Many years ago (2007, to be exact), in a browser far, far away, a dedicated and creative public librarian named Josh Neff opened his society membership renewal notice and sighed as he looked at the dues he would owe. Librarians just don’t make a lot of money, and memberships are costly. Meanwhile, he and his buddy Steve Lawson, were joking on Twitter (because they were awake and near computers), and out of this joking came the tweet that changed the world. Josh tweeted that he and Steve were starting the Library Society of the World, a society that would never charge any dues and where people could join simply by saying they were members. Josh’s friend from library school, Iris Jastram, and several others heeded the call, pledged allegiance, selected association titles for themselves, and thus the LSW was born.
That same day, because this was the early 2000s, we started a wiki. One simply could not have a library organization and not have a wiki, after all. And of course we started coming up with our organization structure and policies. As you can see from our Policies page, this was a very serious effort involving much committee work and wordsmithing.
Within the first month or two we had opened up a Meebo Room where most of us spent most of our time. (For those of you who don’t remember Meebo, this was a free group chat platform.) Within the first year many of us had colonized FriendFeed, which ultimately became our main home. (For those of you who don’t remember FriendFeed, it was the social media platform that Facebook bought when Facebook wanted to start having comments and likes rather than just stand-alone status updates.)
We introduced ourselves to the library world at large during a raucous presentation at Computers In Libraries, 2008, where the Meebo Room chat was projected live during the session so that all of us could participate simply by typing into our browsers. Then in 2010 Josh and Steve were named Movers and Shakers for their work creating this society, and in response they (and we) developed the Shovers and Makers list, nominating ourselves and writing down what we appreciated about each other. (There was a blog for that, but it has since gone dark.)
Between then and the day FriendFeed shut down in April of 2015, life continued. People got married, had babies, changed jobs, experienced loss, got divorced, struggled, triumphed, and committed daily acts of superior librarianship. Several left the profession and/or the group. Others stayed in the profession but stopped being active participants. Still others joined us to bring their fresh voices and perspectives from all corners of the world and librarianship.
In April 2015, FriendFeed shut down and we began nearly a year of diaspora before finally making ourselves a home at Mokum, where we’ve been since February of 2016. We have lived in this peaceful place ever since, sharing ideas, asking each other for opinions and advice, and being together through the ebbs and flows of our careers and lives.
We’re a good society. You should join us. There are no application procedures and no dues. You don’t even have to be a librarian if you can put up with all the librarian-speak. Just say hi and you’re in.
This origin story was slightly revised from its original appearance on Pegasus Librarian.