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 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.
A powerful and provocative new program that was first presented in Denmark in 2000 and has been replicated internationally finally arrived in the United States last month. In October the Bainbridge Island branch of the Kitsap Regional Library System in Washington State and the Santa Monica Public Library in Los Angeles County, California both presented the Living Library program to their patrons.
The Living Library is an innovative project designed to promote dialogue and reduce prejudices. It gives patrons the opportunity to speak informally with “people on loan” in order to challenge stereotypes and prejudices in a very personal and positive manner. These “living books” represent a wide range of ages, genders and cultural background and can be “checked out” by patrons for one-to-one or group discussions. (more…)
I got my library passport stamped this weekend at the International District/Chinatown Branch of Seattle Public Library. SPL has handed out passports with all 27 library locations represented, to celebrate the successful completion of the Library’s 10-year building program, Libraries for All. Patrons who get a stamp from all the libraries by January will have a really cool passport with 27 unique stamps and get entered into a drawing for a prize. The architect of my local branch even created a special additional stamp for the celebration. There are groups, like the hiking Mountaineers, who are working together to visit every branch, passports in hand.
Not only do I love the serendipitous discovery of stuff on the shelf at another branch (eg. after Sunday’s find, I now have a new favorite movie Waitress), I’m a big fan of passports and stamps. At school, my kids have been doing the Passport Geography Club, another fine example of motivational learning. And I know that there are summer reading programs for all ages all over the place, but I’ve been thinking…
Why don’t we use a similar motivational effort to encourage folks to explore libraries and learning in other ways? What about a “Reading Passport” with sections for different disciplines or literature from different periods? What about one with a section to stamp if you were a part of a discussion about a book or if you did an impromptu book talk on the bus? And how cool would it be if we got to the point where people would include their library passport credentials on their resume or as a part of their political campaigns?
I ride the bus from the eastside suburbs of Seattle to downtown, and I’m loving how bookish the Seattle bus riders are. (Seattle is touted as one of the most literate cities in the U.S.) Because I am a book freak myself, I can’t help but try to see what other people are reading, and–very occasionally, as my fellow bus riders tend to be a quiet, private bunch–make a comment about it. Last summer it is was plainly obvious when the final Harry Potter book came out, because at least a half dozen people would be reading it on every bus I was on for a week or two (I counted 12 people reading it on one ride–it was spooky!). I talked to one man at the bus stop about it, and he told me he bought it for his son, but was racing to read it first while the boy was wrapping up the previous book. He was surprised at how fast his son was reading now, so he was using every free minute to finish up the final installment before his son started clamoring for it.
Come to think of it (I didn’t till now), most of my fellow rider-readers appear to be in their 40s or 50s. Those younger than that tend to be listening to iPods or scrolling through their smart phones, texting, or peering at teeny-tiny videos. Hmm. Don’t know if that signals the “death of the book” or impending eyesight and hearing damage. Whoops, is that crotchety? Anyway, as I’m sure all who read this are aware, there is that NEA survey that tells us what seems to be the situation around book reading these days, and it is interesting to compare that to real-life observation.
In the last week, I’ve seen Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Catcher in the Rye, and Sundays at Tiffany’s–all being read by men, FWIW (I was most surprised by the last one–isn’t that a romance novel?). I brought on The Hobbit a few days ago, and as I squeezed into the very back row of bench seats, the burly fellow next to me exclaimed, “That is a great book!” That led me to think, especially since I frequently see the same people on the bus every morning: we could have a Bus-Riders’ Book Club. Rather than feeling guilty for peering at the covers of the books our fellow passengers are clutching, we would hold up our book and announce, “I am starting Catch-22 today!” and then the conversation would be begin. Or we could recommend books that are best suited for commuting: ones that are small enough to fit into your commuter bag, that aren’t so depressing that you distress your seatmate by weeping, that take you far away from being stuck in traffic on a bus, that remind you that even though you had to get up at the crack of dawn in order to catch the bus, your life is pretty good. A book that I recommend for all those reasons is: Down and Out in Paris and London, by George Orwell.
WebJunction staffers have a bit of a tradition. Every time we go out to dinner with more than three or four of us – usually it involves the colleagues we work with over great distances – we have what we call a “dinner question”. It all started when I asked a table full of people – there were maybe eight or nine of us – if you had all the money and all the talent, what would you do for your job? It’s my standard question that I like to ask everyone I know, as well as ponder myself (most often I think I’d like to be a jazz singer, like the lead vocalist in pink martini).
Over the years we’ve discussed everything from “what animal would you be?” to “who was your first love?” and then back to “what was your favorite meal?” and then “who’s the most famous person you’ve ever met?” or “what was your most terrifying travel experience?” Every time we’ve done this, inside our team and alongside our friends and colleagues in library land, we’ve learned a lot about each other as well as instigated some of the most interesting conversations I’ve ever had. These questions, as simple as they may have been, have made us stronger as a team, as a community at WebJunction, and as a community of library professionals. Now I have a hunch that’s an important part of the community building work that we do, and I’ve been thinking about how to get it into the online environment.
If you have an idea about how we can translate these f2f conversations into an online space, I’d love to hear. (Or maybe we’re already doing something like that with St. Jerry’s Virtual Scriptorium? Update 8/28/08: changed link to collapsed page view, where you can login and post to this thread. St. Jerry’s thread is at the top of the list. Thanks Roy!)
And, next time you’re out to dinner with colleagues in library land, try it, and let us know what happens!
The My WebJunction Page may just be my favorite feature on the freshly relaunched WJ site. It is powerful, it is unique to Libraryland and it was designed and created specifically for us as library professionals. Plus, as you can see in video below, it’s just pretty cool! Who knew library staff would ever be able to do this in our own unique profession specific network, built just for US? Follow the link to the page hosting the video on WebJunction or just click the play button below to see why the My WebJunction Page has me all jazzed. Then log-in, make some connections and friends and watch what happens. If you haven’t discovered YOUR My WebJunction Page, we’re hoping you’ll be eager to start using it after you see this:
I also wanted to take a second to personally thank every single one of you that have tried the site out during its first week. We have seen huge amounts of activity this week and are so happy to see folks diving in. We are also very pleased to get your feedback as well. Most things are working well on the site, but please know that we are working very hard to respond to and address any question, concerns and bugs that have come up. And we thank you very much for your patience in those instances. This is truly a library community resource and you telling us what you think, how to make it better and what you would like to see in the future will be what helps make that future happen. So please keep contacting us, keep kicking the tires and continue to dive in. See you on Your, Mine and OUR “My WebJunction”!
A quick a reminder about tonight‘s WebJunction member reception (5-8pm in the Marriott Anaheim Grand Ballroom). For me, this will be the real kickoff for ALA. I’ve walked around a bit in the Anaheim heat and scoped out the orange bags, but tonight is my first opportunity to put names to the faces of the WebJunction community. I can’t wait to meet a bunch of our members; if you see a tall guy with a brand-new haircut come say hello!
Though we won’t be lighting off fireworks of our own, you can probably catch some right outside just after the event (I shot these from a freeway overpass just down the road on the way back from dinner). Hopefully the fire metaphor will end there. We expect the reception to be packed with all of our friends and colleagues from libraryland and don’t want any over-capacity warnings from the fire marshal.
I look forward to seeing you tonight!
update: reception moved to the larger Ballroom E. More space=no fire marshal worries!
update 2: Photos here
How tired are you of sage-on-the-stage conference presentations? I can absorb a certain amount of one-way information, but after a while, it’s only the chill of the air-conditioning that keeps my eyes open.
Not so with David Gurteen’s presentation on Knowledge Cafes. Once he had defined the form, discussed the dynamics, and enumerated some ground rules, the impromptu knowledge cafe began. Even though we were in a large-ish room with auditorium seating and had to change groupings of 4-5 people three times in 40 minutes, the session was a humming success. Lots of knowledge sharing goin’ on.
“When minds meet, they don’t just exchange facts; they transform them” —Theodore Zeldin
You can read more about the knowledge cafe process and even watch a video on Gurteen’s website, but you just have to experience it to really get it.
As we slosh around here knee-deep in preparation for the next WebJunction it seems like I can’t swing a toad without hitting something in the middle of a little freshening up. Aside from the obvious nifty factor of a brand new site, one elephant-sized byproduct of a culture of change is that it leads us toward innovation by encouraging examination of the things we maybe have been taking for granted.
For example, it recently occurred to us that our community guidelines haven’t been touched in quite some time. This is a document that has done a heroic job with little intervention. In fact no one here can readily come up with example of the guidelines failing to keep us on track.
That’s great news, but in our current climate it doesn’t mean the guidelines get a free pass. But we don’t want to change them just for the sake of change, either. Instead, we’d like to invite your thoughts on what maybe could use some updating. For example we don’t mention Creative Commons, embedded media, or user generated content in the guidelines. Should we? Let us know.
For all we know, you may think the current guidelines the perfect community fit. That’s fine. However, if you do have some feedback on updates you’d like to see, this is your chance.
I’ve copied the existing guidelines to the WebJunction Wiki. Once you login (yes, thanks to those dirty, rotten spammers you need to create a login; your WebJunction login doesn’t work on the Wiki), you can comment, edit, and change to your heart’s desire. And it’s not just about change. If you prefer to keep the guidelines as is, or you feel strongly about something remaining in the guidelines, please note that, too.
We look forward to seeing your input!
Friday was the annual Bike to Work Day in Seattle. It’s part of a Bike to Work Month program that last year saw 7,500 local cyclists pedal more than a million miles. This year WebJunction fielded a team of 12 bike commuters willing to brave the iffy Seattle weather on two wheels. Early 2008 reports show a record setting pace across the entire contest.
A few of us at the office are year-round bike commuters, a few ride when the weather is good and time allows, and the remainder on team BikeJunction are using this month to try bike commuting for the first time. Not surprisingly we report varied reasons for participating:
By now you are probably wondering what this has to do with the stuff I normally write about on BlogJunction. Well, since I’m a community dork, it’s fairly easy to tie everything to community. Even with our different riding motivations, skill levels, and experience, we’ve developed into a small but vibrant commuting community. We support each other, offer route tips, provide encouragement about big hills or bad weather, and act as sounding board for major life decisions—like new bike purchases.
I thought it might be fitting to end the Happy Birthday celebrations this week with a link (right here? from the blog?) to a clandestine view of the new WebJunction home page. Cleverly titled “sneaky peeky” this is the view that WJ staff have themselves been playing with in our “sandbox” for the last couple of weeks. It’s not nearly ready for beta release yet, but as you can see, My WebJunction is right there at the top of the page, along with our fancy new brand, just waiting for me/you/us to populate it with whatever i/you/we care about. It’s gonna be rockin’ and we can’t wait to start evolving this with more than just a few of us with our eyes on it.
Next week we get together with all of our current community partners for some good old fashioned f2f training, and this will be our first chance to show off and gather input on the new system with people outside of the WJ staff. Next? Our WJ Advocates will get a sneak peek and they’ll tell us what they think. Then? Well, by that time I think we’ll all be ready for a broader audience. And that’s where we all get to tell each other what we think. And it will grow from there.
I admit it. I like shoes. They’re fun. It’s one of my little things that keeps me going – when otherwise things might feel a little blah, a cute pair of shoes (on me or someone else) literally makes my day. Voila!
Personal faves from around the office? Kathleen (yellow sling-backs or teal clogs, I can’t decide). Jennifer (the ones that go perfectly with the plaids!) Dave (the old ones). Rachel (black sandals or red patten flats, I can’t decide). Michael (I can’t decide). Laura (plum ankle straps, hands down).
For WebJunction’s birthday, I decided to highlight my five favorite WebJunction moments *that have to do with shoes*. Whatever does this have to do with supporting libraries, you ask? Read on…
1. The photo you see here is me, Rachel, and Laura from the audience at CIL 2007. We were listening to the librarian from the National Geographic Society library talk about some cool 2.0 stuff they were doing with their intranet. Thanks to Rachel, we visited their library later that day.
2. This photo gives you a glimpse of one of our card-carrying shoe-lovers here around the office, and one of the 365 Days at WJ set that we started last year (before we started really planning for the new WJ in earnest, which is why we haven’t kept it up…shame on us!)
3. On the way to Midwinter Meeting in San Antonio 2006 I found myself without anything to wear but tennis shoes because my luggage had been lost on the way by United. Luckily, the conference center was practically attached to a mall and I was able to get some cute metallic silver flats to wear to my fancy dinner with Patrick Hogan. These shoes remind me of the shoes Sharon Streams is wearing this very minute! (This is also the blog post where I suggest that OCLC pick up Library Thing. Hmmm.)
4. When visiting the bay area just before the Online Community Uncoference in 2007, I sent a tweet about a cute pair of shoes I’d just bought. Colleague Dave Ungar (located in Dublin) picked it up and asked for a picture, which I posted on flickr. Several days later, our online exchange culminated in a spoof on some secret brand stuff another colleague had going on at work. You cannot hide on the tubes!
5. Finally, Michael Porter blogs his first (or was it second?) post at BlogJunction after accepting a transfer here from OCLC Western. In the post, libraryman admits to having purchased shoes from his WebJunction desk’s internet connection. It was after-hours, so we gave him a pass, but it brings me to my point about what any of this has to do with libraries… (more…)
Each year in the Spring, Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream runs a “free cone” promo at their stores. Kids (and parents) line up around the block—last year my two ice cream junkies waited 40 minutes—40 minutes on line and the cone was gone in five! Luckily, the goodies from Free Comic Book Day should last quite a bit longer (and could bring returns for years).
All you need to do is stop by a participating comic store and make your free pick from a selection of titles like Archie, Superman, Hellboy, World of Aspen, X-men, Tiny Titans and many more. Seriously. These are free. I know you are thinking: “What’s the catch?” Nothing is free, right?