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Writers Against Racism: Thank you, Brian Kenney!

If you haven’t yet read Brian Kenney’s farewell editorial (Yes. He’s leaving SLJ.  *sniff*), please do so – NOW –> HERE IT IS, as he reflects on his six years as Editor-in-Chief of SLJ. In What I [HE] Learned Along the Way, Brian explains why he’s leaving but  he also captures the essence and the magnificence of School Library Journal.

“SLJ is fortunate. It’s led by a terrific editorial team. It’s supported by publishers and vendors who know, in helping librarians succeed, they’re part of an important endeavor. And, most significantly, it’s read by loyal subscribers who aren’t afraid to express their opinions about “their SLJ.” (What I [HE] Learned Along the Way by Brian Kenney)

It’s the people that make SLJ the success that it is but since he would never say it, I will, there’s only one Brian.  He’s the one navigator that leads alongside his troops, as he encourages boldness, creativity and risk taking.

“If we learn anything from the “65 percent solution” movement, it’s that research can’t wait. It involves all of us: the professor in the university, the librarian in the media center, our professional organizations, and SLJ. When it comes to research, it’s time to just do it.” (The need to measure our impact is more urgent than ever, Brian Kenney Editor-in-Chief — School Library Journal, 04/01/2006)

Brian is also that visionary who took blogging to new levels at SLJ.

“At the time, our website was nascent, with just one blogger, the trailblazing Amy Bowllan. None of our online traffic came from Facebook (adults didn’t use it yet) or Twitter (which wouldn’t exist for another year). Discussions had just begun on creating our first digital newsletter, “Extra Helping.” (What I [HE] Learned Along the Way by Brian Kenney)

When I started blogging for SLJ, Evan St. Lifer was the editor and right before his departure, having accepted a position with Scholastic, he hired me to start up the SLJ blog. Mostly because I pestered the heck out of him. Blogging was new to everyone which is why Brian’s enthusiasm to have more, more, more, made it what it is today.

In his 2005 inaugural editorial Brian writes:

“My job is to make sure that SLJ provides you with what you need to know about learning, books, and technology. Hardly separate topics, they’re interrelated in complex ways, both in the lives of our children and the lives of our libraries. By harnessing the power of each, library media specialists and public librarians can create new generations of lifelong learners who are proficient readers, critical thinkers, and expert dreamers.

Let the wild rumpus continue.” (Magazine on a Mission, A new editor-in-chief defines SLJ 9/1/2005…)

Now, here’s the part that may shock you…I’ve met Brian Kenney, okay, seen him -face2face- 2x, twice, dos – yet it doesn’t feel that way. As I write this post, I am saddened because this is a huge loss for us.  Having a boss like Brian, who is a visionary, a risk taker, a bold thinker, a compassionate human being – he’s also fair, funny, earnest, wise, smart and humble…I could go on. But you know, it’s rare to have all of those qualities in a leader.

Please understand, as a blogger, I am not at the corporate offices but Brian and his staff have ALWAYS made me feel like part of the SLJ family. When I was in the hospital this summer, they sent me a card with these adorable birds on the cover: “FROM YOUR FANS.”  Everyone signed it!

Brian, you are one of a kind and you will be missed.  Thank you, Brian Kenney!

Them are some BIG shoes to fill.