Economies of Scale
Photo by Cindi

It has been quite a long time since I wrote a post about libraries, but in case you missed it, I am working in one again. It is good to come home to the profession that always had a large piece of my heart. There will probably be more library posts, in addition to writing posts, in this space. You’ve been warned.

Last time I served at a library, I was at a large top tier research institution. I did a lot of things, but the things I did were specialized.

Now, I work at a small community college in a rural area and I do a little bit of everything. I am the Acquisitions, Technical Services, ILL, and Circulation Departments. In addition to this, I do reference, teach information literacy classes, and sit on campus committees. In a small place, it is safe to say you do all the things because that is what keeps the doors open and things running smoothly.

The scale of things here is different. Sometimes that is frustrating and sometimes is it awesome. After three months at my new job and in my new town, I have some observations.

When you get down to the marrow, everything here, good and bad, comes down to scale.
Photo by Jerome Vaillant

Wyoming is a big state of mostly rural areas. Even libraries in larger towns*, serve a significant population of people who live in remote areas. I live in a decent size city, for Wyoming, and it only claims a little less than 18,000 residents. Much of our community is rural. Even if you live in the city, you still have to drive two hours to find major retail stores. The distance between service hubs is a problem of scale.

Because most libraries are serving small rural communities, they are themselves small and rural. The wealth of information out there in the world means that the libraries can only collect so much because access costs $. This is a scale problem that is not unique to small libraries. The libraries here have worked to solve that by having an efficient ILL and electronic resources sharing system within the state called WYLD. Wyoming’s libraries are adequately funded, from what I can tell, but they still struggle. Even though they are getting funded, it is never enough. Well funded on a smaller scale is still a small amount of money.
Photo by clement127

The other issue is technology and, boy howdy, is this an issue. Remember when I said Wyoming libraries tend to serve a rural population? In technology terms, this means we serve a population that often does not have high speed internet, but might have a smartphone if they are lucky enough to live in an area with coverage.I have heard a saying often that Wyoming is ten years behind in most things. I think that is an accurate assessment.

Technology is an issue for most of the businesses I have come in contact with. If they have a website, and that is a HUGE if, they have a terrible UX and are often not mobile compatible. Very few corporations are on any kind of social media outside of facebook, if they have that.

This lack of technology use comes into sharp relief at the reference desk. Multiple times this semester, I helped students who were barely able to use a mouse and navigate Windows, much less the web and Blackboard. These students were expected to take classes which had major online components. To say they were lost would be a gross understatement. What shocked me the most is that these were not older adults coming back to school. They were my age (I am 39) or younger. I have lived in an urban area and worked in service jobs all my life and I have never been exposed to this level of technology illiteracy in my life. It was and is shocking to me.
Photo by clement127

On the positive side, I live in a small town with all the quirks associated with a typical western small town. Everyone knows everyone else. Our lives are all connected in one way or another and I have found this to be a welcoming, friendly place.

All of these observations have raised the following issues and questions that I want to explore:

  • How can I use readily available technology (free/cheap) to serve students who may have limited connectivity?
  • Are there tools that can make their lives a little easier that require a low learning curve?
  • How do I need to shift my own instruction and interactions with my new population in mind?
  • What does advocacy for information look like in a place where information is not always accessible or affordable?
  • How can I help students see beyond the small worldview of their experience to the greater world beyond in the way I teach and the choices I make for the library?
  • What can I learn from my new community that will make me a better librarian?

*The largest city in Wyoming is Cheyenne which currently holds a population of 64,019. To me, no matter how you slice it, that is a small town.

Indie Books, Libraries, and Intersections

My friend, Veronica, writes a smashing good blog, Wallflowers and Rakes. She recently posted a very thoughtful piece on indie books and library collections and pinged me in the post. Full Disclosure: I am going to answer this as a former librarian, as an indie writer, and as an indie reader. Hats, I have many.

As a librarian: I remember when we used to talk about the importance of having unique collections. If all you have are 100 copies of the latest Nora Roberts, but you have no Zoe Archer, Bec McMaster, or Vivian Arend, I am a sad, sad lady.* Many of the authors I love, I do not even bother to look for in the library. In my opinion, Indie books seem like a great way for libraries to build unique collections for readers, collections that many readers want, myself included.

Most libraries do not accept indies because their systems and structure (acquisition and cataloging) have not caught up with the demand and they do not have the time or budget to work out of the system. As a librarian, I know this. As a writer, it breaks my heart. There has to be a way to sift through the dross to find the good stuff. What libraries, especially public libraries, need is a Collection Development librarian who loves to read indies and genre fiction to build a deep genre collection. Somebody post that job description right now.

As a writer: My local library is great, but they do tend to only have the big indies (Courtney Milan comes to mind). I asked if they accepted donations of local author’s work and they said yes. All I have to do is drop off my books. As an indie, the hardest thing is getting face time. No matter how nice your cover and how well edited, you still have to get over the wall and it is very, very high. Getting visibility of any kind is grinding work.

As a reader: I read indie books. Most of them, I love. Some of them, regardless of high praise from others, I hate because of bad editing (both grammar and content). However, as a reader, I could say the same for books I have read from big presses too. I want my library to have a deeper genre variety and I could care less how they were published.

In my experience, most libraries tend to get big name, easily categorized books in all the subgenres. What I mean is in Romance they get a ton of contemporary romance, some of the bigger historicals, maybe a few paranormals and that is about it. Fantasy and SciFi are similarly treated. Once you start reading subgenre books, it usually does not take long to get to the edge of the collection. Anything of mixed genre, fantasy romance, steampunk romance, or scifi romance is not well represented if it is represented at all. I think one of the biggest reasons for this is that books of mixed genre also tend to be indie or small pub produced.

I think indie books have the potential to change the depth of collections for libraries. They tend to be cheaper. Most indie ebooks are in the $3-5 range. Traditional publishers price their ebooks in the $7-12 range. A library could get three indie books for the price of one overpriced traditionally pubbed ebook. I do not have any answers, but I do have hope that someone out there has a great idea that will change the conversation completely.

As a former librarian, current writer, and voracious reader, the potential for growth of indie books into libraries is an exciting opportunity, if only we could figure out a way to do it well.
*My local library Harris County Public has Archer and McMaster.

Distribute your eBooks at RWA

If you are an indie author or a small publisher, I have a cool free way to get ebooks into the hands of RWA attendees in two weeks. Wouldn’t it be fabulous if you could offer a free ebook to RWA attendees only and then promote it to people online? It would!

I spent a week looking at this

Silvercliff Sunrise








and I realized I had made two fundamental mistakes as I started out with my LibraryBox RWA experiment. I forgot two things.

Thing one: Most authors are very careful about how they handle their digital content (as they should be) and I am used to the more open approach of librarians (information wants to be free).

Thing two: As a librarian, enough people know who I am that I unlikely to be considered “that crazy lady.” In the author community, I am not well known enough to be kept out of that category on my name alone.

I am asking for authors to trust me with their digital content and experiment with me using their own content. I am asking for this and then I did not give an expiration date as to how long the material would be on my LibraryBox. Originally, I figured I would just leave all the digital content on the LibraryBox forever.

This was not a good plan. I will now be deleting the folder on my LibraryBox I create for RWA. That means, unless you tell me otherwise, the content you send me will be freely available to the people at the annual RWA conference for three days and then, poof, gone. I hope this makes a difference to some of you on the fence about whether to participate in this.

I do not attend a ton of conferences anymore because of family constraints but I will be doing this again at RT in Dallas in May, but you do not have to attend either event to be included.

I hope that some other authors will join Mia West and Nikki Penttila in this adventure to give out some ebooks at a conference filled with people who love to read.

p.s. Happy Monday.

Humans vs. Zombies, an Internet Librarian Presentation

Come see me in the flesh Monday at 1:15 in the DeAnza 1&2 in the Portola.
Added: Grab the Handout. View the slides.

The track I am in for Internet Librarian, Track D: Library Issues and Challenges, is a special one where the speakers are encouraged not to talk much and to let the participants do most of the talking. Meaning: It is my kind of presentation. Because I will be speaking for less than 10 minutes and have only 5 slides of a PPT, I wanted to write a post on the content of my talk instead of posting just the slides online which would be meaningless without context. The slides can be found here.

The title of the session is Engaging and Inspiring Staff. I am speaking with Lisa Hardy, who is going to give some real world examples after I talk about the big picture. My segment is called Human vs. Zombies: Organized Survivors vs. Mindless Horde.

When you are only speaking for a handful of minutes, you really only have time for one main idea. My main concept is crowdsourcing only works when you give people a purpose.

Crowdsourcing without a purpose is like unleashing zombies on the human race. Things will get done, but it is going to be very, very messy.

Using crowdsourcing methodology is a fabulous way to engage and inspire staff because it forces them to participate in the process from start to finish. Once people start investing time and resources into something, their heart will eventually follow.

You should want your people to have heart in what they do for the organization. People who have heart give more, believe stronger, and work harder. They give because their heart compels them to do so. Not only that, but people who have a heart in your organization will then tell other people why your organization is so great.

Crowdsourcing can be done many ways. I have a handy hand out that I am giving to the participants and that you can download here (link is to a Google Doc). It is similar, very similar to the one I used at Computers in Libraries last spring. The handout includes some quick and dirty facilitation style and pointers. I do not discuss the handout in the presentation. It is just a resource.

But how do you organize your mob? How do you take a bedraggled group of humans and outfit them to face the future, even if the future is a teeming mass of zombies?

To give your mob, your humans, the means to organize, to create, and to find their heart in your organization, you need to do three things.

Give them a goal. Without a goal, your people are the zombie horde. The have one things on their mind and that is a selfish thirst for brains (or whatever it is that suits their fancy). Crowdsourcing only works if you give the crowd a goal so they can then work together towards the same goal as a team. It is possible to let the crowd define the goal, but they still need an overarching purpose.

For instance, do not just throw people in a room and say, “Get to it!” Put them in a room and ask them to come up with a product: a new slogan, a new service with a plan to execute the service, a strategic direction, a marketing plan to increase business, a charitable campaign, or an organizational restructuring. They can do anything, accomplish anything. Just point them in the right direction and let them go. You will be amazed at where they take you.

Let the crowd choose their weapons. This seems obvious, but it is one of the worst abused within organizations with robust bureaucracies. Often, more often than not, crowds contained within an organizational structure are asked to perform a task, but are then also told what tools to use and how to complete the task. This cripples your mob of survivors before they have even ventured forth.

Give your crowd the direction and then let them choose the method. They may want to work asynchronously or synchronously on Google Docs. They may want to create a facebook group. They might prefer video chat. They might * shudder * want to use a word doc that they save and forward around on email. Let them work their way. Give them resources so that they are able to choose the tools they want and then step away. Let them know you have faith in their choices and then follow through on that statement by leaving them alone to work.

Celebrate their successes and failures alike. We are wonderful at pointing out successes, but we have to celebrate our mistakes, even the crash and burn ones. Why? Because we learn from our mistakes and we get better. Give high fives for every zombie kill, but learn from the near misses and improve your swing. Do not be afraid to get dirty. Killing zombies is hard work.

After a very condensed version of the above motivational speech, Lisa is going to take over with some examples of things they have done at her library. Then, we will get to the really fun part. The attendees will form groups and talk about things they can do in their own organization to motivate staff. They will come to a consensus about the best ideas from their group and then share them with the room.

At the end we are going to give away some copies of my book, Mob Rule Learning, for people who can answer some of my nerd trivia.

–Jane, do you have a plan for the zombie apocalypse?

Original link to the Zombie pic can be found here.

This Is Not Your Parents’ Bookmobile – An Interview

A couple weeks ago, I wrote a post for the ITI Books blog and received a comment that sent me on a search for more information. I know, I know, many a librarian adventure starts the same way. This comment led me to learn about a fabulous project in my own hometown.

The comment was from two Houston librarians who are running an indiegogo program for a bookmobile. I have been around, as a patron and an employee of, public libraries for my entire life and I have watched bookmobile use decline. I was curious what in the world these two librarians thought they could do to change the trend.

Go read the Billy Pilgrim Traveling Library web page. There you will find a history of bookmobiles in Texas and why Kelly and Chris are so passionate about starting one in Houston. Caveat Lector: Their passion is contagious.

Before reading the BPTL story, I would have told you that bookmobiles were a dinosaur of the library world, but now, my view is different. I believe Kelly and Chris have found a way, not only to reguvenate a flaundering service, but to impact all public libraries in the Houston area and change the way we view book lending.

I wanted to know more about the BPTL so I emailed Kelly and Chris, who were kind enough to answer some questions. Read their answers and then go donate to their indiegogo campaign.

(1) I read the history of bookmobiles on your site, but why do you want to start a bookmobile? What makes this version of a library appealing to you?

I think ultimately it comes down to independence and mobility. We’ve both worked in different library systems and information organizations, and we’ve both had situations where policies and budgets have caused issues or restrictions. In creating our own library, we have the freedom to make judgment calls as to how, when, and where we serve individuals. If we recognize an opportunity for service or a new system we want to try out, we can make the decision to go for it without too great a fear of consequences.

Being mobile is another source of independence. It allows us to go beyond traditional library services and bring new resources to new people in new places. This is especially exciting because it allows for instances of serendipity and discovery – our bookmobile is a way for people to break out of their normal routines and allows for new avenues of personal and cultural connections in our community. People who may not make the conscious decision to visit a library may make that spur of the moment decision to visit the bookmobile next to their neighborhood coffee shop.

It’s this mixture of creativity, independence, mobility, and community that really appeals to us.

(2) Bookmobiles were originally for people who were underserved by other resource areas, often in rural communities. What role does a book mobile have in a metropolitan area like Houston?

True, bookmobiles were originally used to provide library services in underserved, and often rural, areas. And although being in a metropolitan area does not necessarily imply that a community is well-served, our purposes are not so cut and dry as to provide resources for folks that don’t have resources readily available to them.

Our bookmobile intends to serve two purposes: one, as a traveling library that works on a rent-barter-donate system and provides a variety of traditional and emerging library services; and two, as a bookmobile-for-hire which lends its space out to all mutually interested parties for mutually agreeable means. These two components will fill different roles in metropolitan Houston.

As a traveling library, we will undertake the role of a standalone cultural institution – one which intends to bridge the gap between consumer culture and culture by promoting a more frugal consumption of culture. One can consume a good book, or a good movie, or a good album without buying or otherwise owning it.

The traveling library will also serve a complementary role to libraries in a couple of key ways. Like many libraries, our collection will depend heavily upon in-kind donations. Those items which are not selected to be added to our collection will either be (1) re-donated to local libraries and charity organizations such as Salvation Army and Goodwill or (2) placed in our free bin, free for the taking.

We will also have applications on hand for membership at surrounding local libraries. City- and county-run libraries obviously have larger collections and generally better access to resources than we could independently offer, so in cases where our services cannot meet a patron’s need, we can direct them to a larger system that will be able to meet that need (including interlibrary loan).

You may be wondering, why don’t these patrons just go to their local library in the first place? It’s a fair question, and one that we find ourselves asking as well.

First, our business model is a little bit different than that of city- and county-run libraries, and one that might have more of an appeal to certain people. We’re less restrictive. For example, there are no due dates or late charges. There is only a (very reasonable) item-based annual membership which ensures that we don’t lose money if a patron never comes back with the item or items they borrowed. We also believe that you should be able to read a book the way you want to read a book. If you like reading a book with a highlighter or a pen in your hand, we encourage you to do so. We like a book with character. So long as the next person can read it as perfectly as you were able to read it, you can write and draw all over it.

We also want to appeal to the individuals who are not using their local libraries. As you mentioned in the question, traditional bookmobiles were used to serve the underserved – most commonly, children, the elderly and homebound, and rural communities. There’s a preconceived notion of who a bookmobile should serve based on mobility and location limitations. But now it seems many people who do not fall into these traditionally served populations are not seeing the appeal of libraries. We want to be an ambassador for all libraries and help revitalize how they are seen by the general public. People who are using libraries already love libraries and know what libraries can do for them. We want to raise awareness about what libraries have to offer for everyone and make sure people know that libraries are more relevant now than ever before.

One particular avenue to serving this role is through the food truck community – offering literary and music and movie and library culture to complement food and foodie culture.

The bookmobile-for-hire could very possibly be hired by libraries that serve rural communities and utilized to perform a similar function that bookmobiles have traditionally performed. But more likely, a library would rent the bookmobile to undertake this same role: of raising awareness, particularly among Houston’s mobile community (and who in Houston isn’t a part of that?), of the importance of libraries, and more particularly of the importance of their library.

(3) Besides borrowing, you mention organizations being able to rent out the book mobile. What do you mean by that? Can you give me an example?

With the bookmobile-for-hire component of our endeavor, we will empty our shelves and make our space, our time, and our professionalism available to all mutually interested parties for whatever (mutually agreeable) purposes they see fit. One organization that could naturally benefit from a bookmobile-for-hire is the public library.

As mentioned in our blog, the entirety of Texas had only 12 bookmobiles in 2005 (as reported by the State Department of Education) and the number of reported bookmobiles dropped to 8 in the 2009 Public Libraries in the United States Survey. Considering that Texas is third among the states in number of public libraries (with 559) and is second in land area, there is a very real gap in library resources and library services.

We both have substantial experience working in public libraries and understand that there is a need, particularly among smaller library systems, to widen their patron base and to let folks know about the range of services they provide. By bringing the library to the community instead of waiting for the community to come to the library, our bookmobile will help them accomplish just that.

I imagine our collaboration with public libraries would most commonly take the form of a library card drive, where we would work side-by-side with representatives from a given public library to sign folks up for library cards, and then direct their new members inside the bookmobile, where they can choose from a selection of materials the library hand-picked to represent itself. In these scenarios, I imagine that the library’s ILS is on a laptop they’ve brought along, so registration is basically the same process, just mobilized. But it’s pretty easy just to keep a spreadsheet of what’s been checked out and by who and to manually enter it into an ILS afterwards.

While our space is likely most amenable to public libraries, we would be crazy not to make it available to other interested parties (school & academic libraries, museums, artists & art galleries, bookstores, etc.) for pop-up shops & galleries, exhibits, and the like. Part of the appeal of this bookmobile-for-hire model is the potential for the bookmobile to be a sort of incubator space, where individuals and organizations can try out new ideas and new services.

(4) What is your goal for the project? Short-term? Long-term?

The sort of loftier, more theoretical goal is to see if this sort of model works and how this could be applied to the larger library world – can we pool library services and be more involved in resource sharing? With the current challenges libraries are facing, it would be great to find another way to pool resources for the larger good of a community or area. Short-term, we are really just focused on getting this operation on the ground and moving. We’re trying to spread the world both locally and globally (online) to get people excited about this venture so when we get up and running, we’ll have the social foundation to really engage with our communities.

Ultimately, the goal is to establish the BPTL as a legitimate long-term business. But we’re not kidding ourselves. We both currently have full-time, decent-to-well-paying jobs inside of libraries with great benefits, and we’re not prepared to let that all go on the chance that our project really takes off. So for now, we are cautiously approaching it as a hobby, but a long-term hobby, and we’ll see where we go from here.

(5) Can you tell me your names and something fun about each of you? I know you both went to UT for your library degrees and that is about it.

We are Kelly Allen and Chris Grawl.

Something telling about us is the fact that we met in UT’s iSchool while librarians-in-training. We were in the same Social Media for Information Specialists class, both needed a group partner for an upcoming presentation, and the rest is history. We also had our first date on Hourly Comic Day, so the beginning of our relationship (and every anniversary since then) is well documented with poorly drawn comics. I don’t think anyone is especially surprised that we’ve come up with this idea, especially given our combined personal libraries… when we moved into our current apartment back in February, I think we made multiple trips for books alone.

Random fun facts about Kelly: My first “professional” position was as a cruise ship librarian for four months. I love zombies and I developed a descriptive schema of zombie films for one of my class assignments. I took Latin classes in middle school and high school, upgraded to “easy Latin” or Italian in college when I studied abroad in Pisa and Rome, and am now sadly out of practice with both. I’ve accidentally had dinner at a diner with Ben Folds (of Ben Folds Five fame). While I like cooking and trying new recipes, I like eating at food trucks even more. My background is in the social sciences so I have a huge interest in language, learning, and brain development. My first job at 16 was at the public library in my hometown (Tulsa, OK). I’m three days older than Chris.

Random fun facts about Chris: I was born and raised in the Greater Houston Area. I wasn’t really raised inside of libraries. Instead, my fondness for libraries started at the age of 20, when I got a job at my school’s (Southwestern University) library the Summer after my sophomore year. I haven’t really stopped working in libraries since. I received a capital-L Liberal Arts degree from Southwestern with a double major in American Studies and Mathematics. I like making lists and mixtapes. I enjoy basketball, table tennis, foosball, and bowling. I’m a diehard Rockets and Texans fan. I actively seek out the best in music, books, and movies. My favorite album is In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. I’m not certain what my favorite book is but my favorite author is Kurt Vonnegut. My favorite movie is The Graduate. I’m three days younger than Kelly. We live in Montrose with our two cats, Clancy and Nora, and my bowling ball, Bertha.

–Jane, BPTL, sharing a love of the written word with Houston and the world

Crowdfunding and Libraries

I am over at the ITI Books Blog today talking about crowdfunding and libraries.

Budgets continue to be a major issue for most libraries. Lack of funding for programs, books, and staff has caused many libraries to make major cuts. As librarians, we know that the worse the economic times, the more people need the resources we offer. How do we bridge the funding gap?

Do you have a success story to share involving crowdfunding? Is there a project you would love to put into motion in your library but you just need some cash? Consider crowdfunding as an option.

–Jane, Happy Monday!

This Moment

This first year of motherhood is overwhelming, joyful, and stretches you beyond your limits. Eventually, the children learn to amuse themselves, though they still need you for many, many things. Once Bairn4 turned one, I started writing again. I wrote a book, Mob Rule Learning.

It was an interesting process, writing non-fiction. I found through the process that I preferred writing non-fiction in the length of articles and blog posts, not books. The process did give me the confidence to try something new and different.

Then Bairn1 came along and I was again in the throes of high maintenance motherhood. The youngest Rochesterling has achieved the ability to amuse himself and thus I have again been writing. All the free time I could squeeze out has been spent working on a new project.

I wrote a novel, a fantasy romance, that has been bouncing around in my head for a very long time. Unlike the non-fiction experience, it was exhilarating. I am now polishing up the manuscript for submission. That part of the process makes me freeze with anxiety and fear. I have determined that one step at a time is the best way to tackle the anxiety of the submission process.

I have begun, in the past year, to drop my ALA committments and disengage from libraryland. Oh, I still follow mostly librarians on Twitter, though they are starting to be outnumbered by editors, publishers, and writers. I will still be presenting at Internet Librarian in October. I loved being a librarian and I may be one again, some day, but my heart’s desire is to write more. Now that Bairn4 and Bairn1 are older, I can write more here, there, and everywhere.

Being at home means I can juggle writing in between quiet time, preschool, and PBS Kids. I am going to use this opportunity to see what I can do.

That is where I am at this moment. A once librarian (and maybe again some day) stay at home mom who wants to write stories with kissing in them.

–Jane, happy with her place

Getting Difficult People to Come Along: a crowdsource challenge

Last week, at Computers in Libraries, I facilitated a session in which the participants defined the direction of our 45 minutes together. It was fun for me and, I think, fun for them as well. After some brainstorming, multi-voting, hand-raising, and discussion, the topic that came to the forefront was “Getting Difficult People to Come Along.”

I asked the group of about 120 people, in 11 minutes, to tell me what worked in their organizations when faced with challenging people. The list they came up with is an absolutely fabulous one. Here is the list:

  • pay attention to learning styles~!
  • customize the experience
  • letting people be a part of the process
  • get them to say what is important to them and then empower them to make that change
  • honor the past
  • demonstrate how the new thing solves a problem for them
  • being resistant to change can be good, make them winners, they are the people that can spot problems when the runners are too far forward
  • acknowledge and honor that what people are doing is difficult and there are multiple ways to do everything
  • have personal conversations with staff that are challenges
  • institutional perceptions are not always reflective of the institution – tissue paper example
  • all staff took learning or personality style surveys and classes, then talked about the change and put in the job descriptions that change is happening
  • involving everyone (don’t panic and carry a towel)
  • made training fun and was an often a scheduled thing
  • asked people what they wanted to learn
  • talking to people outside of your department
  • same as managing children (haha because it is so true)
  • change is coming, give them time to adjust

To see the full list of topics, check out the presentation notes I took on the session entitled “Unleash the Power of Your People”.

–Jane, mob ruled

Around Town at Computers in Libraries 2012

The family Rochester is heading north to Washington, D.C. for the Computers in Libraries conference this week. The boys will be seeing the sights, aka the Air and Space Museum, while I am mingling with book and tech nerds, aka librarians.

I will be making two official appearances:

Wednesday from 10:30-11:15, on Track F, I will be presenting Unleash the Power of Your People, a session on how to use unconference principles for training and other things. This will not be a sit back and sleep session, so come with lots of questions, ideas, and a willingness to share. If you know nothing about the unconference style or you are an old hand at it, you will learn something new. In a room full of intelligent people, passionate about people and libraries, how could you not leave inspired to change the world?

Wednesday evening, 5-5:45, I will be signing copies of Mob Rule Learning in the Exhibit Area. Drop by, grab a book, and come chat!

Other appearances are assured, probably with this guy, but do not hold that against me. I am easily befriended by either complementing me on my incredibly handsome, intelligent boys or buying me a drink.

–Jane, safe travels

Discussing Unconference Things at Midwinter

ALA has been working hard, as have the divisions, in the past couple of years to incorporate more unconference type things into the schedule at Annual and Midwinter. Up until this point, these things have been special events and, while there are a few, most of them are not recurring. It is time to start thinking of making these “special” things less extraordinary and instead making them “just the way we do awesome things around here”.

With that in mind, I am hosting a discussion at the Networking Uncommons at Midwinter on Sunday at 9am. During this time we will likely discuss the following:

  • making current unconference offerings less special and more the way we do things
  • ways to encourage speakers to leave behind traditional sage on the stage presentations
  • planning sessions with different formats
  • linking the virtual and physical conference for a more meaningful experience at both
  • anything else you want to discuss within this topic

True to the topic at hand, the discussion format will be decided by the group on Sunday, depending on how many people show up and how we are feeling that day.

If you love the unexpected, if you long to revitalize the conference circuit at ALA, if you want a place to discuss new ideas, if you want to be a part of a meaningful discussion (instead of a passive listener), if you need some new ideas to take back to your group, if you are a dreamer, a wisher, a hoper, or a magic bean buyer, come join us for a conversation that can make a difference.

–Jane, with apologies to Shel Silverstein