One of most appealing aspects of the library automation industry is the interesting people involved. From those who lead the companies to those who work behind the scenes developing new technologies, I've been fortunate to rub elbows with many of the cast of characters who have shaped the library automation landscape. I recall so many conversations where I have verbally sparred with individuals over technology, strategy, or business, learning a great deal in the process.
We work within a relatively small field comprising a finite number of companies serving the library community. Individuals frequently move from one company to another. It's not unusual for someone working in libraries to go to work for a vendor, or vice versa. I think that experience on both sides of that fence provides valuable perspective. Organizations that create products for libraries certainly benefit from having some in their ranks who have actually used their wares. Those that come to work for libraries from a vendor often bring along a sense of accountability and a knack for dealing with complex organizations.
The reality of the musical chairs that so often happens among individuals, the companies, and the libraries they serve translates into a more collegial environment. While there are exceptions, the competition among companies generally keeps to a relatively friendly tone. It does not pay to make enemies in a small industry where everyone knows everyone else and where you might end up working for your rival next year.
This issue of Smart Libraries Newsletter covers news about several people in the business, including the appointment of Skip Prichard as the new President of OCLC. I expect interesting changes in this critical organization as it comes under new leadership. We also mention some of the cross pollination of personnel as executives jump from one company to another. Finally, we also note the passing of another of the pioneers of the industry, Brower Roberts. I recall meeting him briefly in the ALA exhibit hall only once and many years ago.
As I write about the library automation industry, I'm always interested to learn as much as I can about the people behind the story. It's fascinating to trace the family trees of the companies and the background of the people involved. I hope that readers appreciate as I do knowing a bit more about the people and personalities.