Deepening the Conversation

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


2 Comments

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


1 Comment

Leadership Discussion Group forms submitted

I am so pleased with how many people supported the creation of a Leadership discussion group within ACRL. The petition has been submitted, and the ACRL Board will discuss it next month at their meeting. I’ll let folks know what I hear!

In case you’re interested, here’s what I submitted to the Board, in addition to the text on the petition itself (now closed)

Developing and supporting Leadership in Academic libraries is an area of strategic importance for ACRL, but is a community gap that ACRL does not structurally fill at this time. Academic libraries pose different paths, challenges and opportunities for leadership and management than other types of libraries, and these qualities deserve the focused attention that an ACRL group can afford. There are sections within ACRL with leadership/management committees; the existence of these can be read to support a need for a leadership forum for all types of groups within ACRL. Acquiring 58 signatures in 24 hours on the Petition to create a Leadership Discussion group within ACRL also speaks to the demand.

While ‘management’ frequently refers to a position with authority, ‘leadership’ refers to a set of skills, abilities, and actions that can be exercised by people in any job category within an academic library. Leadership skills are desirable in working with peers, as well as with people in different employment categories, regardless of whether they fall laterally or above or below a leader on an org chart. Leadership skills are also essential in working within professional organizations at committee level as well as working within the overarching organizational structures; ACRL’s (laudable) movement towards virtual meetings complicates communication and community building, and multiplies the need for developing leadership abilities in ACRL members.

There is a special need for ACRL to focus on leadership skills: academic libraries staffs are frequently (and uniquely) constituted of faculty and civil service members. These categories of colleagues cannot be managed in the most common sense, as the structures of those categories lack many incentive and disincentive options. ‘Managing’ faculty and civil service requires leadership skills, and addressing the needs of ACRL members in organizations with these populations can best be accomplished in undiluted conversations and fora.


Leave a comment

LLAMA webinar on Academic libraries

Owning and communicating the value of academic libraries is a major initiative in ACRL right now (see the Oakleaf report).  It looks like LLAMA is also taking an interest in the topic.

I’ve just received an email about a LLAMA webinar pertinent to academic libraries. It’s a webcast of a session LLAMA held at ALA NOLA, “Return on Investment in a Tough Economy: Defining the Value of the Academic Library”.

This webinar will highlight two projects to help academic libraries apply return on investment (ROI) principles to demonstrate their value and impact on users and justify the expense during challenging economic times. Presenters Jon Cawthorne and Irene Herold will explain the application of Triple (people, planet and profit) Bottom Line Accounting (TBLA) to ROI.

The webinar will be held Wednesday, September 14, 2011, from 1:30-3:00 p.m. Central Time.

Fees: LLAMA member: $49
Non-LLAMA member $59
Register online at  http://tinyurl.com/3zhtecm

ROI isn’t something I know much about, and I’m not sure if I’ll attend this. If you attended at ALA, or plan on attending this webinar, let me know. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the LLAMA session, and how it intersects with ACRL’s Values report (perhaps as a guest blogger?)

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,623 other followers