I led this session, so I don't have particularly good notes from it. You'll notice that I was especially bad at reporting who said what. Andrea's far superior notes should be up on the Library Camp page soon, though.
I came up with the idea for this session that morning, having originally planned on pitching my standard zine librarianship and/or Radical Reference talks. Somehow I figured out in time that Library Camp sessions should be broader than that--and more conducive to an equal discussion, and I hit on "Effecting change at your library: develop a collection (e.g., zines) a program, whatever."
What prompted this was being sick of people hearing about the zine collection I founded at Barnard, and remarking on how lucky I am to be able to do such a thing. I am not lucky. I worked for it, so the first thing I did after intros was to show the detailed proposal I crafted painstakingly for my boss when I conceived the collection in the first place.
- My proposal laid out how the project would be handled or impact every department in the library and what steps I recommended for each process. There was a rationale, which is one of the most important things--tying the proposed project to your library. Why does it belong? What feature does it highlight (or hole does it fill)? I listed pros and cons, conducted a literature review, detailed a budget, and outlined an action plan.
- Janie, from Princeton PL confirmed the success of thorough proposals that carefully outline the project. She was granted permission to establish evening tech talks after having the idea rejected twice by her immediate boss, after she submitted a well reasoned proposal to the head of the library. Other participants contributed that proposals should be honest about the pros and especially cons of such endeavors.
- Someone (Rochelle?) suggested putting requests to IT by saying, "Can you help…?" rather than "I need…"
- Brita (?) acknowledged how perfectionist and ambitious librarians tend to be and recommend that when presenting ideas we scale them down and/or call them "pilot" programs.
- Several people mentioned the Library Success wiki as a good place to go for more ideas on how to effect change--and even for ideas on what changes to effect. Maybe Carolyn brought it up first?
- Rochelle or Rachel or Stephanie (? I'm particularly cloudy on this one.) brought up "competitive intelligence" and how we should use this (new to me) concept to not only our competitors but also our colleagues, in order to figure out how best to work with them.
- Rachel or Stephanie was probably the one to talk about building relationships, especially going beyond your usual circle to get support and to take advantage of local professional associations to develop personal resources.
- Mark talked about the effectiveness of Code4Lib as a supportive group that helps members facilitate change at their institutions--and also as an organization that if Library Camp is an "unconference," Code4Lib is an "unorganization."
- Following that step into the world of coding, someone suggested that people need to get tech savvy so as not to have to rely as heavily on others.
- Unions can be very helpful in empowering workers in difficult situations, or who feel as if they are not being heard.
- Many people discussed the idea of doing what you want first and apologizing later, rather than asking and getting rejected. There were a few covert bloggers in the room; I won't out them here.
- Nate: Public libraries should be responsive, agile. "Policies exist to be interpreted."
- We should help new librarians have the courage and ability to affect change through mentoring.
- Happy reminded us that change should be accompanied by training. People need to be shown/need to understand what is so special about that project.
- There was some disagreement about the value of going to lateral (and below) colleagues to gather support, and also of going above your supervisor's head to get approval for a project.
I think that's most of it. I hope participants will help me fix whatever I got wrong.
PS After lunch a participant came up to me and told me I did a good job moderating the session, which is really freakin' nice to hear. I have to give credit for any success I may have had to my experience with anarchist meeting practices of privileging comments from those who haven't spoken before over those who have and checking in regularly with the room to see if everyone's needs are being met.