Tuesday, May 30, 2006

OCLC Symposium in New Orleans

I will admit right up front that the title of this Symposium is lamish. It's Preserving Library Core Value and Envisioning the Future.

Wendy McGinnis (OCLC's Director of Communications and Public Relations) and I decide on the topic of the Symposia together which is fine....the hard part is naming it, months before the event, long before we actually have speakers booked and before ALA's deadline. I wonder, now, if we meant "Libraries' Core Value" or "Library Core Values"? Whatever.....the title is just a title. The symposium will not be lamish at all.

I don't know if regular symposium goers see the theme but this upcoming one is part of the Big Picture series we've done since the publication of the Environmental Scan. So far, we've had wonderful speakers address social and technological trends beyond those identified in the Scan, gaming, the phenomenon of The Long Tail, and the brand of "the library." All these have built on ideas and issues as a way, we hoped, of bringing attention to things we think are and will be important to librarianship and the running of libraries.

While the speakers at this Symposium will definitely tell you about kinds of "sausages" you won't have heard of, they are also going to tell you a little about making sausages ("laws and sausages are great, but you don't want to see how they're made"). We've asked the speakers to do some future-gazing, but also to reflect on the process and why such work can stimulate revolutionary change rather than incremental change. Libraries have a great deal invested in the past, need to retain the best of the past, and yet, need to make huge changes. Hard stuff.

The Speakers.
Derek Woodgate, founder and president of The Futures Lab .
Wendy L. Schultz, Director of Infinite Futures.
Stacey Aldrich, Assistant Director, Omaha Public Library

Derek and Wendy are professional futurists, and Stacey is a librarian-futurist--one of the few librarians I know who is a member of the World Future Society and the Association of Professional Futurists. All three have spoken to librarians before at ALA and SLA.

In the introduction to his 2004 book, Future Frequencies, Derek has a quote he credits to the movie Magnolia "You may forget you past, but your past never forgets you" which is relevant to the topics of the Symposium--and perhaps to New Orleans as well.

But it was his description of himself that made Wendy McG and me laugh, as we too "...stand up to be counted when no one is counting..."

ADDED BONUS SESSION! On Saturday, June 24th, Stacey and Wendy Schultz are going to give a workshop on one of the tools futures researchers and practitioners use--scenario building. Come build scenarios!

Registration for all OCLC ALA events is here. Lots to choose from.


lislemck said...

I can't make the Symposium. For the first time in aons, I am not paying my own way to ALA. Whoopee, but they who bought the plane ticket decided I arrive Friday afternoon. However, I already signed up for the workshop even before I read your post. It sounds like fun--can't wait!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a wonderful symposium... I'm also sorry I won't be able to make it.

If you capture the event on video again, could you please use a format that doesn't require Internet Explorer? Those of us who are Mac users would also like to see it. Thanks!