Buckets, Branding, and Bandwidth
I have had some time to think about this whole arena of programs and how to group them and how to be sure that we not only include everything that is cogent but how do we naturally invite (attract) the new, new things as a regular function of how we put together conference in its three iterations. Transforming libraries is a natural active designation (almost a stance in preparation for growth and change, so the categories under it become a sort of laundry list of everything we do and hope to do including concerns, services, endeavors, values, environments, and the list just grows from there. That to me is a good thing. It is more fluid and yet provides the opportunity also for in depth consideration and developing expertise and quality measures.
As we look for ways to develop and open the stream for ideas about possible developments, speakers, innovations, social and technological developments, we need to be sure that we know and promote our "Brand"- the ALA Conference- what's in it and who is it for. This may seem to be an obvious and already answered question, but I was quite surprised about the demographics of conference attendees, and I think more and more we can know our audience ever better and not just market the final product but the process and possibilities for collaboration and energizing initiatives and even things that we have done for a long time but can do in new and exciting ways.
The Bandwidth reference above isn't really about bandwidth itself but instead about building the very wide two-way mechanism that will perpetuate real exchange and trading of ideas about what should be in the constantly morphing conference container. It seems we should be able to coordinate with chapters in more seamless way to actually start a program at a couple of chapter meetings and then continue and grow it at a midwinter and then, and then. There could be some methods/simple procedures to bring together interested parties so that we see both division and chapters becoming co-conspirators for innovation and success rather than guardians of a particular program or idea. I know that Mary does alot of surfing the intellectual and practical landscape looking for developments in information design, delivery, and marketing as well as how libraries are integrating into operational models in communities and institutions. While she does a remarkable job, we need to have a way to funnel a broad spectrum of ideas into the mix so we can seize what is new, enticing, and relevant to our "transformations." I just heard on the way back to work tonight, Terry Gross interviewing Charles Duhigg about his new book "The Power of Habit" which is a scientific look about why we do what we do. An interesting side note was how Target gathers countless info about their shoppers to the point that they sometimes know their customers better than their families know them. Libraries aren't going to get into the business of collecting info about people, but we certainly need to develop relationships with our users so we can understand who they are and how and why they use libraries in the varied ways that we know they do.
I would really love to hear from other committee members about what you think might work to energize and organize/structure our process so that the greater library community would find it easy and important to participate in ALA's conference ecosystem (What would really make it happen!) and also how do we make the point about how the connection will benefit what they do and what all of us need to keep doing.