tony tallent

How can libraries really ROCK?

Music and Libraries are like cake and ice cream. Great on their own. Delicious and memorable when put together. For a prime example, take a look a Gustafer Yellowgold coming to the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County.
To find out how to make this happen at your library or location, ask me: Tony, massive Gustafer fan and library lover extraordinaire …reach me at yestoknow[at]
Rock on…I know you are already!

xo arrives at my door!

As promised, the xo I ordered back in November to support the One Laptop Per Child program (give one, get one) arrived before Christmas. I just got my hands on it about an hour ago. I’m ready to play…more as I figure out this little green and white wonder.

Things I’ve learned from Helene

This afternoon several fellow staff members and I said goodbye to one of the strongest voices in the Library world as she moves to Columbus Metropolitan Library. (You’re quite lucky, CML). Helene Blowers.
It is a wonderful and delicious thing to have someone in your life you regard as a mentor, teacher, leader, earth-shaker AND friend. Helene you’re all of these. You’ve moved mountains not only at PLCMC but within the library profession. Your name is synonymous with learning.

So–as I think Helene would do it–here are 5 BIG things that I’ve learned from working, chatting, dreaming and being with Helene:

1. Spend your time celebrating, promoting and drawing attention to the great work of others. It will reap benefits for all.
2. Leadership is about saying “yes” and standing back, watching, and applauding.
3. Give away the good stuff. Don’t hold onto it. Whether it’s information or permission.
4. Asking permission is for first graders.
5. Act on what you keep talking about. Otherwise it’s just talk. We don’t need more talk. More cake, less icing. Please.
5a: If you’re not dreaming and talking about it–start now. Cultivate those wild seeds that are trying to sprout.

Thank you, Helene.

Re-Quote Worthy and Simple Gets Things Done

I came across a quote from Dave Writes that was cause for an mmmhmmm moment. Dave quotes Georgescu-Roegen from Vanderbilt as saying this about his personal mentor:

He also taught me that things are never as complicated as they seem. It is only our arrogance that prompts us to find unnecessarily complicated answers to simple problems.

Working to look smarter or to be sound more innovative or progressive often comes across just like that–you’re working at it…which often reads as arrogance or ultimately smoke-and-mirrors. How many times have you attended a meeting and suddenly realized an hour was spent talking about a perceived issue that could have been handled in a phone call or better yet by just acting on it and not talking about acting on it?

Here are 3 suggestions I have for keeping it simple-and-direct:
1. If it has to be a Team Project, make it a Team of Two (at least to begin with).
2. Set out to answer questions–not to set up a process.
3. Replace project initiative documentation with check-lists. Yes list! Lists are action-oriented. Project initiative documents are, well, documents. Documents keep you behind the desk, not in action.
4. Call people up and ask their opinions. Don’t email them documentation for review and recommendations.
5. Know when to say, “we’re all done here.” Then give it away.

A Must-Read for A New-Breed

Are you tired of working harder and getting no feedback to help move you forward? Are you over the ladder-climbing mentality that was set by your predecessor? Ready to give your boomer-boss the bump? Then here is your holy grail. Penelope Trunk lays it on out in a fashion that few “personal success” books do in The Brazen Careerist: The New Rules For Success. It does not get any clearer than this. It’s the book that reads like a blog–and could likely have as much impact! Trunk reminds us that it IS about YOU and YOU do have the right to be successful and YOU can make positive waves while at the same time actually having a life that has meaning to YOU while contributing to the success of your company or organization. This is the book for a new breed of leaders and trail blazers.
Get this book. Read it. Just imagine that it is hardback laptop.

Quote to get you jumping:
“”…when you’re starting a trend, often you look less like a trendsetter and more like a freak.”
Ahhhh, she had me at freak.

Blend Well and Serve it Up

Lately I have been thinking about how far we can get if we simply blend the “ingredients” of our daily lives, our work, our organizations. We’re all looking for new ways to do things. What if we think about all the things–the activities, the staff, the technology, the tools–we have and blend some of those existing things together to create something new. Familiar ingredients. New concoction.
This weekend I read an article in the Charlotte Observer with the tag “CMS mixes high-tech, old-fashioned in effort to get 10,000 kids up to speed on reading.” This article drove home the idea of blending. Old tech can support new tech. The Virtual can support the Real.
Have you blended lately?

Family Portrait Day @ the Library

What do you get when you take friendly and daring staff, mixed with a talented on-staff graphic designer (who just happens to be a wiz at photography) and add in the holiday season? It’s Family Portrait Day @ the Public Library! The story is this simple and this extraordinary–giving our users a wonderful, free opportunity to have their portraits taken on a Saturday at Independence Regional Library (this means a 15 minute fun photo session and a disc of their photos less than a week later) plus allowing staff with special talents and skills to shine in new and meaningful ways!
Guess what? I bet you can do this, too in your Public Library. Willing to throw down less than $100 for supplies and a few hours of time giving your community a chance to have an unexpected experience at the library? Then you’re well on your way to stealing this idea. I’ll post more photos when they’re ready. (Yes, we had community members give us permission to use the photos in library promo). We also had families pose with their favorite books (or ones we had in the prop station, just in case).
The next Family Portrait Day will be at Plaza-Midwood Branch during the “Holidays in the Hood” Art Crawl that the community is sponsoring. Come on out for it…or, better yet, create Family Portrait Day at your own Library or civic organization.
Thanks, Ian, Emily and Erin for helping this idea come to life!