Books2Eat entries from University of Latvia

Posted by jlubans on March 31, 2011  •  Leave comment (0)

PHOTOS on Facebook, April 1, 2011.

20110331-nenesim robs.jpgKeep an eye on this space for my class' B2E projects, tomorrow, April 1.
Four Latvian children's books will be celebrated gustatorially akin to other bibliophilic celebrations around the globe.
Perhaps a first for Latvia.
Here's the text of the assignment:

"Besides the creation of the baked and decorated item, the team will select the title, describe the chosen book or folk song – with a full English description of book/song and author – gather ideas from previous entries displayed on the Books2Eat website, design the cake or cookie, test the ingredients –– and, prepare the product. And, on April 1, present the entry at our class and post pictures to my blog and the Books2Eat website:

Each Books2Eat entry must be based on a Baltic/Latvian children’s book or folk song that displays one or more of these qualities:

Cleverness in overcoming adversity.
Leadership by a least likely follower.
The Golden Rule applied.
Collaboration, working with others to succeed.
Speaking up when others are too afraid to say anything.
Using resources wisely.
Living within one’s means.
An illustration from the children's classic tale, Velnini, of two little devils and a team selection for B2E.

Dowagiac Hearts Leading from the Middle

Posted by jlubans on March 29, 2011  •  Leave comment (1)

The Dowagiac News (MIchigan) featured a story about the new director of the Dowagiac District Library, Katherine Johnson. Ms. Johnson’s recent lunch talk to the Rotary club at the Elks Lodge 889, in Michigan, included this quote about what she has been reading lately about leaderships:

“My two favorites are Rudy Giuliani’s book on leadership and ‘Leading from the Middle … a “really good book on leadership, and let me tell you why,” Johnson said. “There’s a restaurant (Tadisch’s) in San Francisco with excellent food and service beyond compare. It’s not fancy, but the ambience is comfortable and it’s a really wonderful establishment. (When the author of Leading from the Middle was there one night – (as described in the second chapter of the book) -, he asked the waiter to talk to the boss to tell him what a wonderful restaurant it was and the waiter said, ‘I’m the boss. …”

“Every person working in the restaurant, (stated Ms. Johnson) knows that to the public dealing with that person, he (or she) was the restaurant, just like in the library when you go to the desk, that clerk is the library. “

Leading from the Middle is giving employees that feeling that they have a stake “

Work Attitudes: Class Interpretations

Posted by jlubans on March 24, 2011  •  Leave comment (0)

To get my points across about work place attitudes, I used three children’s books for a talk to my class at the University of Latvia. As you know from my previous writing.* I am continually impressed with the students’ very good work in using children’s books to underscore learnings from lectures and readings, to engage in teamwork and to facilitate creative expression

There were four steps in my attitudes exercise- Big Attitudes in Little Books:

1. Read out loud to your group (as in story time!) the assigned book. (each team had three or four copies of the assigned title.)
2. Discuss: What attitudes are in this book? Where do these attitudes come from? What is the key learning, the main take away, the “So what?”, the “Now what?” from this book?
3. Create: a page of your key finding – use markers and flip chart paper.
4. Present your group’s drawing to all.

The books:

(PICTURE of book)
Mon. Saguette and His Baguette. by Frank Asch.
Mon. Saguette is making soup? Sacre bleu! What is soup without bread? Buys baguette. “Help”, cries a little girl, get my cat down from the tree. He does with the baguette serving as ladder. A crocodile is about to eat a baby! Baguette props open croc’s jaws. No baton to lead the parade? No problem... Ah, good soup as he eats the bread. And, then, wasting nothing, he feeds the crumbs to birds.
20110324-*mr. saugette.jpeg
Not only is Mon. Saguette resourceful, he remains cheerful and unflappable throughout. When faced with a challenge, humorously presented, he does not fall down and gnash his teeth in despair. Au contraire, he smiles and waves his baguette at the problem. Zoot! His is a mind set and attitude that creatively uses existing resources to meet new or unexpected needs.
20110324-baguetter med.jpeg
My Latvian students’ graph outdoes any to be found in MBA program readings. As you can see, the baguette, adorned with Mr. Saguette’s sunny-attitude achievements, points upward as his “Positiveness” and “Active-ness” come into play. Positiveness is defined as helpfulness, kindness and happiness. The more positive action, the better the attitude (as symbolized by the baguette), and the more influential that attitude becomes. Taking action to help others only enhances a positive attitude. By itself, we may feel kindly to our beaming self-image, but that feeling of bonhomie is wasted until we help others, until we share our positiveness.

20110324-terrific.JPGTerrific by Jon Agee.
Free vacation? Terrific (sarcasm)! I’ll probably get sunburn! The cruise ship sinks, leaving Eugene on an island. Terrific, I’ll be eaten by cannibals, he worries. Nobody there but a parrot. What good’s a parrot? asks glum Gene.
Through a series of adventures the two become friends.
20110324-*Terrific engaged!.smalljpeg.jpeg

20110324-terrific poster.jpeg

20110324-changes.JPGChanges, Changes by Pat Hutchins.
Two wooden dolls, a boy and a girl, with an assortment of wooden blocks.
They build a house, each doing his or her fair share. Fire erupts, an alarm. They refigure blocks to put out the fire, losing some, but not all. After several more challenges to their resourcefulness, the book concludes with a happy ending and a new home. Key point: Each cloud has its gold (silver) lining! A friend can help us see that more positive side of a disaster.
20110324-*changes, smallgolden lining.jpeg
The book is about being resourceful and inventive, theirs is a can-do, positive attitude. They do not stop and wait for rescue, they use what they have. Challenges are overcome by reconfiguring literally; both people survive, and appear the better for it.

*I owe much to Frances Yates for the concept of using children’s literature to teach management. My adaptation is based on her presentation at the 2010 ALA conference in Washington DC.

Third places and life lessons

Posted by jlubans on March 17, 2011  •  Leave comment (0)

As often happens with me, something of interest in one book triggers an insight in another. So it’s been while re-reading Ray Oldenburg’s, The Great Good Place, subtitled: Cafes, Coffee Shops, Community Centers, General Stores, Bars, Hangouts, and How They Get You through the Day. (New York: Paragon Books, 1989)

I was hoping to link for my management students in Latvia a brief chapter about the so-called “third place” (that one leg of a satisfactory life’s tripod: home, job, and “other place”, neither work nor home) to the role of the library in our social lives. Well, I am still looking for that link. Oldenburg himself does not see a library as a likely third place, a hangout, with our infrastructure of rules and regulations and our other lofty purposes.

But, in my meanderings, I was reminded of a local history book I’d purchased a few months ago in what might qualify as a great good place: Virlie's Grill. It sits right there on Main Street in little Pittsboro, North Carolina, not all that far from Chapel Hill.

Virlie’s Grill comes close to the kind of place Oldenburg laments is disappearing across the land. A place of yesterday where the regulars welcome each other with small talk, exaggeration, good humor and kindness. Where no one remains a stranger, as long as they adapt to the norms of the place and await an invitation to join in. Third places do not tolerate blowhards or the solitary or gregarious drunk. Third places encourage pleasantly passing one’s time; a releasing of pressure from troubles at work or at home among familiar and friendly faces. There’s an easy equality among those present and anyone inflating himself with the hot air of self importance soon feels a tiny pin prick - SHHHHHhhhhh - and comes down to earth a better person.

On my way out of Virlie’s, a book propped up at the checkout counter caught my eye: it was a book edited, illustrated and fussed and, maybe fumed over, at one of Virlie’s tables: Walk in ‘e Moon by LaVerne Thornton with illustrations by Perry Harrison. The counter man, (Virnie himself?) got me a new, autographed copy from out back.

Walk in ‘e Moon relates in brief stories – many charmingly illustrated - what LaVerne Thornton learned while a young boy growing up in a rural section between the North Caroline and Virginia state borders, The Bend, an isolated settlement of about thirty families on the Dan River. An impoverished area, it was rich with life lessons. One that sticks with me is about LaVerne’s riding in a cart loaded with tobacco leaves behind his father’s tractor. He and his Dad had spent the day picking tobacco leaves and were on their way to the tobacco barn.

LaVerne’s job was to keep an eye on the harvested leaves so they would not fall off. Well, several fell off along the way but LaVerne did not holler to stop or jump off to scoop them up, even though that was his job.

When his dad finally called LaVerne on his failure, LaVerne whined, “Daddy they ain’t worth picking up.”

LaVerne’s father stopped the tractor, turned it off, and asked him: “You tell me, how many leaves would have to fall off before they were worth picking up?”
If the fallen tobacco leaves were our ethical codes, how many must fall off before we pause and pick them up?

* on pages 164-165, “Idle Hands…”

Suggestion Answer Book Goes Digital

Posted by jlubans on March 10, 2011  •  Leave comment (0)

As readers of Leading from the Middle know, the book’s capstone chapter (#36) details the history of the Suggestion Answer Book as a handy mechanism for getting feedback from library users.

<br />
Insert image. I founded, wrote and edited Suggestion Answer Books - several thousand pages all told - at the University of Colorado, Boulder, the University of Houston–Downtown College and at Duke University’s Perkins Library.

After I left Duke, the SA Book continued, remaining a safe harbor for the beleaguered library user, a way to set us straight, a medium to communicate one person’s insights and concerns to the anonymous someone in the administration.

In my run as the Answer Person with hundred of my previous responses on display in a very public three ring binder, the user knew action would be taken to right wrong policies and procedures, or if no action were taken, the reader would be told why.

And, importantly, I deliberately edited my responses to be welcoming, and, as often as not, wry and whimsical. Humor added, it seems, the right touch to keep passing readers interested, amused and coming back for more.

That tone also assured the reader that no comment or question would be dismissed as “stupid” – a not unusual anxiety on a campus brimming at times with an intellectual hubris that could infect any full-of-himself librarian.

The recent retirement of the third-in-line mystery answer person prompted a front-page story in The Herald Sun (the hometown newspaper for Duke University) on February 15. An explanatory letter to the editor from my immediate successor (Answer Person #2) followed on February 19.

Today's blog suggests (pardon me!) that open user feedback systems are highly effective; they empower the reader, and help libraries maintain their high standard of service (or in modern terms, are invaluable in providing the best customer service we can deliver.)

While I think the loose leaf notebook in the library’s lobby offered something that the digital version can only attempt to approximate, an e-SA Book is still a positive way for those of us working in large libraries to hear from and communicate with the user, that all important client we seek to serve.