So I’m not sure how many people know about this, but I hope that every librarian does. I’m talking about national library unconference day on May 22, 2012. This is your chance in you state, or region, or county, or library system, or just library, to hold your own unconference. What’s an unconference you ask? Well… I’ll let Allen McGinley and JP Porcaro explain it for me.
Personally, I love unconferences for a whole lot of reasons and there is talk of putting one together in my area (the San Francisco Bay Area) on the same day so I’m pretty stoked because some of the best experiences that I have had in librarianship have been at unconferences. For example, I met some amazing people, I gave my first professional “presentation,” I got the courage to talk to directors and high level administrators as equals, I learned about the programs and services being offered at other libraries, and I learned what kinds of ideas other professionals had about the state of librarianship and its future in the United States.
So this is our chance to have an excuse to #makeithappen in our locations. JP and Allen are basically calling for unconferences to happen all over the country on the same day. This will be a day of learning, sharing, and growing for anyone and everyone participating.
For even more information on the Unconference you can visit the 8bitlibrary website. If you’re a librarian and you’re not reading the 8bitlibrary blog, what are you doing on the internet?
I woke up on Wednesday morning at Internet Librarian to a text from Nate Hill who said that he was organizing a road trip down the gorgeous California Coast with Toby Greenwalt, Loida Garcia-Foibo, and Andrea Davis. It was early, but there was no way I could say no.
This trip turned out to be a lot of work actually as we talked about all kinds of library stuff. As Toby said “We can’t help but librarianing.” So, while this video that Loida made doesn’t capture all the ideas we came up with for the next Internet Librarian it does capture a really great aspect of the trip. BTW, if it did capture everything awesome on that trip, it would be hours long. 🙂
Internet librarian started for many people on Saturday at the Monterey Conference Center in California. For me though, it started on my sailboat in San Mateo on Friday afternoon. In fact, I never even went to a preconference workshop, which is too bad because I really wanted to attend the WordPress workshop. Luckily it was blogged by Polly Alida and you can read it here if you want. I don’t think I really regret not going to any workshop because my “preconference” was pretty awesome anyway.
I have been inviting some of the librarians I’ve met at conferences and around my area to my boat for a day of sailing in the California Bay for a couple of months and Andrea, Lisa, and Nate took me up on it. Unfortunately, this was the one time my engine didn’t work. That was fine, there was no wind and it was raining anyway. So we sat on my boat having drinks made by my roommate bartender and her cousin (also serves as my crew) and I listened while the smart folks on my boat talked about all kinds of library related things until it was time for dinner in the yacht club where they continued to come up with all kinds of library awesome.
It would be difficult to explain some of the great ideas that came up on the boat and I won’t really try but it was a great creative thinking experience free from the constraints of library system’s rules and regulations. It was amazing to listen to these intensely smart folks talk about libraries on my boat. My big realization was that we need to do more to create these kinds of freeform opportunities for librarians to gather and socialize and just brainstorm possible innovations.
At the end of the night, most of us passed out on the boat listening to the rain on the deck and the wind in the rigging. I hope everyone had as great of a time as I did. Next year, “librarians on a boat” will be bigger and better. You’ll be invited, so don’t miss out!
Unfortunately, on Saturday I had to work but that was fine because I love my library! So I drove my motorcycle through the rain to Monterey right after work in the dark and after finally finding my hotel and warming up, I found myself in the lobby bar of the Portola Plaza with even more library awesome! How is that possible? I have no idea. But once again a whole lot of smart library folks were blowing my mind with creative ideas. Some of these ubersmarties were Stephan Abram, Roy Tennent, Marshall Breeding, Lisa Carlucci Thomas, and Nina McPhail, who just sat around with some good drinks and once again said the kinds of things that need to be said about libraries. So, once again I just sat and listened and had my brains blown out with awesome bombs until I had to finally sleep.
This was a tourist day for me and I went on an amazing drive with Lisa and Nina down highway one in the rain and checked out the pacific coast. If you’re reading this and you’re at the conference, I really suggest you take a couple of hours and make the drive south to Big Sur and see some of the gorgeous coastline in our great state.
Afterwards, my roommate (And bartender from my boat), who had heard about my conference good times, came down to see how the librarians party. We went out to eat with so many great folks and stayed out way too late (of course). Once again, being that we are librarians, there were many great discussions about libraries and librarianship in general and I heard some heated and intense debates between fantastic library folks on issues that I never even thought existed! I now have so many new things to think and lots of new motivations to get out and do something about some of the things I’m concerned about.
I simply could not have learned more (or had more fun) by attending the preconference. Instead, having my own little “preconference” where I sat and listened to the brilliant people in libraries say amazing things I was able to hear some ideas from people that could not have occurred in a structured or more restrictive environment. And… Of course it was awesome!