PSLA 2013 Takeaway: Unconferences ROCK!

Let’s face it, sometimes going to a library conference means running into a lot of toxic, negative energy from burned out educators.  I don’t know what it is about a bunch of us getting together, but it seems to invite venting and despair about the state of school libraries.  No doubt, the current state is a sad one, but since we’re surrounded by our colleagues, don’t we all know that already?  Complaining about it to one another doesn’t do anyone any good, and it generally brings me down.

So when I walked into the first “Unconference” and found collaborative ideas, fantastic real-world advice and new, fresh tech tools I can use, I was THRILLED!  One librarian in the room (I sadly didn’t catch her name) neatly summarized the experience by saying that it was the most positive thing that had happened at PSLA in her recollection.  (my apologies for paraphrasing…that’s my best memory of her quote.)

From the “library space” conversation I learned:

  • The first step in any space reconfiguration/reno is figuring out what you need/want to do in that space.
  • I would LOVE yoga ball chairs, which can be used with frisbees to keep them in place.  So simple, cheap, and genius!
  • A raised floor would mean I can run electric wiring wherever and however I wanted = truly customized space!  Big ideas for an as-yet-planned-future-massive-reno.
  • Moveable furniture would be great for the “library commons/learning commons,” but students also sometimes want and need a quiet place to curl up and read.  I think as librarians, we can provide both.
  • “Library commons” spaces rely on more e-content to free up shelf space.
  • Makerspaces sound so wonderful, if only the library had more square footage.  I’m reconfiguring, but I just don’t see where to put it!
  • Planning for “centers” in the library would be a great compromise as I slowly transition our traditional space into a learning commons-inspired space.

Overall, it was a really exciting conversation!  And that was just one of 2 or 3 that I got to be a part of.  I wish we had more time at the Unconference for more/longer conversations, and I wish it hadn’t been so late at night.  Since I was driving to my home to save money on the hotel stay, it was a really late night (and early morning the next day).  Personally, I think this was a better use of my time than some of the sessions I attended, and I’d love to see it replace a couple.  But that’s just me.  🙂

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Mrs. J in the Library

Collette J., or Mrs. J in the Library, is a full-time elementary teacher-librarian, blogger, and mama from Pennsylvania. She loves technology, books in any format, makerspaces, and all things Harry Potter. The information and opinions represented here are her own and are not the views and opinions of any business or organization.

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