Cold Goose

Posted On Apr 7 2008 by

I’m in Minnesota this week for CNI.  Though I proudly wear the “OCLC” label  now, I’m actually here representing LITA as part of my vice presidential stint.  OCLC is ably represented by my  friends and colleagues–Marilee Proffitt, Mindy  Pozenel, Constance Malpas, and Jim Michalko.

After a (finally) warm weekend in  Columbus, I arrived to a snowy  morning in Minneapolis. Someone told  me that you can tell it’s spring in  Minnesota when the smaller lakes  begin to thaw. It reminded me of an image that I encountered when I first got to  OCLC. Outside my window is one of the large ponds that dot the OCLC campus in Dublin. Slightly frozen,  I saw several members of Dublin’s rather robust goose population crossing the thin ice covering the pond.  Mind you, it wasn’t quite comical–it was actually done with as much grace as a  goose can muster in such an  exercise.  (I’ve actually encountered  a scared goose–a long story involving  college, alcohol, and the near  imprisonment of my college roommate–I was but an  innocent bystander).

Geese walking on a frozen pond
Image care of eniko at

It dawned  on me that these geese were not afraid because if the ice breaks, they can swim; and if the water is too cold, they can  fly.  Well, the metaphor for librarianship  is almost too easy here. I would  argue that sometimes fear of the cold water makes people forget  they can fly.

Back to CNI…in the opening plenary, Daniel Atkins, recipient of the  Paul Evan Peters Award, noted that  he viewed tenure as an obligation to take chances–an interesting, if not somewhat rare belief.   But he  also noticed (comically) that it took  20 years for the overhead projector to make it from the bowling alley  to the classroom.

What chances are libraries going  to take in the next five years?  Will it be migrating away from a telnet-based ILS module to a ten-year-old windows or web client?  Will it be using open source applications?  Is that  the thinnest ice on which we  are willing to venture?

I say take some chances. Don’t worry if the ice breaks–you can always  swim. Don’t worry if the  water’s cold–maybe you can fly.

Last Updated on: January 19th, 2024 at 12:22 am, by Andrew K. Pace

Written by Andrew K. Pace

One response to “Cold Goose

  1. Fun with typos. Thank you to my wife, Sharon, for asking, “What do you mean by ’20 yews for the overhead operator’?

    I actually hand-wrote this post with my tablet PC while pretending to take notes in a session at CNI (the tablet would take off if PC makers used this feature in their advertising…I can tell when you’re emailing and IMing on a laptop, but when you’re using a pen and writing, no one knows what you’re up to).

    Microsoft, try as it might, does occasionally do some funny things, like turn ‘year’ into ‘yews’…that’s a lot of trees to make an overhead ‘operator’ or ‘projector’.

    I won’t blame Microsoft…when I was writing for ALA, I had an editor. I have a great deal of respect for editors (my father was one, too). I took for granted how non-misspellings can still radically change the meaning of a sentence.

    I promise now to let it happen again.
    I mean…
    I promise not to let it happen again.