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Named one of 50 influential Movers and Shakers

Last month Library Journal announced their annual cohort of Movers and Shakers, and I was super excited to be among the group of 50 people selected from more than 225 nominations received from throughout the country. It’s awesome company to keep.

Totally new title

Anna Gold, the university librarian at the Robert E. Kennedy Library at Cal Poly where I work, coined a totally fab title for me in the application that I’d like to see on my business cards one day: inventor-in-chief. Pretty fun, right?

Because of my background in improv Library Journal put a spin on it: improviser-in-chief. Also fun! Invention is improvisation and vice versa, so I’m into it.

Time for reflection

Like anything, becoming a part of the Mover and Shaker community has been a process. Part of that process involved an interview for the profile. Journalist Caroline Lewis sent me very thoughtful questions that I wouldn’t have otherwise stopped to ask myself. It was a wonderful opportunity to reflect on what we’ve been doing, what it means, and where I see things going.

Here are a few of Caroline’s questions that I took some time to ponder:

  • What do you think the role of the library should be in terms of creating a common space for people?
  • What library initiative(s) that you have taken on are you most proud of? What were the outcomes?
  • What has been most rewarding about your job? Most challenging? Have you had trouble getting support for any of your initiatives?
  • Where do you see yourself going from here? Will you stay in the library field?

I enjoy asking others questions and hearing their stories, but sometimes forget that I need to take time to reflect on things myself.

How do you make time to ask yourself questions? What are the ones you find most useful?

Here’s my profile and in-depth interview on Library Journal. Read about this year’s 50!


Where public education meets private funding: Reflections on SXSWedu

I loved attending SXSWedu 2014. It was well organized, and the different topic tracks were up my alley: design thinking, achievement gap, technology and many more. But perhaps most importantly, there was a lot of energy – shall we call it – flowing between the educators and the technologists. It was exciting to be somewhere with a little bit of tension in the air. That tension means that people are actively engaged in figuring tough things out.

Read more

Telling the library’s story, for real

I love stories! We all do. Which is why I’m bummed that story is becoming just another way to say market, advertise and brand. These three things are important in communications, and stories are a part of the complete package. But there needs to be a special place in our hearts for honest-to-goodness storytelling. Stories that have people at the center. Read more

What I learned at

This summer (yes, I’m just writing about it now) I attended An Introduction to Design Thinking at Stanford’s I’m not new to design thinking, but to be a good design thinker, you have to approach the problem as though you’re new every time. So, starting from square one is very good practice, especially when the professional world is often insisting on expertise and quick turnaround.

Here’s what I learned at this summer: Read more

Respond to what’s really happening

“Respond in the field to what’s really happening.” – Sebastian Thrun. Not coincidentally, this is also a law of good improvisation.

Ideas can distract

At the 99u conference (yes, I’m still writing about it) Thrun said that we must always reinvent ourselves – any long term company or organization must. He recommended rapid prototyping to keep moving forward. Here’s the video of his talk.

“Solve societal problems first (and the money will come later).” Of course, this is easy to say when you have significant money up front to experiment.

Photo of Sebastian Thrun at 99u in New York City wearing Google Glass and standing in front of a giant screen that says MOOC

Mr Thrun and the MOOC monster

Thrun didn’t want to speak much about his work in education, but he did say we’re a bunch of doubters who believe the 1:1 faculty to student ratio is essential. I don’t know if that’s true, but he has a salient point when he says that educators can’t use the past 1,000 years to predict the next 1,000.

One example: his five year old thinks a magazine is broken if it doesn’t respond to his touch the way an iPad does.

So, libraries must respond to what’s really happening. One that I frequently hear about leading the curve is North Carolina State University.

Which academic libraries do you consider inspired in their responsiveness?

A new role in academic libraries: communications and public programs

I am responsible for communications and public programs at an academic library, and my librarian friends say this is an unusual position. I’m glad to be one of the first, but I hope I’m not alone in this role for long. (Are others out there? If so, please let me know!)

It’s a fabulous role to play, making memorable programs and shining a light on the library. This role is one way that our library addresses the prevalent question:

How do we show the campus and community we are a valuable partner?

The showing not telling is a very important distinction.

Read more

Collection development for the less than special

You are a unique and special person; an independent thinker who does not accept others’ statements without satisfactory proof. I used to think that too until I read about “fifty quid bloke” many years ago and realized that I was not so special after all.

Admittedly, fifty quid bloke has moved on to be replaced by “Top Gear Tiger” which is definitely not me, but I’m sure there’s a marketing guru out there who knows me better than I know myself. Read more


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