It's been three months since we gathered in Colorado to push boundaries, connect with each other and tap into our most creative selves. The R2 Team wanted to check in to find out: What's life been like after R-Squared?
Please take a moment to fill out our brief survey. We'd love to hear how your ideas from R-Squared have taken shape.
We'll have more conference videos released in the coming weeks, too. We hope you continue sharing your ideas and experiences with friends and colleagues. Let's inspire change together.
R-Squared 2012 may be over, but the exciting work is just beginning. Now is the time to put all of those great ideas you learned in Telluride into practice.
Gale-Cengage Learning has partnered with the R2 Team to bring you an exciting opportunity to reap the rewards of your most innovative, risky thinking. Here's what you do:
1. Think of an innovative, risky, inspiring way to tell the world about your library.
2. Submit a video or brief essay describing your innovative marketing idea.
3. Win $5,000 to make your idea come to life.
If you had $5,000 to market your library, what would you do? Skywriter? Puppy parade? The bolder the better. Deadline for submission is Oct. 5, so start brainstorming (or role-storming) today!
Productive brainstorming, preparing to change the field and asking the question people can't stop talking about. Topher Lawton is an MSLIS student in the iSchool at Syracuse University.
Pam Sandlian Smith delivered R-Squared's closing remarks on the afternoon of September 11th, 2012.
In many ways this conference has been larger than life and I would like to introduce my larger than life dog, Buddy Einstein Doodle. In some ways he is a mythological creature, a hero of sorts. When we are walking, sometimes people ask, “Is that a dog or a polar bear?” I secretly like the idea of having my own polar bear. He displays a sense of quiet courage and when we are taking walks to the park, other dogs feel threatened by him, but he calmly walks by with his eye on the path ahead. As we return home, we may experience some of those yappy dogs, but we must remember to keep our eye on the path, we can’t be distracted from our goal.
I am Pam Sandlian Smith, Library Director of Anythink and it is my pleasure to bring these two days to a close. I would like to thank all of you for being part of this experience. I’d like to thank our speakers and our sponsors for supporting R-Squared. You all have become risk takers as part of this conference. Recently, I was flying to Seattle and I had a conversation with a gentleman who worked for the Bureau of Land Management. He is in charge of the fleet of planes that manages wild fires. Previously, he was a smokejumper for twenty years. He said, “Smoke jumping is a very risky business, but if you practice, if you know what you are doing and take calculated risks, it isn’t really risky. It is easy to be successful. Smoke jumping is risky, but it is safe if you have a plan. I loved those years as a smoke jumper.” When he was ready to depart, he retrieved his back-pack where he had a fly fishing pole he was planning to use on his trip. I looked at him and said, “Risk and reward, pointing to the fishing pole.”
Over the last days, you have taken many risks and challenges. That is what this conference is about, practicing risk and honing our creative skills. As we learn how to take calculated risks, just like the smokejumper, we can gain the courage necessary to be successful. The challenges that we have encountered at R-Squared will feel minimal compared to the challenges that we face when we return to our workplaces. We are gathered here with a network of friends and risk-takers, but we may feel isolated when we get back home. My favorite vitamin up until now is vitamin C, but I think we now have a new vitamin, R2. When you need a dose of inspiration and courage, remember this experience and have a dose of R2 for inspiration.
A number of years ago, I had the privilege of listening to John Creighton, one of the speakers in the Abundant Community track. John talked about research conducted in the 90’s by the Pew Trust for the American Society of Newspaper Editors. One revealing piece of research from this study projected that the printed page would no longer be the preferred method of gathering news. People wanted more interactive and social networking capabilities connected with their news. The newspaper editors discounted these findings, noting that people would always prefer the printed page as their primary source of news.
Now we all know that libraries are in a similar situation with the transition to digital media. And we know that we have to adapt, to make changes to get ahead of this curve. We have to take some big risks to combat that sense of becoming irrelevant or redundant. Libraries are too important to a democratic society to let them go the way of dinosaurs, to fail like so many newspapers. It is up to us to lead this charge. Josh Linkner talked about creativity being a critical skill. Libraries can be places of ideas, thinking and innovation. The American character has always been creative, innovative and entrepreneurial. Somehow we have gone astray, but wouldn’t it be great for libraries to be the leaders in encouraging creativity and innovation in our community.
In many ways this conference has referenced Joseph Campbell’s Hero with a Thousand Faces. You all are hero’s and risk takers in your own way. The hero starts the journey in the ordinary world. He receives a call to enter an unusual world, a call to adventure. You all have answered the call that brought you to R-Squared. You have faced the tasks and challenges, some you have faced alone and you have been assisted by others as you faced some challenges. You have survived this challenge and discovered a piece of important self-discovery.
Now we must return to the ordinary world, facing even greater challenges. You have earned a gift that can be used to improve our world, our libraries as you return to your work. It is our responsibility to take the risks to insure the success of our libraries.
I would like to call all of the members of the organizing team to the stage. On your table everyone has a stack of small cards, a manifesto. This is our parting gift to you, another piece of inspiration to take home to give you a sense of comfort and inspiration when you need a boost. I would like everyone to stand and read this together:
You are not
just an employee,
volunteer or board member.
You do not merely catalog books,
organize periodicals and manage resources.
You are the gateway into the mind of
the idea people who come to our
facilities to find or fuel a spark.
It is your calling to trespass into the unknown
and come back with a concrete piece someone can hold
onto, turn over, and use to fuel their mind and soul.
Tuesday night, a group of us went to dinner to celebrate the success of R-Squared. We took some time to talk about what we learned and how the conference changed us.
One of the most profound things that I learned was the power of what a small, passionate group of people can accomplish. All of the R-Squared organizers have full-time jobs. Everyone has regular lives and are people just like you. We all feel so passionately about our vision for bringing innovative library professionals together that we knew this was something we had to do. To be straight - this group kicks ass.
Throughout the planning process - 19 months of day-long meetings, countless scribbles on white boards, cocktails and more spreadsheets than you can imagine - we weren't striving for perfection. We tried to focus on the content that we believed was most pertinent to where libraries need to be, and create a voice/brand that inspired people to join a revolution. The conference wasn't perfect. There were a few blips and some expectations weren't met. But that's okay. That's what taking big risks is all about. If you change one person's life, if you give at least one person the courage and hope to go back and take risks, think differently and inspire change, any imperfections or missed marks are irrelevant. We'll learn and grow from those too.
Another lesson for me personally was the importance of practicing what you preach. It was a huge risk for us to launch a national library conference. None of us had ever done anything like this before. And who knew? Would people come all the way to Telluride? Would the ideas we have translate? Would we pull it off? Would people just scoff and laugh?
In the same vein of practicing what you preach, I took a risk in bringing together a new team, some of whom I was meeting in person for the first time. Some of you may have met Meghan Rutigliano, regional network manager for Burningman. We met over the phone just a few months ago, and I asked her to come to R-Squared and be my right hand to see what we could learn from each other. She runs a leadership summit of Burningman organizers from all over the world, so I knew we could both learn a lot. But it was a risk bringing in someone from another industry, especially one as iconic as Burningman, that I had never met before to fill such a huge role. The risk was completely worth it - she worked hard, provided great insight and moral support, and I now have an amazing new friend and colleague. It was a risk bringing in a video crew all the way from New York, led by one of my oldest friends. Anyone who interacted with the team could tell they were committed to capturing the spirit of this conference. It was a risk going to Carl Wiedemann, web developer for Anythink, and ask him to work on the R-Squared website - in exchange for in-kind sponsorship - and come along on this journey with us. He fully committed and designed a beautiful website, and together with Chris Evjy, web manager at Jefferson County Public Library, created a dynamic, real-time experience for online visitors during the conference.
So, how did this conference change me?
I'm sure I'll go back to Anythink next week, back to my little apartment and my cat and my neighborhood in Denver and fall back into normal life again. I'll tackle the projects that have backed up over the past few months, the emails that I haven't yet gotten to, and the phone calls I need to return. I'll still be the goofy gal I've always been. But R-Squared has changed me. I know now more than ever that anything is possible. That I can push myself farther than I ever imagined. That you can affect change on a large scale with just a small group of passionate folks. That being open - not controlling every detail and letting things happen organically - allows magic to happen. That trusting other people and working as a team allows everyone to shine and rise to the occasion.
I think I can say with confidence we all have our own lessons learned from R-Squared. Some of us it may have been a turning point, some of us not. What we do know is that we're all in this together. We have a support system of risk takers now that believe in the power of libraries and the importance of taking risks to remain relevant. We have a group of creative people that are ready and willing to inspire creativity in our staff, our organizations, our communities. We have a group ready to take on the challenge of reinventing library services and shifting perceptions of libraries in our communities. Now the hard work begins, but we're not in it alone.
I encourage you to keep in touch with the friends you've made, reach out to one another for support as we embark on the next chapter of our journey to revolutionize libraries and change the world.
It is hard to believe that the conference is already over! As my friends and I reluctantly pack our bags and head out through the beautiful Rocky Mountains, we are buzzing with ideas and concepts to share with our respective libraries. The last few days have been amazing. I have met so many people from across the United States and made new connections with colleagues in Colorado! I feel like I have gained so much professionally and personally, I am excited to take my experience back to my library and share them.
My chosen experience was "Culture" and I am super glad I participated in it. I found myself with a great group of people (one woman from the Gates Foundation and another a keynote speaker who faced her fear of snakes) that were amazng, energetic, innovative, and supportive the entire two days we were together. It seemed like we were a well oiled machine form the get-go, finishing each other's sentences and each contributing our own special skills and dynamics to create our unique culture.
Imagine...nine strangers. A newly formed team of individuals creating a environment based on similar core values. Developing new skills that they can take with them and share with others. In two days.
Crazy you say?
No. It. Was. AMAZING.
Thank you, R-Squared. It has been a blast.
As I was driving home last night, I was struck by just how lucky I am to have been able to attend this conference. The amount of energy and dedication at this conference was infectious and I am returning to work with a renewed sense of purpose and a whole artillery of new ideas. I hope that the return to "real life" will not completely dismantle my new beliefs in myself and our profession, but I know that if my creativity goes back into hiding I have a whole support group of librarians I can turn to and I hope that we will continue to nurture the relationships formed at this conference and remind each other regularly that we are creative, passionate, professionals who CAN make a difference. I feel extremely lucky to count myself among this group. Thank you all for making an impact on my career, my thinking, and my life.
As I sign off tonight and head back home tomorrow, I realize that of all the amazing things I've learned during this conference the most powerful of all is this: I am not alone. Today at the close of the conference I sat in a room filled with people who are committed to keeping librarianship relevant and revitalized. That is what inspires me most, to know that so many people are looking into the future and are leaving this conference ready to try to new things and change the world. I feel like we are in it together. Go forth and conquer, and best of luck! It was an honor to take the risk with you!
Day 2 - and the final day of R-Squared - I am stunned to see it end, but energized to take it all back to Pueblo! The day began with a rousing and provocative session on creativity - and using it in a thoughtful and structured way to bring ideas out that will benefit customers and libraries. Customer Curiosity gave us a planning format to explore a specific idea - how to plan Banned Books Week - and then a short amount of time to accomplish it. The ideas that came out were incredibly "outside-the-box" and completely do-able. Shut down Wi-Fi...allow customers to ban books for a week...arrest teachers...etc. Though these ideas sound like a crazy way for a library to create awareness about an important issue...the fact is they would do just that - create awareness - and begin a conversation with a customer. An astounding amount of work came out of that session...and I think we all left with ideas rolling around in our brains - and the inspiration to work with our staff to do more!
Our afternoon Idea Jam was fun and fabulous. More great tools to engage staff in creative planning and outside-the-box thinking. Some libraries are already doing thinking outside the box and their knowledge and experience will create models for other libraries. Passwords instead of library card #s for access? Letting customers take iPads home? Shifting budgets away from material security and into resources? Unthinkable! Yet - it's being done and is only the tip of the iceburg.
Then we leave with the message of I AM - Tom Shadyac's film. The idea that humanity and society is all interconnected with nature and the world around us in so many ways. We are not solitary...and in fact thrive in community. Our communities thrive when we invest (time, money, energy, creativity, compassion, etc) in constant improvement - and we all benefit from that result. All of these ideas speak to our personal and professional missions.
This conference has been transformational for me personally and professionally - and I know I'm not the only one. I know that planning this conference has used so many resources - but I am so grateful for the opportunity to explore these ideas. Thank you!