Abram on Change

I’ve been writing about change a lot lately – and while at CIL this year I was informed of an article by Stephen Abram titled “Change – Arrghhhhh!.” I shared the article on my Facebook page and was promptly pointed to a post that links to all of the people who weren’t happy with Stephen’s article.

Sometimes people just see the worst in things – I recently read Out Front with Stephen Abram (a collection of articles and presentations by Stephen). After that I can’t see this article as a company ploy as some think – it’s just Stephen (he has many similar articles out there – and he has always been up front – and sometimes blunt – which I love)!! I was happy to find that Helene Blowers (another person I respect) was also impressed with what Stephen had written.

I’m even more impressed with Stephen’s response to the negative people out there:

We all have our personal definition of what comprises professionalism. I sometimes fail. I’m not perfect – far from it. If I have offended anyone with this article, then I apologize. My intent was to share a personal experience in a difficult time. But then, that’s just me.

Either way, I will continue to carry myself the same way in all my roles.

I’m not in a library that uses Sirsi – but I’m all for a company that will let its employees express themselves on the front page of the company newsletter. I’m used to being in a library with an ILS vendor who does everything to prevent putting on a human face – or allowing human interaction! And as someone who respects Stephen, I don’t think this was any more than he said it was – an intent to share his feelings.


  1. Abram is technically a SirsiDynix employee, but in the custom-built (made-up) position of “Vice President for Innovation”, he is surely given wider freedoms than say, Russian contract coder guy #24. He is, as you take him to be, the warm fuzzy face of the world largest library automator. Even if that warm fuzzy face looks increasingly like Skeletor.

    I don’t understand the degree of respect accorded his “Arrrghhhhh!” post, in particular. While reading it, I seriously had to consider whether Abram was blogging drunk. I hold out hope that this is not what has endeared the man to you and other readers.

    Amongst those familiar with the actual operation of his company’s several ILSs, I suspect you will find pervasively negative reactions to Abram’s writing. My reaction: “What is so innovative in ranting about change when the OPAC you sold us STILL doesn’t serve DOCTYPE, let lone validate as HTML??” That kind of thing. Abram’s expression of feelings or subsequent apologies are not particularly interesting to me, since we have through our employers, a financial relationship currently characterized by great costs and chronic failure.

    There is too much underneath Abram’s topic of “change” that goes unsaid. The recent exodus of top SD management was disorganized and surprising. He mentions the SuperConference in Colorodo, but he glosses over that his CEO was supposed to keynote, instead of resign 2 days prior. All the new product info presented was promptly invalidated 2 weeks later when Rome was announced. So in the end, their largest block of clients took a week away from work and paid thousands of dollars, to hear product information the presenters likely already knew was wrong. With no top management (new or old) around. Why do I need to read about the 5 Stages of Grief again? From him?

    The biggest changes in the past year (if you take Marshall Breeding’s word for it) are equity capital acquisition of SirsiDynix (and Ex Libris), and open source software making dramatic inroads. I’d be happy to see anything enlightening from Abram on either topic.

  2. Nicole, thanks. I had seen the article, but not read it. I think that there is something in it for everyone to pay attention to.

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