Walt Crawford
Personal Background and Interests

I was born and grew up in Modesto, California. No complaints about childhood (great parents, good schools, what can I say?). Graduated from Thomas Downey High School in 1962, which is only interesting because that class was the inspiration for American Graffiti. George Lucas was in the same graduating class, but then so were 500 others. To the best of my knowledge, I never met Lucas and he has no reason to remember me. Do like his films, though.

College: University of California, Berkeley. I learned how to think at UC, met lots of interesting people, and stuck around far too long (albeit not as a professional student). Most of my college days were spent within the University Students' Cooperative Association, at Cloyne Court and (later) the Ridge Project, UC's first coed housing. My final major was Rhetoric, and although I began graduate work, it fell by the wayside in favor of full-time work. Beginning before my sophomore year, I worked in the UC Berkeley library system, and designed Berkeley's first semi-automated circulation system in 1968. Moving to the UC Berkeley Library Systems Office in 1972, I stayed there (as a senior programmer/analyst) through June 1979. In the late 1970s, I lived in Walnut Creek for a couple of years, then met the right woman (at the UC Berkeley Doe library), married her, and moved back to Berkeley.

We both got jobs at the Research Libraries Group (RLG) in 1979 and moved to the mid-peninsula part of the Bay Area--what's now called Silicon Valley. At the time, RLG was on the Stanford University campus; it moved to Mountain View in 1989. After a brief period renting in Palo Alto, we bought our first house (and, later, our second) in Menlo Park, a few miles north of Stanford. Eventually, we moved to Redwood City (which is not in the middle of redwood forests). My wife left RLG after a year, was head of cataloging at Palo Alto City Library for years, then served as Library Director at the College of Notre Dame in Belmont, CA for almost a decade.

Recently, my wife moved back to RLG--and, not too long thereafter, we moved from Redwood City to a true neighborhood in Mountain View, California.

If you haven't fallen entirely asleep or gone on to some animated Web site by now (hey, I never claimed my life was interesting)...

A Few Current Personal Interests

It's hard to distinguish personal interests and professional interests (see my "professional" essay), since I spend a fair amount of evening and weekend time preparing articles and speeches.

We both enjoy good food and good wine; we used to have an extensive wine database, but our interest is no longer that intense.

We both read a lot and make heavy use of public libraries (and have been blessed with good ones everywhere we've lived).

We have begun to see the world by cruise ship (as time, arrangements, and mostly money permit). That started more than a decade ago in Hawaii, on the Constitution (which no longer exists). It continued with cruises in Alaska, on La Ruta Maya (cities on the Atlantic coast of Mexico and Central America with Mayan ruins nearby), and in the western Mediterranean on a great bargain cruise line that's since gone bankrupt (Regency Cruises). We also fit in a Caribbean cruise on the Crown Monarch, part of the once-and-future Crown line and the nicest ship we'd been on so far.

The last few years have been remarkable for the cruises and lines involved:

  • All three boats (true paddlewheel steamboats) of the Delta Queen Steamboat Company: the Delta Queen (twice), the Mississippi Queen, and the American Queen. We've had mixed success with the Delta Queen; the American Queen is a fine boat; we'll be back on either that or the MQ next year. If you want to try a riverboat cruise, we can't recommend one more highly than the route between St. Louis and St. Paul.
  • Three cruises on Crystal Cruise's magnificent Crystal Harmony and Crystal Symphony. We took the Crystal Harmony through the Panama Canal (after our Regency booking was disrupted by the line's bankruptcy), the Harmony again on a once-in-a-lifetime cruise up the coast of Scotland and down the coast (in the fjords) of Norway, and the Crystal Symphony in New Zealand and Australia. We'll certainly be back on Crystal, probably a number of times--these ships are cruising at its finest. You need to dress up some evenings, but this ship is worth it.
  • Two cruises on WindStar, with a third already planned. French Polynesia (Tahiti, Raiatea, Moorea, Bora Bora) on the Wind Song was wonderful--both the scenery and the wind cruiser itself (no sailing crew, but 25,000 square feet of computer-raised sails when there's enough wind), with relatively few passengers (150 or so) and the right attitude of casual charm. The southern Caribbean on the Wind Star wasn't quite as fascinating in terms of destinations, equally fine in terms of the ship. Costa Rica's coming up--a chance to explore remarkable biodiversity and scenery we would not see elsewhere.

June 6, 1999; layout modified 7/17/99. One link updated 8/23/99.