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 - firstname.lastname@example.org 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.