Monday, October 27, 2008

Great Day in Oak Park

Friday, I had the opportunity to spend the day with the staff at the Oak Park Public Library in Chicagoland. This was my first trip to my old stomping grounds since the Cubs dropped it in the mud (again), but despite that, this was a wonderful experience. For once, I didn't have to zoom off to the airport after giving my talk: I actually had the chance to stick around and participate in the Staff Institute.

I attended four very good breakout sessions on quite different topics: "Dangerous Ideas," based on the PLA program from the Minneapolis conference; "What is a PC?," a hands-on look under the case of a desktop computer, with side trips into peripherals and cables; a program on dealing with homeless people, remarkable for the staff's high level of compassion and low level of whining; and finally, a behind the desk tour of the library that included not tech services or the computer room, but the furnace room, the air handlers, and the library's green roof. It was fascinating!

Overall, I was impressed with the camaraderie and openness of the staff, which seemed to me to be more diverse in age and background than many libraries I visit. Getting to spend a day with library workers helps revitalize me, and I appreciate their willingness to share their day with me.


Daniel said...

"a program on dealing with homeless people, remarkable for the staff's high level of compassion and low level of whining;"

Do you have any details on this program? I think a lot of libraries would be interested in it.

George said...

The presentation was done by Sherri Hackett, the Program Services Director for West Suburban PADS, a coalition of Chicago area churches that work together to assist people who are experiencing homelessness. For more information, you can find the West Suburban PADS web site at

What made the program special was not only the presenter (Ms. Hackett was excellent) but the staff itself. The discussion throughout the presentation was not "How can I turf these people out of 'our' library?" but "Are they getting the services they need?" It was impressively outward looking rather than inward focused.

kspeyer said...

As the organizer of our Staff Institute Day, I have to say that we enjoyed George's presentation immensely. Comments included:
commented “Let's have George every year” and “Most inspiring, passionate presentation that I have heard in a long time” and “Inspiring, informative and interesting.” Thanks, George, for visiting and inspiring Oak Park Public Library. Kay