Deepening the Conversation

thinking about questions of authority, technology, learning, and 2.0 in academic libraries


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Technology, socialization, learning, and culture change

I’ll be presenting this week at the Library 2.011 conference. I’m pretty excited, I’ve got a great topic and the conference itself looks to be great. I also really like the idea of an international virtual conference. Two days of fantastic learning opportunities, without the costs and hassles of travel.

 

Also, I’m so excited that Christine Bruce will be keynoting! Even more excited that the conference will be recorded, since she’s speaking at 5am my time!

Here’s my program entry (Thursday, noon central time):

Creating a Learning Organization: Technology, socialization, learning, and culture change

Developing a learning environment is as much about culture change as it is about teaching and training. An effective learning organization can’t depend on the time of one trainer, but must be a community that learns from each other. Creating that sort of organizational change takes patience and a multi-pronged approach. Creating high and low tech opportunities for socialization and interaction must be interwoven with exposure to new tools, opportunities to implement new ideas and nuts and bolts training.

In this talk, I will discuss the various platforms I developed and implemented for creating a culture of learning, including redesigning the popular 23 Things program for ongoing learning, launching brownbags, retreats, and a community blog and learning objects archive.


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Innovation, Dispositions, and my love for JSB

I have a confession.

I have a huge girly intellectual crush on someone. I just can’t stop thinking about John Seely Brown. I was introduced to him last month at Internet Librarian, where he gave the first keynote (embedded at end of post) and set the tone and theme for the whole conference. He brought together notions of play, innovation, 21st century learning and skills, and introduced me to a word I’ve been looking for for years (dispositions).   I can’t tell you how many times I’m thinking about something else, and suddenly, I’m thinking about JSB.

Just now, I was thinking about a conversation I’ve been taking part in about innovation, and realized that JSB’s dispositions are the answer!

So, in this conversation, someone said they didn’t always think innovation was the answer, since it was somewhat unaccountable; constant change without reference or viability or cost-effectiveness or even whether or not the new things were appropriate for users and audience. Maybe somethings shouldn’t change? The proposed alternative was to support creativity. And while I certainly think creativity should be supported, I’m still pretty hung up on innovation as an organizational good.

The conversation spun off into another thread, where Dean Dad’s recent post about the cutting edge and retaining desktop computers was recommended as a thought piece about why innovation isn’t always a good.  Sometimes the old clunky tried-and-true needs to stick around for a reason.

Dean Dad is absolutely right. And, while I might be inclined to say that there is an innovation impulse behind his assertions, I realize that I may be defining innovation idiosyncratically.  I think I mean a willingness to explore every opportunity, to be willing to let go of what’s familiar and comfortable, to be willing to buck trends and step out in front, to think out of the box, to try new ideas (even if the new idea is an old idea), to not accept “because we’ve always done so” or “let’s form a task force to investigate” as acceptable answers. To lead when  you have a new thing to try, to follow only when following suits your users needs. To do whichever for good reason, not because or for knee jerk or unexplored reasons.

I think I mean a disposition.

JSB lists 3 dispositions essential for success.

  • Curiosity.                Amplify it.
  • Questing.                 Probe, seek, uncover
  • Connectivity.          Learning with & from each other

JSB points out the half life of skills has radically shortened, and that learning new skills is not something that we will be able to manage by returning to school. We need to develop certain dispositions, and foster them (not teach, they can’t be taught) in our users/patrons/learners. We have to foster these dispositions in ourselves, our colleagues, our students. And doing so comes from supporting play, tinkering, and learning.

I think that’s a big part of what I mean when I think about innovation. Not always just new for new’s sake. But the disposition, and the environment, that affords the possibilities.

Here’s the keynote. (If you  like it, he’s got 130 video talks on Youtube)

Video streaming by Ustream


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Brief pondering on the leadership/management divide

I just came across this quote, and it’s got me wondering –does it treat the Manager fairly? Is it a description of a good or a weak manager? And if it’s description of both Manager and Leader are accurate, how can those chasms be bridged for the goal of developing managers who lead? Are they completely contradictory?

The manager administers; the leader innovates. The manager is a copy; the leader is an original. The manager maintains; the leader develops. The manager focuses on systems and structure; the leader focuses on people. The manager relies on control; the leader inspires trust; The manager has a short-range view; the leader has a long-range perspective. The managers asks how and when; the leader asks what and why. Managers have their eyes on the bottom line; leaders have their eyes on the horizon; The manager imitates; the leader originates. The manager accepts the status quo; the leader challenges it. The manager is the classic good soldier; the leader is his own person. The manager does things right; the leader does the right thing.

- Warren Bennis, On Becoming a Leader, quoted in Leadership, June 9, 1992


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It’s just 1 Thing….

For the past few months I’ve been getting situated in my position. I’m enjoying doing the technology training, and have modified my title (in my own mind) to Technology Training & Outreach librarian. It’s a good fit, and I’m always full of new ideas.

Some days it feels like I’ve not done much, but it’s good to remind myself  how much I’ve gotten done.

  • taken on training for the library CMS
  • a blog (for collecting training info into one place and for outreach, among other purposes)
  • relaunched for new purposes our in-house experts list (hopefully to use as a guide for a training plan)
  • I’ve dived into the literature on learning organizations
  • taken on and re-conceived my advisory committee
  • recruited librarians from across campus to contribute their knowledge to the Staff Development Blog
  • worked with IT to determine how I can best help support the Unified Communications roll out in the library
  • studied the approach to learning and knowledge sharing in my library
  • breaking down a project for 3 graduate students to assist me in developing
  • plotted a multi-directional approach to Technology Training
This last is really why I’m writing this post. I’ve got a whole bunch of things up my sleeves, and the first one was announced in-house today. In the next 10 days or so I’ll be announcing two more, and maybe a third as well. I have such a hard time working on things I am passionate about and also keeping quiet about them, so I can’t wait to tell you all about the rest of them. But I’ll be good, and for now, will just introduce One Thing at a Time!

Description: http://libstaffdev.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/1-thing-at-a-time.png?w=300


One Thing at a Time is a new iteration of the very popular 23 Things technology training program. I’ve been struggling with how to build ongoing training into everybody’s workload (both the learners and the trainer) and came up with this. Instead of fitting a finite number of tools into a small window, I’m developing patience (if it kills me I’ll learn patience!) and will try to get my entire staff engaged in exploring one tool each month. The program will be primarily blog-based, but I’m also including a hands-on in-person session each month to work with folks who work better by doing-together. I’m definitely worried that we’ll never get to everything, but I’m trying to keep in mind that less is more, and  that life is busy. And there is so much to stay on top of, it gets overwhelming. The best way to get through it is to focus on one thing at a time. And build learning in a semi-structured way into a monthly schedule.

I just have to keep reminding myself this is only one thing. There’s that other thing I’ll be launching on Friday, and the thing I think I’ll have time to write up by next Monday. And that other thing we hopefully have formal go-ahead on and will be able to discuss soon!

Now, what was I saying about patience??


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Introducing ACRL’s new Leadership Discussion Group!

We did it!

I’ve just received formal notification that the ACRL Executive Board approved our petition to create a Leadership Discussion Group!

We will meet at Annual (I’ll announce time and place) and I am waiting to hear about creating a listserv or other online discussion forum.

I am really excited, and grateful to everyone who signed the petition and helped make this happen.


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Revisiting the definition of the Commons

On Friday I went to hear Richard Arum speak about the findings and updated info from his book Academically Adrift. The book generated a lot of buzz when it came out, and has received some criticism on its methodology. I’m not going to dive into that here (reading the book and it’s criticism is on the to do list), that’s not what this post is about.

Here’s what Arum has to do with this post: The Commons movement has defined itself on the positive benefits of libraries as collaborative spaces. Arum’s findings indicate that group study is not a positive and in fact has a negative impact on learning.

Valid or not, it’s a provocative claim. And makes me wonder: Is collaborative space the central defining feature of Commons spaces in/as Library? Or is the Commons a more radical movement that can withstand the ebbs and flows and onslaughts of fashion and continue to grow into the assertion I make for it that the Commons movement is the future of Library?

I think it can, but I’m no longer sure if I’m alone in this or standing in the midst of the pack.

My understanding of the Commons is this:

The Commons (be it Information, Learning, Knowledge, or Scholarly) is the explicit claim that Libraries are no longer about consuming static information. The Common movement is the combination of information in all it’s myriad forms (audio, video, physical, digital, narrative, data, code, fiction, nonfiction, you name it) and the equipment, spaces, and assistance needed to assist learners in their consumption and construction of information and knowledge.

The Commons can hold books and carrels, group spaces, white boards, presentation practice rooms, maker labs, media production labs, media viewing spaces, gaming stations, computer simulators, 3D immersive environments, learning technology that hasn’t been invented yet.

In the most radical reading of this, the Commons moves Library beyond the static scholar alone reading narrative material. The Commons redefines the Library to explicitly support (constantly? exponentially?) changing knowledge consumption and production models. It changes what it means to be a Library, a Librarian, and a library resource.

Am I out here on the edge alone in this thinking? Is this common thought? Maybe an agreed goal we are all striving for?


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Desperately seeking a re-entry strategy!

First day back after a week out, and I’m spinning madly trying to figure where to start. Usually when I’m out this long, so is everybody else (I’m usually gone this long for ALA or int he dead of summer). This time, I was at Internet Librarian, and in addition to be going gone a week int he heart of the semester, I am ridiculously inspired and motivated in 6 different directions (there are 4 blog posts trying to write themselves in my brain right now, not including this one!), I am doing an IL wrap up next week, and giving a paper at Library 2.011 the following week. I made an18 point to-do list while waiting for my computer to boot, and and writing this post in hopes that it will help me figure out where to begin. Alas, no luck.

Do you have a re-entry strategy? I really want to harvest the energy I’ve got swirling and inspiring me, but I feel like the most important things to knock off are the administrative details which by nature will kill all that marvelous energy.

I feel a bit like the White Rabbit, running mad. Advice?


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Internet librarian, arriv’e!

I’m sitting on the couch at one of my favorite hotels, in one of my favorite seaside towns, at one of my favorite conferences. I’m in Monterey, at Internet Librarian, and even though I know I love this conference, it was really nice this evening to be reminded why.

First, it’s a smallish conference. I don’t know the numbers offhand, but somewhere between LOEX and ACRL, and like those it’s focused, but with reach. Technology and Public Services, talking together. And learning from each other.

One of the things I love most about the conference is the people. These are smart, funny, engaged, innovative folks. And the conversations outside of sessions are unbelievably valuable. Today, i attended the Gaming and Te enology Zoo, where I played a fascinating cooperative board game, but I learned so much outside of that one conference event! I played with a Motorola Bionic webtop computer/ phone with its owner, and we miraculously resolved a full screen issue–while sitting on a bench enjoying the sun. I went to dinner with a former SUNY colleague and she convinced me that I really can build yahoo pipes to do what I want, and turned me on to a resource for finding the answer to my need for a platform agnostic PDF annotation tool. And, who knew? Evernote has competitors! I shared some info about Google Bundles, we talked about a tutorial tool I’ve been investigating, and joked about turning that conversation in to a web series (wouldn’t you want to watch two geeky library gals discuss their favorite collaborative web tools!?!?)

Tomorrow, the conference starts in earnest, and I’m really looking forward to my chosen sessions. I’ll blog some about them, but I’ll also be reporting out at the free ACRL-ULS post-Internet Librarian webinar on October 24. Most likely this week, the blog will be full of insights and new tools to explore that come up in out-of-conference conversations.

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