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On May 16th-17th, I attended the the Conference for Entrepreneurial Librarians: Social Entrepreneurship in Action held at UNCG. Here are some highlights of the programs that I attended:

Brian Mathews was the opening keynote speaker on “Engines of Change: Developing Platforms for Social, Civic, and Cultural Engagement”

  • Social entrepreneurism: civic engagement, human rights, environment, illiteracy, poverty, health, ethics, food
  • Value creation: shifting resources from low productivity to an area of higher productivity; library tours for an underserved community; reaching out to new groups

4 Defining Entrepreneurial Characteristics

  • Alertness: being able to recognize opportunities when other people don’t; anticipate problems and develop changes
  • Combiner: Steve Jobs brought the pieces together
  • Empathy: understanding the needs of the customer
  • Networked: alert people to things that are happening

“We’re surrounded by good ideas… we know what we need to do… But what we don’t know is how to take the knowledge we possess in bits and pieces and implement it at the scale of problems we are facing.” -David Bornstein

  • “Fill our patron’s memory bank with positive associations of the library and what it stands for.”
  • Invest in other people’s problems and how to help them
  • Find the right nutrients and environment for ideas

“Igniting Change: Transforming Practice Through Dialogue with Diverse Information Professionals” moderated by Dr. Clara Chu presented by UNCG students in the ACE Scholars program

Public Libraries, Immigrants, and Refugees: partnered with Greensboro Public Library Multicultural Services Librarian

  • Learn what they need: ESL classes, assimilation assistance in schools, information literacy classes
  • Develop a community profile: culture, language, identify community leader
  • Identify information resources from focus groups
  • Develop information resources on health literacy and financial literacy
  • Advanced ESL classes
  • Promote cross-cultural understanding
  • Middle of Everywhere by Mary Pipher
  • The Spirit Catches and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child by Ann Fadliman

“Social Entrepreneurship in Action in Spanish Libraries” by Jose Antonio Merlo Vega

Economic recession affected libraries in Spain, and public libraries still support their communities despite reduced acquisition expenditures

  • Local experiences are global experiences
  • Libraries in Spain support open access to resources – OA seems more critical for countries in recession
  • Social Action: Libraries help people with economic needs; libraries collect food and school supplies to give to community, often overdue fines are forgiven with donations; libraries provide job search services; libraries are a point of exchange of books between patrons
  • Social responsibility: “People are important, and libraries are for the people.”
  • Political action: Libraries and patrons protest against cuts and defend library services and funding; Library associations advocate for favorable legislation
  • Yellow tide: Spanish libraries movement against cuts
  • Digital action: Libraries use free technologies to offer services
  • Economic action: Libraries adjust and redistribute their budgets; Libraries use indicators to cancel subscriptions; Libraries support OA to scientific articles and resources; Libraries re-negotiate licenses with e-resource providers

“Taking Risks and Forging New Collaborations for Environmental Causes” by Frederick Stoss, SUNY-Buffalo

  • Promote Environmental ICE: Information, Communication, Education
  • Literacy is more than reading: writing, expressing music, dance, drawing, communicating, telling stories, listening, learning, teaching, and sharing
  • Science seeks to explain the complexity of the natural world and uses this understanding to make valid and useful predictions
  • Technology utilizes innovative tools, materials, and processes to solve problems or satisfy the needs of individuals, society, and the environment
  • Guidelines for Excellence

Developing Cultural Competency Panel:

“An Award of Their Own: The Creation of a Book Award for the Arab American Community”

  • Arab American National Museum (Dearborn, Michigan) Arab American Book Award
  • Worked with museum staff to discuss mutual benefits of the award
  • First Award Ceremony in 2007 at the museum
  • Poetry category award, Non-fiction award

“Preserving Refugee Cultural Heritage: Taking Community and Culture into Account”

  • Let underrepresented communities speak for themselves
  • Multicultural and globalized digital libraries would guarantee the right for all cultural voices to be included
  • Respect the culture with integrity
  • “Our parents will never write, so we write for them.” Vang
  • Preservation: We must ask what and observe how intangible cultural heritage objects are used
  • Authentic Preservation: document for posterity; perpetuate (ongoing practice/survival within community
  • Disseminate to the next generation and community at large
  • Cannot assume refugees as a group have common issues
  • Same country but different ethnicities, tribes, loyalties, religions, and languages
  • Represents not only inherited traditions but contemporary rural and urban practices
  • Inclusive: link the past, present, and the future; expressions are passed from one generation to another and evolve in response
  • Model program of authentic preservation practices
  • Project APRCH

Michael Porter, an Executive Board member of ALA, was the closing keynote speaker.
Presentation: “No, YOU Go Do It (or leave it up to somebody else and take what you get)”

  • Solving problems is better than complaining about them
  • Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: there is a reason why libraries are important
  • Communities need libraries to thrive
  • Libraries = content + community
  • Optimism does not denote naivete; need to be realistically optimistic to help things get better

Life is short. Build stuff that matters.
It’s simple until you make it complicated.
Start simple.
Stop sketching and start building.
Experiment. Learn. Fail. Repeat.

“Be guided by the mission of the library and the university which lets us help other people and society”

Dean Lynn Sutton concluded the conference with closing remarks. Kudos to the UNCG and WFU conference planning committee for organizing an excellent conference.