Books, Yarn, Ink and Other Pursuits

Sep 28, 2013

Programming Unconference Northeast

Friday I drove down to Darien, CT, heading for Darien Library and the Programming Unconference Northeast. This unconference brought together a lot of librarians from several states (CT, MA, NY, NJ, and RI were all represented) to discuss topics that we submitted at the time of registration.

The wonderful Erin Shea!

Our program was kicked off by opening words by one of the co-facilitators, Erin Shea, who I was lucky to finally meet in person at ALA this summer. I find her programming at Darien to always be inspiring, so I wasn't surprised she brought this idea to her library.

Andy Woodworth

Lisa Carlucci Thomas

Our other co-facilitator was Andy Woodworth, who was another Twitter colleague I got to meet finally. He also introduced our keynote, given by Lisa Carlucci Thomas. Moving from academic libraries to her own consulting business, Design Think Do, Lisa gave an inspiring talk about programming in libraries needing three building blocks: Creativity, Community, Content.

I tweeted some of what I thought were key points through her talk (check out Twitter hashtag #pun13), but one thing I put up on Twitter seemed to catch the eye of a lot of people.

This statement actually came from Josh Linkner, who presented at The Risk & Reward Conference (R Squared Conference). It's available online, so I am really intrigued to see the rest of his presentation. Knowing that youth have a self-perception about not being creative as they get older, it takes gatherings like this, networking, and all the other librarian peeps out in social media land to remember that we are doing good things.

So many good ones to choose from!

After voting for the top eight discussion topics, then came the decision of which two was I going to attend? That would be the worse part of this conference - I could not attend them all! I decided I wanted to see what other librarians were doing to "Collaborate with Community Organizations." With about fifteen of us in a room built for six, we still had wonderful discussion about programs with outside collaboration, how do we get groups interested in working with us, what kinds of things we are working on. From oral histories to seed libraries to microwave cooking class (no burners or open flame!), libraries are doing things that engage the community and the organizations that are within those communities.

Then I went to "Makerspaces with No Space or Budget", which I admit was a topic I sent in (along with, I am sure, many other librarians). I have a small library, open floor plan with no community room. Yet, the idea of makerspaces is something that sets off the buzzers in my head, and I was hoping that others were creating them, using them, and willing to share their ideas. What was interesting was that some really didn't have any idea on what makerspaces were. So, is this one of those "jargon" words that many do not understand, even within our own culture? Or, as we began to discover, makerspaces can be outlets of creativity that do not need their own room, as some libraries have resorted to "flex walls", like are used by schools for portable space classrooms. You can put them up and take them down, adjusting the space to the people who are there. Makerspaces are more than just technology: button makers, embroidery and sewing machines, portable Lego and duct tape makerspaces (shout out to Karen at Teen Librarian Toolbox for sharing this info with me!). Got a big weeding project? Use those old hardcovers, VHS and books on cassette for recycled art!

We gathered back after lunch to share what went on in the different sessions. I wish they could have been recorded, however hopefully the note takers in each room gets their notes over to Erin, who will be making them available to all who went.

I love how they do staff picks.

Patron Picks!

The TEA Room: 3D printer, music, a tracing board, Ellison Die cut and more!

Part of their Teen Room. 
Along with all of this I still had to take a walk around the library. Besides being happily envious of the space, the aesthetics, the rooms! I enjoyed seeing how the Darien staff do passive programming through displays, through their newly opened TEA (Technology, Engineering, Art) Room for kids, and just how available their collections and staff really are. It is a wonderful library.

My final thoughts: Creativity, Community, Content. These building blocks that Lisa shared in her keynote are truly key points to creating programs. As few resources as I think I have to do programs with, I realize that my library has already done a lot. With our new strategic plan, and the community survey that accompanied it, I can learn what else people are looking for. I have staff that are passionate about the things they do, and I can tap into so much inside and outside of the library.

I thought back to this August, during the women's conference I was leading, and attending a session about finding your personal inspiration and aspirations. We needed to cultivate an affirmation, a mission statement, if you will, for our own Self. Driving home I remembered what mine was: "I Celebrate My Creativity."

I just need to remember that.

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