My Visit to Library Island: Justin Hoenke

Library Island, the participatory activity which reaches the parts other professional development cannot reach, is here! You can read more and download your copy of the free, CC-licensed PDF file here.

I’m featuring some accounts of the island from people who have attended Island sessions, or run Islands of their own, to give you a better sense of what it means to take part in, or even organise, your own Library Island.

This week, we’re joined by Pennsylvania public librarian Justin Hoenke, who attended an Island session with colleagues from across the western part of his state in June 2019. The activity was embedded in a day-long event focussed on strategic & scenario planning for public libraries and their communities.

Pennsylvania librarians in action!

Justin writes:

These days I have become a librarian who absolutely loathes most workshops and presentations[…] While there are good workshops and presentations out there, I feel like the majority of them over the past 5 years have fell into a tired template of predictable buzzwords, slides full of memes, and numerous other conference and workshop tropes.

With Library Island, I felt differently about it from the moment I heard about it. Change?!?! Chaos?!?!? Games?!?!? Play?!?!?! Fun?!?!? What was this? Why were people smiling and moving around during this workshop? Library Island offered something different, a workshop that brought together learning with fun and unpredictability. At the end of the day with Library Island I was physically and mentally tired, but in a good way, a way I hadn’t felt in ages. I needed to get home and get to bed to recover, but my humming head wouldn’t let me fully put down the great experience I just had.

I don’t have the ability to beam the entire day on Library Island to you, but I can say that it was easily the best and most enriching workshop experience I’ve ever had. When you’re physically and mentally worn out from a workshop but can’t go to sleep because you keep having ideas you know you’re onto something good.

Justin took notes during his attendance on the course and here are some highlights:

“The Future is Unwritten…we make it and can have a real impact. This is a great way to combat fear/anxiety. Uncertainty doesn’t have to equal anxiety: it can equal hope and change. Do the best you can in the time you’ve got.”

“I am reminded of the importance of fun. Work does not have to be all consuming and boring. Looking @ relationships – Matt is having us show ourselves. The Library Island experience is busy but good…it is a good example of day-to-day library work. Busy but good. Not linear. Adaptable.”

“[This] very group based and participatory workshop led me to reexamine my relationship with trusting others. How interesting!”

“Change: how could you make things less worse? Slowly chip away at things and over time a larger change happens. Look at libraries since the 1990’s. The future of our library is dictated by our community.”


You can read more at Justin’s blog, or find out more about Library Island right here on my site.

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