Final wrap/PCNC 2012

As promised in an earlier post, I’m putting together a final wrap-up post from last week’s Project Compass National Convening, which took place at the Sheraton National, in Arlington, Virginia. The purpose of the two-day event, which gathered library professionals from all 50 states, was to continue the work begun in 2009, helping to shift mindsets and help build necessary skills and help libraries increase capacity in order to be key catalysts in America’s workforce recovery. Continue reading

Thursday morning coming down/PCNC 2012 getaway day

Today is getaway day after a very full day yesterday, at the Project Compass National Convergence 2012.

So, what happens when you stick someone like me, a non-librarian; someone with his patchwork background in workforce development, a writer and publisher, with a strong entrepreneurial bent, as well as someone that understands how to partner and the value that comes from one’s personal network–smack dab into the middle of 200+ librarians for two days? I’m not entirely sure, but I think I’ll be able to better answer that later, when I finally put together my final wrap-up post, which will probably go up late Sunday, or early Monday.

As of this moment, Thursday morning before sunrise, on the 10th floor of the Sheraton National, here’s how I see it, so far. Continue reading

Gary Golden-professional futurist

[This was a live-blog of Gary Golden’s keynote at PCNC 2012. I’ve gone back and edited it slightly, mainly for grammar and flow.–jpb]

Gary Golden is a futurist. Apparently traveling to the future is good, because he looks very young. Golden’s card does read “futurist.”

What does a “futurist” do? According to Golden, futurist thinking is grounded in sociology. This field grew out of a NASA program, which attempted to look forward and try to predict social change. This brand of thinking looks at how society adapts to change, and in part, how individuals address change. Golden mentions that a futurist tries to introduce some “structure” to change.

A futurist is interested in understanding how the world is changing and seeks to address these issues from the “outside/in.” According to Golden, often, institutions are trying to address change from inside/out, which doesn’t work and leads to problems. Perhaps this is why the last 20-30 years has been so bumpy in the U.S. (my own point of view). Continue reading

Project Compass-Day 1 (pre-breakfast)

I’m at the Project Compass National Convening. It sounds important, sort of like the convening that took place for the first Continental Congress, back in 1774. There are librarians and library-type people from all 50 states. I met a bunch of them last night at the meet and greet that we had. Then, I went out with a colleague from Maine and had some awesome Ethiopian food about a block from our hotel (Sheraton National).

Looking out my window, which faces Washington, DC, I can see the lights of America’s seat of power, and recognize the Capitol dome and the Washington Monument. It’s killing me to be so close and know that I won’t have time to sneak off and spend an afternoon seeing a few of the amazing sites.

We’re here to do some work. The agenda’s ambitious and it’s obvious that we’re going to talk about the role that libraries occupy in our nation’s economic recovery. Anyone that works at a library, or partners with one, knows the increase in people seeking career services that have been flocking to libraries during this economic downturn. Continue reading

Leading by example

Leadership is a subject that I’ve had an ongoing fascination with, probably for the last decade, if not longer. My interest in what characterizes effective leadership was born from a place where there weren’t abundant models of leadership available, at least based upon what my minimalist expectations were in leaders in the workplace at the time.

At that point in my career, I was employed by a well-known insurer, an industry leader. This company regularly received recognition as one of the best places in Maine to work, year after year. That surprised me because my 3+ years there were not a pleasant stretch. The best thing I can say about my time with this employer is that it provided me with the push to begin developing my craft as a writer, searching for books about self-improvement and personal growth, and launching me forward on the journey that I’ve been on for the past decade. So I’m grateful for the prompt they provided me in developing a new approach, and helping me begin figuring out what I was good at, instead of continuing my procession from one mediocre employer to another. Continue reading

Books, libraries, and rock and roll

Readers of my other blog, Digital Doorway, know that I love books and reading. Last year, I read more than 30 books.

My mother is the one who taught me that books matter, and that reading is important, walking me down to Lisbon Falls Community Library in June, 1970. School was out for the summer and she wanted to enroll me in the library’s summer reading program. I read a book a week for 10 weeks. I’ve been in love with reading ever since.

In addition to books and reading, libraries are also places forever associated for me with quiet spaces, a place of escape—and if I may say this without sounding overly dramatic—libraries offer an oasis from the barrage and busyness that has become everyday life in America. Of course, not all libraries are created equal. While researching my first book, When Towns Had Teams, my winter mornings at Portland Public Library might find me sitting next to a homeless man, coughing like he had TB, while alternately farting, never thinking twice that others around him might be trying to get some work done. I did find this annoying at times, but it was another reminder of libraries’ uniquely democratic qualities as public spaces. Continue reading

Learn from the past

Einstein receives attribution for the maxim that “doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results” is one definition of insanity. If Einstein’s true, and his body of work supports his veracity, then a good many people are just plain bonkers.

Over and over again humans choose paths leading to dead-ends. Even when given a second (and a third and a fourth…) chance, they regularly choose futility.

When I began writing, I was forced to fake it ‘til I made it. Without clips, clients, or any kind of substantial work, I learned to bluff my way forward. I ended up getting work, some of it offering valuable experience to someone finding his way as a freelancer. Continue reading

It’s all about the energy

I’m a big basketball fan. My favorite team is the Boston Celtics. If you are a fan of the NBA and follow the professional game at all, you know that the Celtics are one of the league’s iconic teams.

Like all organizations that have been around for any length of time, there are those periods when you lose your way, requiring reassessment and analysis to figure out what’s gone wrong. That’s where the Celtics were at during the summer of 2007 after closing out a dismal 2006-2007 season with a record of 24-58 in April, one of the worst Celtics’ seasons ever.

The team’s general manager, Danny Ainge, who had played for the Celtics during the Larry Bird glory years in the 1980s knew something had to be done and made a couple of amazing chess moves on the personnel side. This resulted in the long-awaited 17th banner that fans had been clamoring for since 1986, the last year the storied team won a championship. Continue reading