I went to two presentations at ALA Midwinter that talked about situating libraries and librarians into their user’s online spaces. Both presentations made me reflect on outreach; of stepping outside the library walls to build relationships, of discovering the needs of the people using your library service, and of putting the library in front of people where they are getting their information needs met by other providers.
At the OCLC Symposium held on Saturday, David Weinberger (of Everything is Miscellaneous and Cluetrain Manifesto) and Nova Spivack (of twine.com and grandson of Peter Drucker) talked about the semantic web, and what it means for libraries. Both Spivack and Weinberger emphasized the power of the collective, and the importance of understanding the social graph. When asked by an audience member what it meant for information professionals, Weinberger said “you need to be in a smart network”, meaning, make sure you are on Facebook and twitter, or whatever relevant online community space there is. But make sure the people in your network are saying smart things, and pointing you to good information. You can check out the tweets of other attendees to get a sense of the lively conversation the talk engendered.
On Sunday, David Lee King, Cindi Trainor, and WebJunction’s own Rachel Van Noord gave a talk about putting the library into the online spaces where your users are and how to cultivate that online community space. David’s library in Topeka, Kansas is on Facebook and twitter with friends and use YouTube to share online book reviews and guides to using the library. But what he emphasized was that these tools are not just mechanisms to push out information, but are instead platforms for engaging their community members into a conversation with the library.
In the same talk, Cindi talked about how her library uses LibX, an internet broswer plug-in which literally situates library resources into online resources such as Wikipedia, Google Scholar results, and amazon and barnes & noble search results. Rachel ended the presentation by talking about the 5 principles of cultivating online community, re-emphasizing David’s point that conversation and leadership are keys to engaging people in the online space.
My conference badge is sporting a new Weaver ribbon, which I acquired at a social event hosted by the multi-talented trainer/consultant Pat Wagner. A Weaver is someone who has mastered the art of networking, someone who recognizes patterns in interactions with people and makes the connections that result in positive action. I am an apprentice Weaver.
This midwinter conference is allowing me lots of practice. I am here as a Board member of CLENE and an emissary of WebJunction. The conflation of interests between these two organizations is full of potential. The best thing they have in common is members who are interested in continual learning and who are dynamic, innovative, congenial, creative …I could go on. Paul S always says it better.
I love the opportunity to meet up in person. I appreciate even more the virtual connectedness that allows us to weave all of these relationships into powerful actions no matter the physical location. We are all producing a masterful tapestry that tells the story of libraries.
Librarian Lesson #1 here at ALA MW in Denver: align priorities and learn when to sometimes say “NO.” The message at my table at the Urban Libraries Council (ULC) Breakfast among skilled Project Managers, Supervisors, and Directors was simple: use regular, structured, F2F and online interactions with the public to nail down ”the mission,” then put “results” above all else in selecting and structuring projects that get the maximum bang for the bite. To do this well, it sometimes means saying no, or at least “not now.” Scope creep can render projects and actions null and void. Pinpoint focus on a mission… the right one, gets us to the next (big) thing all the sooner.
As I headed to ALAMW this year, I found myself especially full of excitement and anticipation. You see, this year I have been sponsored by the International Relations Round Table (IRRT) to participate in this year’s Emerging Leaders program—a program that brings newer librarians from across the country to participate in problem-solving work groups; network with peers; gain an inside look into ALA structure, and have an opportunity to serve the profession in a leadership capacity. I’ll be honest with you: I’m still digesting so much of what we covered today, and in particular the conversations I had with my colleagues. But it all started with the idea that leadership is built on five principles:
1. Challenge the process: don’t be afraid to ask the big “Why?” questions and suggest new approaches;
2. Inspire a shared vision: speak from the heart as you share your vision for what’s possible;
3. Enable others to act: build relationships built on trust, involve others, and expect effective & positive results;
4. Model the way: act in accordance with your principles and values, and lead by example;
5. Encourage the heart; focus on how each person contributes their personal best & acknowledge it.
It doesn’t take a genius to recognize that we all have the capacity to embody all these qualities. But I do think it does take special people to enact them. Or perhaps, more to the point, it takes are people who are willing to continuously strive toward effectively enacting these qualities so that we become better leaders for our libraries and communities. What do you think?
As Jen mentioned in her post yesterday, I’ll be presenting at Midwinter this weekend. The panel I’m on, thx 4 the txt , includes library super-stars like David Lee King & Cindi Trainor, both talking about online outreach to patrons. I’ll be closing the session by talking about principles for building online communities, based on what we’ve learned at WebJunction over the years. If you’re in Denver on Sunday, please join us: 10:30-12 am, Hyatt Regency Denver, Capitol Ballroom 2.
Can’t make that session? In a seredipitous twist of fate, my colleague Kathryn Perkins and I will be presenting much of the same information in a webcast for Workforce Magazine on Tuesday, 1/27. Our title is “Unleashing the Power of your Customer Communities” and our session will begin at 2pm ET — we’d love to have you join that session as well. Registration information can be found on Workforce Magazine’s website.
For those traveling to Denver this week, be sure to keep your eye out for your favorite WebJunction members and staff. Here are some of the places you’re sure to find them and stay tuned to BlogJunction for updates and reports from the conference travelers.
WebJunction staff are available to meet in addition to these events throughout the weekend. Please visit the OCLC booth (1704) to obtain contact information if you are interested in scheduling a meeting.
Have a great conference and if you’re presenting a session, post your slides and handouts on WebJunction!