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Storyhack VT

me warming up for acting/a lot of running

me warming up for acting/a lot of running

This weekend I spent 24 hours creating a story with some colleagues and friends for Vermont’s first Storyhack. What’s a Storyhack you ask? The local weekly Newspaper 7 Days describes it like this:

“The “hack” in the group’s name is a tip of the hat to the “hackathon,” a competitive event in which computer programmers are given a short window of time in which to collaboratively develop a software solution to a specific problem. In a storyhack, teams of storytellers collaborate to create original narratives, which are then entered into competition. StoryhackVT is Vermont’s first such event, and its focus is pointedly technological. The competing teams must concoct not just a story, but a story that must be told across no fewer than three different digital platforms.”

I stayed up late brainstorming, acting, writing, creating, singing, and tweaking various digital media with some very talented teammates. We also enlisted my exceedingly talented spouse Heidi for some acting as well. Even though we didn’t win we had a lot of fun and created a story that we are proud of. It’s a story about love, Canada, and redemption. You can watch it at http://kosmoplastique.com/ (that was our team name). Also the environment was created in Flash so it won’t work on mobile.

Enjoy the story!

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Puppies In The Library And Social Media


Photo by Stephen Mease

It all started with a tweet. At the start of the month a student made an off-hand comment on Twitter about renting puppies to deal with stress. Last week several of us were chatting at an event about finals coming up and I mentioned the idea of pet therapy for helping with stress. Gloria, one of our awesome circulation assistants is also a dog-sitter/walker,  and she was thrilled with the idea. She knew the perfect fun and relaxed dogs to bring (Thea and Pippin).

We floated the idea by our director Janet and she asked a lot of good questions about things like noise, safety and logistics. She also believes in the value of experimentation and trying new things, so together we devised a plan to have a puppy VIP room that kept people, dogs, and noise contained. We decided we would offer dog-therapy on Monday and Tuesday from 5-8:30 (we had to work around the dogs schedules).

Since it was a fairly last minute idea, I began promoting it with signs Friday and more importantly via social media. The posts on Twitter and Facebook began to get some buzz.

It was mentioned and retweeted a pretty good amount over the weekend. When it came time to host the puppies on Monday we got a few more people than we expected. In fact, we were swamped!

Our original idea of having the puppy VIP room in a good-sized office had to be replaced with a plan B of a large meeting room in the library. Once my office-mate Lindsey skillfully shuffled everyone upstairs, the event went swimmingly. Everyone had a smile on their face, and it was a completely calm and relaxed environment. A news crew even ended up covering the story!

There were plenty more tweets from students either asking about the dogs, posting pictures, talking about how Champlain is the best school ever, or posting our news video. I heard from multiple students either on social media or in person how awesome an event this was and how it actually helped during this stressful week.

This event is a great example of how social media can be leveraged by libraries and organizations. It’s a tool for listening to your community, responding to your users, promoting relevant services that meet their needs, telling stories, and demonstrating value.

How better to demonstrate value than having students tweet things like #bestschoolevermy college > than your college, or proud to be a Champlain alum.

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Award Reception And “Allies In Education”

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”Aristotle

Staff with ACRL award

We had our celebration for the ACRL Excellence in Academic Libraries Award on Monday. You can check out some of the pictures from the reception on Champlain College’s Facebook page. We got to celebrate with students, our student workers, the library staff, the faculty, the administration and even trustees. It was truly a community event which is exactly what library events should be.

Another really fun aspect of the party was a video that an alumni of our digital film-making program produced for us. It highlighted the importance of the award and some of the things that make our library great. But my favorite part of the video is at the end when my good friend Steve Wehmeyer, a professor in our Core Division, is talking about the work that librarians do. He says, “Whether they’re coming into the classroom doing creative info literacy sessions, or whether they’re helping us develop engaging activities for first-year students, I’ve really come to see librarians as our allies in education.”

I loved that phrase “allies in education.” That’s how we have to think of our work. We’re not just running a library and curating collections. We’re educators who are partnering with other educators to provide the types of environments, resources, curriculum and events that facilitate and empower learning.

Our library team is really dedicated to the work we do. We were all excited to win this award, but we also know that our work isn’t done. There is still a lot of room for growth and improvement. There is a lot that we can learn from other libraries who are also doing amazing things. If as Aristotle said, excellence is not an act but a habit, we have to continue our work and keep building on our successes. The work of an educator is never done.