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15 Years and Counting

August 30, 2010

Today marks a significant double milestone for me. On August 30, 1995 (15 years ago to the day) I began my professional career as a librarian. On that same day I also took my first steps on the Erskine campus as an employed library staff member and faculty member. What an incredible experience it has been.

Source: flickr

I vividly remember the excitement, enthusiasm, anxiety, and cluelessness that I felt as a greenhorn to the profession and the job. Over the years I have leaned on the training that I received from so many great instructors in library school and have learned even more through trial and error, flying by the seat of my pants.

I look back over the past decade and a half, and I see a lot of personal and professional growth. I look ahead and see room for even more. Today I would highlight 5 general concepts about librarianship that I have absorbed over the course of the last 15 years. They are (in no particular order):

  1. Change is inevitable. Tradition is informative. Adaptation is invaluable.
  2. Connecting with the library user is just as important as assisting the library user.
  3. It’s not about the tools/toys; it’s about what can be done with them.
  4. Seeing things from the vantage point of the user can be constructive and inspirational.
  5. Libraries and the library profession are much more than the average public perception.

Rather than provide commentary on these points, I have decided to simply list them and allow you, the reader, to reflect. Feel free to comment. I’ll be glad to respond.

And now for some fun…

Being the history and technology buff that I am, I thought I would compile a few historical facts to help put into perspective how far things have come since 1995.

In 1995…


Internet Explorer debuted (the now famous “blue e” logo was still a year away)

Early IE logo

Netscape (anybody remember that web browser?) was only a year old (free only for academic and non-profit organizations; for all others, it would set you back $49)

Microsoft Bob

Microsoft’s Windows95 operating system was released as was the short-lived Microsoft Bob

Web search engine AltaVista launched

The World Wide Web was only 5 years young (and the commercialization of the Web — the “dot-com bubble” — was just beginning to happen)

Facebook, Flickr, Google, iTunes, MySpace, Wikipedia, and YouTube did not exist

Larry Page and Sergey Brin, co-founders of Google, were meeting for the first time at Stanford University

Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder of Facebook, was 9 years old (and the launch of Facebook was still 9 years away)

The first wiki, WikiWikiWeb, appeared

DVDs, Java, and USB technology hit the scene for the first time

“Social Networking” meant attending a party

If you typed with your thumbs, you were kind of…weird

Text messaging (SMS) was a fledgling activity (on average, only 0.4 messages per customer per month in 1995)

The Bulletin Board System, or BBS, was at the peak of its popularity (Our library had one.) What’s a BBS, you say? Watch this.

Nobody was asking, “Do you provide Wi-Fi access?”

Pagers were more popular than cell phones

Motorola pager

Amazon.com website launched (company founded in 1994)

eBay debuted (known then as AuctionWeb — The name “eBay” didn’t arrive until 1997)

Craig Newmark began craiglist

Apple introduced its first color laser printer, the Color Laser Printer 12/600PS (Cost? $7,000)

Toshiba Satellite ProT2155CDS Laptop (1st Toshiba with an internal CD-ROM drive) hits the market (Cost? $2,499) Check out this vintage print ad from 1995 (Source: Vintage Paper Ads):

CNN joined the internet, debuting CNN.com

The History Channel debuted

Sony PlayStation was released in the US (Cost? $299)

Popular movies hitting the big screen: Die Hard with a Vengeance, Toy Story, Apollo 13, Batman Forever, and Braveheart

TV show Friends was only one season old

Jerry Garcia died and the Grateful Dead disbanded

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame opened in Cleveland, OH

Top song on the Billboard charts on August 30, 1995: “You Are Not Alone” by Michael Jackson

O.J. Simpson trial took place with O.J. found not guilty in murder of Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman

O.J. Simpson 1994 mug shot

Shannon Faulkner became the 1st female admitted to The Citadel

Cost of first-class postage stamp: $0.32

Average gas price: $1.15/gallon

[Except where noted, all images in the 1995 timeline come from Wikipedia or Wikimedia Commons.]


Yes, a lot has changed since 1995. Here’s to the next 15 years of librarianship and watching taking part in the change that will continue to reveal itself.


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