Sunday, June 05, 2005

Stickin' in Michigan

I had a chance to speak at the Michigan Library Consortium's annual OCLC Users Day event last week. Having been Michigan's state librarian for several years in the 1990s, it was a pleasure to see what has evolved there.

Randy Dykhuis, MLC's executive director, has been a dynamic force in library cooperation in the state for about a decade now (although he probably wouldn't want to be reminded how long he's been there!) Michigan's governance is very decentralized; for example, there's no central board of regents for the state's public colleges and universities, and state aid to public libraries is minimal. According to the Library of Michigan, there are 383 public library jurisdictions in the state.

Randy's success can be summed up by one word: persistence. Over the years, he's kept focused on providing the services that library users really need their libraries to provide. He has used that focus to avoid side issues, for the most part, and find common ground on which the disparate factions can stand.

If you are frustrated by your state's lack of progress in this area, take a look at the link above, and see that none of these initiatives happened overnight. It reminds me of the title of James Carville's book, Stickin'. Randy has shown an impressive ability to be loyal to the libraries of Michigan, even when that loyalty was not always unanimously returned. (He, Marianne Hartzell [then the director of Michigan Library Association, now a consultant specializing in library placement], and I remember well one particularly unpleasant meeting in my office at the Library when several public librarians expressed their extreme displeasure with us for the way we'd put AccessMichigan together without their blessing.)

As a fallen away Michigander, I salute your efforts, Randy, and wish you and the rest of the state every success in pushing library cooperation to its highest level!

1 comment:

Randy said...

Wow, George, can you see me blushing?? You're much too generous. Without you, Marianne, Christie Brandau, Nancy Roberston and too many others to mention, none of the good things would have happened.

It's been a great 10 year ride and a real blast working on increasing the cooperation among Michigan's libraries. When the long financial drought is finally over, it should get even better!