I’m not nostalgic for a time that I never knew. Neither do I lament that some mystical, flowing-with-milk-and-honey, golden age is behind me. Nor am I given over to longing for a profession that used to be a lot easier, a lot less demanding of its practitioners, and a lot more generous for having been a lot more flushed with cash.
Well, not at all most of the time anyway. In particular, no more do I wallow for being a librarian-in-training than I would were I in the publishing business or higher education. For, as Thompson writes in Books in the Digital Age (pp. 98 & 181)
. . . the history of higher education since the Second World War can be roughly divided into two periods. The first period, from 1945 to around 1975, was a period of growth and expansion — this was the Golden Age of American higher education . . . The massive expansion of higher education was accompanied by increased investment in university libraries — both in the building of new libraries and in the provision of increased resources for existing libraries. As budgets for new acquisitions grew, the demand for books, periodicals and content in other forms (such as microfilm) increased, and academic publishers in the English-speaking world found themselves riding a wave of increasing demand for scholarly content.
The Golden Age came to an end around 1975 . . . [T]he growth in demand began to fall off, as the economic boom of the 1960s gave way to more turbulent economic conditions and as government priorities began to change . . . Library budgets . . . were vulnerable . . . [A]s the economic conditions which underpinned [the system of expanded higher education, large library budgets, and unambiguously profitable publishing] deteriorate, the principal beneficiaries can no longer take it for granted . . . (Thompson pp. 181 & 190.)
The times may have changed, but the contribution nostalgia makes to productivity hasn’t. Plus, with so many other unproductive things that I already engage in, I can’t afford to indulge in a round of “poor, poor me” for the librarian profession now, can I?