An Australian Thank You

This year has been most magical. I traveled a bit, had some wonderful students in my classes, and learned so much from everyone I encountered. I also spent much of the summer with our new dog Cooper in Traverse City hiking and sitting by the fire.

One of the most magical and life changing events, however,  was spending five weeks in Australia as the 2009 CAVAL Visiting Scholar, researching and speaking in the great land Down Under. Reflecting, as I do in the final days of each year, I can’t begin to describe how the time spent on the other side of the world touched me. The landscape, the blend of cultures, and the people were all so incredible. But I do realize it’s time to make some very public formal thank yous to those who made it all possible.

A heartfelt THANK YOU to:

Richard Sayers at CAVAL for orchestrating and organizing the whole trip. He was instrumental for both of my sojourns in Australia – and made this trip a smooth sailing dream. He worked to make sure every flight, every hotel, every cab ride and every last detail was perfectly coordinated. This was also the first time we got to meet in person, break bread and share a sip of fine wine. This trip would not have happened without his participation and that of CAVAL. Next time, I hope we get to do some kayaking.

Warren Cheetham at Townsville City Libraries who took on the huge role of co-investigator for the “Measuring the Value and Effect of Learning 2.0 Programs in Libraries” research project. Warren’s help and insights have been invaluable. I was also lucky to share an office with him for 5 days in Townsville, sitting across the table from him talking libraries, technology and human connection. His positive attitude about the possibilities of library service utilizing technology inspires me.

The good folks at the Australian School Library Association – including my contact Lexie Duncan – for inviting me to keynote their meeting in Perth and spend some time talking about emerging trends for learners and the people who serve them. This was one of my very best conference experiences in the years I’ve been speaking. After my sessions were done that day I sat in the public space of the conference center for the entire afternoon chatting with ASLA attendees and listening to their stories. I learned so much from them!

The fine people at Queensland Public Library Association – including Ron Store and everyone on the panel and organizing committee  who in co-sponsorship with the Public Library Association of Australia invited me to keynote their meeting as well. Another excellent conference experience filled with networking, a fine meal and evening music (sadly, I didn’t stay for the dancing) and an engaging group of public librarians facing change and challenge with a “bring it on” attitude.

Janette Wright, CEO of CAVAL, who drove me out to Yarra Plenty for a meeting and showed me the sites of Melbourne as we zipped around the city. We also toured the CAVAL offices, checking out some of the very special collections they store – such as Kylie Minogue’s dresses (who knew?)!

Craig Anderson, Sue Owen, Paul Cardwell, Julia Leong at RMIT’s library in Melbourne for hosting focus groups and the presentation I did to the CAVAL members on the research. The facilities were perfect and the interaction with staff and members lead to some fascinating conversations.

Sue Henczel at Deakin University Library, who hosted a focus group of staff for the research project. The space, refreshments and technology were perfect! The lunch after the work was wonderful as well.

Susan Coker, Executive Manager, Library Services, Community and Environmental Services for Townsville City Libraries and her incredible staff for opening up their libraries as the case study site for the project. Multiple groups chatted with me openly and honestly about their experience with Learning 2.0 so far. We’ll be surveying them again in the new year to see how things went.

Kathryn Greenhill, Special Services Librarian at Cottesloe-Peppermint Grove-Mosman Park Library in Western Australia, who invited me to the Library Camp in Perth and hosted such a lovely breakfast to start the day. Listening to her enthusiastic ideas always fire me up and seeing her in action at the unconference was brilliant. And a big shout out to all who attended the unconference!

Christine Mackenzie and everyone that took time for a meeting at Yarra Plenty Library to share with me the genesis of Learning 2.0 in Australia – the reason for the research in the first place. I was flattered and floored when I asked Christine “How did you first hear about Learning 2.0” and she said: “I read about it on Tame the Web and thought, Oh! We can do that here too!” 🙂

Anne Beaumont from the State Library of Victoria, who treated me to a wonderful Japanese lunch and some wonderful talk about library work AND life with dogs. Dog people are the same no matter what hemisphere you find yourself visiting.

Paul Hagon of the National Library of Australia whose outstanding work mashing up local digital content with Google-enabled location services just made so much sense to me.

Ellen Forsyth, Consultant for Public Library Services at the State Library of New South Wales and her colleagues Mylee Joseph and Leanne Perry, who invited me to a meeting to chat about researching the impact of Learning 2,.0. They’ve been conducting their own studies of the programme offered by the State Library. They shared some interesting insights and fascinating conclusions.

David West, senior manager at Moreton Bay Region Libraries, and president of the  Queensland Public Library Association, for sharing the story during our panel presentation about encouraging Runescape play amongst a group of young boys at his library, which lead to them feeling “engaged in the life of the library.”

Ben Quinney at CAVAL who helped me all of my IT needs for the entire trip, including the invaluable Internet access dongle and Aussie cellphone. He also did support for the focus groups in Melbourne.

Neal Thorley at Townsville Libraries, who insured technology requirements were perfect for the focus groups and who gave me my Google Wave invite. 🙂

Finally – to all the good Australian library folk I chatted with, tweeted to, facebooked, and Flickr’d throughout the journey. THANK YOU for your support, insights and encouragement.

The new year will bring various presentations and articles about the research and I can’t wait to visit Australia again sometime soon. Best to all for 2010!