Thursday, December 20, 2012

Summit 2013 Meeting #1

Good Morning!
I found out yesterday that the Friends of the Library, for Washington County, have 180 members. Happy Holidays :)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Summit 2013 Meeting #1

Dec. 17th @ 1PM-3PM
Frostburg State University, Lane University Center Rm. 108

In attendance: Chris McGee, Connie Savage, Regina Spiker, Susie Poper, Aliceana Onley, Georgie Dawson, and JZ.

Pt. 1: Getting to know each other and our goals for being on the team
Exercise: using post-it note flip-chart paper, each team member wrote down what they hoped to get out of the experience of being on a team to create a one-day staff development conference; they also shared their concerns and what they hope to contribute.

Chris: wants to get to know colleagues from other counties; wants to contribute his attention to detail, his ability to get it done!, and his cooperative nature. He's concerned about time constraints but works well if given finite tasks and due dates.

Connie: is concerned about tailoring the summit to meet other staff needs (who aren't front-line) and also to meet unique branch needs.

Regina: wants to provide a great summit for our librarians where they can take home concrete ideas and new plans. She is worried about the amoutn of time that will need to be invested to work on this project.

Georgie: wants to contribute to a group of staff who are more administratively active (similar to Connie's concern); she wants to participate to help represent Ruth Enlow.

Aliceana: wants to meet, brainstorm and create a great 2013 Summit; she wants to hear new ideas; she wants to get out of her cubicle to be more engaged with new friends in new spaces; and she wants to learn.

Susie: is concerned about coming up with ideas; realized that she needs to provide more informative feedback when asked to complete evaluations because now she knows how evaluations are actually used to provide feedback!; getting to be involved in a "major project."

Julie: having an opportunity to create an alternative Summit experience; one goal is to work on making the process more engaging for the #makeithappen team; wants to improve on 2011; wants to get to know the team members better.

Pt. 2: The 5 W's and 1 H of The Summit
Exercise: Briefly called attention to the who, what, when, where, why and how of The Summit

Who is our target audience? 
  1. Full and part-time staff from all four library systems (ACLS, RELIB, WCFL, and WMRL).
  2. Volunteers
  3. Substitutes?
  4. Board members
  5. Friends of the Library? 
To Do: By Feb. 11, 2013, Georgie, Aliceana, Chris, and Regina have been asked to get #s of Friends of Library members so we can know how many there are when considering total possible number of participants. 
What do we want participants to walk away with?
  • Excitement
  • Cheerleaders
  • Giveaways
  • Energized
  • Practical take-aways
  • "I like my job!"
  • Kudos - staff appreciation
  • Recharging of batteries
  • Getting to know people / connecting with colleagues / making new friends
  • Having a good time 
When will this happen? 
November 11, 2013

Where will this happen?
To do: By Feb. 11, 2013 the following team members will contact these possible summit locations to gather information on availability, accommodations, pricing, food, etc.
Why will this happen?
JZ will get the official wording from Joe Thompson but until then here's the answer I gave the team: A couple of years ago the WMRL advisory board was asked if they'd support the Regional hosting and facilitating a one-day staff day every other year and the board said yes. So, every other year, the Regional's staff development coordinator is responsible for putting a team together to #makeithappen.
How will we keep Summit notes and progress accessible?
We're going to use this blog with the tag Summit 2013 for every post. Should this format prove ineffective we can always change it. 
Pt. 3: Ideas for Improving Upon Summit 2011
Exercise: The team reviewed the feedback received after the 2011 event and based upon that feedback, we generated ideas for how to overcome some of the weaknesses.
  •  If we require registration, announce the registration date and options a couple weeks in advance in order to give part-time staff a head's up.
  • If we require registration, have folks sign up for the programs they want w/o limiting class size and then just find rooms to accommodate the amount of people. That way if there's a program no one is interested in, we just won't offer it. 
  • Need to improve upon the food - process in which it is served and enjoyed as well as the taste.
  • Make wifi access easier
  • Have sweet (especially Nutella) and savory breakfast items
  • If we have a keynote, keep the presentation shorter and have it at the end of the day
  • Have a shorter yet more concentrated day (maybe 10am-3pm)
Pt. 4: Share Ideas for Themes
 Exercise: team came prepared with ideas for themes that would set the stage for the Summit and then we voted to identify our top 4 themes. To do: JZ is going to create a brief SurveyMonkey and ask staff across all four systems to vote on their favorite theme. Behind the scenes of these themes we're hoping to keep a taste of an unconference. 
The top four themes that emerged are:
  1. Explore, Learn, and Play
  2. Destination Inspiration
  3. Innovation Meets Imagination
  4. We're Trending
Pt. 5: Guests from FSU
Dave Treber from Conference and Event Services brought along two colleagues who work at the Lane University Center to share a little bit of information about FSU's facilities so we might consider them as a location for the Summit. Chris McGee is going to be having conversations with FSU in the future to gather more information and details so we can make a better decision on location by Feb. 11th. First impressions were that it's a very attractive location - all the space we'd need is under one roof, on one floor - besides dining which is on the 2nd floor; wifi and parking sounds hassle free, dining options are large and customizable - they recommended we look at CaterTrax - I'll share the URL when I have it. 
Pt. 6: Wrap Up and Loose Ends
  • Possible speakers and programs: was tabled until after a theme has been chosen.
  • Maker Sapces: was not talked about too much. Chris did say that he and John Taube had talked about this and came to the conclusion that if this is something that ends up fitting the theme of the day that we should focus on a program that teaches how to use your meeting room as a maker space.
  • Transportation: In 2011 and also 2009, the Summit team was not responsible for organizing transportation for the counties' staff however, depending on how the finances play out, we are considering at least getting pricing for charter buses. Our thinking is that if we provide a comfortable mode of transportation folks won't mind traveling as much should we want to hold the event in either Garrett or Washington counties.
 Next Meeting is February 25th @ 1PM-3PM
JZ will find a location for the meeting and let you know ASAP.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Leadership Washington County: Local Government Day

On Friday, Dec. 14th I attended Leadership Washington County's local government day. 

Thesis of the day: How does the city and county make decisions to disperse funds to operations and infrastructure that fulfill the strategic plans of our local government?

The first half of our day was spent at City Hall listening to a series of presentations given by City Administrator: Bruce Zimmerman; Mayor David Gysberts; Dave Hanlin, Development Coordinator for Washington County Free Library; and Evvie Williams with the Washington County League of Women Voters.

Some questions that sparked my interest after hearing them speak were:
  1. How are the city and county governments utilizing social media to engage the citizens into having hearty discussions and sharing of ideas in an online environment?
  2. Where does creativity come into play in the government arena? (I'm thinking about problem solving, etc)
  3. Why do we need to bring jobs to the citizens? Why can't we teach citizens how to become successful entrepreneurs through the use of their own creativity, skills, and freely accessible technology (hello, library)?
  4. Why can't Hagerstown try creating and utilizing a complimentary currency program to help revitalize downtown? Bernard Lietaer has done some wonderful things with complimentary currencies and down-trodden economies. Why not here?
The second half of the day started at the Washington County Government building hearing all about how to county government is structured, how financial decisions are made, etc. Then we heard from Commissioner Ruth Anne Callaham who talked about her role as commissioner and the role of the commissioners as a whole in the county. 

Then we got to tour the still-under-construction Potomac Street library which is partially funded by the state, city, and county.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Staff Development Unconference

This book is available from WMRL.
On Wednesday, Dec. 12th I attended a staff development unconference facilitated by Sam Eddington, with the Eastern Shore Regional Library, and Helen Blumberg with the State Library Resource Center. We were there to learn:
  1. Under which circumstances we might hold an unconference as opposed to a more traditional staff development event, and,
  2. How to facilitate an unconference that is productive, fun, and educational.
There were several take-aways that I'll highlight. The first being that if you don't already have the book, Library Camps and Unconferences, you need to buy it. Right now. Sam says it is worth its weight in gold and has been the most valuable piece of staff development literature he has read to date. He planned and facilitated his first ever unconference simply by following the advice in this book. 

The second take-away is in order to have a productive unconference the theme should be something that's flexible yet long-standing. For example, customer service has many facets and has not yet yielded any quick and easy results. Therefore, a topic such as this would lend itself well to an unconference because it would ideally generate lots of discussion. One topic that would not lend itself well to an unconference format would be, "how to teach patrons Microsoft Excel."

The third take-away is that in order to be successful, an unconference doesn't need to result in deliverables. The discussion and ideas and connections made during the process of the unconference is success in and of itself. Although, should deliverables happen, then they happen.

I actually had an ulterior motive for coming to this unconference. I had recently been volunteered to investigate how MD libraries could make use of video streaming technology such as UStream and since I did not have any experience with UStream I thought the unconference would be an appropriate venue for picking the brains of other folks who may or may not be involved in this project. And I was right. It was extremely valuable. Working with Shayna Siegel, Sam Eddington, Helen Blumburg, and Kim Smithson, the group of us walked out of there with 3 events that we're going to attempt to stream live to UStream. 
  1. What I learned at the SLRC conference & why you should attend, too (Dec. 17)
  2. MLA Conference Updates with Emily Gamertsfelder and David Dahl (Dec. 19)
  3. Technical Services: Top Trends in an Ever-Changing Library World (Jan. 22)
 Some remaining take-aways that might be helpful for me to mention here are:
  • Start small. Your first unconference shouldn't be a group of 200+. How about 20 or 25 instead?
  • You can apply the unconference flavor to all sorts of events: un-meetings; un-performance reviews, etc. Be creative!
  • The space for your unconference should be very flexible - able to move chairs that are lightweight; lots of white boards and markers; etc.
So what am I going to do with my new-found knowledge? Well, besides tackling the UStream project with more enthusiasm, I will share what I've learned about unconferences with the Tri-County Summit 2013 #makeithappen Team. Perhaps a portion of the Summit could be unconferencey; maybe an un-breakout session? How would you like to see unconferences comes to the region?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Mindful customer service

What was particularly impactful from Hugh Byrne's talk on mindfulness and meditation?

- The Wendell Berry poem, The Peace of Wild Things. I have also escaped to nature, but felt somehow that was taking the easy out, and therefore to be frowned on as not making an effort. But the lines in the poem that resonated were
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief.
The point is not to make an effort, but to be.

- The notion of washing a dish mindfully, not washing the dishes mindfully. If you are thinking about what you are doing, you are thinking about the one dish you are currently working on, not the sink full of dishes that await you.

- The image of reactions being like wild horses carrying one away in a great rush. When the rush is over, there is nothing to do but walk quietly home, apologizing to all injured by the wild ride. The start of the ride is exhilarating briefly, but only briefly and then the impact and regrets and justifications begin. In this case it is definitely preferable to get off the horse, or not get on it in the first place.

Now, how does these insights affect who am I and how I behave to others at work?

Mindful Customer Service

I attended Mindful Customer Service training with Hugh Bryne, Ph.D. on 12/6/12.  He taught us basic mindfulness practices including how to focus our awareness (try to listen to your breath...not the clock), to be aware of thoughts/thinking (try to quiet that innervoice and focus on the breath), and how to work with difficult physical/mental experiences (which I could use a refresher on this practice).  I would enjoy a full day session where we could focus on mindfulness to inter-personal relationships.

I liked being able to meditate while being at "work" but being on the floor would have been nicer.  I'm greatful that Michelle asked about getting distracted while meditating and Hugh said that was ok as long as we acknowledge that we are aware that our focus is on the thoughts and we can choose to focus on the thoughts or redirect to focusing on the breath again.  This was really helpful to remember/know that I was not the only one being distracted by my inner voice. Hugh also said this distraction is great practice in training our brain to behaving in new ways.  

I have been trying to follow a meditation routine at home...we'll see how long that lasts. :)

Monday, December 10, 2012

Mindful Customer Service

Ouch, I already forgot my mindfulness training while helping a mother who was helping her child.  Who is writing this report on Indians anyway?  Sign me up for session two on interpersonal interactions. 
Meditating in that venue was interesting, though relaxing and releasing thoughts was made effortless under Hugh Byrne's  calm guidance.   I intend to follow up listening to some of the podcasts.
Keep smiling.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Mindful Customer Service

Hugh ByrneOn Thursday, Dec. 6th, Hugh Byrne, Ph.D. presented a four-hour workshop on mindfulness and disappointingly not directly on customer service but connections could definitely be made. Plus, it opens up the possibility of having a "part two" workshop in the future in which the focus would be directly on applying mindfulness to our interactions with colleagues, friends, library patrons, family, our neighbors in the check-out line, etc. 

The following post includes the most poignant takeaways that resonated strongest with me.

Mindfulness is about producing an appropriate response.
When we're mindful we're fully in the present moment. I interpret this as meaning when we're having an interaction with someone, let's say a library patron, we're experiencing that person as brand new and novel, and without the stories we tell ourselves about that person (i.e. "Oh, here comes that guy again. I bet he's going to say he didn't deserve his fines, again, like he always does..."). And without the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves (i.e. "I never know what to say to this guy. I won't be able to handle him." Instead, we great him and ourselves with kindness and presence and we take the interaction moment by moment. In other words, we produce an appropriate response - as opposed to a cookie-cutter type of response. If we bring positive, pleasant energy to a situation then we have a greater chance of eliciting the same kind of response from whomever we are interacting with. 

This got me wondering if our collective (human) weakness in mindfulness is why policies exist. I think maybe well-written policies exist in an attempt to capture the most cookie-cutter type response that is also on some level generally appropriate in most situations. It makes my head hurt trying to understand the sentence I just wrote but, there it is. The situations that don't fit into or go beyond the cookie-cutter response are good times to dip our toes into the water that is mindfulness. 

What would be left if I stopped doing ________ ?
At one point during the workshop Dr. Bryne was talking about how unmindfulness (is that a word?) manifests itself by the things we do to excess: eat, watch tv, sleep, consume alcohol, gossip, etc. And he said something to the effect of if you're mindful, even for a moment when you're scarfing down a stack of those Lofthouse sugar cookies with the 1" of icing on them, ask yourself, "what would I be left with if I stopped eating these cookies?" Essentially we need to ask, what need is trying to be fulfilled - ineffectively - by eating cookies/watching tv/drinking/sleeping/smoking/gossiping, etc? Then we have something we can work with, something that can then become the focus of our mindfulness, even if it's just for a moment. If we can interrupt ourselves by asking that question when we're caught in those cycles of unconsciousness (I'm going to use that word instead of unmindfulness because at least it's a real word) then eventually we can break the cycle all together. But it takes time and energy and dedication and mindfulness. 

If you're interested in getting small doses of mindfulness during your day, I highly recommend the free podcasts from the Insight Meditation Community of Washington as well as those available from Hugh. They're both available in the iTunes store or from their respective websites.