The Rural Library Conference: An Island, Librarians, Ice…

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What happens when you try and stuff Mackinac Island with 500+ librarians for three days in May?The icy Mackinac Straits threaten the progress of our intrepid hero.

This isn’t the start of a joke. No punchline is coming. Even I didn’t know what to expect walking into Michigan’s Small and Rural Library Conference this week. What to expect, as the cliché goes,  is the unexpected. Sometimes you leave Jackson at 5:00 am and finally make it to Mackinac around 4:30 in the afternoon. Sometimes, ice just doesn’t want to play on the same team but it gives you a really cool adventure in the process. As long as you don’t mind getting a little wet.

But then there is the good kind of unexpected. The kind that stems from sitting down and meeting previously unknown colleagues over lunch, and discovering previously unknown solutions. Solutions with the potential to make the everyday life in branch-land about about one-quinthousand times easier. Or they have the potential to crash and burn.

Maybe you unexpectedly discover an entire realm of programming for your library that is literally as easy as handing basketfuls of household times to kids, letting them explore and expand the horizons of their curiosity. We’ll ignore for a moment that one of these projects involve live octopi. It’s fine. Really. As long as no one decides they want to have it for dinner, and if they do, we can probably figure out how to cook.

Thats really what these conferences are about. Sure, they offer a great chance to get out of the office for a few days. But they are about embracing and exploring the unexpected. What new connections can we make to better serve the public? What impertinent ideas can we have?

Now I’m off to hopefully win an unexpected prize

Author: Dave Zokvic

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