At R-Squared — The Risk & Reward Conference, learn to take smart risks
to move libraries forward.

R-Squared resources

What did I learn today? What am I thinking about after a fabulous day at R2?

Ask questions. Lots of 'em. We answer questions, let's ask them too. 

Some questions from today: Why? What if? Why not? What's the opposite? What makes you curious? What makes you uncomfortable? What's a question you really want to ask others? (We got write our questions down and then walk around the room and answer others' questions. I asked, "What scares you?" and learned that people fear the economy, mice, the upcoming election, republicans, zombies, guns, the future, losing a child, being inadequate, ignorance, not being there for the kids, and nothing- yet). What spurs conversation? How can we make our spaces more social? 

How would you answer any of these questions? What did you learn today? Comments encouraged. 

You could literally feel the energy and creativity racing around the room as keynote speaker Josh Linkner encouraged us to question conventional thinking. He also had us brainstorming  crazy- original ideas on a number of topics. One group brainstormed 107 ideas around the topic of innovation in libraries.  After Josh's entertaining keynote, the lunch tent was buzzing with conversation and laughter.The idea sparks were flying!

The Creative Spaces experience had participants looking at different elements of construction like, light, view, texture, etc. and then had attendees try their hand at building structures. We found it was much easier to conceptualize rather than build. Other activities throughout the day involved apples, foam board, walking panels, and of course soaking in the beautiful mountain view. Use your imagination to create that picture.


Risk & regret, soft tissue damage and connection across generations. Andrea Davis is a reference & instruction librarian at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA.


Photos by Melissa Plantz

Future orientation, Sarah Palin (what?) and big orgs thinking like small orgs. Pam Nissler is executive director of Jefferson County Public Library in Colorado.

A trail riding leader shows off the job she loves at the Altitude Adjustment Reception on Sunday

During the terrific R2 pre-conference party last night, I had the opportunity to talk to the young woman on the horse pictured above. My colleague, Jenny Levine, and I asked her how she liked Telluride and her job in general. "How could I not love it?" she asked back, gesturing to the horse she rode. "This is my office."

What she said struck me first as sweet, and suddenly as relevant to our R2 experience. "That's your first blog post," Jenny joked. Yeah, she was totally right.

Here's the thing: How many people you know have the opportunity to do a job they really believe in? How many people have the opportunity to take a time honored public tradition like a library, and make it relevant and vital for a new world? When things get tough or frustrating for libraries, it is easy to internalize the pain of slashed budgets and grumble about negative detractors. It is harder to remember that we are at the forefront of a real movement - we have the ability to make ourselves necessary in totally new and exciting ways. Being surrounded by library change agents as we learn from those outside our industry, this is what the R-Squared experience is all about.

Everywhere I turn at this conference, someone is challenging my assumptions, or inspiring me with her passion about a new idea and how it could work in her community. I am only four hours in to R-Squared, and I know that I will return to the place that I work ready to enact change and support innovation. I am a librarian because I love being a librarian. I believe what I am doing matters to my community. I will fight to make it better, stronger, and tougher.

I am going to make my whole community my office. And I am going to love doing it.

Only 2% of seniors graduating high school today feel as though they are creative. Unfortunately, I see this everyday and it doesn't need to be that way! Every student in my high school is creative! I see it I the way they interact with each other the fun ideas they come up with for homecoming or to ask each other to dances! Each one of them has an amazing amount of potential...they just don't know it! Why? Are they too afraid of giving a wrong answer or doing an assignment wrong? Is it just easier to do things the way that they have always been done? Maybe they aren't encouraged to explore their creativity enough; to practice and become more comfortable with it. Today's schools seem specifically designed to stifle creativity and for me, I took this morning's session as a personal challenge. How can the school library, my school library, become instrumental in promoting creativity in the classroom and beyond?

This morning I was inspired and impressed with all the creative juices flowing around me. A room full of people who have been waiting for permission to play! Willing to brainstorm, roleplay, debate and discuss. Sharing ideas is a risk and everyone was willing to take it! The question behind most library conferences is "What will the future bring?" But this conference is asking us something slightly different. This conference asks us instead "What will we bring to the future?" One is passive, one is active. Proactive even! One puts us in the victim role and the other sets us free! Masters of our own destiny, to imagine things not as they are now, but as they could be. Why is this important? Because it helps us to know where we want to go and hopefully we will walk out of here with tools and techniques to make it happen. I love that my favorite thing out of this conference so far was not an answer but a series of questions. Why? Why not? What if? Foster your curiosity and use these questions to dig deeper into problems and solutions. It can keep you from making assumptions, stop you from limiting yourself. Imaginary boundaries can hold you back as effectively as real ones. Asking these questions can help break those boundaries down. So give it a try! Why not?

Here are the final tallies from Karen Perry's live audience polling during her introductory session this morning. Anything surpising to you? Tell us in the comments...

Where are you from?
Answers Responses Percent
CO 91 37.90%
West of the Mississippi 73 30.40%
East of the Mississippi 73 30.40%
Outside of the US 3 1.30%
Total 240
Will we see more reading on paper or pixels?
Answers Responses Percent
Paper - books 51 20.20%
Pixels - screens 201 79.80%
Total 252
Will we see more desktop or more mobile devices?
Answers Responses Percent
Desktops 22 9.00%
Mobile devices 223 91.00%
Total 245
Will we see more requests for job information or for health information?
Answers Responses Percent
Job Centers 137 56.80%
Health info 104 43.20%
Total 241
Will we be most needed to help people consumer consumer or create content?
Answers Responses Percent
Consume 90 35.20%
Create 166 64.80%
Total 256
Will our greatest value be our physical presence or our virtual presence?
Answers Responses Percent
Physical 89 56.70%
Virtual 68 43.30%
Total 157
What one thing can we do to accelerate learning and transformation in our libraries?
Summary Count
Total 218
Unique participants 212
Bridal Veil Falls

Kicked off the conference with a hike up to and above Bridal Veil Falls with the incomparable Matt Hamilton. 

In the spirit of risk and getting uncomfortable, it was most necessary to delve into the depths of the cave Matt spied up on the mountainside. We didn't meet any wolverines, and it was a hoot and a holler to see just how far back that cavern went. It was a great beginning to an experience I've been looking forward to for a year now.  We're here now! Enjoy the R-Squared ride!


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