I’m Laura Crossett, and I have now maintained (or neglected) this website for half my life. I currently do communications work for Library Futures and live in my hometown with my family, a dog, and too many cats. I worked for fifteen years as a public librarian in Iowa, rural Wyoming, and Illinois. I have also been a dog walker in suburban Chicago, a teaching assistant at the University of Iowa, a house sitter, a nonprofit program director, a terrible office temp, and a security guard.

My professional website lives at lauracrossett.com. You can reach me at newrambler at gmail dot com.

I have another now inactive blog, lisdom, which will probably only be of real interest if you are a librarian, but you never know.

selfie of a woman with curly hair and glasses
Me in my United Action for Youth 50th anniversary tshirt. They’re even older than I am!

From the old About Page

August 2005

The New Rambler is a blog, but it is also a retro-blog — that is, it contains content created before the age of blogs, or at any rate before blogging was possible for the general, non-techy public.

In October 1998 I had been out of college for almost five months, and I was finding that post-graduate life did not agree with me. I’d gone from living with and being around people who had a lot of spare time and who were engaging, who read, who thought about things, who made educated fun of television commercials, to being around people who mostly worked and who, when they got home from work, watched a lot of ESPN — watched it seriously.

I had various responses to this situation (one that, I suspect, is fairly common among recent college graduates), but the most helpful, and healthful one was that I began to write e-mails. I started out one night writing an e-mail to my oldest friend. I was nearly done with it when I realized that I was about to tell her a number of things that she already knew. At that point, normally, I’d chuck a piece of writing, or send it with an apology for ranting. But for some reason, that night, I did neither of these things. Instead, I typed into the Bcc field the e-mail address of everyone I could think of — friends, acquaintances, professors, my relatives, whoever — wrote “The New Rambler, No. 1” in the Subject field, and hit Send. Then I huddled on my futon in terror. True, I hadn’t sent out a chain-letter, and this was before the age of serious spam, but unsolicited e-mail still wasn’t anyone’s favorite thing.

And then, oddly enough, I got some good responses.

So I kept doing it — for the next few years, every month or so I’d fire off these e-mails to a growing list. In March of 1999, I got a freelance gig writing reviews (books, art, theatre, restaurants — a little of everything, for $10 a pop) for an alternative weekly paper in Iowa City/Cedar Rapids called ICON, now sadly defunct. In January 2000, they hired me as a columnist, and then I got to tell people what I thought on newsprint, which was pretty great. I wrote fewer and fewer New Ramblers as I had more opportunities to write elsewhere, and eventually I more or less stopped writing them at all. But I didn’t forget about them.

Back in 1999 I started a web site as a place to collect my writing, and somewhere, in the course of learning some basic HTML, I stumbled on this document that talked about how you could make a web page that was dynamic — that is, other people could comment on what you had written, and it would show up right there on the page, not in a remotely-hosted guest book. It also said that you would be able to add content to this page and have it appear instantly, just as the comments did. It sounded ideal, and I read further, thinking this was just the thing to do with The New Rambler web site. Unfortunately, as far as I could make out, doing this nifty thing was going to require installing Linux (so then I looked up Linux to find out what that was), and that was somewhat beyond my capabilities. Now, of course, it occurs to me that what I read was a description of a sort of proto-blog.

I am rather late in getting onto the current blogging bandwagon, but I’m happy now to be reintroducing the old New Ramblers in this new format. In transferring the old New Ramblers, I’ve kept the text pretty much intact (I did fix some typos), but I’ve added a few links to provide some more context. All the original e-mails are tagged “old ramblers;” the ones pertaining to the UI Students Against Sweatshops sit-in in April 2000 have an additional “sas” tag. The New Rambler site is also back, with links to many of the things I’ve written over the years. I’ll be adding more gradually — all the writing I did for ICON now exists only in print form, but I hope to scan and add those pieces bit by bit.

This blog is quite basic at the moment, but I’ll be tinkering with it (and, I hope, adding to it) over the coming months. Leave me a comment or drop me a line at newrambler at gmail dot com and let me know what you think.

Thanks for reading!


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