From #noise to #change

he California Library Association’s 115th annual conference is now history–and, as with any event in history, it offers information and insights we can use now in the present and take into the future. This year, the programs werre particularly impressive for their diversity, professionalism, and, most importantly, their subsuntative content. As we move from #clanoise to the road that will bring us to the 2014 conference theme of Be the Change, a couple of these programs deserve specific shout outs here.

Infopeople, along with the CLA Legislative Committee, sponsored a preconference in Long Beach titled “It’s All about Them.” In a jam packed three hours, Craig Gerhart, of the International City/County Managers Association, ignited participants’ understanding of, and enthiuiasm for, getting outside the traditional library mindset of looking to ourselves and working to get others to attend to what we think is so special about us, to recognize that public libraries–and staff–are (important) parts of a much larger web of community service. Mr. Gerhart, whose understanding of public libraries is deep and admirable, walked us through how librarians can be effective community change agents through our ability to demonstrate leadership where it is needed in other civic service and engagement processes. You can view his slides and visit the Twitter thread (#allthem) posted throughout the morning for details.

A day later, the impressive crew from Santa Ana Public Library–many of whom are Eureka Fellows–shared their compelling experience with mentoring youth right into professional librarian positions. In Seeds to Trees, Cheryl Eberly, Lynn Nguyen, Patty Lopez, Manuel Escamilla, and Silvia Cisneros told their personal stories as players in the process and also provided immediately usable take-aways. One of the latter–among the several noted in the Twitter thread (#seedstrees) that documented the hour–was the discussion of how connecting local youth to their own community’s roots through historical document work can broaden their views of their own possibilities within the community.

Combining some of the learnings from “It’s All about Them” and “Seeds to Trees” points up how community recognition can promote individual achievement, as well as how recognizing the community can lead to achievement in an individual sphere. When we see ourselves as a part of the community, we can be more effective as elements within it. True for people, true for libraries. With a mere eleven and half months to go before CLA2014, we can begin already to Be the Change.