Author Archives: Rachel

Invoking the Chatham House Rule

We have been asked about how communication during and after the LTG Summit will be handled.

 

The LTG organizers and Advisory Group strongly feel that in order to have an honest and progressive discussion, we will invoke the Chatham House Rule for the Summit.

 

For participants who wish to blog about the event afterwards, here are guidelines regarding reporting on a event that uses the Chatham House Rule.

 

Tweeting, instagramming, snapchatting, or other forms of live social media self-reporting will NOT be allowed during the event.

 

The organizers will be providing a report out from the event immediately following the Summit that will be published on this website.

 

Thank you for your understanding.

 

Amy, Bonnie, & Rachel

On your mark…

Registration is finally open for the LTG summit. I don’t know about you, but I am really excited about this meeting, for a number of reasons.

It is always nice, the transition from planning to doing.  We have set the stage , and, thanks to Jennifer Vinopal’s literature review (see her blog post), provided a space for  foundational resources with a Zotero group.

Now is the time to queue up the conversation.

Ever since Bonnie, Amy and I started brainstorming about the Summit in the late Spring of 2013, I have had great one-on-one conversations with many folks about this meeting:  What are the goals? Don’t you think you are being a bit limiting/over-reaching? How does this meeting relate to (insert reference many of the other activities here)? What do you think about the ALA Code of Conduct conversation? Is this really an issue?  I have learned a lot from these conversations, about myself, my community, and my profession.

The biggest take-away for me is that now is the time to move this conversation from the fringes to the core and that the challenge is bigger than one person, one organization, or one interest group. There is so much to talk about – there is room for everyone.

It is important that work together and share the floor.

But we need to know how to have a conversation. Or maybe – we need to remember how to be civil and brush up on our listening skills.

We have to be willing to be challenged, confused and curious. We have to have courage to be honest and admit what we don’t know.

I just finished reading a little book by Margaret Wheatley – Turning to One Another: Simple conversations to restore hope to the future. In it she talks about the power of a simple conversation and “when we begin listening to each other, and when we talk about things that matter to us, the world begins to change” (p.13).

She notes that it is not easy to have a true conversation – as we have forgotten what it means to have a conversation, sitting in meetings where everyone agrees (or the opposite where shouting and aggressive behavior chill the room). “These experiences have left us feeling hesitant to speak and frightened of each other…but a good conversation is very different from those bad meetings. It is a much older and more reliable way for humans to think together”.(p.28)

Leadership is a key principle for the summit.

For me, leadership is not to be confused with “administration”, but more along the lines of: How do I lead from where I am, by example? What do I have within my realm of influence? When I see the opportunity to change the system, will I have the courage to make the choice for positive change?

Or simply put, what can I do? For now, it is working with my friends and colleagues to create a space for a fruitful conversation about gender, technology, its implications on the library profession, and identifying ways we can lead change and progress.

As Wheatley says, “[l]arge and successful change starts with conversations among friends, not those in power. Change begins from deep inside a system, when a few people notice something they will no longer tolerate.”(p.29)

So, let’s all take a collective deep breath and dive in.

Framing the Conversation

The LTG summit organizers and advisory committee have been hard at work figuring out how the first LTG Summit will materialize.

Needless to say, holding a meeting that focuses on the issues relating to technology and gender in libraries is a difficult one to plan. There are many paths to pursue, perspectives to consider and ways to actually run a meeting.

Because this is a complex topic that involves a range of stakeholders we have decided to go the unconference route and use Open Space Technology to organize the event.  (More about how the Summit will be organized can be found under the “How” tab.)

Open Space works best when the following conditions are present:

  • Complexity, in term of the tasks to be done or outcomes achieved;
  • Diversity, in terms of the people involved and/or needed to make any solution work;
  • Conflict, real or potential, meaning people really care about the central issue or purpose; and
  • Urgency, meaning that the time to act was “yesterday”.

(Owen, Harrison (2008). Open Space Technology: A User’s Guide (3rd ed.). Berrett-Koehler. ISBN 978-1-57675-476-4.)

Our topic definitely meets the criteria.

In fact, we might just meet the criteria a little too well. Because the conversation is complex and urgent, with so much potential of conflict, it makes planning the event sometimes difficult to maneuver.

A good example is our decision to use the Open Space Technology meeting format.  Some wished for a more traditionally-programmed format; others wanted to allow the conversation to be more organic and driven by the community.

The most interesting part of the planning came when we were tasked to come up with a problem statement. A key part of Open Space is bringing passionate players across multiple disciplines to address one specific question or theme.

Initially, we had created this statement:

“How do we expand the technology and leadership opportunities for women in Libraries?”

Although good, something was lacking. It needed a little more oomph.

So we began to tinker, edit, wordsmith, until will gave into the temptation to have the summit conversation as we edited the basic problem statement. You can see for yourself, and follow the threads of our discussion by going to our Google doc.

That is what happens when passionate people are involved; we tend to dive right in. But it kept us from committing to an initial statement. We needed to stop searching for an all encompassing statement, because there was always going to be a gap, a need for more, and a feeling that it wasn’t complete. It wasn’t going to be complete until we had the summit. We had to be okay that our problem statement wasn’t perfect.

As they say, perfect is the enemy of the good. What we created had to be good enough, for now. Because what we need now is a starting line, albeit a line drawn in shifting sand, but a place to begin.

Our LTG Summit problem statement, better yet, our challenge question, is now:

 “What can we do to combat gender inequality and sexism in library technology?”

Knowing that our problem statement challenge question does not reflect all the things we need to know, does not encompass the many paths and perspectives, and is not perfect, is okay.  Just knowing it is not definitive is an achievement unto itself.

It was hard to stop tweaking the language, but we decided to do just that, so that we could throw open the conversation beyond our small group. That is the point of the summit, really, to have a broader conversation.

In order to satisfy the need to keep tinkering, we decided to use the LTG summit blog to help foster awareness and understanding prior to the summit so we can make the most of our face-to-face time.

Each week one of the advisory committee members will share their work, perspectives, recommended readings, and address the challenge question.

We might not all agree on how to get there and that is fine. There is a lot of this problem space to explore and share.  But what we do agree on is that it is time to bring the conversation out into the daylight in a way that will move all of us forward.