Insights and Reflections slideshow (viewed best at fullscreen)
[Slide 1] This semester has been so intensely, deeply nostalgic for me. I’ve talked about this in blog posts some, but I wanted to revisit it in this final artifact, to poke at it a little and think about the value of that.
- Image: Conference attendee standing outside Aurora Public Library.
- Caption: Colorado Association of Libraries Spring Paralibrarian Conference, 2007.
[Slide 2] We get busy, in the field, day in day out, and something gets lost. It’s so important to stop and reflect from time to time.
- Image: Library building and trees, park bench in the foreground.
- Caption: Belmar Branch Library from Belmar Park, 2017.
[Slide 3] I’m constantly drawing on everything I’ve ever done and seen and learned, even if it’s not at the surface. It’s helpful to go back and recall, reflect, re-read, re-egage. Synthesize new learning with old. The metaphor is the library itself: sometimes it doesn’t take re-reading a book to remember the lessons taken from it and put them into a new context, it just needs looking up at the shelf and seeing that it’s there.
- Image: Closeup of Yellow Blue Tibia by Adam Roberts (2009).
- Caption: Treasures in the stacks, Belmar, 2016.
[Slide 4] In undergrad, one of my units was on synthesizing and internalizing knowledge by navigating between different modes of discovery, and I did a lot of journaling, and I made little 4×4” mixed media art pieces drawing out some of the most powerful takeaways from the journaling. I still have those pieces, and I still find them valuable as critical and ethical points of celestial navigation.
- Image: Detail of an outdoor metal sculpture holding a pool of rainwater.
- Caption: Library sculpture garden after a rainstorm, Spanish Peaks Library District, 2011.
[Slide 5] So I thought it would be fun and useful to do something similar with this project, but with a digital artifact.
- Image: Glass wall etched with an image of a tree and text. Each leaf of the tree is a bubble with a donor’s name.
- Caption: Donor wall, Alachua County Library, Gainesville FL, 2009. Quote: “The only true equalizers in the world are books; the only treasure-house open to all comers is a library; the only wealth which will not decay is knowledge; the only jewel which you can carry beyond the grave is wisdom.” – J. A. Langford
[Slide 6] Each slide combines, not a summary but a single new insight, piece of knowledge, source, or direction of inquiry from the semester’s work with an old photograph from some point in my life in libraries, reminding me of a time when I was engaging some of the same ideas in a different way.
- Image: Girl in traditional Mexican dance costume, dancing, indoors.
- Caption: Dancers, SPLD, 2011.
[Slide 7] I hope to look back on these assemblages in years to come as touchstones, helping me to keep my feet on the path when I lose track of where I am.
- Image: Window with a pink and yellow flower drawn in window crayon.
- Caption: Inspire Arts! Belmar, 2016.
[Slide 8] Disruption is a central professional value. Trying new things, challenging the status quo, taking radical chances, interrogating our own practice.
- Image: Man drumming, garden chess pieces on a window sill in the background.
- Caption:Making some noise, SPLD, 2009.
[Slide 9] We’ve been asking these questions for a long time. We, collectively, are pretty good about it, but we tend to forget. We get better by doing better.
- Image: Man and woman talking, other people in the background, documents on easels in the background, in an art gallery.
- Caption: SPLD bond issue passage party and rebranding community forum, 2008.
[Slide 10] If continuous improvement is the new culture of libraries, what are we improving? And why? (Denning, 2015)
Expertise is necessary but not sufficient.
- Image: Smiling construction worker looking around a corner in an unfinished building.
- Caption: Construction in the new SPLD building, 2009.
[Slide 11] The user is not broken. Your system is broken until proven otherwise. (Schneider, 2006) Re-read “The user is not broken” and “The user is (still) not broken” (Kenney, 2014) every year. Or as often as needed, till etched on brain.
- Image: Three teenagers on sprawling in the grass, library building in the background.
- Caption: Teens on the SPLD lawn, 2012.
[Slide 12] The more we embed digital and self-service (and digital self-service) functions, the more we cross the digital/physical boundary, and that puts a special responsibility to be proactive and respectful [with patrons’ data] on us. [This is about a lot more than data.].
- Image: Library worker at computer, library children’s area in the background with a woman and two children at another computer.
- Caption: Open workspace and staff/patron boundary, SPLD, 2012.
[Slide 13] We start with awareness. From awareness comes engagement. From engagement comes a pragmatic, holistic, and well-balanced understanding of the community, and that takes time, and it can’t be only one person or one small group of people. More voices at the table mean an enriched and varied lived experience, inside and outside the institution.
- Image: Teenage boy, sitting on the floor in front of library shelves, surrounded by open boxes of books, looking up at the photographer.
- Caption: Teen volunteers shelving in the new building, SPLD, 2009.
[Slide 14] [A]ll of that takes time and work and individual and institutional commitment and is ongoing and incremental and it takes a desire to do that work grounded in affection and investment, which is basically fundamental relationship-building.
- Image: Sign (“Vote Yes on 2a!” and a cartoon of a library on the verge of exploding, with books falling out of the windows) on a trailer behind a pickup truck in a parade.
- Caption: SPLD expansion campaign float, Homecoming Parade, 2007.
[Slide 15] [O]vertly privileging actual and potential high-engagement users may be an efficient disbursement of resources but it’s not compassionate. Libraries are also liminal spaces, traversed rather than occupied, in moments of change, by people we are encountering for, perhaps, the first and last time.
- Image: Deer crossing the lawn in front of a library building.
- Caption: An unanticipated use of the library, SPLD, 2011.
[Slide 16] What do we mean when we say “we meet you where you are” (JCPL, 2014)? Who are we saying it to? Do we mean it? What ethical action does that statement demand?
Dig deeper into concepts of information ecologies.
- Image: Group of program attendees talking in a library space, mostly older women, one young girl in the background.
- Caption: Local history author talk, SPLD, 2007.
[Slide 17] Strategic planning – yes, even tech planning – is not about the tech, it’s about leveraging tech resources (and people resources, and cultural resources, and other resources) to achieve the manifestation of new ideas, to reach beyond where we are and do something ambitious. Planning is the hard slogging boring work by which imagination emerges victorious over the status quo.
- Image: Two seniors at laptops on a row of mobile tables with papers and notes, a younger woman assisting them, lawn chess pieces on the windowsill in the background.
- Caption: Computer classes in SPLD’s new BTOP computer lab, 2012.
[Slide 18] Words matter. Semiotics matter. “Branding” and “visioning” and “identity” are tragically overused and watered-down buzzwords, but stripped down to their essential function, they are tremendously powerful: they are the process of forming an institutional culture and a practice around shared values.
- Image: Groups of teens and tweens around two pickup trucks, under trees in fall foliage.
- Caption: Library kids, homecoming float, 2012.
[Slide 19] [W]hen I look closely at both the accelerating, flattening, automating trends and the human-centered, collaborative, engaging, analog trends – what I find is the commonalities between them articulating and clarifying our purpose and our role.
- Image: Young man and small child playing lawn chess, indoors, glass-paned door and lawn beyond in the background.
- Caption: Tiny child, giant chessboard, SPLD, 2009.
[Slide 20] [I]f we are serious about connecting people to knowledge, it also has to be skill-based and experience-based and community-based knowledge, and we’re making those connections in creative and innovative ways.
- Image: Two teen or tween girls, decorating cakes.
- Caption: Cake decorating in the library, SPLD, 2010.
[Slide 21] [W]e can’t be institutions that support and advocate for our patrons’ individual agency without being workplaces that do the same for our staff.
- Image: Sparsely appointed workspace, with many open boxes of books and a laptop.
- Caption: New office, 2009.
[Slide 22] [L]ibraries do not have to invent their own future. But we do have to create an environment in which the rest of the world can make everything out of libraries that can be imagined. (Weinberger, 2014)
- Image: Two women and a young girl around a tabletop loom, one other loom in the foreground, tapestries in the background.
- Caption: Pueblo Handweavers’ Guild at the SPLD Grand Opening, 2009.
[Slide 23] Interoperability is EVERYTHING. Understanding and being open to the possibilities and varieties of user experience offered by always-on culture is EVERYTHING. Bazaar, not cathedral. Again (and again), not just talking about the tech.
- Image: Woman walking a dog on a path in a park, with trees, mountains, and low clouds in the background.
- Caption: Belmar Park and incoming storm over the Front Range, from Belmar’s open computer lab, 2017.
[Slide 24] Simply by existing, libraries activate narrative. If we think about learning in terms of internalizing, transforming, and enacting narrative, then: the connection between the idea of libraries as sites of narrative possibility, and the infinity of the human capacity for learning manifests. We interrogate. We manipulate and play. We converse. We create. That’s what learning is.
- Image: Dr. Seuss Horton stuffed toy in front of a green sign (“Read Along”).
- Caption: Horton, SPLD, 2010.
[Slide 25] Cultivating a love for formal education, valuing it, making it accessible, making a literate and broadly informed citizenry a cultural priority, is part of cultivating an environment for individual learning. Learning how to learn is a process, and not a solitary one.
- Image: Woman with a document in her hand talking to a group off-camera, one seated man in the background, tables with gardening books on display behind him.
- Caption: Master Gardener program cooperation with the CU Extension Service, SPLD, 2009.
[Slide 26] When humans interact with one another, they do not merely experience the same event; they also know that they are experiencing the same event. And this knowledge that they are sharing their attention changes more than the nature of the experience; it also changes what they do and what they’re able to accomplish in conjunction with others. (Sloman and Fernbach, 2017).
- Image: Two women drumming, looking up at the drumming instructor off-camera, laughing and smiling.
- Caption: Discovering music, SPLD, 2010.
[Slide 27] The essence of practice is that it’s ongoing, it’s immersive, it’s personal. Processing is part of the work. I need to be reminded of this constantly.
- Image: Layers of weathered stickers, reading “Denver Art Museum” and “I Voted [checkmark]” on an unidentifiable surface.
- Caption: found assemblage, Denver Art Museum, 2016.
[Slide 28] The tidal metaphor for practice (“in the sense of being both cyclic and back-and-forth, ebb and flow, transecting and occupying and navigating boundaries”).
- Image: Detail of a textile art piece depicting abstract forms suggesting mountains and smoky skies.
- Caption: Practicing vulnerability and visibility by hanging my art in the library, Taos Fires (2011, fabric and mixed media), SPLD, 2011.
[Slide 29] There’s something quite surreal about looking at five thousand photos spanning a decade and more in a single marathon sitting. Puts things into perspective. Take a widow’s advice: take the pictures. Capture those moments. At the end of your career, at the end of your life, you will not think, “wow, I wasted a lot of time taking pictures.” I promise.
- Image: Man in a leather jacket standing in front of a glass-fronted building with a partially visible Convention Center sign.
- Caption: Me and John at ALA Midwinter, 2009.
[Slide 30] Wow, we were doing such amazing, radical stuff in 2009 and 2010. What happened to us? Did we get lazy? Did we get timid? Or just tired?
Remember. Remember. Remember.
- Image: Windsurfing longboard, shot from above, library space in the background.
- Caption: That one time we had a boat in the library for the summer, SPLD, 2010.
[Slide 31] Caring — mattering — is the motive force (Searls, D. & Weinberger, D. , 2015).
- Image: Three boys playing in the mud. One is drizzling mud on the head of another, who is laughing and shrugging.
- Caption: Youth Advisory Group party, 2008.
Meme. Pile of books, superimposed with the quote “It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines who you will be when you can’t help it.” – Oscar Wilde. No caption.
- Denning, S. (2015). Do We Need Libraries?
- Kenney, B. (2014). The user is (still) not broken.
- Schneider, K (2006). The User is Not Broken.
- Searls, D. & Weinberger, D. (2015). New Clues.
- Sloman, S. and Fernbach, P. (2017). The Knowledge Illusion: Why We Never Think Alone. New York: Riverhead Books.
- Weinberger, D. (2014). Let the Future Go.