Enlightened on the 29th Floor: A Public Thank You to the Darien Folks

View from the Darien Suite

I think the best part of conferences for me play out as conversations. I remember the threads of conversation at ALA 2005 very well. This year, at MidWinter, I was honored to be included in a lunch meeting hosted by the folks at Darien Library in Darien, CT. (They hosted Library Camp East last year.) In the 90 minutes I was there, on the 29th floor of the Grand Hyatt overlooking Elliot Bay and the Puget Sound, the conversation not only enlightened me but challenged me as well.

Hosted by Louise & John Berry and Alan Gray, the lunch was wonderful. I arrived to see Casey Bisson deep in discussion with our hosts and other folks. Michelle, Rochelle and Jenny filtered in as well. The highlight was news of the the Louise Parker Berry Fellowship. The successful applicant will be employed at Darien Library for two years, gaining experience, insight and a direct line into the workings of one of the best public libraries in the country for its size and revenue. What an incredible way to get valuable library experience.

The conversation then turned to blogging: blogging libraries, blogging librarians and blogging directors. I hung on Louise Berry’s every word about how she views her organization, what it means to be a blogging director and how she empowers the staff to conribute. I was inspired. Not a hint of micromanagement, hang ups with “flavor of the month” style organizational culture or pyramid shaped charts here folks.

I realized then, as Louise, John and Casey discussed what it means to be a blogging director in a culture of trust and participation, that while I’ve been writing about job descriptions and skills for new grads and those with some experience, eventually boards and other governing bodies are going to be looking for directors, adminstrators and Deans with experience blogging and using other technologies as well. Library Director 2.0 (which is what Louise most surely is) will guide open, decentralized, flatter libraries with a human voice using whatever appropriate social tools may be at his or her disposal.

While business is coming to grips with participatory culture, the citizen journalist and the mess at a Kohl’s Department Store, so must library boards, adminstrators and directors. We – speakers such as myself and others talking to rooms full of librarians and library staff curious about the social shift – have been preaching to the choir a lot now haven’t we? At the California Library Association meeting, one librarian said: “My director won’t blog. She writes four or five drafts of press releases and has our admin team all proof it over and over again. I want us to be a human library.”

I do too, dear librarian.

Michelle, who is an incredible blogger and librarian, also wrote about our lunch and the Fellowship at Wandering Eyre as well.

Like Michelle, I think Darien Library would be a very attractive place to work if I was looking to get back into libraries – it really strikes me as an enviroment of sharing, collaboration and encouragement. So a big thanks to the Darien folks for hosting such a wonderful lunch and discussion.