Being part of the Culture Experience was the choice I made - accepting challenges was the name of the game! I must say, this experience was all it was hyped to be and more. I knew it would call on some pretty new skills but most of my anxiety was built around the physically demanding aspect of this challenge. I found the real task of this experience fell into the ability if nine strangers to build a brand, develope an identity, and be true to the core values we chose to live by during our adventure...and own it.
As we rolled through our eight challenges, the values we had agreed to be the most important, slowly began to reveal themselves. One by one, we accepted our tasks and our newly created team pushed aside their fears. Trust, support, encouragement, collaboration, and empowerment became a common theme. We used our curiosity, passion, and courage both indivdually and as a team, to be repeatedly successful. It had little to do with "I" and everything to do with "We".
I was part of a great team. I couldn't be more proud of the accomplishment we achieved together. I look forward to seeing them tomorrow morning an doing it all over again.
And to be honest, I hope Miss Zoey can make it too.
Today was unlike any other day at a conference I have ever had! I was part of the 'Culture Experience'. As the Experience started, we were placed randomly in one of 8 groups. My group, the Flaming Banditos, had eleven folks in it. We were told it was going to be an Amazing Race like experience. Kind of an Amazing Race mixed with Fear Factor in my opinion. Great group. Awesome folks.
We did a lot of activities - things some of us had never done before, things a few of us were afraid of. There were snakes and spiders. Donovan touched a snake. He was scared. There were physical obstacle courses, climbing walls, minefields and mental puzzles. I climbed a rock wall... somewhat successfully (I was totally afraid I wouldn't be able to do it). Certainly there was something challenging for almost everyone.
We were also part of a group. Working together through these involved communication, courage and creativity. Between every other activity we had time to reflect, to talk with each other about what had just happened and how it related to libraries. For me this was part of the reward aspect. Eleven folks, talking about what it is to take risks in libraries, with staff and coworkers.
It got me thinking about what really is a risk. Is it Donovan touching the snake? My rock wall? Is it knowing our profession will become irrelevant if we don't touch our own version of snakes?
Everything about R-Squared has been exciting to me. My first library conference, the opportunity to attend, the location, and the fact that since I booked my room late I get to travel between the conference and the lodge via gondola! Pre-conference, I found the website to be quite the teaser. There was just enough information to interest me...but not give me a real good idea of what exactly I would be doing. Leading up to this conference I would check in to see what I could learn - but it seemed that attending would be the only way for me to really know. It made me curious - so appropriate that I am in the Customer Curiosity experience.
I enjoyed everything about the morning session and workshop. Josh Linkner really astounded me with the fact that we lose our perception of our own creativity as we become adults. And then, that 85% of our creativity is learned! Wow! This idea further impacted me as I was "playing" at the lego table in the Experience zones. Ok - I was trying to build a really practical garage to house all of the vehicles scattered on the table - nothing to outrageous like someone's mobile-office-on-wheels :-). Another attendee started talking to him about his son's lego collection and their explorations at the lego store...and we began discussing how toys eliminate the need for creativity. Back in "the good ole' days" lego kits were simple and facilitated many creations...now kits are very specific, expensive, usually representing a recent movie, elaborate, difficult to build, and require nothing more than the ability to follow instructions. Creativity NOT required. Legos are not the only toys that do this. You can buy a child a toy cell phone that has ring tones and a "touch screen"...but when I was a child I played that my mom's bottle of jergen's was a telephone.
So now I wonder if we have a creativity crisis. We are no longer fostering it in our children, no wonder they become adults and feel that that isn't who they are! Now what? Linkner gave us three activities to unleash creativity. I think the whole idea was to use the library-land questions he presented and use his tools to find creative tools. I feel that some of us might still have been stuck - where creativity wasn't considered and even welcome. In my group I heard answers reflective of a very traditional library approach - which it seemed that this activity was trying to shake up. We even had librarians argue over whether an answer was valid or not - and whether we were following the rules or not. Instead of letting our imaginations run away with us...we were concerned about the details of the very open-ended activity. In the abundance of information exchanged, I hope a few of the valuable sparks ignite. I hope to use Linkner's suggestions to ask 5-WHYS about our traditional way of thinking, and get some creative sparks igniting into full ideas in my library.
Now off to bed - a full day tomorrow!
Ok all you customer curiosity people...what if the gondola had night vision capabilities so you could see the wildlife that is surely out there at night. Also, what if there was a way to communicate with the people behind you to tell them if something cool is coming up that they should keep an eye out for....I'm wondering if I will ever stop thinking of crazy ways to improve things...
Culture is core, repelling and the mindset of staff. Gretchen Caserotti is assistant director for public services at Darien Library in Connecticut.
Today's Creative Spaces track took us through architecture school in just four short hours. Not only did we get a crash course in Architecture 101, we also got lots of hands on training building arches, designing libraries made of apples, and making a full building out of enormous pieces of foam core board.
The day's discussion was led by Dennis Humphries and Ozi Friedrich of Humphries Poli Architects. The architects were pleasant and patient, clearly enjoying explaining how they approach library design. We were all given a really great workbook clearly explaining each design element and giving us more to fuel our creativity on the ride back home. The magnificent view on the outdoor balcony didn't hurt to illustrate the inspirational images members of the team had brought from home to show off.
Creative Spaces track participants also got real hands on experience looking at concepts of lighting design and framing views, using giant pieces of foam core to block the light streaming in to the Peaks resort. We built huge rows of shelving, experimenting with horizontal, vertical, and diagonal views of the space. Playing with giant framing devices definitely helped me to visualize the potential of the spaces we worked in - and it was fun to play with design in such a hands on way.
I learned a lot about library design that I've never encountered in library school or a traditional conference setting. R2 keeps surprising me!
Is it wrong that I left the customer curiosity experience with more questions than answers? I feel like this particular experience, combined with the session from this morning is going to guide the things that I try to do in my library this year. As a school librarian I am limited, mostly by scheduling, in what I can do to engage the students. However, I now feel that with a little creativity I can start to ask the right questions to engage the students, and perhaps even the teachers. I would love to transform the library from someplace that the students come because they have to into a place that they come because they want to interact (intelligently) with other students and staff. The next step is to figure out exactly how to do this and what questions I need to ask to ensure that I am giving both students and teachers what they want. It's a daunting task....but an exciting one!!
What did I learn today? What am I thinking about after a fabulous day at R2?
Ask questions. Lots of 'em. We answer questions, let's ask them too.
Some questions from today: Why? What if? Why not? What's the opposite? What makes you curious? What makes you uncomfortable? What's a question you really want to ask others? (We got write our questions down and then walk around the room and answer others' questions. I asked, "What scares you?" and learned that people fear the economy, mice, the upcoming election, republicans, zombies, guns, the future, losing a child, being inadequate, ignorance, not being there for the kids, and nothing- yet). What spurs conversation? How can we make our spaces more social?
How would you answer any of these questions? What did you learn today? Comments encouraged.
You could literally feel the energy and creativity racing around the room as keynote speaker Josh Linkner encouraged us to question conventional thinking. He also had us brainstorming crazy- original ideas on a number of topics. One group brainstormed 107 ideas around the topic of innovation in libraries. After Josh's entertaining keynote, the lunch tent was buzzing with conversation and laughter.The idea sparks were flying!
The Creative Spaces experience had participants looking at different elements of construction like, light, view, texture, etc. and then had attendees try their hand at building structures. We found it was much easier to conceptualize rather than build. Other activities throughout the day involved apples, foam board, walking panels, and of course soaking in the beautiful mountain view. Use your imagination to create that picture.