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Dan Savage: Opening Keynote

Dan Savage gave an inspirational keynote speech in which he described the necessity and motivation behind his It Gets Better Project. After a rash of teen suicides last year that were the result of teens being bullied for their presumed sexual orientation, Dan and his partner, (“husband in Canada, boyfriend in the States”) Terry, decided that they needed to find a way to get directly to teens to let them know that they can find joy being a GLBT adult. Because they would never be allowed to get this message out to students through the schools, or through teen organizations who would consider such ideas indoctrination, they utilized YouTube to create a channel, and used Dan’s blog to promote it. They thought a channel that had 100 such messages would be successful and were overwhelmed with 650 in just a week. Now the YouTube videos, that bring hope and help to GLBT teens, number in the thousands. He drew a connection between the It Gets Better Project’s subversive nature, and the work that librarians do every day: bringing information to those who need it, even if the greater cultural zeitgeist considers it dangerous to do so. (This engendered the greatest applause of the speech.) His speech, funny for the most part, turned serious and even brought a tear to the eyes of Dan, (and me), while he described in a moving way how his work had certainly saved lives and given hope to many teens.

Day 2:

After a sunrise walk to CafĂ© DuMonde with Ellen, and beignets, coffee and juice, followed by the requisite weights in the fitness center (keeping my Zephyr’s points up, team), my first session of the day was the ACRL President’s Program to hear ZSR mentioned as the ACRL Excellence in Libraries Award recipient. Steve, Wanda, Susan and I all had an opportunity, along with the other award recipients, to enjoy another moment in the sun. The speaker that was engaged to address the group was Jason Young, a “people developer” who spent many years working with Southwest Airlines. His message was all about how creating a culture of care and accountability will enable any organization to have the freedom to innovate. Fear keeps us from innovating. A “memory of fear” is what develops policy and procedure that can limit your innovation. The culture of an organization directs its teamwork; the leadership drives culture. Free up fun, creative, innovative ways to meet customer needs, by treating each other with respect, concern and a caring attitude. Let people experiment. Make it part of your vision. He related a few stories about the “fun” culture that was prevalent in South West Airlines. I found many relevant things in what he said, it made me happy to see just how free we are to experiment in ZSR.

An afternoon spent in the exhibit area talking with vendors, (Atlas about ARES, Copyright Clearance Center, looking for scanner vendors that work well with ILLiad..I am beginning to love that exhibit floor) I attended an afternoon session entitled “Designing Specialty Commons” with representatives from Emory, NCSU, UC Berkley, UCLA, UofM and Agati Furniture. They each told the story about the development of their own Commons in their libraries, the way they developed their programs, the needs they were trying to address. Among the many little nuggets they related:

Don’t buy furniture to work with specific technology. Furniture will always outlast technology. Buy furniture that is flexible and can move. Provide outlets everywhere, through raised floors or overhead. Leverage programmatic support to get specific things funded. Pursue strategic forces. Phased in development of your commons is best and be ready to provide iterative change. Design for places for students to collaborate, play, allow for individual use. Students will experiment. Color is good. New technologies require support. Give them the opportunity to enclose big spaces into smaller chunks. Make help easily found. It was a very informative and very relevant session.

On to dinner with the ARES people followed by a few hours of catching up with old friends. This conference is huge, New Orleans is hot. Everything is living up to expectations.