Daily Archives: January 12, 2007

Moving Ideas To Practice

We’re constantly bombarded with ideas for creating better solutions in our libraries and in our professional lives. We hear them at conferences, we read them in professional journals, we come across them in our discussion lists, and they turn up in your feed reader. ACRLog readers are certainly no strangers to some of our ideas for solutions to improve academic libraries – or our thoughts about what those solutions might mean for our user communities.

But a challenge we all face is moving from idea to practice. How doe we take that idea we hear or read, and then put it into place in our professional practice? Often, when we read or hear that idea we are quick to deny the solution on the grounds it is too complex, too costly, innappropriate to our institutional culture or any of a multitude of other reasons why it won’t work in our own unique environment. How can hearing about someone else’s experience change your practice?

I thought this was a question worth delving further into which is why I took some time (17 minutes) to listen to a podcast produced by the folks at the Green Room. That would be Susan Manning and Dan Balzar. Susan and Dan were recent guests for a webcast at the Blended Librarians Online Learning Community on “A Question of Relevance: Repositioning the Academic Library for a New Information Age.” (archive is available for your viewing/listening pleasure but you must be a Learning Times subscriber – no fee to join). In this podcast they interview a K-6 teacher who is actively integrating technology into the classroom, much of it inspired by ideas acquired elsewhere. So the discussion focuses on those ways in which the instructor moves from hearing an idea to putting it into practice. See episode #8 – Inspiration to Action.

Now, if you immediately concluded that this podcast is a waste of your time because you have nothing in common with an elementary school teacher, that’s exactly why you need to listen. As Dan says in the podcast, too often we are focused only on the solution – or we hear the solution – but not the underlying problem. While it may seem the solution is beyond our grasp, it may be more important to understand what the problem is, and how that particular solution is a good match for the problem. It’s more likely we share the problem, even if the solution seems beyond the scope of our own setting. But once we understand that a solution to the problem is possible – and the ideas that helped to build that solution – we can use that solution or develop one modeled on it that fits the scale of our organization and its resources. So even though my library and my work is different from the teacher, I heard some ideas for ways to approach problems that may be of help to me in moving from idea to practice. One thing we should all commit to is avoiding the trap of identifying solutions first, and then looking for problems that might possibly match that particular solution.

Posted by StevenB