Scandinavian Workshops

When should we fight an oncoming future? And when should we embrace it?

What does good citizenship mean today? And what will it mean to our children?

Does anyone have the right to “make a better citizen”?

How can libraries help people to live well together?

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This October, I’ll be working with information professionals in three Scandinavian countries to explore these questions, and more.

Join me in Sweden, Norway, or Denmark for practical workshops that explore possible futures for libraries and information science.

I’ll also be keynoting Norway’s national library conference on 24th October. Please join us if you can, or follow on social media.

The Question Box: Exploring Teamwork

A colleague working in a think tank faced a knotty challenge: how to lead a conversation about a team’s attitude to collaboration and teamwork, when she herself was a part of that team.

The activity formed part of an away day and the session was set to last ninety minutes. I worked with my colleague to devise activities that would prompt frank and constructive conversations, free her from the role of facilitator, and create space for imaginative new ideas to surface.

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The Question Box

The core activity we came up with was a series of questions or challenges written on cue cards, to be drawn from a box. Like the Presenterless Workshops activity, this encourages participants to take charge of the discussion and gives them freedom in how they approach the topic. Read more

Bex Twinley: The Dark Side of Occupation

Occupational therapists (OTs) are among my favourite professionals to work with. These allied health practitioners have a unique and often overlooked take on the world – the “occupational lens” – through which they understand human experience in terms of our occupations: the things we want, need, and have to do in our lives.

Today’s therapists and occupational scientists understand that human lives are comprised of occupations; that occupations can become dysfunctional and harmful; and that occupation itself can become a way of offering therapy and putting things right.

Bex (Rebecca) Twinley of Plymouth University is an occupational science researcher who coined the phrase “dark side of occupation”. Health professionals have traditionally and understandably focussed on occupations which they see as positive and productive for individuals, groups, and communities. Yet when we think of the total sum of human occupation, its many facets must include dark – meaning less explored – sides, too.

What happens when occupational science chooses not to look away from those facets, and instead pays attention to the darkness?

Bex:

Occupational therapy as a profession has always been focussed on links to health and wellbeing, identifying and supporting those occupations which are healthy to do.

The reality is that people don’t engage in positive occupations all of the time – yet these are not spoken about in our literature or explored in much of our practice. This limits the authenticity of the understanding between client and practitioner.

Matt:

I imagine that there is also some scope for debate about who gets to define health and wellbeing, and what institutional values are imposed by the health system. (It’s making me think of that Radiohead song, “Fitter Happier”).

What drew you to the notion of this “dark side” of occupation?

Read more

“Zombies, stay where you are!” – A @guardian visit to Library Island

They were sitting in rows in a room at the heart of the Guardian‘s Education Centre in London: teachers, librarians, educators, gathered for a day to explore reading for pleasure and attending to diverse voices in literature. They were happily caffeinated, ready to learn, excited for the day ahead of them.

About a third of them wore a name tag with the chilling legend: ZOMBIE.

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Read more

Tell us your story: Libraries’ global storytelling manual

The International Federation of Library Associations, IFLA, has released a new guide designed to help librarians and library advocates to tell compelling stories about library activities, projects and programmes, showing their impact on communities and people’s lives.

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Libraries and the Sustainable Development Goals” is a practical document and storytelling tool, linked to the United Nations goals which IFLA uses to demonstrate libraries’ global relevance.

You can check out the manual at the IFLA website.

#NotEnoughScifi: Good things happen

Seven years ago now. Springtime in New York.

I had read Nnedi Okorafor’s Zahrah the Windseeker back in 2010 and it had blown my mind. One of the greatest kids’ books I’d ever seen, wondrous and witty and thrilling.

>Nnedi Okorafor, Akata Witch Review at Brooklyn Rail

Nnedi had a new YA novel coming out – Akata Witch, the beginning of a fresh series.

I wanted to sing the praises of an incredible writer who, at the time, was still not quite getting the attention she deserved.

I pitched a review to Brooklyn Rail, the New York arts paper.

Read more

Interview with @Sherlonya Turner, @aadl Ann Arbor District Library

I met Ann Arbor District Library (AADL)’s Sherlonya Turner on my visit to Michigan earlier this year. Sherlonya manages youth and adult services and collections for the library. This involves leading desk service staff, directing children’s programming, and contributing to client-facing operations across the board.

As a writer for AADL’s arts blog Pulp, Sherlonya reports on film screenings, book launches, festivals, exhibitions, and cultural happenings of all kinds. Whether she’s covering visits by Hillary Clinton or Roxane Gay, a meditative movie on Native American experiences in Michigan, or her own participation in a street art festival, Sherlonya’s words provoke reflection, self-examination, and a questioning of our own assumptions alongside an account of the event in question. (I’m particularly fond of her piece on a successful Guinness World Record attempt to amass the most women dressed as Rosie the Riveter).

IMG_3829.jpgWhen she’s not making magic happen within the walls of AADL or stoking the curiosity of her readers online, Sherlonya has an unusual side project – making cakes, ice cream sundaes, and other sweet treats to represent US presidents and other senior figures in the history of American political life. Waffles, cookies, scoops, and sponges become the gateway to a thoughtful interrogation of power and personality over 200 years of the American experiment.

Sherlonya joined me earlier this month to discuss topics including her journey into librarianship, leadership and play in library settings, community blogging, and, of course, the Head of State Cakes.

“What was your origin story? How did you get to the place you are today, professionally?”

I thought I was going to be an engineer. I went to a college of engineering but then drifted into the literature, arts, and sciences department.

The university had to get in touch: “Yo, you are a junior and you don’t have a major — do something about it!”

Read more

Postcards from the Future: Behind the Scenes at Wondrous Strange #notenoughscifi

Imagine letting your community dream wildly of the world to come.

Imagine collaborating on a future history spanning millennia.

Imagine turning public space into something that was wondrous and strange.

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As part of our time-travel themed festival of weirdness, storytelling, art and science at Ann Arbor District Library, we asked visitors to write postcards from the future.

We collected over 80 tales stretching from 2018 to the year 5000.

Read more

Wiradjuri Language in Parkes

History Parkes

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This week is National Reconciliation Week (NRW), Let’s Take the Next Steps (17 May – 3 June 2017). NRW runs annually and marks two milestones in Australia’s reconciliation journey: The 1967 referendum and the historic Mabo decision.

To recognise the reconciliation journey Parkes Library would like to share with you a recording from the Library’s “Recording and Retelling Local Wiradjuri Stories, An Oral Cultural and Historical” project.

Learning Parkes’ local indigenous language, Wiradjuri, is part of daily school life in the Shire. In this excerpt from one of the project’s oral history recordings, teachers Kerry Gilbert, Ron Wardrup, and Geoff Anderson describe how the Wiradjuri language came to Parkes.

The “Recording and Retelling Local Wiradjuri Stories” project produced twelve oral histories that have been transcribed and can be access at Parkes Libary.

ABC Open’s Suzi Taylor produced a film and story that also shares the Parkes Wiradjuri language story – ABC…

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