Saturday, January 16, 2010

OCLC Symposium ALA MW 2010

It's taken me longer than expected to get this post up...busy day today with lots of interesting conversations going on. But these are the scattered notes (along with tweets from @itgirl and @alicesneary) from the Symposium speaker on Friday, Michael Brown:

Loretta Parham
kicks of the OCLC Symposium. We all do PT *physical training*!

Michael Brown
, CEO of CityYear
His first library—Belmont, Massachusetts. He remembers his early experiences with the public libraries.
Boston loves its libraries (source of pride for the community).
Widener Library, his introduction to philanthropy. (The appeal is around something to do with leaving a legacy and personal concerns.)

--We’re in the same business, CityYear and libraries: Citizenship and democracy. Libraries help underscore what it means to be human.
“Getting my library card was like citizenship; it was like American citizenship.” –Oprah Winfrey

Why did he start CityYear?

Born in 1960—the civil rights movement, the moon landing, Star Trek—feeling of intense engagement
He became Passion-Struck. He worked on Capitol Hill for Leon Panetta,
HR2500—Study the commission of volunteer national service: tapping the civic power of youth.
• Life changing benefits (access to college, fulfilling the American dream)
• Needed Services
• Civil Rights
• Rite of Passage
• Inspire to Action

Action Tank – “National Service or Bust”
--Most Americans get excited about the idea of national service, once you explain it
--This isn’t a voting issue

Every meeting had to be inspirational.
Core member handbook: every member of CityYear has to register to vote, pay taxes, and have a library card.
Entrepreneurship: Timberland supplied the boots: boots, brands and beliefs. Timberland outfits the corps. Timberland provides 40 paid hours of volunteer service for employees.
Had to have uniforms—Promoting the concept. This is about service and idealism.
We did calisthenics in front of Boston Public Library every morning.

We had to engage the public sector. Wrote to all Presidential candidates.
Clinton said it was his trip to CityYear that inspired the development of Americorps.

Time magazine wanted to do a cover story on national service. (You never know who is going to be your next champion.)

Edward M Kennedy Serve America Act
. Idealism of Young People, showing they can make a difference.

Now they’re focusing on the High school dropout crisis. Every 26 seconds a child drops out of school. Goal is to reach 50% of the potential drop outs.

6 Major lessons learned along the way:
1. Mantra: COME VISIT! All commitments are experiential.
2. Find a sponsor for it: Get a sponsor for everything (Timberland for Boots)
3. Build partnerships on Reciprocity and Engagement—even when it doesn’t seem like there’s a fit. (CareForce One: CSX has a truck full of rakes, shovels, etc. and it goes to small communities where CSX drives through and helps them clean communities, graffiti, etc.)
4. Every institution has unique assets. (CityYear has young people’s energy)
5. Give a role for citizens in your institution. Serve-A-Thon (One-day where everyone else gets to do what CityYear does.) Create alumni—make people feel like a part of your institution
6. Build a Movement. Be part of something larger than yourself.

Carnegie completed 1,689 libraries. He did challenge grants—the communities had to support the library, once built. Women’s organizations took up the challenge and gave us America’s libraries. A great example of movement building and democracies. (All of this was done before Women had the right to vote!)

Connect your needs to other institutions’ needs. Then you can really get some interesting things going.

Then Loretta Parham gives some examples from her library system about how she engaged members of the community outside the library to try and get some momentum around projects, and what successes emerged.

Some really interesting questions came out for both Loretta and Michael. It's clear that we're all still grappling with how to partner with our civic and campus organizations in the best way possible--some good ideas and questions.

Then we all adjourned and had Boston cream pie. Great ending to a good Symposium. It made me wish I was 22 years old again and full of heady ideals about how to Make The World A Better Place. Has that 22 year old spirit been stamped out completely? I don't think so--seeing the CityYear participants and knowing their passion, I am inspired to give some of my personal time to a national service project, too.

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