CLA Theme – Collaboration!

One of the most prominent themes at CLA this year was collaboration.  I haven’t attended previous conferences, so if this is a repetitive theme, I apologize – it’s new to me.  Either way, the idea is that the Library has a lot to offer to its community.  The services, programs, materials and, heck, even the building is there for the community.  All those things are there to make the community a better place, to educate the public, and entertain the masses.  Unfortunately, we can’t do it all.  Our funds are limited, and our staff can only keep so many balls in the air.  Other organizations and businesses are in the same boat.  So…  why not collaborate?

Collaboration really isn’t that new of a concept for most libraries.  They’ve always worked with schools to make sure that kids complete their assignments.  They’ve had guest performances and speakers in the past.  I think that the difference between then and now is the amount of collaboration we do and the way we do it.

Take job hunting, for instance.  There are a number of organizations out there that exist solely to help the unemployed find and keep a job.  Not only that, but they’re being funded by the government to do so.  But the sheer number of functionally illiterate people they have asking for help is astounding… and those organizations don’t have the means to educate that set of clients on that particular topic.

Then you look at the library.  The number of people who ask us for help filling out job applications is astonishing!   Many of them need more than the 1 hour of computer time they are allotted at my library.  Our resume writing and interview skills workshops are filled to capacity.  Our staff simply can’t provide any more programs than they already do.

If the libraries were to collaborate with the career/job hunting centers, both organizations would win.  The career centers could refer people for literacy assistance, and the library could refer people who need job placement assistance.  The library could even provide space for specialized workshops.

That’s the easiest example of a collaboration between the library and another organization.  Why not collaborate with a museum?  A local craft store? Arts council?  Other places?

It’s a way for you to stretch your already tight budget, provide additional services, and create tighter ties with other organizations in your community.

CLA – VoiceThread

When I learned that my all day institute on doing more with less was canceled, I was a bit concerned.  What was I supposed to do alone in Sacramento for a whole day?  I wandered around downtown, toured the governor’s mansion, and then went to the convention center to pick up my badge.  I found the nearest Starbucks, and looked through CLA’s promotional materials.

Well… I noticed that the School Library Association (CSLA) was having a free concurrent session in the afternoon.  Since I didn’t have anything else to do, and they were allowing CLA people to attend, I thought I’d go to one.

I chose the session on VoiceThread (by Jane Lofton) because it sounded like something that we could use in the public library. You can sign up for it and play with it for free at  One thing to keep in mind is that the free account lets you comment on an unlimited number of VoiceThreads, but you can only create 3 threads of your own.

VoiceThread is an online technology that allows you to capture and hold an entire conversation on one page.  People can leave recorded voice comments, or text comments.  One person can respond to another’s comment, and so on.   And, as they’re leaving comments they can make (impermanent) doodles on your thread.  Your threads can be still pictures with your voice recorded over them, a Power Point presentation, or a video. It can be embedded into your blog, searchable by keyword, kept private or made public, and it’s a lot of fun.

That’s all well and good, but how would you use this in a library setting?

Advertise Upcoming Events: Think of it as a mini commercial for your library.  Have an upcoming performance? Put up the flyer and record your voice talking about the event.  Ask your viewers a question to encourage their responses.

Book Talks: We all have our favorite books, but what if we want to read something different?  Where do we go to learn about new books and old classics?  By recording a book talk, you can tell people all about it.  And, you don’t even have to record your face doing it (if you’re uncomfortable), just put up a picture of the book and talk!  This is also a great opportunity to get your community involved by asking them to record book talks of their own. Don’t forget – book talks are great for kids, teens and adults.

Start a Conversation: Is there an important event going on in your community?  Are you thinking of trying a new program but want to know if the community would really attend?  Ask a question, and your viewers will respond.

Online Book Club: I’d love to join a book club, but they always meet when I’m at work.  What’s a gal to do?  Join an online book club of course!  Have everyone read the same book, and then have your discussions on VoiceThread.  It might also be a great way to connect an entire community through a conversation about your One City-One Book program.

Orientations and How-Tos: We all encounter patrons who don’t know where to find our materials, or how to use our technology.  Why not record a library orientation/tour and show your patrons how to check  out, renew, and return materials?  Walk them through searching the catalog and databases for information.  It could be a great way for people to learn how to use their local library.

Advocacy: Show your stakeholders what you do for your community.  Tell them all about your library and why they should support you with their tax dollars and donations.  You’d be amazed what shameless self-promotion will do for you.  And remember – it’s not bragging if it’s true!

Staff Training: Produce 5-10 minute training vignettes for your staff.  It’s often very difficult to get away from your work for a day (or even a half day), but 5-10 minutes at a time is doable.  The comments they leave can be used to verify that they actually watched the training.

ESL and Reading Practice: Because your threads can be kept private, you can feel comfortable recording yourself practicing speaking in another language so that your instructor can listen and critique.  You can also do something very similar for Reading Literacy classes.

Portfolios: Traditionally portfolios inspire thoughts of art, but why not create a portfolio of historical library photos?  Or keep a record of past events?


So, that’s one of the things I learned about at CLA.  It looks like an interesting technology.  It seems like it might be a great way to reach out to the community and get them to respond.  What do you think?

Nope, not dead

I know you must all be thinking that I’ve fallen off the face of the earth or something.  I assure you, that’s not the case.  I’ve just been busy!  And lazy…

I fully intended to continue jogging last week.  I’d planned on repeating Week 4 of C25K.  But then I started throwing up.  A lot.  Not fun.  My boss wasn’t too happy with the missed days of work either after I’d already been away from the branch for a week for training and would be away for the California Library Association (CLA) conference.  Well, what can ya do?  It’s really a choice between puking at work (and grossing everyone out) and puking at home where you can huddle in bed.  I think I made the wise decision.

Then I thought that I’d just jog while I was in Sacramento at CLA.  I didn’t want to jog in an unfamiliar environment, so I chose a hotel with a gym inside.  I packed my exercise clothes too.  Then I went downstairs to the “gym” and found a broken elliptical, broken bike, and a treadmill that wouldn’t go above 2.5 mph.

So, no jogging last week.  Or this week either.  *sigh*  I suck.

Monday will be better.  I’ll repeat week 4 and continue from there.

Now, with what’s left of the day, I still need to run errands (banking, get a new house key made, grab potluck stuff) and head to a party (the reason for the potluck stuff).  Tomorrow will be filled with work and a housewarming party for one of DH’s coworkers.  I’ll also try to post a bit about CLA, what I learned there, and how I might apply it at work.

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