Sunday, May 09, 2010

the Near Miss

Last week I flipped out about missing Northern Voice. I knew Dave Cormier was going to be there. I follow Dave. I knew what he was going to talk about.

I needed that talk.

I was struggling with a coming congress on ebooks: yes/no for schools as textbooks, novel studies, library books. I am also committed to producing a system rattling presentation to 100+ school librarians over the next 3 weeks. An urging to weed down collections, build new spaces for critical thinking -- that are physical and digital -- a talk to reconnect us with library principles of collection management and selections. I wanted to go to Northern Voice. I felt what I needed might, in some measure, be there. I kinda knew a girl. I sent out a plaintive tweet, feeling sorry for myself. Like a Wonka ticket by the next day I'd scored. I would get to go. I would be able to get the talk.

... Then ... I missed it.

In buying a drink for the person who sponsored me... in indulging in one more of my rants on publishing futures for children's literature to a new acquaintance... in walking in the sun I missed most of Dave's talk. Stumbled in late and saw that last slide "tyranny of the book". I knew what I had missed. I heard @jbmurray's whole piece of the talk. Saw Dave long enough to say hi, sure, but I'd missed IT...

Or did I...?

You see I was there all day. I was in the #nv10 and it was an exceptional day for me. An exercise in putting myself out there, all of myself. The mother-woman part, the @maryakem and even the legal name me who was printed right there on my name tag. I didn't meet 200 people. I met 12. And I think they were the vital 12. I hit on good sessions. I felt integrated to a number of important conversations, for me, on twitter. I said some silly stuff but a couple good ideas and perspectives also came. I was very much there. And it was a good place to find what I felt I needed.

Did I mention Dave Cormier was there? I'm sort of connected to him. It's not personal. It's a system. I won't bore with any details; they are of little consequence. I was there in that place exceptionally close to his talk. An exceptional presentation of a critical perspective he brings to a dialogue I am a part of and flagging under for its importance. I watched a recording of Dave today for what I missed, and you know...

I missed nothing. I am caught up. More than caught up...

In all its asynchronicity, the centre holds. What's 15 minutes between good research and learning? NB: @davecormier has a certain consistency that, for lack of better words, does transcend time and space. It is intrinsic to the message - or what I took of it -- yesterday and in the other online resources I have already (or again)...

...the access we need to knowledge is to be unbound from print and sequential pagination. I found it could be unbound from the clock/calendar of a conference. We don't schedule learning we find it. We find it in libraries of so many kinds today.

I will spend next week trying to convince librarians to unbind knowledge from the opening hours of their libraries, to take down shelves and focus on the finding. I will do that better with clarity on how sense of place/space is core. I'm hopeful this will make a lot of bookworms better able to deal with the aggressive weeding I'm advocating.

The talk gave me what I needed to secure the knowledge and to release myself from self doubt because I was there that Saturday. I was there with @wakemp and with @HHG and with Bon's husband, my friend Kerry and the owner of Dexter the dog and that we r connected. The strictures that make me wonder 'am I missing something?' were undone. As much as the talk that's what I needed.

ps. I feel it is our responsibility as librarians to help people let go of books. Books are our brand and we should protect them from the drek or near misses they can be.

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