Innovating, inspiring, creating and disrupting: a report on the i2c2

Originally posted on Cardies and Tweed:

On 5th March 2014, I headed up to Manchester with my lovely boss Andy to attend i2c2 , a conference themed around Innovation, Inspiration and Creativity (‘conference’ is the second C) with the aim to use positive disruption to improve libraries. I am very fortunate to work where I do because I have been in libraries before that would have never have been able to send me on this conference due to budget constraints, but Cambridge Judge Business School takes staff development very seriously so I was able attend i2c2.

I know I often write up training sessions and conferences in a way that allows others to get a similar experience, even if they weren’t able to attend, but I fear this is impossible with i2c2 as it wasn’t like any other conference that I’ve ever been to. It was a very visual, engaging and collaborative conference with less sitting…

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Let’s Do This Thing! (Book It for BPL 5K)

Originally posted on Book It For BPL:

The Plan:

Since attending the 2013 Iowa Library Association Conference, the Librarians have desired to join the Healthy Iowa Initiative and organize a Library 5K Walk/Run. The intellectual and physical wellness of a community falls directly into the domain of library and information science. It is in our best interest to jump on this health focused initiative to support communities throughout the great state of Iowa.

The Burlington Public Library is a place where the community comes together to Connect, Learn and Imagine. Connecting through wellness, learning about healthy lifestyle choices and imaging a group effort to accomplish personal goals through a Library 5K Walk/Run seems like a terrific idea.

However, the plan still requires much planning. Fortunately, the players are dedicated library staff who wish to invest their own personal time, experience and efforts to promote wellness and health literacy in the area.

The Players:


Angie Pilkington in the…

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It’s Been a Long, Long Time


A random sadness kicked about my head a couple days ago about how odd it is to live with someone you miss. It happened slowly and suddenly. She forgot the days of the week, then the times of day and then names of friends and former coworkers.

She would confuse me with my Mother. However, we tend to excuse our sick, our elderly and especially our loved ones. I look so very much like my Mother. Her nickname was Sam when she was a child, long before she ever considered raising her very own Sam.

The past tense entered our conversations regarding her. Our speech always encomiastic as if we were giving the world’s longest eulogy.

The privilege of her experience was lost to me.

My most trusted confidant and advisor refuses to pick a dish from a menu, a pair of earring from her enviable collection, or who to vote for President.

I’m pretty certain she pretends to know me most of the time. I have gathered that greeting her with a smile and warm eye contact flips the switch to child-like trust.

Rather than accepting my answers…

Where are you going?”

“To make us tea.”

“Where are you going again?”

“To make us tea, then shower and work in about an hour.”

“Do you have to go to work today?”

“Yeah, but I still need a shower. I thought we might like some tea first?”

“You’ll want some tea. I’ll start the kettle.”

…she concurs my statements of identification, intentions, and routine. It’s a constant bluff I’ll never call.

Somewhere, I think, deep in her frail hippocampus, is a deposit of my brightest secrets and darkest dreams. We painted our lives for each other as we settled in for bed, washed the curtains, danced in the kitchen and caught butterflies in the garden.

Both of us grew up poor. We both spent hours alone in the private kingdom of our respective bedrooms. She would lie and listen to Hit Parade for hours, until my Great Grandmother slipped inside, turned off the radio and tucked her into bed. I would read and read and read until she would pull me downstairs for tea and an impromptu oral report of the worlds I had just uncovered.

She is a world gradually covered. One once expatiated but now difficult to traverse and impossible to incorporate.

Several books and resources tackle what we call Alzheimer’s every year. Knowledge can take a touch of the confusion but rarely the sting from the execrable situation.

I am no longer surprised to come across information already retained from experience but find hope in the moments of connection and joy found in the accounts of others. They help me to remember the privilege to demonstrate love and concern without the supposition of it being understood or returned.

This morning, she was singing a song with her soft voice. I heard with the pride of a parent at a recital her completed refrain with all of the lyrics intact. I leaned and listened against the door frame as I typed some of the words into iTunes.


Kiss me once, then kiss me twice

Then kiss me once again.

It’s been a long, long time.

Haven’t felt like this, my dear

Since I can’t remember when.

It’s been a long, long time


You’ll never know how many dreams

I’ve dreamed about you.

Or just how empty they all seemed without you.

So kiss me once, then kiss me twice

Then kiss me once again.

It’s been a long, long time.


Ah, kiss me once, then kiss me twice

Then kiss me once again.

It’s been a long time.

Haven’t felt like this my dear

Since I can’t remember when

It’s been a long, long time.


You’ll never know how many dreams

I dreamed about you.

Or just how empty they all seemed without you.

So kiss me once then kiss me twice

Then kiss me once again.

It’s been a long, long time.

Long, long time.

Over our cup of tea, instead a feigning my interest in some article she would repeatedly read to me on a typical morning, we sang the song from my phone together until I knew all the words by heart.

She told me about her older brother sending her a radio when he was stationed at Pearl Harbor and recalled the names of other artists that “you just never hear anymore.” I held her hand and she shared rather than mimicked my smile.

As I headed out the door, she kissed me once and then kissed me twice. I kissed her once again on the forehead. It had been a long, long time.


Bing Crosby and the Les Paul Trio– “It’s Been a Long, Long Time”

Instagrams, Tumblrs and Vines, Oh My!

Just four or five years ago, I would send out postcards to remind teens of our monthly Teen Advisory Board meeting but today this method of communication would be completely foreign and unfruitful for my purposes.

Today, the library, like many other components of a community, is largely an intangible presence existing entirely as mobile communication. Today, I can save the postage and send out a Vine or Instagram to engage my teens up-to-the-hour of a library event. Today, I’m seeing many more new faces at my library events because of my digital presence as a librarian.

As Facebook and Twitter intersect with more instantaneous rivals, such as Snapchat, that offer more content options, such as Tumblr, it can be a fun challenge for librarians to keep up with the nomadic sprawl across various platforms of mobile teen connectivity.

We learn as we go, break new grounds, we talk with our teens and remember to never reinvent the wheel.

Here are my top three Vines, Instagrams and Tumblrs that worked as kick starters for my own YA librarianship in 2013:


1. Metropolitan Library in Oklahoma County describes their vine as “your inviting innovation link to the world,” and gives us insight into their teen programming, services and displays.

2. Sherri, a School Librarian in Indiana, shares her classroom’s entertaining highlights while they are learning together.

3. Justin Hoenke, Teen Librarian at the Chattanooga Public Library is eager to showcase his library’s amazing teen services including their terrific Makerspace.


1. If you are planning to showcase your YA department to a broader audience in the New Year while specifically connecting with teens, check out  the Brookline Teen Librarian for some terrific ideas.

2. To learn how to flawlessly drop memes, reference and programming reminders, I suggest clicking the library to the CMC Library Teen Zone tumblr.

3. Do your teens like to offer content to your library’s online presence? Do you like to initiative conversations with polls? See what the YA Space @ Rosenberg Library offers teens to give them a voice.


1. Bonniebethsbooks

Bonnie’s account is a good resource for book themed event ideas and instant reader’s advisory for popular YA lit.

2. Orangerful

If you are looking for some fun pop culture themed crafts and game ideas for your teens, check out Orangerful’s pics of their creative library programs.

3. MHicking

Look at inspiring pics during the prep, event and take down process to will help you brainstorm events, book talks and tasty treats.


Emily Sheketoff from the ALA Washington Office was a highlight of this year’s Iowa Library Association conference. Her knowledgeable, straight-from-the shoulder approach to the role of library as government agency and equalizer was just what Iowa’s librarians need.

Sheketoff doesn’t pass the buck on library advocacy. She lays it at the feet of the librarians. Emily states that we are responsible for informing, assisting and sponsoring life-long learning for Iowans. She reminds us this does not exclude the political process.

Half of our job consists of the very thing Congress in crying about right now: access and info tech facilitation. The headache that is the digital execution of the Affordable Healthcare Plan is what we call a regular day.

Explaining information, helping folks fill forms and create email accounts for information access, as well as instruction on navigation, language and searching are activities librarians do every minute of the work day. This half of our job will never be appreciated in it fullest influence, but we rock at it and it is essential to democracy. Case in point,

Let’s not forget customer service, reader’s advisory, job searching, life-long learning, local history, ancestry and reference, ad infinitum either…

The other half our job is making services available to those who depend on us. This doesn’t mean more money or lack of stupid legislation, but rather having a governing body that won’t stop permitting services to those that need them.

Quick, let’s define what an American governing body is: of the people, by the people, for the people… This means Johnny and Jane Voter are the lynchpins of our great political enterprise.

For librarians, this means educating people who depend on our institutions. The most influential voice is the voice of the people. At best, we are all considered crazy cat ladies (librarian boys too!) begging for more dusty books by our Congressional Reps. We are a nagging voice distracting from the real issues.

At best we are considered at all…

Professional voices from the library field are not enough. Storytime parents, board members, job seekers, library users of public computers, databases, local collections, meeting room spaces, music, video and reference are needed for our leaders to see the issues.

Librarians are obliged to assist this process, not only in the name of self-preservation but because no less should be expected by their tax base. Even if you don’t use your library, you live in a town of students, voters, and employers that do…libraries leave their mark on all aspects of civic interaction.

Iowa is unique because we are the first in Presidential sweepstakes. We always have our own game going in civil rights, marriage equality, and protection of our Amendments and are typically first in the nation. A nation which is still quite influential around the globe.

Iowa librarians need to share our importance and what we need for our citizens. We need to communicate with our users and legislators and we need to communicate with them all the time. Librarians have the right and the responsibility to talk about what is happening in their community. (In my example, we are the 19th largest city in the state, but have the 13th largest checkout rate. We clearly need a library which has advocates from state and local government.)

We are obliged to ask for what is needed for the people of your community. So let’s drop some information on our library users.

Iowa Senator Tom Harkin strongly supports education and health. He is a chairman on several committees that could influence a national library culture. If anyone could lead the way, surely it would be Iowa’s Tom Harkin.

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley holds the record for the longest streak of not missing a vote in the United States Senate. Senator Grassley is a legislative leader with senior positions on key Senate committees including the Budget and Finance.

He has the experience and the Iowan know-how to see the financial benefits of libraries to communities during the good times and the hard. (In my example, we conducted a study that showed our library’s 572% return on investment which is quite the accomplishment for any government institution.)

U.S. Congressman, Dave Loebsack, endorses education, health and a reduction to the barriers of learning. I would share a brief history of our amazing High School wrestling team and remind him how a public/school library eliminates many socio-economic obstacles presence in education. I would tell him what we need from him to continue to raise our graduation and retention rates in my area.

Give your library users a cheat sheet:

*Learn about your legislators and relate to them on a personal level to support your interests and needs as a citizen.

*Subscribe to your District Dispatch

*When you can, personally visit your Reps. (It’s one of the greatest things citizens can do to forward the process.)

*Talk to libraries about lobby days for your needs, we’ll hook you up where we can.

*Always be respectful and appreciative but don’t get stuck with an intern. (Citizens are not check marks on a chart. You are valuable, your library is vital, and your community is important enough to have conversations and build relationships about them.)

*Know your community stats and refer to the actual number of specific bills. (Need help with community stats? I think your friendly librarian could help you out.)

*Share the local impact of the Legislator’s decisions to them.

*Email your legislators on a regular basis and invite them to your library.

*Iowa Nice! Be brief, grateful for time, informative and courteous, be flexible and adaptable. Like librarians, Congress members are busy, their work is taken for granted and much of it is completed seamlessly behind the scenes.

*Enlist the community voices of your friends, neighbors and civic groups.

We live in a day where saying you love the library and your librarian sounds like bullshit. If you love your library, adequately fund it. If you love your librarian, allow them to work outside the constant fear of layoffs. Librarians, this goes for you too!

Be active. Tell your story. Library advocacy may be your greatest crusade as it impacts many more people than can be easily quantified.

Remember, librarians are first responders for people that need an education. They are first responders to every citizen in their service community at any given moment. (It’s true, we suggest books at the doctor’s office and give reference assistance in the grocery line. We love learning and our community, and have become  24/7 proponents of information access.)

However, we cannot be prepared as a nation by permitting information tech and literacy to take a back seat. Now that we know how government works, let us teach them how libraries work.

Walking On Glass: A Note to My Coworkers

As an easily intimidated and shy child, I found the library monolithic. My mother would guide me through each visit with words of encouragement and the occasional drag of my arm. My first memory of my library is the milky glass floors in the adult stacks. Walking on the glass was my most dreaded experience of our family trips. The combination of fears from walking on glass made it one of the most hated elements for many users of our old library.

The belief that glass would support your weight on the second story of adult fiction took a tremendous leap of faith for those perpetually nervous like myself. The opaque quality of the glass made walking on glass akin to waking a plank blindfolded. The unknown beneath your feet made each step that much more fragile. Walking on glass pretty much kept me out of the library from ages 9-22.

I didn’t utilize my library. It held no appeal to me: glass floors, one tiny shelf of teen books and magazines, no programming for demographic and interests, no internet.  Because I didn’t use it, I didn’t value or really perceive it’s benefits to other people in my community. In fact, I cared little about my community. I homeschooled, buried myself into my personal (and frankly quite impressive) library and couldn’t wait to attend college to find my true community. The home I was always intended to live.

I voted against the new library, more than once. I glared at supporters along Roosevelt Avenue and their ridiculous signs for more room and resources. I even wrote a persuasive paper in Comp II on why we didn’t need a fancy new library or expanded services. No one went to the library anyway way was my paltry thesis statement.

Although I aced the class, I was clearly wrong. The library found major supporters to build and grow. By the time I needed to fulfill a service to community requirement to graduate, the library was a busy bastion on services accepting students from my college every semester. I shamelessly applied to volunteer.

I was quite relieved to find zero glass floors upon my initial observations of the new library. I was mildly surprised that I didn’t have to whisper. I was met with smiles and eye contact and given a full tour. I was lulled into a tentative sense of security and had a quiet start into volunteering. I even signed up for a new card (free books, magazines, database access, films and music is just too much for a poor college kid to pass up.)

Then the first day of summer reading happened. Hundreds of children and caregivers flooded into what was slowly developing in my head as my library. Mothers weren’t dragging kids into the library. They all seemed to love to see their librarians, attend fantastic programs and demonstrate how much they could read each week .

I talked to more people in those three months than I had previously in my entire lifetime before volunteering. I connected to all ages, walks of life, culture and race, and socio-economic backgrounds. The librarians and library users were very patient with me as I came to learn that: yes, we have a teen space and an advisory program, yes we help people find jobs, yes we do tech support, yes we can guide you in reference and yes we offer fantastic reader’s advisory.

Through the library, I saw my community for the first time. I fell in love. I applied for a shelver job and was fortunate to find myself in the position of Public Services Manager five or so years later. I attended library school and followed a new dream to make this community the home in which I was always intended to live. On my graduation day, I donned my cap and gown before I started my four hour trip into the heart of Illinois and stopped to take a photo in front of the library that represented all the support I received to the academic goal line.

In graduate school, we were taught that library and information technology work must be its own reward. Libraries are consistently underrated and in crisis. If you can’t take the pressure of constantly learning new information, applying new methods, adapting to new needs and social structures and facing massive cuts, then (as Miss Debbie would say during a storytime) out the door, dinosaur.

It has been my honor to be among you. To walk with library users through living wills, mouse skills, family history, family planning, applying for school, nailing the job interview, the grieving process that comes with the death of a loved one, buying a car, mortgaging a house, financing college, ruining a recipe and trying it again, the job search, the book search, discovering new music, discovering faith, discovering science and so much more.

I brag about my job, because I may never be a parent, but I still can give a guiding hand across whatever glass floors folks are walking across. Today, working at my library is like walking on milky glass. Some days it feels like broken, sharp glass in insensible shoes. I can’t see where we are going very clearly and I wonder at how the situation can support me during this trying time. However, because of my library, my community that connects, learns and imagines with me every day and some terrific coworkers, I’m no longer frightened. We’ll walk these book stacks together, one careful step at a time.   



Why Adult Library Services Matter… A Brief Harangue

My rant breaks down to two words: exposure hypothesis.

Many schools of thought suggest that exposure to library programming and services and the practice of literate activities (e.g. listening, reading, speaking, watching, writing) promotes skills in those activities in much the same way that athletes hone their competitive skills through repetitive practice and access to training and equipment.

So, library users who read, watch and participate in a wide variety of media and activities will demonstrate higher levels of reading, comprehension and social skills than those who have limited literacy contact.

To put it in a homespun Iowan way: If we build it they will come and if they come they will grow better.

Adult library services do make a community greater. According to Gregory Currie, a professor of philosophy at the University of Nottingham, compelling evidence shows that adults are morally and socially better for reading.

Reading gives adults a stronger ability to understand others as well as empathize and comprehend various world perspectives. A 2009 study at the University of Toronto reported higher levels of cognitive philosophy in adults that read books for life-long learning or even pleasure.

We continue to learn or to remember that our world is a sea of people. When we touch a book, or an idea, or a face, to some measure, we actually touch our own existence. Literate activities and programs are safe and productive ways to create bonds with our wider community and to gain better understanding of each other. Both are cost effective and available to all at the local library.

Reading for pleasure gives adults time to enrich their lives with reflection, analysis, and exploration of their own memories and opinions. Adults may not be as imaginative as children, but reading gives them the opportunity to commune with authors; engaging in a deep conversation of rumination and connection. This process is expanded during book discussion groups, educational programming and intriguing events at the library.

Sadly, much of the time we build it and they don’t come. We build libraries but adults don’t grow better. In part, our consumer culture reminds us that the library is a great location for economic entertainment and enrichment for our children, but by the time we have a driver’s license we place value in things we pay to see.

Teen and Adult programming are difficult to justify in libraries because while we all know the importance of early literacy, the significance of young adult and adult literacy is less axiomatic.

Some of the most obvious benefits of adult literacy are: the development of natural abilities, improved knowledge, increase in adaptability to change, self-fulfillment, and keeping our brains consistently engaged so our neurons continue to fire across our synapses to prevent intellectual atrophy.

Adults are too large of a group for libraries to forget. In Iowa, a state populated by 3 million people more than 2 million residents are older than 50. (13.5 percent of all Americans are categorized as senior citizens.) With retirement confidence in a 23-year low, communities can’t afford to let libraries drop services such as job searching, resume help and interview prep from their regular programming.

Primary services that teach basic computer skills will always be necessary at the library to adults while some library users can define the digital divide as the rapid release schedule of Internet browsers. Adults still want the library’s help and at the end of the day when Firefox updates or a new recipe is to be tried and adults are the library user group that get to vote on how much libraries can do for their community.

By 2015, citizen ages 18-29 will constitute one-third of the electorate. This means that the ever-censured group of loud, intimidating hormones aggregated in the teen space will ultimately decide if your kids have a Storytime in about four years. Perhaps this gives us incentive to offer programming or at least a Teen Advisory Board.

It’s interesting to note that 35% of youth who didn’t attend college voted vs. 66% of youth who did in the 2012 Presidential election. Libraries can play an important role in the creation of an educated electorate.

For a minute, could we please remember that like free public education, free as a term in a public library, translates as equitable; education and culture via our shared literary heritage funded by the people for the people.

An adult library program or service may superficially seem like an additional perk in an atmosphere that already promotes free access, free assistance, free information, etc. However, each event promotes the life-long learning commitment of the library’s community, showcases the public library in an attractive light for adults (voters) and is appropriateness to a significant faction of our culture.

Feeling Better… Planning for Comic Books Day 2013

Feeling better. Last treatment was Monday…

Getting ready for the library’s third Comic Books Day on September 2013.

Mallorie planning events with some help. 


*John Ira Thomas
John Ira Thomas writes books for Candle Light Press. He also puts things on
the internet, as putting them in the hollow oak hasn’t worked so well. John
resides in Iowa City, Iowa, and is the author of many graphic novels including
the Zoo Force Series, Lost in the Wash, and Man is Vox, which has been
described as the “one of the strangest graphic novels ever.”

*Ryan Schrodt
Ryan Schrodt is a freelance comic book writer and creator of Matinee
Electica, MAKEbelieve, and Shakespeare Shaken. He is a regular at ICon and
successfully launched a KickStarter campaign to put his hilarious comic in
mass print in 2012. Ryan recently co-authored Youngblood #78 with Rob Liefe
for Imange Comics. Check out Schrodt’s weekly webcomic Dear Dinosaur every
Thursday at

*Zombie Squad
Zombie Squad’s mission is to educate the public about the importance of
personal preparedness and self reliance, to increase its readiness to respond
to a number of disasters such as Earthquakes, Floods or Zombie Outbreaks.

Zombie Squad provides training to endangered communities through a bureau of
trained, motivated, skilled zombie extermination professionals and zombie
survival consultants. When the apocalypse comes, and the revivified corpses of
your neighbors are tearing down the walls of your home, you’ll be comfortable
in the knowledge that you’ve been trained by the best. You’ll survive, because
we’ve taught you how.

*Sharean Morishita
Sharean Morishita is a stay-at-home Mother of three and graphic artist in the
state of Iowa. Sherean gained much graphic experience for
but decided to venture out on her own to create her fantastic manga series
Bottled Prince and Love! Love! Fighting! which are hosted on her site,

*Austin Allen Hamblin
Austin Allen Hamblin is an aspiring comic book writer from Iowa. He enjoys
penning horror, but writes any and all things comics because he loves them.
Austin’s work will be seen in the near future from Evil Moose press, Pilot
Comics, and SinnerSaintComX. He also writes as the head of the Comics section


 Adding speakers, booths, events and crafts. 



 Also in talks with Batman and the 501st Legion. Too exciting! Already getting good feedback and volunteers. Super sweet!





C2E2 – Chicago Trip!

I’m really looking forward to seeing some library and comic book peeps at C2E2 next week. Two of my best friends are going with me and have planned out a fantastic time in Chicago. 

The mobile app to plan your con is terrific. Mallorie, my coworker, is like me in that she really like to plan out what we see so it’s been nice to schedule panels on my phone.


I did take the time to investigate and rank every booth that I will need to see this year:

My spreadsheet is color coded. Purple is “professional interest.” “Green is must see!” Red is “interesting.” Yellow is “mildly interesting.” I have included websites when available and exactly what I hope to learn/discover/purchase at each booth. Yep, a little too much time on my hands.

Mallorie wants to check out the Brookfield Zoo while we are in town. There are three things  about the Brookfield Zoo that are just awesome to me:

1. The Dinosaurs Alive Exhibit 

This wooded trailed allows you to walk through live sized exhibits of dinosaurs, observe fossils, and enjoy a Dino Dig. Too darn cool if I may say so. Just thinking about it has be giddy…which is diggy spelled backwards. :P

2. The Connection to Wildlife and Nature 

The Brookfield Zoo has been around 1934. The Chicago Brookfield Zoo Society has had an international reputation for taking a cutting-edge role in animal care and conservation of the natural world. If you ever have a chance to see this zoo, it is truly a treasure of the Midwest.

3. Mold O Rama + Smashes Pennies! 

I am part of the market subset that collects smashed pennies from every vacation. The Brookfield Zoo has a list of all the Penny Smasher in the entire zoo. I have been collecting quarters and shiny pennies like a fiend! 

But, for the first time, I will see a Mold O Rama and plan to pick up all molds. You throw in your change and then select which animal mold/toy you want and then watch it made before your eyes. It’s like an abbreviated episode of “How It Works” with a prize at the end. If you don’t know about Mold O Rama machines (which became pretty popular at the 1964 World’s Fair) please check this link out:





My other friend wants to see Medieval Times which is always a treat. I heard that they will have a booth at C2E2 too! It’s always good to have a legitimate excuse to smash my mug on the ground and declare “More Mead!” in public. 


 Well, this was really just a distraction. I better go write my bio and send it off. I’m looking forward to speaking at C2E2 on Friday with some excellent people about the love a graphic storytelling and how to create a mini-con at your library.