Archive for the ‘Partners’ Category

I am writing this from the University of Houston Downtown’s Center for Public Deliberation training for new moderators. For the past two months, I have been working with Windy Lawrence and Tom Workman, the co-directors of this new endeavor. We are finally doing our first training session for moderators in Houston. We have 25 participants with a significant representation from the Houston Public Library. We are also joined by a representative from the Clinton and Bush Presidential Libraries.

We just introduced the participants to the cast of characters involved in public deliberation and the work we will be doing with Texas Forums and UHD Center for Public Deliberation. We also introduced them to the key areas that the partners will work on independently and in collaboration.

Texas Forums and the University of Houston Downtown will collaborate and work on the following key areas:

  • Research and Development
  • Training and Professional Development
  • Support Local Initiatives by Building Capacity
  • Develop and Support Statewide Issues
  • Communication and Public Information

We invited the participants asked questions about the partners, but they immediately jumped into offering ideas about who else should be involved. Very exciting energy!!!!

Can’t wait to post more, but it’s time for me to lead my session on Everyday Deliberation.

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[cross posted from http://www.austin-pacific.com/2007/05/managing-organizational-change-in.html

I am attending a conference called LOEX. This is a group of library instructors and the theme “Uncharted Waters: Tapping the Depths of Our Community to Enhance Learning” was perfectly aligned with my interests in libraries and community engagement.

The 11:15 – 12:15 time slot on the LOEX Conference Schedule in San Diego posed a real challenge for me. First, it is tough to be inside for a workshop at a beachside resort.

Second, there were two excellent presentations that both apply to my interest area and research.

  • The Role of the Library in Achieving Co-Curricular Activites in Civic Engagement on College Campuses, and
  • Sailing off the Map: Managing Organizational Change in the Library

I teach Change Management for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, but I’m also researching civic engagement of libraries. Fortunately, they were both on board the William D. Evans Sternwheeler so I could bounce between the two and my colleague, Ann Bishop attended the civic engagement workshop. I introduced myself to Mary Reddick, CSU Sacramento and Susan Metcalf, University of S. Indiana who invited me to join them at the end of their presentation and collect e-mail addresses and introduce myself to their attendees.

So off to learn about Organizational Change from Wendy Holliday, University of Southern Utah and Kristen Bullard, University of Tennessee at Knoxville.

Wendy and Kristen used a conflicting values assessment tool to evaluate the organizational cultures at UTK and USU. This Organizational Culture Assessment Instrument (free!) was developed by Kim S. Cameron and Robert E. Quinn in Diagnosing and Changing Organizational Culture. Through a series of questions, the tool measures organizations according to four quadrants or dominant characteristics with each quadrant given a numeric ranking for a total of 100 points:

  • Clan Culture: very friendly place like an extended family where teamwork, participation and consensus are the dominant modes of decision-making.
  • Adhocracy Cuture: places an emphasis on entrepreneurship and creativity. People are encouraged to stick their necks out and take risks. The organization encourages individual initiative and freedom.
  • Market Culture: the focus is on results and getting the job done. Leaders are drivers, tough and demanding. The organizational style is hard-driving competitiveness.
  • Hierarchy Culture: formal and structured, this culture emphasizes procedures and managers are good organizers who focus on efficiency.

They asked members of each organization to respond to the questions two times – first assessing what is and secondly responding with what they would like for the organization to be. Not surprisingly, both organizations leaned heavily toward the clan or adhocracy culture and the primary difference between the current state and the preferred state was less hierarchy even when hierarchy ranked lower than either clan or adhocracy.

But the real value of the tool is not the picture of the current culture or even the preferred culture, but the conversation that takes place about what factors of each culture speak to their core values for the organization and what they reject from each cultural characteristic. For example, a discussion at the workshop revealed a bias against the Market Culture because of the competitive nature, and yet everyone valued the idea of getting the job done and focus on achieving goals. Although the description provided by the workshop leaders did not include “response to the market demands” I can imagine this is an element of the Market Culture and one that library instructors who are concerned about meeting the information needs of students would certainly support.

So the value is not in where the lines get drawn, but in the conversation about why the lines are drawn such…what elements fall within the box of acceptable behaviors within our culture and what elements fall outside of what we are willing to tolerate.

I can imagine that the skills a moderator uses in deliberative forums would be extremely useful in moderating a group reflection of this tool and its results. Essentially, the four quadrants represent four different ways of managing an organization and conducting business. They are each driven by a different set of values that take priority. No one method is the right answer. Elements of each are appealing, but too much of one over another may lead to unintended consequences. These are all criteria used by National Issues Forums in framing an issue for deliberation. Here are some generic questions we use to train deliberative forum moderators that could be useful in leading a discussion of this organizational culture tool:

  • Why does this particular approach appeal to you?
  • What might be the consequence of following this approach completely?
  • I know that you resist approach X, but what do you imagine is important to those who support it?
  • Can you make the best case for the approach you like the least?
  • What would it take to make this approach more palatable to you?

It would be interesting to use this tool and my experience in deliberation together! Perhaps I will find a way to integrate this tool into the course I teach at the University of Illinois Graduate LIbrary and Information Sciences program.

The presenters did an excellent job and I’m sorry I had to duck out early, but it was well worth it to connect with the civic engagement contingent on the top level of the William D. Evans Sternwheeler.

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Patty Dineen, an NIF colleague and fellow blogger on the deliberative-democracy.net blog recently posted a thought-provoking essay about how two recent NY Times articles led her to issue a charge to America’s Libraries. One article noted how procedural two-stepping (not Patty’s term, but I “Texified” it for my Austin readers) had stymied the Senate’s ability to even begin to deliberate the war in Iraq. The second article, Baghdad Day to Day: Librarian’s Journal, was about the posting of Saad Eskander, the director of Iraq’s National Library and Archive in Baghdad, on the British Library’s website. According to Dineen, “This is his summary—for the month of December—of the war’s toll on his staff: 4 assassinations, 2 kidnappings, 66 murders of staff members’ relatives, 58 death threats, and 51 displacements.” Hence her alarming title.

Well, as someone who works at the LBJ Presidential Library, a member of the National Archives and Records Administration, that second story also hit me hard. I pictured the people I work with and the images were disturbing. I’m sure my colleagues would keep working under unthinkable conditions. Many of them have been at the library since day 1. They are fiercely loyal to the institution, its mission, and heritage. They promote and protect President Johnson’s legacy, the library’s leadership, and the Johnson Family. But they are also deeply committed to the transparency that President Johnson adamantly insisted upon in his dedication speech. The LBJ Library is the only presidential library that does not charge an entry fee. With minimal training and certification, any member of the public can gain access to any document from the Johnson Presidency that has not been deemed classified for security purpooses. When I read Truman Library Could be a Model for Bush, an article that extolled the openness of the Truman Library, I was pretty proud to be associated with another presidential library that could also be a model of openness.)

Several years ago, I had an amazing three hour private tour of the National Library of Russia in St. Petersburg, the librarian showed me many things that obviously made her quite proud. But I heard a special sense of pride when she told me that the library had never closed even in the worst of times throughout Communism! I can imagine librarians in the U.S. fighting for the right to say that nothing ever caused them to close their doors! (Part of the culture of the profession?)

Here’s an excerpt from the book about the National Library that I brought home from St. Petersburg.

“In the eighteenth century the national libraries of the European states did not seek to serve readers; they were cut off from the hurly-burly of life beyond their walls. The national library of Russia, by contrast, was conceived and organized not only as a book repository, but also as a generally accessible library – and in this, according to Alexei Olenin, one of those most involved in its creation, lay its originality. It was founded “for the benefit of lovers of learning and enlightenment” and intended for “the social enlightenment of Russian subjects”. Its establishment undoubtedly marked the start of aa new chapter in the history of scholarship, culture and education in Russia.

The Public Library in St. Petersburg became in effect the second Russian university and almost all those who brought glory to Russian science or made immortal names for themselves in literature, art, and the humanities over the following century and more could be said to have been its graduates.”

So back to Patty’s blog and her charge to America’s Librarians.

  • In solidarity with the librarians of Iraq, and for the benefit of the American public, give people a way to gather and talk about what is happening in Iraq
  • Begin a nation-wide effort to use libraries as centers for serious, non-agenda driven conversation about Iraq and our role there (past, present, and future)
  • Put a process and materials in place for libraries to use
  • Train (online or in person) facilitators to help people use the process
  • Send out the word to media, the public, and yes, even the elected officials who by now might welcome somewhere to go to be able to listen to people who are willing to talk together about this problem

We (a wide variety of libraries) are making progress on Patty’s recommendations about “giving people a way to gather and talk”, but we have a long way to go toward beginning a “nation-wide” dialogue about anything. In the meantime, I pledge to work on the process and materials and the online training using our Virtual Room. You can see our coming events on the
Texas Forums home page and an archive of our library and civic engagement workshops at: http://www.opal-online.org/archivecivic.htm

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Perhaps because I am still considering the loss of Cole Campbell, a visionary civic journalist, Dean of the School of Journalism at the University of Nevada and an extraordinary human being…perhaps it is because earlier this week I spent six hours developing a citizen journalism program at my kitchen table with Marla Crockett, veteran public radio news director…

In any event, I was drawn to this article speculating the future of newspapers and television by Bob Daley (Kettering Foundation) in his weekly Friday Letter from Home. Over lunch, Bob and Idit Manosevitch, a Foundation “ABD – all but dissertation” posed the question to an editorial writer for the Dayton Daily News, “What will newspapers and television look like in the next several years?” The following were his thoughts:

  • Everybody is going to be smaller.
  • Everybody is going to be way more local, if not totally local.
  • National and international news and opinion will either disappear or be so reduced in emphases that it won’t matter much.
  • Newspapers and local stations will start to become much better guides to the Internet than they are now.
  • Newspapers and local stations will continue to be — in print, on the air and online — the most trusted and most used sources of much local news.
  • And both will continue to be the providers of certain local advertising that won’t work well on the web — timely, full-color, newspaper — size display ads.
  • Newspapers will continue to be a remarkably cheaper alternative to the Post Office for delibery of certain stand-alone advertising products like coupons and circulars.
  • And, finally, local editorial writers and editors will continue to be a — if not the — most valuable source for political information, informed judgment, and relevant local opinion — but only if they stay ahead of the changes going on right now.
  • You will all be married to the Internet. You will all be bloggers. And you will also continue to provide information in print and through broadcasts.

“Even if you believe only half of what I’ve just said, you’re looking at an uncertain and changing future,” he continued.

SO…Do you agree? What are the implications for us as news consumers? What is the role of citizen journalists? What role do public forums have in this potential future?

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Sarah Long, American Library Association President (1999-2000) and North Suburban Library System Director recorded an interview with Joanne Griffin, Reference Librarian at the Des Plaines Public Library in Des Plaines, IL about their Building Community through Creative Communications grant. This Library Services and Technology grant funded Des Plains Library and other community organizations to conduct a Public Policy Institute to train moderators of deliberative forums. Along with their community partners, this library has been conducting National Issues Forums and other community conversations in the same vein. I was very impressed with the outreach that Des Plains did and the true collaboration they have formed with community organizations (i.e., they didn’t just put names of “partners” into their grant because that’s what the funder wanted!)

As ALA President, Sarah’s agenda was “Libraries Build Community.” That agenda was carried forward by Nancy Kranich (ALA President 2000-2001) whose agenda was “Libraries: Cornerstones of Democracy.” Another outstanding leader in the library field, Leslie Burger (current ALA President) continues this noble agenda with the theme, “Libraries Transform Communities.” On April 5, I’ll be hosting these three ALA Presidents online in the OPAL Auditorium from 4:30 – 6:30 Central Time for a President’s Panel on The Role of Libraries in Community (we really need a catchier title…any ideas????) Stay tuned to this blog for more details or subscribe to the Texas Forums newsletter.

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Voting Made Simple

Congratulations to our partners at the Literacy Coalition of Central Texas
on the successful publication of the
Voting Made Simple guide!


This non-partisan voter’s guide was developed with the help of Central Texas Adult Literacy Students. In eight tabloid-sized pages printed on high quality newsprint with soft purple accents, this elegant, but simply worded guide provides a statement of what the political parties in Texas believe (in their own words) brief job descriptions of the offices up for election (developed by adult literacy students), brief candidate statements for all statewide offices, and a list of additional resources in the five counties served by the Coalition.

It’s hip, it’s accessible, it’s non-partisan, and it’s a great resource for literacy students AND for the rest of us!

With support from the Michael and Alice Kuhn Foundation and the Austin American Statesman, the Literacy Coalition printed and distributed 40,000 copies in barber shops, beauty salons, restaurants, libraries, and laundromats. If you can’t find the real deal, download this smaller-sized version.
This Voting Made Simple Guide was modeled on the Easy Voter Guide produced in California since 1994. I know a little bit about this project because I was a co-founder along with Susan Clark when I was the Executive Director for a library-based literacy program in California. Susan had the vision and I had the organization and infrastructure. The California State Librarian provided the lion’s share of funding in the early days. This project continues with a distribution of almost 5 million throughout the entire state of California. I’ll say more in another posting, but check out the Easy Voter Guide web site in the meantime.

This is just the Literacy Coalition’s first foray into providing non-partisan election information in an easy-to-read format. Based on the enthusiastic response, it won’t be the last. Watch out for 2008! How about a stack of guides in all 540-something libraries in the state?!

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[Well, this isn’t quite a Texas Forums announcement, but I don’t have a personal blog so I’ll just stick it in here. I won’t even try to figure out the connection…]

The UPS man just delivered the long-delayed book “Public Library Internships: Advice from the Field” edited by Cindy Mediavilla.


In Chapter 14, “Literacy Internships: Take a Plunge into the Deep End,” I got the opportunity to brag about the importance of library literacy programs in helping library students develop high level skills comparable to those required of library directors. I also got to brag about some dynamic library interns who worked for me when I directed a library-based adult literacy program with services to jails, immigrants, and recovering substance abusers. It was great fun to go back and read quotes from and citations relating to my old library literacy pals in California and their innovative work.
In this chapter, I propose (and believe so even more strongly today) that literacy programs have always been on the cutting edge of the kind of role that public libraries are increasingly being called to do: fund-raising, community development, collaboration, education, innovation, accountability, social entrepreneurship, leadership, outreach, public relations, and highly customized services for hard to reach populations.I had many more praises to sing, but the editor had to rein me in. Hopefully, I still made the point that library students who really want to jump start their library career should be crawling over each other to get an internship with the local library literacy program! Literacy programs really are the best training ground for lots of different roles in public librarianship, particularly positions of leadership.
This is my fourth book chapter. If the chapters had ANYTHING in common, I could put them together and have a whole book to myself, but I’ve never had the attention span required to publish a full book. As long as my interests are so eclectic, I guess I’ll have to settle for chapters, not books! (or maybe blogs are an even better option for me.

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