building the global library field

I spent the last several days in a room with the strategic advisor network of the global libraries program at the gates foundation. It’s exhilarating to have the time and the space to sit with the collective intelligence of a dozen or so library professionals who are managing global library associations, building the most innovative public libraries in the world, advancing scholarship and practice, developing local economies with the public libraries they lead or support. Exhilarating, honestly, feels like it doesn’t do any of this justice.

By the end of our time together, the group came up with three priority suggestions for the team on where to invest resources in order to “build the global library field” (in my own words):

– human capital and leadership networks

– measuring impact and communicating value

– shared solutions and infrastructure

Implicit in all of these was the notion of “articulating a vision for the future of libraries” and a strong emphasis on “community engagement” and “partnerships” in doing so.

I left the meeting with a renewed, and still profound, sense that this team is the best positioned organization in the world to advance the field globally. They’ll do it with their continued deep engagement with stakeholders (our group is just one small way they engage inside the field) and their commitment to working with others to get the job(s) done. I also felt extremely grateful for my time there. I am so lucky to know every individual in this group; and am changed myself by my interactions with them whenever we have the chance to meet and exchange. I also left the meeting feeling that there should be concerted, coordinated effort to articulate the future of libraries – in context with how content and learning is changing. It certainly wasn’t missed in the discussion, but I would have traded “human capital” investments for more focus there.

It’s hard to prioritize, and really, working in any of these critical areas will do much to energize the institutional change we need now. If you were personally tasked with “building the global library field” – and you had significant resources to apply to this challenge – what would you do?

online survey & results

On the way home from Australia, I watched the entire ABC/AU series The Librarians on Quantas Air. Hilarious. I hope and pray that someone picks this up (it’s like The Office, but, but it’s a library!) and/or remakes it for US audiences.

But in-between episodes, I was also thinking about how the last chapter or “element” (if you will) of community building that I discuss in my talks and in the book is evaluation and iteration. It occurred to me, suddenly, that I have nothing other than anecdotal evidence for the response and/or impacts of the talks that I give (or of the ideas that I convey). I have asked specifically for feedback from the people I’ve worked with to develop or deliver some of my talks, but this was personal correspondence and, well, people are very nice when asked to do that sort of thing.

I published an online survey last week to cover all of my general speaking engagements. Eighteen people have responded thus far, all from my talks in Australia. Thank you! If you’ve seen me give a presentation, I’d welcome your feedback as well. Here’s the survey and the results as they come in. (on everything but open-ended) as they come in. Because the second section asks for email addresses, and I can’t limit the results sharing to exclude that question, I’ll post that separately at some point (or revise the survey somehow). UPDATE: now includes everything but email addresses.

In the meantime, enjoy, let me know what you think, and thanks for being a part of my own community building process!

Power of Place (Tamworth)

Though it’s a little late in posting (finally starting to catch up from being away – whew!), here’s a link to my country public libraries conference presentation in Tamworth, NSW. The conference theme was “power of place” and I talked through some of my research and discoveries around the libraries build communities project in the context of space and place as it pertains to libraries.

I am so thankful to everyone for the great feedback I’ve received thus far. From inspirations to start new library blogs all the way to re-engaging with local councils to get or retain access to the participatory web, I think it was a great match, and great timing, for me to share some of this work. As for my end of the learning, I am so grateful to have met so many committed and insightful library professionals and supporters, and to have learned about the unique challenges and opportunities (not to mention successes!) already underway in New South Wales.

Have I already thanked the State Library? Yes I think so, but I’ll keep on about it for awhile I’m sure…

State Library of New South Wales

Heart-felt thanks to Leanne Perry and all the staff at the State Library of New South Wales for a fabulous visit to their library, for arranging the library tour and a visit to the center house library in Sydney, and finally for bringing me out to Australia for the public county library conference in Tamworth in the first place!

It was such an inspiration to visit this library. The staff there is incredibly resourceful and very interested in supporting all their public libraries across the state. I was very impressed with the leadership in the library, beginning with the State Librarian Regina Sutton, and all the way through to every staff member that I met while I was there. The organization has recently completed a new strategic plan, updating vision, mission, and goals, as well as reorganizing to support the new organization. (Sounds familiar – we are going through a similar transition at WebJunction.) It’s a great time to be a librarian in New South Wales!

I’m currently putting together my “video diary” of the libraries and librarians I visited with while in Australia – if you want a sneak preview visit me on youtube (I’ll be posting more later when I have a more complete set).

Again, heart-felt thanks to Leanne and everyone at the State Library. It was an absolute pleasure meeting and visiting with you all.

more later…

…but for now I’d like to extend my warmest thanks to the state library of new south wales, the staff at tamworth city library, and the public library association of nsw – country, for inviting me to your wonderful conference. thank you also for the lovely time i had visiting with all of the conference participants from both councils and libraries around new south wales.

thank you especially to pam langridge for finding me in the first place, and for her and cathy johnston’s many layers of assistance over the course of the week.

i am pleased to be back in sydney tonight, readying myself for the state library visit on monday, but also delighted with a number of new friends i’ve made this week. thank you for your warmth and generosity, all.

Australia. Seriously.

I am very, very excited to have been invited to keynote the Country Public Libraries Association of New South WalesAnnual Conference the last week of July and then address the State Library of New South Wales the first week of August.

The conference theme is “The Power of Place” and I’ll be speaking about community building and libraries, and the connections between all our community building efforts, whether they are “inside, outside, or online” (as they say). Enormous thanks to Pam and Deanne for inviting me, and for working with me thus far on settling all the related details. I am very honored to visit Australia, to learn more about libraries there, and to share what I’ve been learning about community building and libraries in my work on the topic thus far.

Oooo. I just can’t wait! Thank you!

luscious libraryland

My last fall trip is just now over. I’ve been sitting in my house for, I don’t know, twenty minutes or so, and I’m very happy to report that the trip and the talk went very well. For the first time I tried pulling together some of the ideas and research for the LBC project into a talk about the community building project at WebJunction – the two are obviously very connected for me but not necessarily for everyone – but guess what? it worked! i was relieved and pleased that it seemed to be the right mix of community building for library staff and community building for patrons. Viola! connections made!

I left out the Putnam stuff and instead focused on our community building roots and how in-person community building and online community building share the same principles and practice; then I connected what our patrons are doing with web2.0 tools to what library staff are doing with the same, and with projects like WJ.

I was a little nervous about the mix, with only one hour for a joint presentation with my co-presenter, Mala, the team lead for WebJunction Arizona, but at the end of it all, one of my audience members come up and says something like: thank you for your overview of social networking and what it means for WebJunction; now I understand why this stuff is important. I work in a rural library and I’m trying to help my community understand how to use this stuff and understand what it’s all about; this was really helpful.

Does it really get more libraryland luscious than that? Maybe. I’ll be here for it if it does. I only posted a few pictures from this very short visit, but you’ll find them here. Many, many thanks to the organizers of AzLA for having me. I had a great time and it was wonderful meeting and talking with so many of you and your library staff in Arizona.
(reposted on BlogJunction)

me and the WJ at IL2007

WebJunction Staff @ Internet Librarian 2007

Thank You: Michigan Library Consortium

Last week I had the pleasure of visiting Michigan for the first time – talking with the Michigan Library Consortium members about community building and libraries. It was my first time out on the road with material from the LBC project and it started a great conversation that I hope will continue to inform our thinking as a profession about community building in libraries – as well as the writing as it continues! My presentation is posted on slideshare/itgirl (new to my personal web 2.0 toolbox) – take a look! I am likely to use some of this material again as I talk more about the book, but already … it’s changing … based on what you’all said while I was out there.

Big message: successful community builders have (at least) four things in common, and these were the theme of my talk. They:

-listen to needs (includes scanning!)
-respond (appropriately to the needs)
-engage (another word for marketing, but the new way, not the old)
-iterate (through evaluation and change)

successful community builders are also thinking about:

-space (inside, outside, online – doesn’t matter where we do it)
-tools (technology is just a tool; let’s start talking to each other more!)
-sustainability (planning for the long haul)

(Looks like the book is shaping up around these ideas – let me know what you think!)

Thanks especially to Heather and Ruth for hosting me. To their Director Randy for blogging, twittering, and facebooking about the event before, during, and after! The panel of Michigan library directors they had assembled right after my keynote, and the fantastic MLC staffers all building community in so many ways – thank you for sharing your projects and libraries with me and your colleagues in MI! And finally, to everyone that gave me feedback and asked questions, both during the presentation and after – a huge thanks! I am definitely already taking your ideas and comments to heart … making updates and changes for my next presentation.

Anyone who’d still like to send in your library’s community building thoughts/projects? Our online survey is still open – please do so! I’d love to hear what you’re learning, or to highlight your or your library’s story in the book or my next talk.

conference changes everything

I’ve been very quiet here because I’ve had a block against finishing the manuscript. I know I need to let it go; I know I need to just sit down and finish it up; I know, I know. Soon! Very soon!!

Last week I was at ALA Annual in DC and had the pleasure of meeting with my editor Jenni Fry in person (and on two occasions, lucky me!), and in our second meeting she says “so, what’s stressing you out?” We talked a bit about the writing, editing, and proofing process and where the book is to this point. “Just get it done,” she says, “it’ll be great.” I know, I know. But there was something about her sitting there in person that made it so. I came home with most of my concerns resolved, and the clearest path towards “get it done” that I’ve had since we started the project. Bottom line: I love this material, especially all of these tremendous stories we’ve uncovered and now get to share. I do just need to pull the pieces together and simply finish out the home stretch.

There are a million other things about my life and work that are different now than they were before conference. It’s always that way – ALA Annual simply changes things. Changes a lot. But why?

I think it’s the face time. Seeing people face to face and talking with them directly – with expressions, body language, gesture, and even touch all on radar – it turns things over. Could we ever bring that experience completely online? We can probably only get close. Online can do a lot of things – but it can’t quite capture the spirit and energy of a full week at conference.

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