President’s Message

by Jon Jablonski

jonjabThis morning, Brian Quigley at UC Berkeley informed us of the passing of Sheila Dowd, one of WAML’s founding members. This afternoon, Tom Brittnacher and I are sitting down to compile this issue of the Information Bulletin, our second in digital format.

Brian included a link to our Wikipedia entry, which has developed nicely since Ken Rockwell and I sat down and created it at our 2013 meeting at Yosemite. The page (currently—you know it can change at any moment) tells the story of Sheila, Carlos Hagen, and Ed Thatcher calling the first meeting at Berkeley in 1966. The following year, Stan Stevens presented a draft constitution and was elected WAML’s first president.

I can’t help but wonder what Sheila would think of the organization today. Never having met her, I am unsure whether she was a glass-half-full (WAML serves an essential function for map librarians in the West and continues to offer vital information and programming to the community almost forty-nine years after its founding) or a glass-half-empty (the dominance of MAGIRT and WAML’s declining membership calls the need for its existence into question) kind of librarian. Sitting in the president’s seat, I have both thoughts on any given day. For example: we were late to set a date for our meeting this year (see below), but having it at Esri headquarters fulfills a long-running personal goal of mine.

Because I do not have a crystal ball, I cannot predict what the future holds for WAML. Neither do I really know what a map library is going to look like fifty years from now. But I trust that back in 1966 Sheila couldn’t predict what we would look like today. I’m confident that she and Carlos and Stan thought they had a good idea. And because WAML has been so important to my own professional life, I can vouch for that idea. I hope that any ideas I present to the group are half as good.

All three of our founders are gone, but Stan is alive and well in Santa Cruz. The Information Bulletin has taken on a new life online. Our libraries will continue their transition to the digital environment with or without us. I have to trust that everything else will take care of itself.

One last note:  I am thrilled that our September 23 through 25 meeting will be at Esri’s corporate headquarters in Redlands, California. Chris Thiry secured the venue and is putting together programming now. If you have an interesting project to share, an idea for future collaboration, or just want to send him a high five, make sure to get in touch with him at I’ll see you in Redlands.

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