SWILA (still) on my mind

I had the great pleasure of getting to attend, and co-facilitate a session at, the Southwest Idaho Library Association’s unconference in April at the Collister branch of the Boise Public Library. This was my first unconference, so I wasn’t sure what to expect.

My morning started off with a crafty vibe as everyone decorated their own name tags. You know it’s going to be a good day when it starts off with glitter glue, googly eyes, and coffee!

Next up was chatting with a small group about one of the common read books. I’d chosen to read, “You’re never weird on the internet (almost)” by Felicia Day. We each shared one of our favorite parts of the book, and talked about who we might recommend it to. I was surprised to find that some of the people who read it had chosen to do so not knowing who she was. This lead to a great discussion of other projects she’s been a part of, and that these new found fans should check out!

Lynn Baird, Dean of University of Idaho Libraries, gave the keynote via phone, but she definitely didn’t “phone it in”! She gave an inspiring and inventively engaging talk that was co-facilitated by Amy Vecchione, and centered on the theme of “leadership.” Ah-ha moment for me: Leadership is about envisioning the future vs. management is about creating the path to that future. Surprise, your organization needs both to be successful! This was an insight she gained while reading “The 21 irrefutable laws of leadership” by John C. Maxwell.

After that, I joind other attendees for a few laughter filled rounds of Cards Against Librarianship! What never fails to liven up your staff parties?

I didn’t get to choose the next session I went to, because I was co-facilitating one with the amazing Natalie Nation! We guided a group of eager learners through design thinking and user experience exercises that challenged them to think about their library’s services in a new way.

After a lovely lunch chatting with fellow librarylanders, I was off to gain insights from Boise Public Library’s Director, Kevin Booe in a session he lead on leadership. The group came up with a great list of traits that make a good leader, the most important of which is building trust. We also learned that most people need to hear a message 8 times before it really sticks. Eight. Times! Ah-ha moment for me: Keep asking “why” to help people discover the answer on their own.

The day wrapped up with three sessions chosen by attendees. We were presented with the option of attending sessions on outreach, marketing, or programming. As I wrestled with choosing between my options, I was struck by how the 3 are closely related, and realized this was part of my struggle! I was reminded of the great discussion we had about outreach in that session led by Justin Prescott, Meridian Library District, when this article came across my feed, “Considering outreach assessment: strategies, sample scenarios, and a call to action”.  How do you define or differentiate between the 3?

My first unconference was a great experience to connect with colleagues from across the area and be inspired by the amazing things people are doing. Why not see what other librarylanders are doing in your area? You never know, inspiration might be closer than you think!