For some time I have been advancing the idea of drawing bigger circles in the library community. One way that we can draw these bigger circles involves sharing our large initiatives and ideas from the inside out and working to replicate these in libraries that may or may not be in close by. The inspiration, ideas and learning through the success of one library can set a firm foundation for a successful program or initiative in another. A terrific example of this idea is happening this very weekend at San Francisco Public Library when Tricycle Music Fest West rolls forward. Trike Fest West builds out of the enormously successful Tricycle Music Fest that started back in 2007 at PLCMC in Charlotte, NC. The idea of connecting the dots between literacy, libraries and great kindie rock music was a hit in Charlotte for 3 years. It is incredible to see it evolving in a city all the way on the other side of the country. I’m cheering for all the members of the audience who’ll be rocking out at the library as well as the incredible staff who take ideas and make them come to life (Christy, Jason, Angela!)! Are there ways that you or your library are working to draw bigger circles? I think that more of this kind of activity is not only beneficial, it really is one of the directions we need to go as a large library community showing us that we don’t always have to reinvent the wheel (especially with tricycles).
Dreamy things can come true. Look at the picture above. This is a real example of it. When my Charlotte colleague, Karen, came to me back in April and told me that there was a possibility of getting funding through Mecklenburg County Government for an “innovative and creative” project that focused on reading for underserved neighborhoods during the summer–and that we only had a few days to pull together a proposal–it was time to pull out the dreams. What was there to lose? So the dreams came out. You know, the ones that you hold onto that are usually only unleashed in a rush of laughter or possibility? So here’s what I thought: What if we created an incredible combination of a summer favorite (the ice cream truck) with a library icon (the bookmobile) and made it possible to give thousands of books away to kids who likely have no books in their houses? What if we did this in a very visual way (making a beautifully loud ice cream truck-turned-bookmobile) AND offered wireless access on laptops, programs and friendly staff available to create a library-on-the-spot? The what-if has become a reality. Yesterday, it all rolled out to the Allenbrook neighborhood of Charlotte. And again today…and on into the summer and beyond! We have 8 laptops with internal air cards (this fell out of the sky through a generous grant from IBM right at the same time) , thousands of books to give away, programs, an outdoor cafe-like set-up for around the truck and so many staff and community members excited and overjoyed to see it drive around the corner. We have formally called this the “Mobile Literacy Project.” What we have wound up calling it is the “Dreamsicle.” And that feels right. Libraries can help dreams come true. It feels very good when there is an obvious manifestation of this. What is your personal “dreamsicle” idea that you hold back? How can you “give it wheels?” We took an almost-retired delivery van and turned it into a sight to behold that will serve up the library with fun, meaning (and sometimes real ice cream) ! A little dreaming can go a long way (and it doesn’t have to be this big or loud or have wheels at all).
I write this post on my very last day of work in Charlotte at the Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County as I prepare to move to Boulder, Colorado. It’s been a very intense day–filled with dreams-come-true and the lovely sorrow of saying goodbye to my work loved-ones. I am very grateful that I’ve been able to work with some of the freshest and most vibrant minds and hands of the library world! Thank you to all of you you-know-whos. Please keep dreaming on and know that the library is a very expansive entity and that our circles are going to cross again, and again…exactly as we dream it!
On Sunday the Public Library’s Tricycle Music Fest officially rolled into the city. The big hoopla? They Might Be Giants hit it hard with 2 shows, 2 packed houses and over 1100 smiling, singing, dancing taking-it-to-eleven rockers of all ages.
What does this have to do with the business of Public Libraries? Everything. Knowing that the library is a mirror and a voice for the community we serve, we also reflect the tastes, aesthetics and desires of our community. What does that more than a rock concert?! These shows were big venue shows at our ImaginOn facility, but we also do smaller–yet real–concerts at many of our other branches. The night before we hosted a concert with the hip, smart and sweet band Lunch Money at Plaza-Midwood Branch. How many families can you fit in a small branch with the guitars blaring? In this case–about a hundred!
You can do this, too, at your library. Contact me and I’ll give you the details. You know I have to say this: Rock on!
Today was a sizzling, sweet and meaningful day at the Public Library. Not only was it the kick-off for all our summer reading programs, the christening of a Book House at Morrison Regional Library, all branches buzzing with kids of all ages fresh out for the summer…we also unveiled a beautiful mural at South County Regional Library. The mural has been a bit of a personal quest of mine for a couple of years. This bright and dreamy piece of artwork by artist Brandon Reese (you have to check out his web site!) fills what has been a large blank white wall in the most active regional branch of PLCMC. The concept behind the mural? Always learning, through all the senses, through all the seasons. I adore what Brandon has created.
There is another special component to this mural. It is dedicated to learners of all ages as well as a very important person in the lives of so many librarians throughout PLCMC and the whole country. Gayle Libberton. Gayle (she is the blonde woman standing beside Derya from South County) was the Children’s Services Manager who opened South County Regional Library. She has also encouraged, supported and mentored dozens and dozens of library staff members to advance their careers, further their education and stay inspired in libaries. (BTW: Gayle was the person who first hired me in PLCMC). Thank you, Gayle!
As a special treat, I asked Brandon Reese to hide several G’s and L’s throughout the mural. There are 10 in all! If you come by South County Regional, you have to hunt for them. I think you’ll find the subtle yet colorful mural relaxing and joyful! Here’s to learning and libraries!
My time at the Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County has offered me so many opportunities. I’ve had the pleasure (and growth) of working on a wide array of projects and initiatives. I have many dear friends at PLCMC who I will miss very much (and I hope are making plans to visit in Boulder very soon).
Here’s to seeking out new paths and the joy that comes with it! And here’s to Boulder!
Tonight we had the finale event for the Paint the Town Read initiative that we’ve been running for 2 months now. We hosted 2 great come-celebrate-and-show-you-love-the-library events–one at the Main Library and one at ImaginOn. We had, collectively, over 1,000 people show up to celebrate libraries on this Friday of National Library Week! (May I mention that we were running our events parallel with the Keith Urban & Carrie Underwood sold-out concert at the arena in downtown Charlotte in the same city block?) It was a wonderful, library-loving night!
Here are some thoughts on how to make big library events that people love:
1. People love music, especially live music. Tonight we showcased the rocking & pure lovely music of Lunch Money. If you haven’t booked them for your library, get on it!
2. People love to be surprised. Many folks showed up prepared to see the theatre event only at ImaginOn, not knowing that there was food, drink and goodies waiting for them. Those that came just for the party found that there were welcoming staff, giveaways, music and lots to do!
3. People love to be treated special. Staff roamed among the many hundreds of visitors and welcomed them and thanked them for coming. It is the same as if you were having a party at your house–remember that…treat every guest special. And it will be a special event.
Here’s to Emily and all the staff that helped make the Red, Read Party a Real, Really Special Event!
Innovation is often more about taking what you have and adding a new ingredient than starting from scratch to create something new. What is a good ingredient to add to a standard program or service? Try “wonder.” What can we do to add an element of pure wonder into what we do each day–both for our users and our staff? My colleague Emily recently ventured into an arena of the common-gone-wonderful when she created and offered an unapologetic Noisy Storytime. Yes, a program that was consciously crafted to allow kids who want (and need) to make noise have their kind of experience. Working off an idea found in SLJ, she put it into action. We have the opportunity each day to inject our programs, services and tools with the element of wonder (you may call it delight, energy, newness) into what we do. It’s not always the easiest thing to do when we’re balancing the many plates of our day-to-day–yet possible. Take a look at Emily’s post on the Library in Action blog for inspiration. Need some other ways to stir the wonder into what you do? Try these to start:
1. Bring something strikingly beautiful into your space (office, workroom, lobby) and let it speak for itself.
2. Ask yourself: what would my program look like if I allowed “the audience” to run the show? Let at least some of it happen.
3. Allow a kid to teach you something. Even something you know how to do already.
What give you a feeling of “Wonder?” Move with that.