Friday, February 02, 2007

OLA Superconference 2007 Day Two

The early mornings got the best of us today and we decide to skip the opening plenary for blueberry pancakes at Fran's (memorable start to my 30s :)

A Culture of Perpetual Innovation
On the theme of food my opening session was lead by a VP at Loblaw's. I assumed based on the title and abstract that the focus would be on encouraging and facilitating a culture that supports innovation at all levels of staff. I was hoping for some tips on how to level the management/admin structures and get everyone to share their bright ideas without feeling intimidated. Alas, this was not to be. The focus was on how Loblaw's surveyed the landscape and the schedule they used to pitch new products and ideas. He spoke about the different products launched by President's Choice and the new fabulous Blue Line and demo'd some of their recent marketing endeavors. All of this was fascinating, even though it didn't have alot to do with the library.

Sense of Community in our Changing Landscape
This plenary was lead by Glen Murray, former mayor of Winnipeg. It was fantastic. He spoke about libraries being a major part of the cultural centres of cities and how they encouraged not only the creative culture but also economic growth.
"Culture as a place is dwindling due to the corporate global revolution of blanding, dumbing and taking away from the cultural focus of cities."
"If you plan and map the creative culture of burgeoning centre in advance you will kickstart the economic base of the neighborhood."
The entire talk was riveting and was made even more so when just before concluding Glen recounted the story of being a young, gay man living in an extremely hostile environment. He spoke about not understanding what was happening to him and how he thought being gay was an illness. He went to his local librarian, told her that he was sick and needed a book about his illness. The librarian discreetly took him to the stacks and gave him a well thumbed book that helped him not only to understand the normalcy of his situation but gave him hope for a future that he had not been able to foresee.
I had goosebumps.

Best Practices for Social Software
Michael Stephens lead this talk discussing the social tools that our users are experiencing and the important aspects we needed to know about each of them. He spoke of blogs, RSS, Instant Messaging reference, Wikis and gaming.
*He encouraged librarians to consider giving all real time services a virtual space.
*Be mindful of technolust - remember that we are just talking about tools and not to forget the importance of the users.
*Throw out the culture of perfect. Don't be afraid of comments, typos or making mistakes. It's all about being human and allowing users to see that.
*Get admin buy in , it's priceless. But staff buy in makes it happen.
*Adopt a 2.0 philosophy - communication should flow up and down, not one way.
Michael also showed us his Second Life profile and the characters and spaces that he's visited there. He encourages us all to create a character and try it out - not necessarily to live our lives there but just to understand where our users are going and what they do there.
I love Michael Stephens talks. He's brilliant and isn't afraid to get to the meat of the matter.

The night ended with a conference reception. It was made better by the fact that a fellow attendee gave us four extra drink tickets - we downed them in 20 minutes, ate some springrolls and hit the road.

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