Where are all the crazy ideas for libraries? Take 2

I’ve been thinking …… a lot …….

I came across this blog posting thanks to Sally Pewhairangi’s Twitter link today.  I’ve recently been introduced to the wonderfulness of  The Wikiman, Ned Potter. I really like what he has to say.  He’s thoughtful, insightful and most importantly inspiring.

No more so than in the posting he published almost a year ago entitled Where are all the crazy ideas for libraries? Take the time to read it …. and the responses to it.  The gist of it is really that the day before a break-through idea becomes a break-through idea is is just a crazy idea.  And that if it weren’t a crazy idea it would just be the next step in a measured plan.

I particularly appreciated the response posted by Andy Woodworth with two creativity quotes:

“If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you will never come up with anything original.” – Sir Ken Robinson

“The problem is that you can’t have good ideas unless you’re willing to generate a lot of bad ones.” – Seth Godin

He went on to say: “I think librarians are the caretakers of creativity. We are surrounded by acts of creativity in all forms of expression: books, music, movies, prose, journalism, websites, databases. All full of acts of creativity.

We shouldn’t be afraid to get a little creativity on ourselves. =D”

So ….. I put this thinking into a New Zealand school library context.  I find as Kiwis we’re a pretty inventive, risk-taking lot who are freely willing to share our good ideas.

The thread of responses to The Wikiman’s posting affirmed a number of projects currently in planning for our 2012  library school year here at Hargest.  I feel we are definitely on the right track.  We are a large secondary school, with a very busy library.  We get over 800 visitors a day, with a portion of these being students coming in during their interval and lunch breaks.  Lisa, my wonderful “librarian partner-in-crime” (often referred to by me as Batwoman) and I have been working on a series of activities we can offer these students to make their time in the library more meaningful.  We want them to want to keep coming back. So, we’re in the process of brainstorming some great competitions and weekly events in an endeavour to make this a reality for our students.

I also had another “crazy” idea around the marketing and promotion of libraries that just felt too big for Hargest alone, so I have begun a discussion with SLANZA National Executive to see where it might be able to lead.

What are your “crazy ideas” for our school libraries?  How can we promote our products and services in a new and fresh way? How can we market ourselves in a way that makes us more relevant to our communities? How can we get our message out beyond our library walls, our school gates, our professional boundaries to get the movers and shakers in education listening to what we have to say?

Many of you may already be very aware of the plight of school libraries in this country, in their fight for recognition of the great work done and the tenuous nature of budgets earmarked to enable this to happen.  If you don’t you can read about it in both the recent PPTA News article and the Sunday Star Times follow-up to it.

From PPTA News: Library manager at James Hargest College and former president of (SLANZA), Senga White, says forcing schools to fund their libraries out of the operational grant is failing. “Some schools value libraries but some simply aren’t aware of the benefits of putting their money into them,” she said. “Schools spend money as they see fit which means that there isn’t any continuity for service across the country.“ A lot of school librarians fear for their
jobs and are concerned they won’t get any budget at all,” she said.

And from Sunday Star Times: Library manager at Invercargill’s James Hargest College, Senga White said “forcing” schools to fund their libraries from operational grants isn’t working. “There will be a number of schools in New Zealand, for a variety of reasons, that may not have libraries at the moment,” White said. The former president of the School Library Association (SLANZA) said adequately resourced libraries can make a “significant difference” to the achievement levels for all students. “In the schools where they employ knowledgeable staff for their libraries, the curriculum underpins all planning.” White said in an “ideal world” schools would be given a little extra money – calculated on roll size and decile – set aside for the library. And library staff would also be paid out of the staffing fund – not the operations grants.

With the best will in the world, it seems that most of this sounds fairly doom and gloomish.  But what I really want to say is this: I have an enormous faith in our sector, in our people and in the library profession in general.  Yes, we have massive mountains to scale and although it may look impossible from where we stand, some of these crazy ideas of ours might just hold the key to that next major breakthrough, to ascending our Everest.

So ….. why not begin your ascent here, today. Share your crazy ideas with each other and see where that takes us!

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