My Take Away from Stephen Abram

November 7, 2014 at 1:25 pm | Posted in NAHSL Annual Meeting 2014, Professional Development | 1 Comment

The final plenary speaker, Stephen Abram, spoke on “Widen the Lens on Libraries: Provocations: Leadership in Transformational Times.”  The presentation certainly was provocative.  Some might have taken offence to his remarks and thought him to be rather pompous.  I, on the other hand, found his talk inspirational.  As Len Levin mentioned in his blog entry, Stephen Abram did use many cute phrases to emphasize his points.

I, personally, liked “change is an attitude,” “What is the sex appeal of librarians,” “What keeps you awake at night, personally and professionally,” If you could change one thing, what would it be,” and “What are you passionate about?”  Those questions were asked of us to remind us of our worth and value in times of closing libraries and attitudes in which people feel that we don’t need librarians because we have Google.  I found those questions stimulating and a positive way to end his talk, but if you didn’t like the ideas he presented in the first place, then you wouldn’t be inspired to observe your users and create the appropriate library sandbox for their user experiences.

My take-away, maybe you don’t want to turn your library into a gadget garage, but maybe you can load your OPAC into a discovery service or search engine to have your library resources rank on top of the search results or maybe you can create a blog or Facebook page.  The suggestions were many.  The point is to observe your users, get their ethnographic profile and customize your library to match their needs so that “context is King, contact is Queen, not content.  As Len already eloquently stated, “it’s not just the tools but the people that help to use and interpret the tools that bring value to an institution.”

Thank you, NAHSL.  Great conference.

Susan  Warthman



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  1. Thanks to NAHSL was the last line of my post.

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