Stacey Aldrich, Libraries, and Planning for the Future

Acting State Librarian of the California State Library Stacey Aldrich will be helping current and prospective library leaders use current tools to explore the future in her Infopeople workshop, “Building Leadership Skills: Planning for the Future,” scheduled in libraries throughout California in June 2009.

“We’ll be looking at what kinds of sources you should be scanning for clues to the future and why; what kinds of triggers you should be looking for; and how you ask the right questions about the future,” she said during a conversation earlier this week. “The key here is that the more tools that you have for thinking about the future, the more proactive you can be about creating the future. This workshop is an opportunity to learn and practice some future-thinking tools and then spend some time thinking about the future so you can find opportunities.”

Included in the curriculum are explorations of scenario planning, a concept explored by futurist in his book The Art of the Long View: Planning for the Future in an Uncertain World; environmental scanning; and top trends which library leaders need to watch.

“We need to look outside of libraries for the forces and trends that are changing people’s expectations about information, technology, and community,” Aldrich says. “If we’re asking the right questions about our future, we can keep developing services that meet the needs of the people we serve.”

Among the sources she cites are the TED (Technology, Entertainment, and Design) conferences with talks which are archived at Ted.com; the Pop!Tech conferences with similarly archived materials at Pop!Tech.org; and trendwatching.com, which offers a variety of resources including free monthly “trend briefings.”

Using these tools will help library leaders engage in more effective environmental scanning and scenario thinking. Environmental scanning, she suggests, is “taking an interest in observing the world around you…reading and observing things you may never do,” and scenario building, “in its simplest terms, is creating stories about the future to help your library think about possible futures, and then build strategies that will help you thrive in each of them, and to help your library create its preferred future.”

The workshop is the latest offering in Infopeople’s multi-stage Eureka! Leadership Program with its “Building Leadership Skills” series, and it will remain available as a contract workshop through Infopeople for those who are not able to attend the currently scheduled sessions. Registration ($75 per person) for “Building Leadership Skills: Planning for the Future” and other “Building Leadership Skills” sessions is continuing on the Infopeople website; instructors for other sessions in the series include Marie Radford and Steve Albrecht.

Sessions of “Building Leadership Skills: Planning for the Future” are currently scheduled for Buena Park Library District (6/4/2009); San Diego County Library Headquarters (6/5/2009); San Francisco Public Library – Latino/Hispanic Community Meeting Room (6/11/2009); Belle Cooledge Library in Sacramento (6/12/2009); Fresno – Woodward Park (6/16/2009); and San Jose Martin Luther King, Jr. Library (6/23/2009).

Suzanne Merritt, Creativity, and Solving Workplace Problems

Overcoming challenges in the library workplace involves a mixture of creativity and fun, Suzanne Merritt suggests in her new full-day Infopeople “Building Leadership Skills: Stimulating Creativity” workshop sessions being offered in libraries throughout California from April 10-24, 2009.

“I think the important thing that people will come away with is a boost in their own confidence, in their creative abilities, and that they can apply that in any area of leadership,” she predicted in a conversation earlier this week. “I feel it is important for anyone in a leadership role not only to have a boost in their own creative confidence, but to pass that along and encourage to those they lead to believe in their creative abilities as well. Together they can solve any problem that comes along.”

Merritt is no stranger to the topic of how creativity helps improve the workplace and produce results. Through the work she does through her own company, Ideas With Merritt, she provides participants with tools and skills which translate inspiration into workplace innovation on a daily basis. These skills are divided into three interrelated elements: collecting experiences, connecting those experiences to the workplace, and creating growth by generating, judging, and refining ideas.

“Every human being is creative,” she notes. “Our creative contributions matter. As leaders, part of our job is to bring out our own creative potential and bring that out in the people that work with us. When we do that, people have fun…When people have fun, they are creative. Everything’s so serious right now; it’s a great time to revitalize your own creative energy.”

Material presented during the Infopeople workshop is designed to help library leaders and others—including library business managers, public information officers, systems staff, facilities managers, and volunteers—find creative solutions for handling the increasing workload they face, attracting new audiences and funding sources, and restructuring existing services.

She will introduce participants to her own model, the C.U.R.I.O.S.I.T.Y. model, in which each letter in the term “stands for something specific that people can look for in the world around them to look for sources of inspiration.”

“I don’t want to be listed as one of those ‘these are dire times’ speakers. This is about possibility and positive energy, and having some fun while you do your work,” she concluded.

The workshop is the latest offering in Infopeople’s multi-stage Eureka! Leadership Program with its “Building Leadership Skills” series, and it will remain available as a contract workshop through Infopeople for those who are not able to attend the currently scheduled sessions. Registration ($75 per person) for all remaining “Building Leadership Skills” sessions is continuing on the Infopeople website. Instructors include Stacey Aldrich and Marie Radford.

Sessions of “Building Leadership Skills: Stimulating Creativity” are currently scheduled for Arden-Dimick Library in Sacramento (4/10/2009); San Diego County Library Headquarters (4/13/2009); Buena Park Library District (4/16/2009); Fresno–Woodward Park (4/20/2009); San Jose Martin Luther King, Jr. Library (4/22/2009); and San Francisco Public Library—Latino/Hispanic Community Meeting Room (4/24/2009).