Saturday, January 10, 2009

Just Act

I'm always a bit nervous about quoting a Chinese proverb - especially from a fortune cookie - since I'm not sure about authenticity but I thought this was a very worthwhile reminder:

Those who say it cannot be done should not criticize those who are doing it.

I try to be one who is doing.

Leaving Microsoft to Change the World

I picked up this book Leaving Microsoft to Change the World ( as an advance reader's copy in the ALA Exhibits a couple of years ago and only recently picked it up and read it. Such an inspiring story of aligning one's life with a sense of purpose and mission though at the same time honest about some of the costs of doing so. I recommend the book and was prompted to reflection many times but I particular took note of this:

"I also think they were emblematic of humankind's unique ability to create order out of chaos. Much of human advancement depends on overcoming setbacks and making progress despite obstacles and tragedy ... They are aware that they cannot control or change the past, but believe strongly that they can have an influence over the future. Rather than being paralyzed by tragedy, they are catalyzed into action ... In my own life, I had never before responded to a disaster, not had I expected to. We had to invent a lot of it as we went along."

While libraries aren't typically having to respond to natural disasters and their impact on populations already living in extreme and dire need, the economic realities of the current time are causing many of us to realize that we may have to layoff some of our staff or we are struggling because we have already done so. As the information/knowledge/education industries continue to change and as we face new economic times, we too are inventing a lot of it as we go along. The values and mission of our profession and plain human goodness and decency are great guides but we also need our creativity and capacity for connectedness.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Not Enough

"The conundrum for companies is that good products or services aren't enough."

Chip Heath and Dan Heath
Authors of Made to Stick

Sunday, November 2, 2008

2008 ALA TechSource Gaming, Learning, and Libraries Symposium

Right on the heels of EDUCAUSE, I've been attending the 2008 ALA TechSource Gaming, Learning, and Libraries Symposium.

Prior to the conference I had the great privilege of meeting with my colleagues on the expert panel of the ALA Gaming for Learning project funded by the Verizon Foundation. On Saturday we had an inspiring look at ThinkeringSpace that is exploring how physical and virtual environments might promote creative and critical thinking. I was particularly taken with the power of the "learning by prototyping" approach to creating the ThinkeringSpace and testing its ideas. Especially in projects involving "physicality" it seems like libraries would do well to adopt the "build a prototype and test it out" and perhaps we'd avoid some costly construction mistakes but for web resources and the like prototyping would help us put ideas in front of library users and get their reactions before we are overly invested in a particular approach. Even more though I was inspired by how open the project staff were to our questions and comments and their willingness to seek the best ideas to be had even if they didn't think of them on their own.

Elmhurst College's session on their gaming events was contextualized by the document Learning Reconsidered: A Campus-Wide Focus on the Student Experience and it was excellent to see a framework for the educational and learning impact of co-curricular programming in libraries and involving students in developing the programming. Librarians have a lot to learning from student affairs professionals on how to empower students as leaders of events. This came out as a tip in the session Videogame Night in the Academic Library, which was an outstanding presentation that demonstrated just how rich an academic/intellectual experience a gaming event can be made to be.

I focused my attendance at the conference on sessions about academic libraries and to the extent possible on those focused on information literacy. The information literacy games are intriguing but I'm concerned about the "fun factor" and motivation to play ... I wonder if there is a way for students to play a game on a different topic that would enable information literacy skill development and in which success is dependent on high levels of information literacy abilities? School Library Services of the Genesee Valley BOCES is working in this arena for K-12 - see their AASL Standards for the 21st-Century Learner Gaming Alignment document ... anyone doing this for higher education?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


I've been attending the EDUCAUSE 2008 Conference in Orlando this week. Beyond learning that Orlando is a much nicer climate in October than June (the month ALA met here a few years ago), I'm reminded that our colleagues in educational technology are involved in some of the very interesting work in innovative pedagogies. As at every conference, discussions with colleagues known for years and just met were a highlight.

I'm a bit anxious though about the state of collaboration among librarians and academic technologists. A weakness I see in many projects is over-reliance on free web resources and lack of integration with the high quality library subscription resources or even library open digital collections. The library-focused presentations I saw were also seemingly disconnected from other campus initiatives. I re-resolve to foster the relationships among librarians working in information literacy and educational technology specialists - we have a lot to offer each other.

Here are a few things that have caught my attention/been topics of reflection over the days of the conference:

The EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative is doing some very impressive and very important work. I'd like to see librarians, especially information literacy librarians, more involved with their projects, especially The EDUCAUSE Top Teaching and Learning Challenges 2009. I wonder if there is a conversation ACRL or the Instruction Section could sponsor to feed into this broader conversation?

I need to re-read Fostering Learning in the Networked World: The Cyberlearning Opportunity and Challenge
( from the National Science Foundation. How can librarians help meet these challenges and take advantage of the opportunities?

Going to a conference one doesn't usually attend means seeing vendors in the exhibit hall I've not seen before. Some very interesting tools and services that don't show up in the ALA exhibits. Wish I lived closer to a major conference city (though admittedly Chicago is do-able as a one-day trip ... its just exhausting) - a one-day exhibits pass for conferences outside my usual sphere could be a really valuable approach to discovering new approaches.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Inspiring Innovation

I want to start first with expressing gratitude to Rudy Leon who suggested the name for this blog during the LOEX 2008 Annual Conference. I had been considering starting a blog and was stymied by the challenge of coming up with a name that resonated with my vision of what I might be able to offer to the profession by posting various thoughts and reflections for everyone to see. Rudy's suggestion immediately made sense to me as I want to use this space to share what inspires me and what I humbly hope might inspire others. I claimed the name on BlogSpot that afternoon but it has taken longer than I might have liked to start writing in this space. To all who have encouraged me, thank you. To all who might read what I write and engage in future discussions, thank you. May it be interesting and inspiring for us all!

Best! Lisa