Labs and Equipment, Uncategorized

SWKLS Tech Day Presentation

The Conversation Business: Learning, Listening, and Connecting in Libraries Today (and Tomorrow)

2013 SWKLS Tech Day

Brenda Hough

There are many ways libraries can be at the center of conversation in their communities:

  • by offering programs that foster discussion,
  • designing spaces that encourage interaction,
  • providing tools for a “workshop of the mind”,
  • storing and sharing stories about local people, places, and events,
  • and listening to what community members have to say.

Technology is sparking new opportunities for enhancing and extending conversations. In this session, examples from libraries around the system, the state, and the country will be shared. Participants will have a chance to share their own successes and to think about the possibilities for the future.Pew Reports:


The Atlas of New Librarianship by R. David Lankes: The Mission of Librarians Is to Improve Society through Facilitating Knowledge Creation in Their Communities.  Knowledge is Created through Conversation.

Conversations: Connecting, Learning, Creating

Workshops of the Mind.  Hubs of the community.  Inspiration factories.



  • How are you already encouraging conversations?
  • What ideas do you have for more conversations?

Being Systematic:

  1. Mission
  2. Strategic plan
  3. Action
    1. Staffing
    2. $$
  4. Partnerships
  5. Outreach
  6. Advocacy
  7. Ongoing learning

Librarians who are masters of conversation:

  1. Understand their communities
  2. Have a strong vision
  3. Build relationships
  4. Think beyond the walls of the library
  5. Move toward opportunities
  6. Are willing to experiment and get feedback
  7. Make time for learning and reflecting

Path to becoming a master of conversation:

  1. Grit
  2. Learning Community
  3. Action

In conclusion:

  • Keep listening.
  • Keep fostering those conversations that are creating knowledge that matters in our communities.
  • Look for ways to use technology to extend or enhance the conversations.
  • And keep telling people about the workshop of the mind that’s right there at the heart of their community.

Thank you!

Labs and Equipment

Remember when projectors used to cost so much? Well…

The first projector I used for training was purchased with grant funds (in 1996) and cost just over $5000. It was very big and I wheeled it around in a small suitcase.

Now (2007) the projectors we’ve been buying cost around $1000. They are light and small and can be carried in an over-the-shoulder laptop style bag.

I did not realize that projectors are like cars, however, and that while I’m been happily wheeling around in the Toyota Camry version, there’s a Rolls Royce out there, too. Witness the newly released Sim2 C3X 1080! So stylish!


Price tag? Almost $30,000….

(Thanks to Gizmodo for the heads-up about this.)

Labs and Equipment, Library staff development, Resources for Trainers

One Library’s Story

While over at the Library Instruction wiki this evening (a resource we’ve written about here on the blog before), I followed a link and discovered a site called Library Classes At Any Library. It’s a behind-the-scenes look at the technology training program at the Vancouver Community Library (WA). It’s a fairly new site (started this year) and I think it’s going to be interesting to follow the developments over time. I’ve added it to my RSS reader!

Labs and Equipment

Dream Lab

One of my favorite training bloggers, Andrea Mercado, has posted some exciting news over on LibraryTechtonics. The trustees at her place of employment have approved spending $12,000 to improve the library’s computer lab. New computers, new furniture, a SMART Board, and more are in the works!

I’ve spent a lot of my library technology training life taking my show on the road and adapting to various rooms and environments. I have set up and torn down computer labs so many times that I go into a sort of Zen zone every time I do it (I actually enjoy it for that reason). When I did a lot of team-training (and therefore, team lab set-up), it seemed there were always an initial few minutes of struggle between the trainers… in which we tried to determine the best arrangement for a particular space.

When my place of employment moved into a new building recently, I was really able to be very specific about the training lab I wanted to have. It was a little overwhelming. I think that because I have always focused so much on adapting to not-ideal settings, trying to envision the ideal was a new thing. I’m happy with how things turned out.

A few of the things I like when doing technology training:

  • U-shape set-up (horseshoe) so that learners are facing one another (I dislike when they have their backs to one another)
  • Printer availability (handy to be able to print things on the fly)
  • Speakers for the presenter computer (show quick videos, etc)
  • White board for writing notes/reminders (I like this in addition to the SMART board)
  • Telephone w/speaker phone (we seem to be doing more and more webinar type things – where it’s handy to be able to have someone on speaker phone in the lab)
  • Comfortable chairs
  • Empty desktop space at each computer (enough room to write, set a folder, etc)

People have started bringing their own laptops to training now and then, so we’ve created workspaces in the training lab for them, too. I would guess the number of people doing that will increase.

Those are a few things off the top of my head. I’m going to try to think of more and would love to hear from other trainers. What’s on your list?

Active Learning, Labs and Equipment

Geek Out Don’t Freak Out


If you have attended one of my train-the-trainer workshops in the recent past, then you have probably heard me mention The Reading Public Library’s “Geek Out, Don’t Freak Out” classes for patrons. I first read about these classes on trainer-librarian Andrea Mercado’s blog, LibraryTechtonics.

Andrea’s “Geek Out, Don’t Freak Out” classes have covered digital cameras and she will soon be offering a class on MP3 players, too. People are encouraged to bring their own equipment and as the class description states, “we’ll all figure it out together.” She encourages both newbies and more savvy users to attend. This way the group members can help one another, too. Andrea creates a handout of resources for each class. The handout includes an integrated list of library items (she also brings the library items to the class for reference), articles, and web sites. The handout really shows off what the library and librarians can offer them (and provides participants with something to take notes on). She also lists her email address on each handout, just in case participants have future questions. While it might sound like she’s asking for trouble, Andrea reports that most often people don’t badger her or treat her like tech support.

There are several things that I love about this approach to technology training. First of all, I think it demonstrates a learner-centered, rather than a trainer-centered approach. Encouraging people to bring their own equipment is brave! It is impossible to know exactly how each camera works or how each MP3 player works ahead of time. Too frequently a trainer has a predetermined agenda and predetermined examples and a predetermined flow for the class and focuses on getting through the predetermined material. In the “Geek Out, Don’t Freak Out” classes, the focus really is on helping people learn the things they want and need to know. Seeing a trainer demonstrate a camera is very different from having a trainer help you learn to use your own camera.

A second thing that I appreciate about these classes is that they cover topics that are not necessarily traditional library technology training topics. I think it is important to offer classes on database searching and web searching, etc…, but I think the “Geek Out, Don’t Freak Out” classes really represent a “shifted” approach. I am guessing that the people who attend these classes really develop an appreciation and a broadened perspective regarding libraries and what libraries are about.