garcia, saw an e-mail I had sent to my brother and one of his colleagues. He asked how our mutual online acquaintance knew Betty Hamilt -- I'm still bhamilt but it's at, now.

Good luck and best wishes, all.
Betty Dawn Hamilton

November 12, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterBetty Dawn Hamilton

Hi Betty Dawn,

It is wonderful to hear from you! I am going to let LM_Net that they can read your post and you might be hearing from some folks.

Is retirement treating you well? I get down to Texas now and then. Always a pleasure.

Thanks again so much for taking the time to write,


Betty's response:

Hi, Doug,

Yes, retirement has been great! Our home base is still Brownfield, TX, that
same spot on that ASCII map that I made back in DOS days, but we travel much
in our motorhome. We try to go south when it's cold and north when it's hot
here. We still have our home in Brownfield.

We have a satellite dish that we take with us and set up on tripod wherever
we are, so we are able to get on the internet no matter where we are. It's
wonderful for keeping in touch with friends and family.

Thanks for your links. I've found several sites through your blog that I
shall bookmark and visit in order to keep up with education.

Thanks for the response. I will be delighted to hear from anyone out there
who remembers me! What a compliment!


November 12, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Johnson

LM_NET keeps me sane. When I came to this job eleven years ago, one of my uppermost concerns was the well-known isolation of the Teacher/ Librarian. It was the library director within my first hour on the job who said, put your coat here, this is your class schedule, this is your office, computer and let me show you how to sign up for LM_Net. Reading these posts does remind me how grateful I am that I have access to the wider community. I am most reminded in times of crisis. Words cannot express the gratitude I have for the posted and personal messages, I received on and after 9/11. When I am having a bad day or having just have received a rude, ignorant e-mail from a classroom teacher, I know that my kindred spirits are out there. I am not alone. Thank you Peter, Thank you members of LM-Net.

November 15, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterlisa von drasek

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