Now, that’s a packed goodie hour!

Library community members recognize Joan Frye Williams as a deep and fluent source of observations and analyses of where and how library services are going, from nascent development through their stages of emerging best practices. The free webinar she provided through Infopeople today, Life After Desk: Implementing the New Service Models, offered those of us in the “live” audience more than a handful of ideas already in practice, with good reasons on offer as to why and how to bring them to our home libraries.  Of course, not everyone can get to a webinar at its scheduled time, so another shout out is in order that, as with all Infopeople webinars, the recording, as well as the slides and even the text chat by those who could attend the presentation, wil be available for any-time review in archived form (The slide sets are already there, with the rest to come later this week).

There are take aways here for both public and academic libraries, for staff concerned with reference staff locations and for those interested in the integration of makerspaces–and maker activities–as well as traditional information services.  Among the issues that lit up the chat among the audience are:

  • How to identify library staff as such when we aren’t behind desks
  • How to organize library space so that it makes sense to users interested in locating the types of services they need with a minimum of confusion that requires staff handoff between designated departments
  • How to deal with staff who won’t engage in new approaches, such as roving

We were treated to glimpses of attainable models, including a “Library Idea Box” in which makerspace meets art display space.  We heard research-based evidence for giving library users more comfort by working with them side by side instead of face to face.  We were reminded that “excellence is defined by user experience” rather than by staff decisions of what is convenient from our side of things.

While waiting for the archives to get fully loaded, you can get further ideas–or whet your interest even more!–by checking the Twitter hashtag #ifpafterdesk. This hour was so packed that going through it all more than a time or two is bound to create sparks that can lead to action!

Working in the spirit of “Yes, And…”

I was reading Public Libraries magazine.  You know the one that comes in the mail and you hold in your hands.  I was pleasantly surprised to find an article by the PLA president talking about how to create partnerships with your community.

Now, for any of you that know me, you’ve heard me talking about the skills of improvisation and how useful they could be to library staff.  So I was delighted to find our PLA president saying:“We found our organization opening up after a communications training session that taught the “yes, and…” principle.  “

Yes, And… is one of the main principles that improvisers use and practice.

When I mention improvisation, people sometimes get worried that they will have to “perform” but it’s not about performing.  There are skills improvisers practice that help people work together effectively.  In fact, if you’ve been in one of my workshops in the past 5 years, you’ve already done some of the same activities improvisers use to hone their skills though you probably had no idea you were practicing “improv”.

Here’s why the skills of improvisation matter to libraries.  One of the things that makes it difficult to move forward in libraries besides money, is people stuck in old beliefs or old mental models of what the library should be.  To keep libraries viable into the future no matter what that future looks like, we need to retrain staff to be flexible, nimble and collaborative so that each person’s perspective and experience can be used to create the future of the library.  It’s very similar to what stage improvisers do.  They practice a skill set that allows them to support each other in an ever-changing environment.  That’s exactly what we expect our staff to do on a daily basis.

I have the same question Marcia asks in her Public Libraries article “What would happen if your organizational culture was one of “yes”?