Sources of inspiration and presenters from outside the profession. Patrick Sweeney is Branch Manager of the East Palo Alto Library in California.
Thank you all so much for attending R-Squared - The Risk and Reward Conference 2012.
Today isn't the end. It's the beginning of new conversations and a new community that will continue to connect and share.
R-Squared was developed by people just like you, who came together and started a conversation. As attendees, your ideas, your participation, and your feedback are part of this conversation.
We'd like to learn a few things about what you've discovered here at R-Squared, so please take the conference evalutation survey: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/MLKXJSV. We'd love to hear what you think, both the good and the bad, to learn from our own risks we took here.
We've had a lot of fun. Thank you again for your enthusiasm and participation that made this conference a great reward for all involved.
So I was heading for a quiet spot to type up my blog post, when I was wonderfully waylayed by the amazing Andrea Davis to check out the Itinerant Poetry Library (TIPL, http://www.tipl.info/). Sara Wingate Grey (@librarian), The Librarian, was skyping with R2 folk from the UK on a couch right outside the bathrooms.
To quote their site, TIPL "The Itinerant Poetry Librarian has been traveling the world with a free public library, installing the library & librarian and archiving the sounds! poems & poetry of the cities, peoples and countries she meets."
I thought I was headed to write a blog post about my morning session on the Customer Curiosity track, but I knew it was time for me to sit down on the couch and skype with The Librarian. After all, this conference isn't about doing what you're supposed to do, it's about doing the unexpected, increasing connection, being curious.
The Librarian reflected on her travels across North America, sharing poetry with all who would listen. She said she often had to rely on faith to make it happen, but a place to stay or a ride always came through when she needed it.
I asked The Librarian to share a story from her travels when she experienced transformation or metamorphosis. The Librarian shared two stories:
A 12 year-old boy came into a San Francisco coffee shop with his older sister where TIPL was in action. He got a TIPL library card and checked out a book of British sound poetry (look it up if you're curious! It's really cool!) A little while later, the boy started reading the poetry aloud with his sister, and the sound-full poetry became an instantaneous performance for the whole room.
Also in San Francisco, The Librarian found herself walking down Mission Street late one night. A scary man approached. A lady drug dealer across the street recognized The Librarian from a street poetry event the night before. She alerted the scary dude that The Librarian was cool, and saved her hide.
I am grateful I sat down and didn't let myself get in a rush. The couch experience epitomized my morning more than a recap of the notes I took. Here's my train of thought, based on what I learned from the good folks from Ricochet Ideas on the Customer Curiosity experience, as well as The Librarian and the R2 folks gathered around that couch and laptop: Be disruptive. Create something memorable, be it good or bad (but not forgettable). Share. Don't shut down creativity, let it flow and morph and see what happens. Be responsive to the moment. Be brave. Take a leap of faith. Smile and enjoy the fabulous people you find all around you. Choose love over fear.
Lots of love,
Conquering fear of heights, student evaluation & get out of jail free cards. Jill Hurst-Wahl is associate professor of practice & director of the LIS program at the Syracuse University iSchool.
Today our focus was marketing and designing services/programs that disrupt conventions. After a crash course in advertising and marketing each group was split up to create their own unique plan for banned books week...keeping in mind that we are disrupting conventions and maxing out our creative abilities and the results were amazing! There were groups talking about banning books for a week, setting up a masked robbery where teenagers would rob the library of certain objectionable materials and hold them ransom, or having kids draw a picture of a book cover and then burning it so they would know how it felt to have something they created destroyed! It was an inspiring morning and I am leaving this customer curiosity experience not only with a lot of amazing, creative ideas, but also with the understanding of how to sell it to the 98%.
Today's Creative Spaces team moved in a new direction, this time focusing on the importance of public spaces. The Project for Public Spaces' Vice President Cynthia Nikitin offered plenty of perspective on great community centered design, stressing the importance of sociability, access, comfort, and activity. The group also assessed places around Mountain Village to assess experience and offer ideas for improvement. Want to read more about Nikitin's great questions for assessment? Read more after the jump.
Each group went to a new area around Mountain Village, with the ski hill pictured above assigned to our group. Our group was able to rate the space using the questions provided:
- What kinds of things would you like to be able to do here?
- How would you like to get to and from here?
- How would this place be related to adjacent places?
- What kind of amenities/features would you like to see here that would add to the character of this place and make it more comfortable for you?
- What kind of opportunities are there for social interactions?
Once we looked over the space and shared our ideas, we were offered further cues for more intensive evaluation.
- What temporary/experimental/start-up activities would you like to see here?
- What activites should be accomodated in the space in the long term?
- Ask someone who is in the "place" what they like about it and what they would do to improve it. Their answer:
- What local partnerships or local talent can you identify that could help implement some of your proposed improvements? Please be as specific as possible.
Using these tools, our group started along a healthy brainstorming track. We came up with creative plans for the space that we thought would improve it. Our most valuable moment came in the interview of a local merchant, who explained more about the history and natural development of the space, along with issues that we had never thought of before talking to him. This drove home to me just how important it is to bring in stakeholders in to a building project while it is still in the early design phase. Without the input from this community member, we might have thought it best to move ahead in a whole new direction.
Today's Creative Spaces session focused on place making for communities. It went beyond how to build a building or where to put the shelves and walls, effectively building on what we learned yesterday. Today we answered these questions: How do you create a vision for a building? How do you ensure that your spaces solve the problems of the community? What can you do to activate your space? I walked away with tons of favorite ideas spinning around in my head. Here are a few:
Start the Conversation: it is critical to include the community in the visioning process. Don't wait to get them involved when you need their approval for a solution! Instead let them help define the problems and brainstorm solutions with you. You can avoid push back later if you listen to them early on.
Activate the space: The space needs to be used! The space needs to be alive with people; it needs to be a destination. If it is laying dormant think about how you can change that. What will bring the people? How do they want to use the space? What could you change to increase the ways the space could serve the community?
The power of 10: each building should have 10 places, each of those spaces should allow you to do 10 things in it. Why would that matter? I have a teen area that lets you do 3 things: browse books, sit and read, or use a computer (maybe). If you aren't doing one of those 2 things, you have to go somewhere else. So planning for 10 uses of each space you are investing time and resources in will enable you to make sure that the space is well used and truly activated.
These are just a few of the ideas on public space making. For more check out the website on the project for public spaces: http://www.pps.org/
We explored, we learned, and I bet we all made some plans. A great day!
Before breakfast on day one, R2 was already the best conference I'd ever been to. I have never been in a group so excited about the speakers and presentations on the conference schedule. But, I've also never been to a conference that valued participants' creativity and ideas and created a collaborative culture between presenters and participants.
As a member of the culture experience (Team Aquabutts for LIFE!) I knew I would be challenged to climb, jump, roll around, and get my hands dirty. I did not realize that I would actually get my hands dirty by sticking them into a tank full of worms (so gross). Today our team took calculated risks. We all did things that scared us. We did things we didn't think we could do, and we cheered and supported each other the whole time.
This evening, after the challenges were done, dinner was consumed, and the first two rounds of happy hour were well past us, a few of my teammates and I were talking about our amazing experience. It included the highlights you've probably heard by now. Yes, we held snakes. Yes, we ran through an inflatible obstacle course. And yes, we were the reason there was duct tape on the patio. Those are the easy stories to tell. Those are the things you don't expect at a library conference, but on the way back to the gondola after the after party, a new friend channelled the boy who saw the emporer wasn't wearing any clothes and asked me what it all meant. How does this relate to real life in our home libraries, and THERE is our real challenge. We thought that moving a marble through a maze or getting those darn discs to go through the chains were the challenge, but really it's up to us to take home the lessons, not just the anecdotes, and make positive change in our libraries. Our seemingly silly tasks forced us to learn new ways of communication, required us to blindly follow the directions of a near-stranger, and beat down our bodies, but not our hearts. We can and will take the strength and confidence we gained from this experience, we know that successful collaborations are possible because we were part of an extremely powerful one, and we know that we can do what we didn't think we could. This is what we learned while holding snakes, and this is how we'll change the world.
I can't wait to see what tomorrow brings.