Sunday, February 26, 2006

Montana OFFLINE is Right On

Bruce Newell convinced me to come to Helena for this weekend's OFFLINE, the annual program co-sponsored by the Montana Library Association and the Montana Library Network. I'm sure glad he did.

First, because Bruce and Lyn McKinney, the other Members Council delegate from Montana, convinced me to read Ivan Doig's This House of Sky, a beautiful rumination on the land and people of the state. I recommend it to anyone who wants to understand the love of father and son.

Second, because I got to hear a couple of my colleagues (Pam Bailey of OCLC Western and IAG's own Alane Wilson) give splendid presentations. Since we are rarely presenting at the same event, this was quite a treat.

And third, because I got to hear Mark Sheehan, the Executive Director for Information Services and Chief Information Officer at Montana State University -- Bozeman. In fact, I had the misfortune to follow Mark, who gave the funniest, most comprehensive, and most perfectly pitched technology update I've ever heard. He was marvelous, and just hearing him would have made the trip worthwhile.

But what finally aced it was the fellowship. Montana is a huge state, and sparsely populated. Despite the reputation of Western rugged individuality, this is a state where collaboration and cooperation are the hallmarks of library service. Montana had the equivalent of an OCLC group catalog before we even had that name coined. Bruce has provided true servant leadership in his state, creating consensus and offering a vision that attracts the support of people in disparate libraries and circumstances. We need to clone him, because if Montana is smart, it will never let him go!


Brett Fisher said...

George is the man!! Thanks for your valuable insight at OFFLINE. All the information was great for a newby tech librarian.

Lyn McKinney said...

This was my first Offline too, George, and I wholeheartedly second all of your kudos to the speakers. It was really a treat for us to hear some the wisest library thinkers share ideas that got us thinking. I have to tell you that thanks to all of you - I took your ideas to my principal yesterday and was talking to him about the application of the flat world concept in education. We had a great conversation.

Two hours later he called me and said that a local telecommunications company wanted to donate $2,000.00 to our school and he couldn't think of a better place to put the money! So we got two thousand dollars yesterday to purchase some technology upgrades for the library! The most ironic part of this story is that the people who came to bring us the check and take the photo for publicity were not from that telecommunications company - they were from an advertising company outsourced to give away the money - the world really is flat!

One last comment - you are so right about Bruce Newell and his contributions that benefit library users in Montana and in this flat world, all library users. Bruce sees Montana for what it is - a big space with a small population - and has helped us build on the principals of trust and doing what is best for our users. He understands that we are all in this together - and building on his latest mantra, "hope trust and guts" we will continue Montana's rich history of service to library users everywhere.

Kate Zoellner said...

I, too, really enjoyed the presentations and conversations - thank you!

I came away hoping to not hear the words convergence or mashup for awhile, brainstorming ways to convey the benefits of flatness to those who like the round + stuck on the novelty and grossnesss of Turducken.

To my surprise, my partner had heard of Turducken, via John Madden, and he showed me the November 2005 National Geographic article on Maurice, LA.

Synchronicity - I came across the Sage publication Convergence today. It's published quarterly and "is an international refereed academic paper journal which was set up in 1995 to address the creative, social, political and pedagogical issues raised by the advent of new media technologies."

~ Looking forward to the next MT librarian gathering