TLA Transforming Texas Libraries: Day 1

It's beautifully easy to get to the Hilton from the Austin Airport--less than a mile away. I ended up taking a shuttle with Dreanna Belden, Sue Compton, and a bunch of other TLA-ers. Dreanna and I had lunch and got to visit with several colleagues. The restaurant service left something to be desired, but the food was fantastic--we had sweet potato soup and blueberry/peach salad. Then we registered and ran down to the General Session with two library futurists: Joan Frye Williams and George M. Needham.

Here's a boil-down of what attracted attention in the General Session:
  1. user's point of view
  2. constituents and civilians
  3. make quality convenient
  4. make it easy (aka "easy is not stupid")
Here's my summary of each of those points:
  1. The primary focus of the session was that to better serve our users, we need to take their point of view. Stop patronizing patrons and making them learn our system.
  2. Think in terms of constituents (includes community that doesn't use the library), and civilians (people who aren't in the library world). Get their perspective and step outside of the librarian mindset.
  3. Our constituents are using what's convenient--they don't care about quality like we do. So to bring them to our quality resources/services, we need to make them convenient.
  4. Our users aren't stupid--but we make them feel that way in our libraries. We shouldn't make users feel ashamed or dumb--we need to make our libraries and resources easy enough to use that civilians can use them independently, with confidence.
There are large sheets of paper posted around the main ballroom--one sheet for each group to brainstorm on, and sheets near the door where we posted keywords from the first general session, which were later collected into a tag cloud. I love this idea--it's textual and visual, and creatively stimulating. Yay!

Then we broke into individual groups.

Group 6, Work Session 1
I'm in group 6, which is tackling library structures. Our conversation veered away from this issue, partially because we weren't sure to define "structure" in terms of physical building, an organizational structure, etc. We reacted and brainstormed instead on ideas related to the general session. We talked about how to start changing ourselves. (And incidentally, Ellie Collier, our TLA blogger for this task force, is in my group.)

After that, we had a short break, during which I chatted with some fellow Denton-ites, Melody Kelly, Eva Poole (director of Denton Public Libraries), and Shawne Miksa (UNT SLIS prof). It was a fun chatty time, and then we all went down together to the dinner and final speaker of the day. Dinner was fine (not as good as lunch, for then chicken for 100 people tends to turn out that way), and the speaker, Kathleen de la Peña McCook, was interesting. Her focus was on library involvement in the community in non-library groups and human rights advocacy. I'm not entirely sure how I felt about everything she said--she made some very strong, passionate statements that made me think, however.

And then I came upstairs to my room to catch up with my husband, write these thoughts down, edit my photos, and be frustrated at the lack of in-room internet access. I could go downstairs to use it, but I'm already in my tracksuit and not entirely sure that the internet access is worth traveling four floors for. I believe I'll set my alarm early instead and update my online life before our next work session starts at 9am.

There was so much thought that this has stimulated already--I wish this was three days instead of two. It's going to be difficult to process all of this into something useful in such a short period of time. At the same time, I know most of us can't afford the time of a longer session, particularly this late in the year. Ah, well.

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