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

R-Squared resources

Photos by Melissa Plantz

Pam Sandlian Smith is director of Anythink Libraries and is a member of the R-Squared Planning Team.

Early morning view from The Peaks Resort

This weekend, library professionals coast to coast will trek to one of the most beautiful locales in the country to talk about innovation in libraries. Telluride, Colo., the location of R-Squared – The Risk & Reward Conference, is not the easiest place to get to. Even for those living in the Denver area, it’s an eight-hour drive. Yet hundreds of people from places as far as New Hampshire, Alabama, Oregon and even Canada are making their way to Telluride, drawn by the promise of connecting with other risk-takers and tackling big ideas with a fresh, creative perspective.

Ann-Louise Larrson has one of the farthest treks. An academic librarian from Linnaeus University Library in Växjö, Sweden, Larrson hopes to find ideas on how to attract new students and “make them feel that our instruction sessions are helpful for them,” she says. Part of what made R-Squared so appealing to her is the fact that the speakers aren’t librarians but hail from industries like retail, marketing, architecture and technology. “As librarians, we definitely need new ideas from other sectors.”

She admits it wasn’t only R-Squared that inspired her trip stateside. Larrson is the first to participate in a two-week staff exchange program between her own Linnaeus University Library and Auraria Library at the University of Colorado at Denver.

Mary Somerville, director of the Auraria Library, taught as a Fulbright Scholar at the Swedish School of Library and Information Science, where Larrson was her student. Somerville has “organizational transformation aspirations,” she says, one thing that she and Linnaeus University Library Director Catta Torhell have in common.

Together they initiated a library staff exchange, “to encourage exposure to new workplace perspectives,” says Somerville.

When Torhell traveled to Denver to discuss the logistics of the staff exchange program, Somerville arranged a meeting with some of the areas “thinkers and do-ers,” including Pam Sandlian Smith, director of Anythink Libraries, and Denver architect Dennis Humphries. Both are involved in the launch of R-Squared and spoke of their plans for the conference. Torhell and Somerville decided to take advantage of this unique experience and schedule Larrson’s trip during R-Squared.

Kiersten Allen, director of Louisburg Public Library in Louisburg, Kan., first heard about R-Squared at this year’s PLA conference in Philadelphia. After attending a “ConverStation” about R-Squared, she and her colleague went back to their hotel to brainstorm ideas.

“We were in a library funk,” says Allen. After a losing bond initiative in 2008, she says they had no idea of the extent of the damage done. Staff was uninspired; everyone seemed satisfied with the status quo.

“Sometimes you hear things when you’re ready to hear them,” she says, and learning about R-Squared was one of those moments. She knew she had to get her team to Telluride any way she could. She also knew sending only one person wouldn’t be enough. “If several people experience the same thing, the validation is there,” she says, and there are more opportunities to make long-lasting change.

When they saw there were scholarship opportunities, “it was like Winnie the Pooh’s black cloud had been lifted.” Her staff immediately started working together on their submission. The atmosphere at the library began to change.

Allen says it had been a long time since they had “the fire, the drive” to explore new ideas, and R-Squared is already inspiring that.

Their enthusiasm has touched their community as well. A library customer heard about the conference, and that staff was driving all the way to Telluride from Louisburg, and made an anonymous donation to cover the funds to fly.

It’s yet to be seen whether R-Squared will live up to Allen’s expectations – and those of the other 350 attendees traveling to Telluride. Allen says she’s not looking for other librarians to commiserate with about the trials and tribulations of the industry.

“And I don’t want to jump into someone else’s boat, nor do I want anyone to jump into mine,” she says. “I want to work together to build a whole new boat.

“Twenty-five years from now, library schools will look back at R-Squared 2012 as a turning point for libraries,” she says.

Colorado Lieutenant Governor Joseph Garcia welcomes R-Squared Conference attendees to Colorado in a letter support.

"Libraries are a vital service in our country, and I applaud you for taking the risk to participate in a conference that will make libraries even more essential and impactful." – Colorado Lieutenant Governor Joseph Garcia

We are just 27 days out from R-Squared – The Risk & Reward Conference. Risk-takers coast to coast are traveling to Telluride this September to learn new ideas and connect with other creative library professionals. See all of the states that are represented on our risk-takers map and add your own location.

To ensure we have all of your correct info when R-Squared kicks off on Sept. 9, please login to fill out your profile and confirm name, meal preference and location are included. When you save your location info, it’s automatically added to our risk-takers map. Add a photo if you choose and your smiling face will appear on the attendees page.


For those traveling from the Front Range or flying into DIA, the shuttle leaves Denver Public Library on Sept. 9 at 8 AM. Parking at the Cultural Center is $8 per day as opposed to the $20+ per day to park at the hotels in Mountain Village, so this is a great alternative. The cost for the shuttle is $80 round trip. It departs from Mountain Village on Wednesday, Sept. 12 at 8 AM. Guaranteed this will be a good time trekking through Colorado while getting a head start connecting with other risk-takers. Reservation deadline for the shuttle is Aug. 26, so please make your reservations soon!

Shuttle service is also available from Montrose, Grand Junction and throughout the Western Slope. Visit the R-Squared transportation page for further details.

In anticipation for R-Squared – The Risk & Reward Conference, Senator Mark Udall writes a letter of support for the conference, welcoming attendees to the Centennial State.

"I hope each one of you come away from this conference inspired to continue taking risks and generating innovative change in our library systems." – United States Senator Mark E. Udall

R-Squared is just over six weeks away – you can almost smell that fresh mountain air! Below are some details to help you plan your stay in Telluride this September.


For those traveling from Denver, a shuttle picks up at the Denver Public Library at 8 AM on Sunday, Sept. 9, and brings you right to Mountain Village for $85 round trip. It’s an eight-hour trip but should be a fun ride with risk-taking library pros from all over the country. This is a great option for folks flying into Denver International Airport or who are already located in the Front Range. The return shuttle leaves at 8 AM on Wednesday, Sept. 12, from Mountain Village. Overnight parking is available at the Cultural Center Complex Garage near the Denver Art Museum and Central Library for $8 per day.

Telluride Express also has service from Montrose, Grand Junction and other areas of the Western Slope.

See our Transportation page for booking details.


The Hotel Madeline and The Peaks are sold out, but a block of rooms at the conference rate is now available at the Mountain Lodge in Telluride. There is also a handful of rooms still available at the Inn at Lost Creek in Mountain Village, the Hotel Madeline’s sister property.

Our friends at the Telluride Tourism Board are also available to find just the right spot for you.

See our Lodging page for booking details.


Looking for roommates, travel companions or just want to bounce some ideas around? Visit the R-Squared discussion board to connect with other risk-takers.

Interested in a Little Adventure?

Making a much-needed vacation out of your trip to Telluride? There are great pre-conference options to help feed your adventurous spirit. Whether you’re into fly-fishing or photography, the right adventure for you is just around the corner.

Tamara Kleinberg, founder and chief imaginator at imaginibbles, will close R-Squared - The Risk & Reward Conference with IdeaJam 2012. This collaborative session will have attendees out of their seats, disrupting conventions and working together on big ideas. Attendees will pull from the four different R-Squared Experiences and explore ways to make all those great ideas a reality when they get back to their communities. Watch Tamara's video to learn all about it.

Interested in volunteering at R-Squared? Contact us for more info. Looking for a roommate, travel companion, or just want to bounce some ideas around? Check out the R-Squared discussion board.

Space at R-Squared - The Risk & Reward Conference is limited. Register today!

What makes a place, a space irresistible?

When you walk into a brilliant public space, you notice a remarkable feeling of belonging and a sense of invigoration and inspiration. You can’t wait to explore and engage. How can you make that happen in your world?

The Creative Spaces Experience is part Architecture 101, part workshop on making spaces and place making. Led by architects Dennis Humphries and Ozi Friedrich of Humphries Poli Architects, day one is for exploring concepts of space so you can design spaces that inspire and enliven people.

With the help of Cynthia Nikitin from the Project for Public Spaces, day two is centered on public place making - learning to evaluate successful public spaces. Are they accessible? Do people engage in activities there? Is the space comfortable with a good image? Is it a sociable place where people meet each other and want to take people when they come to visit?

Guaranteed, at the end of the conference, you’ll have the nuts and bolts to create a space that works, whether it is your office, your apartment, your library or...

– The R2 Creative Spaces Team

Learn more about each of the R-Squared Experiences in the coming weeks. Register for your Experience by July 15; after that, we pick for you.

Interested in volunteering at R-Squared? Contact us for more info.

Gone are the days of the book warehouse; we want to help you put ideas, exploration and discovery at the center. And there’s no better way to foster the surprise and delight of your customers than to feed your own curious mind.

Learn ways to support curiosity in your library by channeling your sense of discovery in the Customer Curiosity Experience. Nina Simon, executive director of the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History, sends you out into Mountain Village to experience your surroundings through the eyes of a visitor: look, observe, identify, notice things from a new perspective.

Examine new ways to engage customers, disrupt conventions, and encourage participation with John Bellina and Tasso Stathopulos, founders of Denver marketing agency Ricochet Ideas. In their no-nonsense style, they’ll show you how to take risks and develop innovative ideas to create programs, services, displays, and exhibits that push boundaries to engage the curiosity of library customers.

Prepare for disruption – it’s gonna be a fun ride.

– The R2 Customer Curiosity Team

Learn more about each of the R-Squared Experiences in the coming weeks. Register for your Experience by July 15; after that, we pick for you.

Interested in volunteering at R-Squared? Contact us for more info.


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