Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Washington, DC, Hartford, CT and wabi-sabi

Today is my first day back in the office after an eventful 6 days:
Wednesday-Friday: Participating in the OCLC CAPCON Annual Meeting

Flickr photos here.
Friday-Sunday: Helping my friends get ready for their wedding in two weeks in West Virginia
Monday: Presenting at the Connecticut Library Consortium's 3rd Annual Meeting (there's even a slide show!)

I have a few reflections to gather up, sort out and make sense of. But that will take some percolation time, I think. I will leave you with two things to ponder.

First thing to ponder: a library stakeout swap
One is the idea of being able to see each other's blind spots. This idea came out at the OCLC CAPCON meeting, and I think it's quite powerful if we're brave enough to take each other up on it. One of the main ideas we talked about last Thursday was the idea of "walking the floor"--seeing what was actually going on in your library, from an anthropological point of view. That is, stake out a corner and watch people.

It's amazing what you observe after 2 minutes, then 5 minutes, then 15. Now, you have to watch with an unbaised, objective eye. Which is darn near impossible in your own library. I would have to fight the urge to say, "Hey--the cookbooks are over here!" instead of watching someone flounder with the OPAC or in desparation turn to the circ desk, who of course then shows them to reference...

So what if we volunteered to swap libraries? I'll come to yours with an unbiased eye, and you come to mine. We'll agree on the length of time and commitment (2 hours every other day for 1 week, say), and we'll share our observations over lunch. It's not hard, but it could open up some new thinking--you can see things that I can't. I'm too close.

Second thing to ponder: wabi sabi
Patricia Martin was the speaker at OCLC CAPCON. As we chatted and caught up from Midwinter, she mentioned that she was getting into Wabi-Sabi. There are multiple books about it--but the main idea is that things are imperfect, never finished and fleeting. And so with that sort of ethos, we are free to do the best we can at the time and consider it the best possible thing, right now. We'll improve over time.

Wabi Sabi gives us a new freedom to risk not hitting the perfect, first try, and not being too downtrodden about it. Does your library ever fear to do something, in that it might be too successful?

1 comment:

Alice said...

Can we get some custom car seats donated for my audi-inspired library reading room?