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Follow up on Change in Libraries

Apr - 24 - 2007
Nicole C. Engard

At CIL David Lee King gave an amazing talk on Guiding Information Pros Through Change.

I mentioned in my summary that David started out with a few questions for the audience:

First, I asked if attendees had learned something innovative or new at the conference that they'd like to take back to their libraries. Almost everyone raised their hands. Then I followed up with this question: how many will take that cool, innovative idea back to their libraries, and hit a brick wall with administrators when they try to implement that idea.

ALMOST EVERYONE RAISED THEIR HANDS.

The fact is that what Helene said was right – a lot of innovative people were at Computers in Libraries absorbing as many neat ideas as they could – but all with the fear in the back of their heads that they’d have to battle to get any of them implemented. In David’s reflective post How Can We Change the Unchangeable, or David's Rant he asks administrators a few good questions:

I have a question for the library administrators who sent staff to Computers in Libraries, but who also don't plan to do anything with the new knowledge their staff gained from the conference. Why did you send them? Why did you pay good money for the conference, for the hotel, for the food, for the flight"¦ probably $1000 or so – to go to a conference that's geared towards sharing best practices for implementing emerging technology in libraries?

Why send them if you don't plan to do anything with their new knowledge?

Which touches on Julian’s comment to my post last week – maybe this is why so many people at these conferences just seem to be going through the motions.

Looking for some answers? Check out the comments on David’s post and add your own.

My notes? Well, I found that after my presentation on using blogs and wikis for project management, that attendees in my room had a similar but different problem – getting staff to use new technologies. I’ve had more problems in this are than in the admin area – maybe I’ve been lucky. The fact of the matter is that change hurts and scares and exhausts people – all people – even the techies – but it’s going to happen. I like how David summed up his talk at CIL, by telling us that if we resisted change we’d miss out on a lot:

Most importantly, you'll miss out on the possibility of shaping your new destiny and reality – don't get me wrong, it will be shaped, the question is who do you want to do it – you or someone else?

Seems like a simple question …

My personal solution for dealing with change? Well I posted it a few weeks back – I have a song I listen to over and over (The Wood Song by Indigo Girls).

the thin horizon of a plan is almost clear my friends and I have had a hard time bruising our brains hard up against change all the old dogs and the magician now I see we're in the boat in two by twos only the heart that we have for a tool we could use and the very close quarters are hard to get used to love weighs the hull down with its weight but the wood is tired and the wood is old and we'll make it fine if the weather holds but if the weather holds then we'll have missed the point


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