How many conferences or workshops have you been to where your best takeaway was the connection you made with someone you sat next to, or conversation at an impromptu lunch? Of those times, how many of those sparks turned into something you worked on to make your library better?
The idea of the unconference is to take those experiences and make them the point. So how do we make that happen? At its core, an unconference is a participant-driven meeting formed around a general topic or principle. It is intentionally unstructured, with the agenda being created by the participants, in the moment. The concept is gaining popularity in the library conference world, so maybe you’ve already participated in one. But just so we’re all on the same page, let’s review the basic elements of an unconference.
CLU’s organizing principle is to generate and share ideas for making our libraries and our communities better. We find that pretty compelling, and we’re pleased so many of you do too.
We asked you–all the best people in Chicagoland libraries–to join us. We can’t wait to see you!
Support of Influencers and Innovators
We knew you all would have amazing ideas to bring to the day, but we also wanted to bring in some unique inspiration from outside the library community. We have two excellent keynote speakers–Becca Martin, EveryBlock Community Manager, and Nick DiSabato, an intrepid product designer and publisher.
We’re also fortunate to have John Chrastka on board, lending his expertise to facilitating the breakout session agenda creation. And they’re all doing it for free lunch, the thrill of being lauded by all 80 of us, plus free hugs if they want them.
We have plenty of space, a great platform for registration and tracking information, and all-important fuel for the day (coffee, bagels & Jimmy John’s).
We’ve kicked off the conversation in a major way, thanks in no small part to all of you who have engaged with us on Twitter and Facebook, posted and/or voted on an idea in the Panel Picker, or submitted a guest blog post hyping your topic idea.
You have until May 25 to participate in the Panel Picker–get your ideas in and voted on before then! It won’t be your only chance, though–you’ll have another opportunity to pitch your ideas on the day of the event, in our live agenda creation process.
All that and we haven’t even gotten there yet! It all happens on May 31. John is going to facilitate the creation of the agenda for four breakout sessions–two in the morning, two in the afternoon–with twenty discussion topics in total. We’ll incorporate the top ten vote-getters from the Panel Picker, and go through a process of pitching and selecting ten additional topics to discuss. Then we get to it. We’ll have tables set up for discussing each topic–and we’ll be documenting it all as we go along. The tables will be stocked with large paper and small notepads for capturing ideas, a photographer will visually document the day, and as good techie librarians, we’ll keep up the social media backchannel. At the end of the day, we’ll have time for everyone to get together and share highlights and patterns from what happened in the discussions, and we’ll lay the foundation for continuing the conversations we started.
Since the most important parts of this day will be driven by YOU, how can you get the most out of it?
(Many ideas heavily borrowed from this excellent post.)
Have you proposed a topic on our panel picker? Do you have something in mind to pitch during our agenda creation process? Do you have an idea or two that you’re not sure you want to propose? Be bold–gather your thoughts and be ready to help shape a discussion about what matters to you and your community.
Our discussions need leaders–if your topic is chosen for discussion, be ready to at least kick it off–pose a question, present your idea, shepherd the conversation. See where it goes from there.
You’ll be in the company of leaders, innovators, creatives, and professional curiosity specialists. Go with the flow, follow your passion, and take responsibility for your own learning.
Our discussions need scribes–volunteer to take notes. Contribute to the social media backchannel. Blog about it when you get home.
Finally, don’t be shy–introduce yourself to your neighbor, ask questions, and settle in. See you next week!