on collaboration.

Despite an extremely truncated Annual (I needed to leave early to help an injured friend), my preconference presentation went well. The preconference itself was an all-day RUSA affair on the subject of Reinvented Reference, or new approaches to the challenge of structuring library public and information services in light of shrinking budgets and changing staffing paradigms. The morning section  featured four speakers, each of whom dealt with a different common problem area  in reference services – myself on collaboration, Lisa Ennis on working with IT, Bill Pardue on staffing models, and Brian Mathews on assessment strategies. My co-presenters were excellent. Slides from my portion of the talk:

(Note: that’s my Texan mother in the tiara, gown, and curious jailbreak cheerleader outfit, obviously, and I’m happy to say that she was extremely enthused to inspire a manners lesson for librarians.)

From the broadest possible perspective on my talk, the point I was trying to make was that successful collaboration is all about good communication, and also that it is totally contextual and an integral part of the nature of the public services environment. That said, if collaborative opportunities are identified as such and approached as a series of nested relationships that require a working infrastructure better facilitated by platforms such as KnowledgebasePublisher or Google Docs, etc.,  they can result in more successful, longer-term partnerships that can develop organically over time. I also made the point that in dire financial times wherein capital improvements such as constructing information commons may not be an option, it is a good idea to look outward and seek opportunities to contribute to existing help/information services within the campus or community you serve, such as jumping on an IT ticketing system or course management system help platform, or attending committee meetings and providing on-the-fly information/research help (that last one from Bill Pardue).

3 thoughts on “on collaboration.

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  1. Great slides. (And great friend, though I missed connecting in Chicago.) As I came home to an absolute cracked-up disaster of an attempt at collaboration, I was reminded that it’s also best to move carefully when reaching outside the department, and make sure you have the necessary internal support before looking outward. I’d be interested in your take on collaborative failures. I’ve seen/read some of your other totally liberating embracings of failure, and am/have been encouraged by your articulation of the ways that creatively falling on our (tech) faces is a natural by-product of innovating new services/practices/etc. It feels at least today like failing at collaboration has much bigger stakes. My question in a nutshell is, Will the English faculty ever work with us again? How do we build in trust over time so that projects can fall through and nobody looks so foolish that they take their balls and go home for good?

  2. ah, failure. my guess is it’s not as bad as you think, but being too hard on onesself is an aspect of collaboration i personally know well. your comment on internal support is key – a misdirected, poorly communicated, or even super successful external move can be interpreted as circumventing or toe-stepping in the worst circumstances, never a good thing. re: chicago, the missed connection was indeed a disappointment. internet librarian?

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