Preparing for Worlds We Didn’t See Coming @ ASPAC 2019

Queensland Museum & Science Centre
Queensland Museum & Science Centre by Wikipedia user GordonMakryllos – CC BY-SA 4.0

“A long time ago, when I was a child, I went to a Science Centre. Back then, there was nothing like it – a truly hands-on space of adventure and learning, in an age when most museums kept their exhibits under glass.

“On most of the Science Centre exhibits, you turned a crank, hoped to see something awesome happen – then read the didactic to see what you were supposed to have learned.

“Pedagogy has moved on, but so has the world. What happens when you “turn the crank” of science and causality breaks down? What happens when social and natural systems collapse, public trust fractures, and old worldviews reveal their blind spots?

“What would the ‘Post-Normal Science Centre’ look like?”

Next month, I’ll be speaking as the opening keynote at this year’s Asia Pacific Network of Science and Technology Centres Conference – ASPAC 2019.

New strategic plan for Supreme Court Library Queensland

I’m pleased to announce the publication of one of my recent projects, the new five-year strategic plan for the Supreme Court Library of Queensland, Australia (SCLQ).

Queen_Elizabeth_II_Courts_of_Law,_Brisbane_03
Queen Elizabeth II Courts of Law, Brisbane by Wikipedia user Kgbo – CC BY-SA 3.0

The project, which ran through 2018 and early 2019, comprised research, interviews, survey and workshop design, plus co-writing the finished plan with Supreme Court Librarian David Bratchford.

Researching and writing the plan gave me the opportunity to explore one of the most fascinating and challenging sectors of the information profession – the law.

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My Visit to Library Island: Eli Neiburger, Ann Arbor District Library

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.

Last time, Sherlonya Turner of Ann Arbor District Library (AADL) in Michigan, USA joined us for her account of running Library Island. Sherlonya and her colleagues ran a tailor-made session at LibCamp 2019, a professional development event for regional librarians hosted by AADL.

Now AADL Deputy Director Eli Neiburger takes up the story.

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The Library as Value-Creating System

Here are a few thoughts on how we might apply the Value-Creating System (VCS) approach – which focusses on relationships as much as transactions or products, emphasises collaboration as much as competition, and incorporates values other than the financial – to public libraries.

Box full of colourful characters and figures with placards labelled "Library of the Future - Some assembly required

What Does a Library Do, Anyway?

It can be hard to define a library’s purpose these days.

This is more of a problem for public libraries than for other institutions. Universities and colleges have well-articulated information needs, as do hospitals, courts, and other government bodies, or large enterprises which employ librarians of their own. Libraries within these organisations serve the information needs of a specified group, and often those needs and services are pretty well defined too.

Public libraries, however, struggle more with self-definition. They provide a wide and varied range of services, plus the communities they serve are often more diverse and less tightly defined. Some corners of Libraryland have been talking about this online for a while. Read more

Summer Learning: Getting Your Head Around Value-Creating Systems

In the spirit of showing your working in the margins of your exercise book, I’m sharing notes & thoughts from one of my summer reads – Rafael RamĂ­rez and Ulf Mannervik’s Strategy for a Networked World.

Cover of Rafael RamĂ­rez and Ulf Mannervik, Strategy for a Networked World

This book sets out the latest version of a strategic approach called Value-Creating Systems (VCS). The late Richard Normann and his colleagues first developed VCS over 20 years ago. Its focus on relationships and connections, exploring collaboration as well as competition in business environments, seems ever more relevant in our increasingly networked world.

As people go on summer holidays and the pace of work in the northern hemisphere slows a little, it’s a great time to read, learn, and grow. I thought I’d be honest and share a bit of my work as I get my head around a concept in strategic thinking which is also relatively new to me.

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My Visit to Library Island: Sherlonya Turner, Ann Arbor District Library

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. 

Today, Sherlonya Turner of Ann Arbor District Library (AADL) in Michigan, USA joins us for her account of running Library Island. Sherlonya and her colleagues ran a tailor-made session at LibCamp 2019, a professional development event for regional librarians hosted by AADL.

Sherlonya is a great public library leader, and, in her regular contributions to AADL’s culture blog Pulp, one of Libraryland’s most talented writers. Here’s what happened when she took charge of Library Island earlier this year.

When Managers Cut Loose: Being Playful with Colleagues

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Clemson University Visits Library Island

This week, South Carolina’s Clemson University Libraries became the latest organisation to visit Library Island, with their own lively adaptation of the free, CC-licensed core toolkit.

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This #TuesdayTrip we walked over to the Hendrix Student Center for our Professional Development Day, a chance for our employees to learn the ins and outs of other library job positions through a professional development game called Library Island. Each employee was assigned to a library with a new job position or role such as librarian, tech, dean, student, etc. Everyone was then given a task and had to find the corresponding person to help them with it, making the room operate like a library. Through this game, employees gained insight into their coworkers’ jobs and experienced both the good aspects and the challenges. After the game, we discussed what we learned. One employee said she now understands the demand placed on our financial officer, while someone who’s island was located far from the others realized how distance can impact an employee’s job, like those at our off-site Library Depot. Many employees said they realized they had a lot of assumptions about their coworkers’ jobs and the activity helped interpret them more clearly. But of course we couldn’t play a game and not have some fun! Stay tuned for this week’s #LibraryShenanigans to find out how we overthrew the dean, caught crooks stealing from Special Collections, declared a new library, ran out of books, and met a flamingo named Clarence. #NextTimeOnDragonBallZ . . . #clemson #clemsonlibraries #librariesofclemson #librariesofinstagram #library #cooperlibrary #academiclibrary #clemsonuniversity #southcarolina #clemsontigers #books #reading #learning #tuesday #trip #vacation #holiday #adventure #woohoo #employee #work #beach #island #hawaii #libraryisland

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“Each employee was assigned to a library with a new job position or role such as librarian, tech, dean, student, etc. Everyone was then given a task and had to find the corresponding person to help them with it, making the room operate like a library. Through this game, employees gained insight into their coworkers’ jobs and experienced both the good aspects and the challenges.

After the game, we discussed what we learned. One employee said she now understands the demand placed on our financial officer, while someone who’s island was located far from the others realized how distance can impact an employee’s job, like those at our off-site Library Depot.

Many employees said they realized they had a lot of assumptions about their coworkers’ jobs and the activity helped interpret them more clearly. But of course we couldn’t play a game and not have some fun!”

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Find out more and follow their Island adventures by visiting Clemson Libraries on Instagram, or read more about running a Library Island of your very own.

The Complete Yoga for Futurists

We might be excellent at making plans, but what future will those plans have to inhabit?

How do we take into account the roles and relationships which define our world, when we try to imagine that world’s future?

How can we cultivate flexibility and mindfulness when it comes to thinking about the futures which may await us?

If you’d like to reflect on these questions, the final “Yoga for Futurists” is here.

Yoga for Futurists 3” is a standalone instalment of my video series offering “rough and ready” ways to swiftly improve the conversations you’re having about the future and your place in it.

You can watch the complete 3-part “Yoga for Futurists” playlist on YouTube.

What’s Your Process? Getting Stuff Written

I love writing. It means everything to me. It’s excruciating. It kills me. I couldn’t do without it.

Not just big, epic, heartfelt things make me feel this way. It happens every time I try to string a sentence together.

Reports, articles, academic essays.

Emails to business contacts (How much warmth to offer without wasting their time? How short to make paragraphs so the points are kept clear? How to sign off?).

I’m still thinking too hard about a twelve-word message I once wrote on LinkedIn in response to a moderately enticing offer of work. Too casual? Too brusque? 

The other week I got a piece published in The Conversation, a website which helps academics and researchers get their work out to a wider audience. The article was about using public libraries to help communities think about the future, using a method called scenario planning.

The article has been well received and widely shared among library professionals. It only got a minor tweak from the editor before it was published, but the final draft took a fair bit of work and I needed help to get there. So I thought I’d share the process with you here on the blog.

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