Friday, June 11, 2010

Collaboration at CLA

Wherever I look these days, the topic of collaboration seems to be one of the hottest things in library land. From June 2 to 5, I attended the Canadian Library Conference in Edmonton with a few of my Chinook Arch colleagues. While we talk about the importance of collaboration within our own library system, it was wonderfully refreshing and inspiring to hear about how other librarians are encouraging the practice of and actively engaging in collaborative efforts in their own libraries.

At a session by Edmonton Public Library, entitled “One Library, One Staff,” the presenters identified a strong link between collaboration and organizational culture. They espoused that businesses that foster supportive and enabling organizational cultures urge their employees to “collaborate obsessively.” However, they specified that in order for collaboration to succeed, it must be based on solid communication and relationships and should only be used for things that matter. The librarians from EPL also said that when they were discussing collaboration with their staff, they asked them to think about whether they were a collaborator or a contaminator. Collaboration can be a fantastic endeavor but only if those involved are willing to participate and are open to new possibilities and approaches.

In another session, “Library Catalogues as Social Spaces,” two librarians from Halifax Public Library and Dalhousie University spoke about their study of statistics from interactive library catalogues that will include libraries across the country. By blending their academic and public library backgrounds and using data from Edmonton Public Library and Halifax Public Library, along with any others who volunteered, they are hoping to conduct a rich and comprehensive study about how social networking features in catalogues are being used. As there is no current information on this subject, their work was incredibly interesting to me and their approach seemed a perfect example of fruitful collaboration in action.

Currently, Chinook Arch’s most recent draft of the new Plan of Service includes specific wording about collaboration. It asserts the need to support “new partnerships and collaborative opportunities” and provide opportunities to foster collaboration on an annual basis. As you can see, the notion of collaboration hits home in many ways.

As more libraries share buildings with recreation centres and more programs engage community members and groups, the future seems to be brimming with possibilities for collaboration. So ask yourself, is there someone you could be collaborating with right now?

No comments:

Post a Comment