Monday, May 9, 2011

AL 2011: Innovate, Collaborate, Connect

Colleagues and Friends,

I realize it's been a long while since we've actively engaged the Next Chapter blog but thought it'd be nice to use this space to discuss our time at the MLA Academic Libraries 2011 conference. When we have used this space in the past (for instance, in discussing LOEX), I found hearing everyone's insights to be very useful!

Some basic questions to get us started (Feel free to answer all, none, some):
Your favorite session and why?
Tell us something new you learned.. and is it applicable to us?
Any surprising sessions: i.e. you learned something you hadn't expected to? you realized LCC Library is already doing something like it?
Anything you take issue with?

Let the sharing begin!



  1. I think my favorite session was the one on roving reference by two librarians from Wayne. It was very neat that the goal was not just to provide reference but to also gain a greater understanding of what was going on with their patrons in order to guide redesign - both policy and physical.

    Some of the things that the Wayne librarians found were easily addressed to everyone’s benefit. They connected with students that wouldn’t likely have met and improved the learning environment for those they didn’t. It was a great take on the topic.

    We just had a complaint about noise on the 4th floor which made me think that we could learn a lot by doing something similar. To really get out and see what is happening seems critical to improving service.


  2. (third time trying to comment- I just realized I have to be logged in as myself) *fingers crossed!*

    So… as I was saying again- my favorite session on Thurs was actually the keynote speaker, Rick Anderson. His talk was very engaging, and he focused on the libraries’ first principles- the most basic one being Access to information. He also mentioned connection, and efficiency- making things helpful to our patrons. Rick gave a long list of items that may prevent us from achieving our principles (some of which I did not fully understand as a young librarian). After the coming of the internet age it has seemed like librarians are less needed: circulation is down dramatically, and reference services are underutilized. He emphasized the fact that we need to change ourselves, not our users- rethink the way we are collecting- focus on bibliographic instruction, create a more user-friendly catalog, etc. Students are using the library space to study, but few are really using the reference desk as a starting point for research. I learned that Google now is more like, allowing users to just type in their question (without having to pull out keywords) and get an answer.

    Though Karl and I did not fully agree with everything Rick said, I believe he made some good points and delivered them well. Gave me something to think about…

    The breakout sessions, in comparison, were ok. Most of the sessions I attended were more like show and tell than actually teaching me something (maybe that’s the way they are supposed to be?). I was rather disappointed that the session on digitization that I had planned to attend was replaced by another that I was less interested in.

    Overall, it was nice to connect with fellow librarians, such as one of my classmates from SI. It was also a treat to spend the day in such a beautiful venue and to enjoy some fine dining!!

    That is my two cents-


  3. I agree with Kelli that Rick Anderson was compelling and provocative, but I didn't feel like he had much to offer in terms of solutions. My favorite session of the day was given by Debbie Morrow, Science Liaison at GVSU. I connected with her in two ways, one, she's the science liaison, two, she was talking about giving instruction to science students!

    While her presentation itself was not earth shattering, what I found most interesting was the way that GVSU librarians do their instruction intake. Their form is like a "menu" of information literacy topics and each one is directly tied to either Gen Ed goals, program goals, or graduate level goals. Debbie did admit that many instructors want the library to cover everything (!), but the real power of their form is that all of the info lit pieces are directly tied to institutional goals!

    She spend a good amount of time talking about her experience that she happened upon working with an instructor who wanted her to handle two classes (3hrs apiece) of intro engineering students. Some of her strategies for this daunting task were brilliant. Not to get into specifics, but the take away for us...setting the stage, providing a compelling scenario that engages the students and gives them a clear focus; citation as who, what, when, where, and the WHY is the students evaluation...I thought that was brilliant.

    While the session was a bit uneven, she admittedly stepped in for a colleague, and I thought she did well, even attempting to engage us all in dialog with one another. Thanks Debbie for forcing us out of our comfort zone!

    Oh dinner on Thur. (marinated tofu steak) was incredible!

  4. At Friday's AL2011 luncheon the keynote speaker was Steven Bell from Temple Univ. I enjoyed his presentation about "Innovation". He used a mix of his experiences, story telling, videos, testimonials, professionals' ideas, etc.

    Innovation has many definitions depending on who you talk to or listen to. What I took away from his presentation is that for innovation to happen there must be a customer focus. Innovators connect with others to collaborate for innovation. They spend time finding out what a problem is before trying to design something new to take care of it.

    Also, there is much value in any small changes that you make. These small successes are innovations in bits and pieces -- which is way better than nothing or waiting for the large change to occur!

    Suzanne B. and I also attended a session titled "Using Google Like a Librarian". I got a number of good ideas from this session about piloting or providing a similar workshop for our faculty or even students!

  5. Karl and Kelli, thanks so much for posting about Thursday! I think the rest of us were really curious to hear how it went.

    Karl, I am glad you said aloud that the meeting ran concurrently with LOEX... and I saw in the survey that came out via email that MLA maybe realizes this is a problem. Next year, if I understand correctly, LOEX is back in Michigan? It'll be interesting to see how this is resolved.

    Kim brought up during our weeding discussion today, the session brought to us from Northern Michigan University. As she pointed out, 50% of their collection had to be discarded by 2013 (I believe that was the end date). This was a show and tell sort of session.. where are they at this point.

    The details of how many works are gone, or where they went aren't as interesting as the subtext and issues encountered.... it seems that although processes were in place, communication was not! Library staff were questioned by outraged community patrons and faculty (although students apparently understood all along why the project was taking place). Even within the library, it was clear, from this talk, that many librarians were NOT on board with the project.

    The take away from all of this? Regardless of project, the importance of CLEAR communication with all parties involved remains certain. Furthermore, all projects need follow up communication. If we learn nothing else from our colleagues at NMU, we learn that just because an email was sent at some point, doesn't mean that all recipients understood, or even read said message.

    Something to think about!


  6. The highlight of the day for me was Steven Bell's talk about change and innovation. Here is a link to his handout.

    I particularly liked his emphasis on that fact that change can start small. Some examples he gave from Temple University Libraries were putting plants on the window sills in the library, putting chairs in spots where students were always seen sitting on the floor, using stencils and paint to put "Quiet Study Zone" on the pillars in areas where students often complained about noise.

    These improvements came from staff observing how people use the library and proposing improvements and from a culture of openness to suggestions from staff in all areas of the library.

    He also pointed out that the theme of the conference, Innovate, Collaborate, Connect, should be turned around. Through connecting and collaborating, we can innovate. He talked about the myth of innovation coming from an individual dreaming up a novel idea in a vacuum. Innovation comes from people working together to solve problems.

    How can we encourage this culture of innovation here at LCC Library? How can we work to make sure all voices are heard and listened to?

    Here are some books he recommended that will be on my summer reading list:

    Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard

    Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die


    The art of innovation : lessons in creativity from IDEO, America's leading design firm