public library

Hello, Charlotte; Goodbye, Charlotte. Let the Dreamsicle Roll.

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!

Discovering Boulder

It’s been a very active couple of days here in Boulder. Searching for a place to live has been a very good experience to learn more about the city. As always, it’s those moments between the tasks that often reveal the most insight, beauty and magic. I’ve snapped as many pictures as possible between finding addresses, meeting with the terrific Boulder Public Library staff and generally being awed and sizzed about coming to Colorado. I snapped the picture above yesterday afternoon. I jokingly said “this is my new backyard.” Then I realized that this statement is pretty much true. This is in Chautauqua Park looking up at the Flatiron Mountains–a reasonable walk right from Boulder’s Main Library!

Learning Unveiled!

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!

People Want Experiences

It’s my second day in beautiful Jamaica! Had a wonderful presentation experience this morning with a ballroom full of dedicated and ready-to-innovate library professionals.  After my presentation, I had many good talks with members of the conference. What I realize again and again is that ultimately what everyone is wanting (and needing) is to have a memorable experience–whether user, staff, administrator or simply on-looker. How to create an experience? Start by telling a story. A strong and meaningful story. Your story. The story of your community or the group you want to reach. Tell your story in the way that will reach your intended audience. Pictures and images (shall I say “realia”) can help in the telling immensely!

By the way: these giant chess pieces (in the picture above) are on the grounds of the Rose Hall Resort where the conference is taking place. Simply seeing them sitting there under and tent as the thunder rang in the sky and the ocean lapped near me made me feel as if I were in a type of nouveau fairytale. Ah, story a story begins to develop…


5 in 5: Challenging Yourself

I’ve been intrigued by the 31 Day Comment Challenge that I first spotted on the Library Trainer blog. I’ve been taking this challenge but not following the guidelines set out for the it–I like the inspiration, but not the rules. And that’s working for me. I was flying out  comments tonight and thought I’d give myself a really intense challenge. Send out 5 comments in 5 minutes. (I even brought in the kitchen timer to make sure I stayed in the time limit).  What I found out was that the act of writing comments goes rather fast for me. Reading posts and actually formulating a meaningful response takes longer.  I finished 1 and a half comments before the timer went off. But, I kept right on commenting and made 8 comments total within about 28 minutes. So, the news here is that it takes me at least 28 minutes to locate 8 posts of interest and them write 8 (quick) comments.

This all made me wonder a little bigger. How could my personal 5 in 5 challenge work in other, broader areas? What are 5 meaningful communications or actions we can make in 5 minutes? Is it even possible? I’ve read that time constraints can often assist in bringing forth the best end product (think: Project Runway). Anyone want to take this challenge–or build off of it? 

5 in 5!  Ready, set…

Building From the Top Down

Yesterday I had an excellent conversation with a colleague. He asked me what would I really like to do in the future. My quick response was something like: “I want to build a library from the ground up…well, really from the top down. What I mean by this is not beginning our building with bricks and mortar but with philosophy and commitment so that we are always poised to experiment, ready to adapt and have more limitless thinking and action.”  It’s ultimately the invisible that strengthens the visible.

Here are three more questions that can help stimulate “building from the top down” thinking:

1. What if we crafted an entirely user designed library, organization, event?

2. What if our main guide for implementation was “Quick and Effective?”

3. What if we weren’t so concerned with counting resources, people, objects?

What big questions help YOU think (and build) from the top down?

Brave Enough to Be Silent

Do you know this kid? Likely not. His story has not been told very widely (especially in light of “important news” such as the wedding plans of Jenna Bush–which actually aired during the NBC Nightly News last night). This is a picture of Lawrence King, a 15 year old student in California who was killed by another schoolmate for expressing himself on February 12, 2008.

Today is the National Day of Silence–a day to bring attention to the need to end bullying, mental torture and discrimination, especially GLBT kids who generally have little notable support.  This year’s Day of Silence is being held in honor of Lawrence King, a kid who dared to express himself in this world that is still growing and learning, and often does not see the importance and beauty in diversity.

I find it very interesting that The Day of Silence falls on the Friday before Dia de Los Ninos which celebrates kids, learning and diversity.

Did your library or community group observe The Day of Silence? Mine didn’t. For every child who has ever been taunted, hurt or disillusioned by bullying; for every adult who has the memory of discrimination; for every teen who is afraid to come out or simply express themselves–I envision a world ofacceptance and inclusion. I also know that, generally,  your Public Library is a safe and accepting place. Let this always be (more) so.

In the memory of Lawrence King, let’s start where we are to make this world a more embracing place.

Dia de Los Ninos (Dia de Difference)!

On Sunday, April 27 Libraries and community centers all over North America will be celebrating Dia de Los Ninos. This celebration brings together the best intentions, dreams and good hard workof so many people from many backgrounds. It is much more than a program effort, it is a concerted drive to bring attention to the importance of of reading in the lives of children as well as the very beauty and diversity of our world. That is a big call to order! It takes a big dreamer (and creator) like author and inspir-er Pat Mora to rally the dreams and efforts of people in so many places to craft something so cohesive and meaningful as Dia. Pat reminds us that Dia de Los Ninos is not just about one day of celebration. It is really a movement that concerns inclusion, involvement and thinking beyond the limitations of today to realize a more unified future for our community. If your library or organization doesn’t celebrate (or in some way honor) the spirit of Dia de Los Ninos, check into it…join this effort that carries the ideas and ideals of community and concern so gracefully and joyfully.

Free Use Photos, Part 2 (The Plot Thickens)

Last week my colleague, Lori, called me for 2 reasons. First, she’d read my post about creating Free Use Photos and was intrigued by the idea. Second, in the process of looking into “Free Use” a bit more, she’d found a group who aim to do just the opposite by making flickr images exclusive,  basically inaccessible legally without obtaining specific (paid) rights.    [While searching just now, I see that one of the group’s administrators has changed the very formal and hard-edge statement that was listed last week which was essentially language that spoke of image-poachers and keeping images from free use. The statement now is more about offering “useful information for photographers…”].

Lori put forth the challenge to expand my one “Free Use Photos” set into a flickr group. Yes! Within a few hours the Free Use Group was set up, and has grown in the past couple of days to  have over 30 members and 4 administrators.

You can be a part of the Free Use Movement, too, and join the Free Use Group.

Part 2, Scene 2

This morning I received a call from the FBI. I’m not making this up. It was a follow-up from the photo-taking-spree I conducted during Computers in Libraries in DC.  I explained (again) why one would want to take photos of signs and buildings and such to use in presentations and on blogs. I explained about “Creative Commons” that I had just presented at the conference earlier that morning with Helene Blowers and that I’d posted the images on flickr in a set called “Free Use Photos.” When the interviewer asked me what this flickr thing was and how was it spelled, I resisted the urge to say “well, it’s sort of like The Google.” This “interview” went on for about 10+ minutes. How does one answer questions like “how many pictures did you take of that building?” Which one is “that building?” “Why would you take a picture of a water outlet?” Well, it was interesting and perhaps useful to someone who wants to portray the idea of “letting go of resources.” I have a better question(s): Why did I have to have this conversation in the first place, and does this gentleman have to call every tourist in D.C. who snaps a shot of their reflection in a window or a fire hydrant or an interesting doorway?

I’ll say it again: the “0” in 2.0 should not have to be a hoop (as in “jump through this hoop before you have access”).



Thoughts after a big, great library event

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!