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System Director’s Report:

November 2005

Of the Season:

It’s all too easy to mislay the magic of the season these days. The swirling sands of foreign deserts scour away the tinsel and the glitter, and the cries of the hungry and the hopeless drown out the carols. Christmas itself becomes just another day for food and football, and little more.

But there is a way to reclaim the magic, so very simple that I am amazed we forget it from year to year. It comes in two parts.

First, we each have to reach out to those in need. Feeding just one person who is hungry, or bringing a smile to the face of just one child is a good start. You might think that this won’t change the world. I would argue that if enough of us join in, this is the only thing that actually will.

Second, you need to do this all the year round. Christmas isn’t a season, it is a state of mind. It can as easily be found in the breathless heat of high summer as it can on crystal snows beneath the silent stars.

There you have it, a simple recipe. If followed, you will find that Christmas was never lost at all, but is instead just where you left it, deep in your heart. And as you share it with others, so will it come for you, whenever you most need it, like softly sounding bells.

So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish:

December 2005 will be my 294th and final board meeting. Over the last few days I have written up several drafts of what will be my last formal report to you, and have discarded every one. Some were far too long, and others dealt with topics that I have covered before. None of them, however, addressed what is the hardest thing for me to admit – that after December 31st, the future of this wonderful library system will be in my hands no longer.

I could feel very downcast about this, and in some ways I am. Things are just getting really interesting. You have no idea how much I would have liked to stick around for another decade or so just to see how it all turns out. On the other hand, I am immensely pleased. You have an exceptionally visionary staff, and an equally visionary member library community. I have no doubt that together they will keep everything running smoothly, but I am even more confident that they will continue to explore the far horizons, and to develop the new services required to make our libraries even more relevant and necessary to the people that we serve.

And so that brings an end to my part of things. Now, by custom, I should probably say something trite and pleasant as I take my farewell bow. To heck with that. I’ll just close by quoting one of my favorite childhood heroes, the eminent and sinister Dr. Fu Manchu. “The world will hear from me again!”

All the best.