public library

Teens!

Today I had the pleasure of attending a meeting with the Boulder Public Library Teen Advisory Board.  One of the things I realized during the meeting is how far Public Libraries have come in the past 10 years or so with their commitment to the Teens in our communities. The very fact that I was sitting in a meeting room chatting with this vibrant group of Teens talking about libraries, podcasts and how to make the library a better place for them is quite wonderful. Salute to BTAB!

Check out what they’re up to at www.boulderteens.org

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Nellie McKay & What It’s All About

Only a few minutes ago I returned from the Nellie McKay performance at the b.line in Boulder.  I walked home with a feeling of inspiration, wonder, creativity and call-to-action. The performance was somewhat raw and honest, insightful and alarming with a strong dose of absolute humor and charm. As utterly abnormal as it may seem to those outside the Library world, on the walk home I couldn’t help but think how this wisp of a performer embodies the very essence of Libraries. Youthful yet wise, simple and still layered with complexities that drew the audience’s attention and at points so straight-forward there was no room for misinterpretation (image: the  songstress walked off the stage and passed out a clipboard so that audience members could be sure to get the web site address for a cause she supports : Non-violence United . Moving seemlessly between full-out performing to nimbly going into songs that the audience members called out (“Clony!”), she also showed she’d done her homework about Boulder–she created a song on-the-spot about a local restaurant and encouraged people to be aware of a local rezoning issue! Note to Self: Nellie McKay is a likely candidate for a featured song on Library Tribute Album.

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…