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PLA Conference TidBits

John Wood, Keynote at PLA

I probably should have blogged the conference last week as now things are a bit fuzzy since I let the weekend go by before getting all this down.  Though I did take lots of notes!  I thought I would share, in one blog entry, some highlights of the PLA Conference for me.  First and foremost was the amazing keynote given by John Wood, of Room to Read.  John wrote the book Leaving Microsoft to Change the World, which talks about his experience creating Room to Read and his belief that every child on earth should be educated and that "world change starts with educated children."  John worked for Microsoft for several years before going on a 3 week trek to Nepal where he realized that he could do so much more for the world by attacking three main problems:

1) 110 million children age 4-10 are NOT in primary school

2) 800 million people cannot read or write

3) Two thirds of that group are girls and women.

Two begin to conquer those three main problems, Room to Read focuses on buildings schools, creating multilingual libraries within those schools, and offering scholarships for girls.  John's motto is "dream big" and that's exactly what has made Room to Read such a huge success.  So far Room to Read has opened over 280 schools around the world and has distributed 2.8 million childrens books. 

John highlighted seven key points in his business model:

  1. hire strong and entrepeneural local teams
  2. engage the community with challenge grants
  3. invest heavily in human capital (train librarians who will in turn train others)
  4. monitor and evaluate
  5. have an intense focus on results (what gets measured gets done)
  6. make efficient use of donor dollars
  7. run like a business (fundraising, fundraising, fundraising)

John has amazing vision and passion about this project and is really making Room to Read a huge success.  If you ever have an opportunity to hear him speak I would highly reccomend it, but bring some tissue, because you just might get a tear in your eye, I know I did.


Great Libraries for Dummies


I really liked this session by Greg Buss of the Richmond Public Library, British Columbia, because he layed out 5 easy steps to achieve excellence in your library and also gave the top 10 things to do to achieve excellence in your library.  So much of this is common sense but sometimes we just need to hear it in a more organized fashion to really get it. His five easy steps to success are as follows:

  1. Think like a customer
  2. Determine the core functions of your library (empower the customer through information)
  3. Set priorities
  4. Manage resources
  5. Implement with urgency and enthusiasm

For more information on this session check out the upcoming April issue if Reference Notes!


The Cutting Edge: The Latest Information on Web 2.0

Jen Maney of the Pima County Library in Tuscon, AZ, made some great points about Web 2.0 and libraries.  Web 2.0 levels the playing field for libraries and allows us to meet users as individuals.  It gives us the opportunity to experiment with all of the Web 2.0 tools available to us.  Jen stressed that there is no "right" tool for all libraries.  All libraries, all users are unique and librarians should really experiment to find the right tools for their users.  As she put it, "design for uncertainty and accept that your future is uncertain." 

Everyone is Getting Crabbier

The last session that I'll highlight here is Everyone is Getting Crabbier, presented by Sandra Nelson.  Sandra is a Librarian and Consultant with Nelson Consulting (her own business) and gives presentations and training to librarians and library managers all over the country.  Aside from the keynote at PLA, this was probably my favorite session.  Sandra has a great sense of humor and had the audience laughing and participating.  One thing she said that is probably true for alot of us is that some days our biggest sense of accomplishment is writing a to-do list, when really our biggest sense of accomplishment should be checking things off that to-do list.  So what can we do about stress and crabbiness?  Here are the four things that Sandra reccomends to get us on the road to less stress and more happiness and contentment:

  1. Prioritize (be more effective then efficient)
  2. Plan and organize (as librarians I think alot of us already do this)
  3. Simplify (learn to say NO)
  4. Manage the clock

The fourth point, manage the clock, Sandra suggested looking at time in 15 minute increments rather than 1 hour increments.  She said that you would be amazed at what can be accomplished in a 15 minute period.


This was my first experience at a PLA Conference and I found most sessions I attended interesting and relevant for all types of libraries and librarians. 


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