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These days, I'm the director of the American Library Association' s Office for Intellectual Freedom. I'm also executive director and secretary of the Freedom to Read Foundation. See "About Me" for contact information.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Mentors and administrative practica

While in Chicago, I also had the chance to lift a couple of glasses with Dr. Fred Schlipf, one of my library school professors. Dr. Schlipf, I am proud to say, was one of my mentors. I have many memories of him, but here are the two key ones.

I signed up for an administrative practicum with him. During that time, I had the opportunity to tour the various departments, watch him do some legislative lobbying, and eventually, offer some insights about what needed to be improved within his institution. Then, Fred had me work up a proposal, and start working to change things. More than anything from library school, this told me how change happened: observation, conversation, progress toward a goal of improvement through various meetings. But the key memory was this: on my first day, I showed up only to be told that the director was in the basement, the children's room. There had been a big rain the night before. I walked down the stairs, and there he was, shoes off, pants rolled up, mop in one hand, bucket in the other, and water up to his knees. "Welcome to the administrative life!" he said.

The second one was a class I took from him about genre fiction. I wound up writing, for my final, a Nurse-Romance-Gothic-Science Fiction-Western-Mystery. I hope I will not appear immodest when I declare that it was brilliant. History, I am confident, will confirm me. At any rate, I got an "A."

Dr. Schlipf: a man of rare judgment.

I also learned during this trip that he was a product of the University of Chicago. That explains a lot. A good many smart, thoughtful, quirky people emerge from that school. I could have gone there....

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