What I’ve Learned from SPLAT

My SPLAT term ends in January, which got me reminiscing about my experiences over the past three years. And, though I’m sad to move on (life keeps getting busier, I find), I’m excited to see the new ideas and innovations SPLAT will continue to provide to Idaho libraries and librarians. Before I go, though, I’d like to share some things I’ve learned…


1. I think Shirley Biladeau has a clone.

I cannot believe how much this woman can get done in a day! She must have an extra version of her stashed away who can send off emails at 11PM or pick up extra extension cords and play-dough (yes, you read that right) when SPLAT members have forgotten theirs. She’s way organized – she keeps the ten SPLAT members on track, and I swear she even remembers which individual items in our gadget garages have issues. Shirley’s hyper-competency is a large part of what makes SPLAT work so well – and why those of us who have enjoyed our tenure on SPLAT come away such a positive experience.


2. Every library has some great idea you can steal.

SPLAT road trips have been a great time for us to get to know librarians across the state and provide help, experience, and ideas – and that sharing is definitely a two-way street. My camera was constantly busy, inspired by ways other libraries used their spaces and resources. One librarian was surprised that we would find her a super-small library interesting, but the creativity in smaller libraries is often incredibly vibrant. We may have provided some needed tech help to them, but we benefited just as much, or more, from exposure to great ideas.


3. Technology is best shared face to face.

The best SPLAT times were the road trips when we could work with patrons or staff one-on-one, and when we came together as a group and shared new technology with each other. I know there’s been a rise in online learning activities (which I have mixed feelings about), but I do think that when people can meet physically, especially in a casual environment, social learning kicks in and makes a huge difference in how much people learn. And this is where libraries can shine. We don’t expect to solve patrons’ tech problems over the phone or via email (though we can), but we can make physical spaces – both inside and outside the library – welcoming to all tech learners. It’s not only a great social connection, but also helps people feel valued.


4. Idaho libraries/librarians are awesome!

I can’t tell you how many times I have thought this over the past three years! Idaho librarians are a welcoming bunch. Each time I walked into a library, whether it was for a device day program, during our road trips, or for staff training, I was immediately greeted by people who were excited to share their library and their patrons with me. Librarians asked what they could do to help, providing me with comfy spaces, snacks, and whatever outlets and passwords I needed. They answered my questions about their towns/libraries/communities with patience, and even put up with my wandering (and camera – see #2 above). If I wasn’t already a library nerd, my SPLAT experiences with these great Idaho libraries would have turned me into one.


To wrap up this long, rambling post, I want to say thanks and good luck to my fellow current and past SPLATTERS. It was an honor to serve with you (and some of you deserve awards for putting up with my eccentricities). It’s been such a rewarding professional and personal experience – and I hope that SPLAT continues to innovate and improve the way we “library” here in Idaho.