While I’m kind of bummed about not making it to ALA Midwinter, I’ve gotten to hear all about it from the PLA Blog, Library Techtonics, and It’s All Good. A lot of what I’ve been reading has been very encouraging in terms of librarians and libraries embracing change and new ideas. Alice from OCLC wrote about how many people were interested in their presentation about gaming and its importance for information literacy and learning. Rochelle wrote about the enthusiasm she saw regarding improving adult programming and outreach at the meeting of the Culture and Public Programs Committee:

It was really exciting to be in a room of practitioners and leaders who understand that there needs to be a major paradigm shift (or accommodation) in service. This committee understands that technology is not something to be feared or held at bay, but, rather, a different way to do the things that libraries have always done. There was a lot of discussion about the potential of gaming, blogging, and streaming media being pressed into service by library programmers who want to serve a group that is often absent from libraries. I’m pleased as punch to have been appointed to this committee and look forward to working with these folks!

Rochelle also wrote about a great meeting she went to where librarians discussed getting more involved in their communities (outside of the library even!). Andrea Mercado reported on the tips she learned from Karen Hyman at the Smartest Card Advocacy Network Institute.

The twelve steps that she outlines in her presentation should be developed into a twelve-step program to help reform librarian thinking across the board, new and old alike, and not just in public libraries. Could you imagine? “Hi, my name’s Andrea, and I’m a librarian.” “Hi Andrea.” Then, chanting the steps from her presentation like a mantra:

1. Get a grip. [Librarians are *not* a dying breed! It’s all good.]
2. Redefine risk. [Don’t let the risks or downsides of even good ideas keep you from acting.]
3. Exert influence.
4. Energize staff.
5. Think like a customer.
6. Walk through everything. [Your library, that is, and get feedback from staff and patrons.]
7. Merchandise your collection.
8. Take the library to the people.
9. Be a hot spot. [Yep, she means wireless.]
10. Promote yourself.
11. Change your community.
12. Make something happen

…The overall goal, as Karen explains it, is to get rid of anything in the library that promotes the library and librarian stereotype, and rework it from a perspective that really appeals to the patron. It’s scary, and it could lead to turnover at your library, but it’s necessary for the survival of our fine profession. Burn all of the rules and the “No” signs (cell phones, food, talking, smiling, fun) from pre-1965 and replace them with all the extras, the information and services that hit the patron right where it counts: their interests. Fill the space with competitor (big-box bookstores, coffee joints) concepts that appeal to the patron, forget about the “that’s how we’ve always done it” excuse, anticipate expectations wtih a plan to meet those expectations, listen and act when a patron says, “That’s stupid,” and you know they’re *right*. Make your library rock. Besides, “libraries could use a little noise and crumbs”.

And best of all, it seems like it’s been easier to find wireless access at this ALA meeting than at the one in Orlando! 😉

I’m very encouraged by all of this. Hopefully all of these fabulous, idealistic, passionate librarians will go back to their libraries and inspire their colleagues and administrators to make changes in how they serve their patrons and how they approach technology. The times they are a-changing!