Thursday, June 30, 2011

Big & Easy Learning in NOLA (ALA)

I attended the Annual Conference of the American Library Association in New Orleans (6/23-6/27) and aside from learning about the *best* places to eat in the Big Easy I also learned the following lessons:

1. If you're given a 2hr slot to present a program be sure to fill that 2hr slot. I attended a program that was supposed to be on the unmined potential of ebooks but the presenter only had 20 minutes worth of material. She would have liked for the remainder of the time to be spent on walking folks through the installation process of a freely available ebook-creator software but no one was told to bring laptops so, we left at 8:22AM only to hunt down a more fulfilling program. The ebook creator wasn't all that great and I know of better ones so, I'm not even going to mention it here.

2. There's no such thing as over-communicating. Not to be confused with TMI (too much information) which can be a cause for concern in any work environment, communicating broadly and in a timely manner (to the point of repeating to some degree) can be a good thing and a sign of a healthy team. One way to practice good over communication skills is to have daily 10 minute huddles (or 5 minutes of genius as they are sometimes called). Do these at a set time every day with whoever is available and do it standing up. What to share during these huddles - whatever you got going on that day or recap what happened the previous day. Just share, share, share. Be sure to jot down some notes and post them in a central location for everyone to see - esp. if they weren't able to attend the huddle.

3. Venting, although cathartic, is not productive. Be a good listener but help the ventee to move forward with a solution. Or if you're the person venting try to be aware of the fact that you are venting and ask a colleague for help with solving the solution if you feel stuck. You don't have to go it alone.

4. When delivering a conference program accept in advance that there will be plugged and unplugged learners. The challenge is catering to them both!

5. Information literacy instructors in academic libraries and public trainers in public libraries are two birds of a feather that have been disguising themselves to look different from each other. They need to join forces instead of drawing their lines deeper in the sand. I'm working on putting together a conference program on this very topic. We'll see how it goes. If you're interested in co-presenting with me just give me a shout!

6. Can't afford to bring a big name presenter physically to your library? Try to convince them to Skype their presentation. Be sure to set up a room on your end that has a reliable and high speed internet connection and a web cam so that the presenter can see the attendees when they ask questions.

7. We should strive to humbitious (humbly ambitious).

8. Have writer's block or a brainstorming block? Start throwing out your worst ideas ever and it'll get the wheels turning again, not to mention some great ideas!