Sunday, March 18, 2007

where it's at

Where have I been? Well, very swept along by extremely rigorous travel and work schedule (and, as many of you know, swept away by a more personal undertow). When will I be back? Well, I'm not sure. But several times this last week I found myself thinking back to posts here, email strings there, and even real-time physical conversations over there (visiting OCLC last Mon-Fri). All of them renewed reminders that I'm striving for sychronicity. And although things are just starting to move from awareness and into practice, one little piece of something did click over and into sync for me this week. So I'll tell you about it, and maybe this can count as back (we'll see):

It started when a colleague of mine said that "social" aspect of what we do is "WOW. sticky. Kewl." We were in a large meeting. Everybody laughed. I laughed too. But then I paused. WOW. sticky. Kewl. That's it! (Later I learned that he had wanted to say "WOW. sexy. Kewl." but his group thought better of saying sexy in a meeting and so they changed it. Sexy. Sticky. Whatever. He captured the concept.) I mentioned it a few times to different people and got different reactions. Most people laughed. Some people got hung up on the sticky. (Is it good to be sticky? Or bad?) But everybody got it. "WOW. sticky. Kewl." is the it factor. It's that thing that's hard to describe, but that everybody knows about and comes back for. Some people have it. Some people don't. Some organizations have it. Some organizations don't. Some libraries have it. Some libraries don't.

Finding, having or being it is about finding, having and being that thing that keeps you, your organization or your library alive. And I don't mean alive that in the you're not dead, so you must be alive sense of the word. I mean it in that verve, vim and vigor sort of way. I'm talking about meaning, relevance and maybe even emotional draw. I'm talking about charisma and magnetism, maybe even charm. No wonder it is often associated with sexy. Should we even wonder then, when wow sticky kewl is associated with social?

I know it can't be the same thing for everyone. And I know I shouldn't try and essentially define it. But I do know that we've lost it when we stop at content or collections. It is dependent on human connection. It might even be about conversation and collaboration. This makes me wonder: are our personal it factors are the same as our professional ones? That's definitely what has happened to me at WebJunction, where this small little business idea (ItGirl) turned from a consulting gig to this real-life community project connecting more than 26,000 of us in libraryland. Putting that idea of connecting people with each other (as well as with information) at the center of my personal and professional life has been part of my and our success there.

So now I have to ask: could your personal it factor be the thing that helps your library find, have, and be alive? Or has it already? And does it (also) have to do with connection? How is that different from what we traditionally do or have done in libraries?

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