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wpid-Library-Lost-And-Found-Image.jpgWhat did we find in our Library Lost & Found?

What did you find these past two weeks?  What are you looking forward to discovering?

What did you find this week?  What are you looking forward to discovering?

Let’s cook something up

Shawn Brommer —  August 15, 2013 — 1 Comment

recipe card

Brainstorming work, when properly prepared, is effective. These group discussions need careful preparation and are valuable when creating dynamic new programs, addressing concerns and issues, and strengthening groups. Brainstorming can be especially effective when working with groups consisting of individuals from different teams, departments and organizations. Over the years I’ve developed my own recipe for facilitating effective brainstorming discussions that have resulted in innovative and successful programs and services:

Assemble: Discussion leader, discussion contributors, note-taker with laptop with projector.

Prep time: Discussion leader should plan on at least 15 – 30 minutes of prep time prior to discussion

Cook time: no more than 45 – 60 minutes


1) Begin with the end.  The group clearly defines the project or service to be created or situation that needs to be addressed. (5 minutes)

2) Idea time. Contributors offer ideas.  All ideas are typed out in a notes document that is projected on the wall.  Discussion takes place in next steps.  Please note: if possible, use laptop and projector.  Not only is this faster and less awkward than flip charts, but it’s easier for all contributors to read the projected notes and provides a neutral visual focus point.  (10 minutes – group decides if less or more time is needed, but don’t over mix.)

3) Blend: group identifies shared qualities or characteristics of shared ideas.  Mix together similar ideas. (5 minutes)

4) Season: group identifies and discusses the ideas that are best for this project or situation.  This is where questions are asked or identification of potential problems are addressed. (10 minutes – group decides if less or more time is needed, but don’t over mix.)

5) Build: ideas and steps toward accomplishing the goal are identified, often based on a combination of suggestions offered in Step 2.  This step provides for additional questioning and decision making.  (5 minutes)

6) Clean-up: the group determines the next steps, what needs to be done, and who is going to do it. Deadlines are set.  If work groups need to be formed participants are identified and everyone identifies specific roles, a deadline and how records of work will be reported back to the group. (5 minutes)

Notes for discussion leader: Preparation for the discussion is essential.  Understand that each group has its own personality and that every contributor has distinct skills, experiences and characteristics.  Set a professional tone, listen to what is being said rather than who is saying it, and determine clear goals, project timeline and expectations.

The term brainstorm has taken on negative connotations.  Does this word conjure memories of participating in brainstorming sessions that were inadequately led with undefined goals, where one participant held the group hostage or where action didn’t occur after the discussion?  Sessions in which transitions were indicated by the gentle ringing of temple chimes?  (OK, I admit, I considered this.  But it was 1997 and I was really into yoga that fall.) Perhaps it is time to create a new word or phrase for this shared activity.  I think that I’m going to replace the word “brainstorming” with the phrase “let’s cook something up” and send it through the test kitchen.

Proper Involvement

Shawn Brommer —  August 8, 2013 — 1 Comment


I trace my addiction to biographies back to the 3rd grade when I discovered Molly Pitcher: Girl Patriot, by Augusta Stevenson (Bobbs-Merrill, 1960) in my elementary school library.  This book and others in the classic Childhood of Famous Americans series introduced me to a genre that continues to fascinate and inspire.  I’m still intrigued by the early lives of heroic women and historic figures, but I’m truly thrilled when I discover biographies about innovators in the fields of art, dance, literature, comedy, and music — especially those of jazz musicians.  And when Tony Bennett published his collection of autobiographical essays in Life is a Gift: The Zen of Bennett (Harper, 2012), I knew that I would be be-bopped-blown away.

In his chapter entitled “Proper Involvement,” Mr. Bennett celebrates the friendships in his life and emphasizes that his friends taught him not only how to be a better person, but how to be a better performer.  He especially celebrates his friendship with Duke Ellington who was his mentor and lifelong friend.  Says Bennett of his relationship with Ellington, “It was what he would call ‘proper involvement’ – a warm friendship based on mutual respect” (20).

Proper Involvement is a key characteristic of our field.  Friends in other professions are continually impressed by the professional relationships we create and the ways that librarians respect, share ideas and work with one another.  Examples of proper involvement include:

  • Actively listening to colleagues when they describe new projects, ideas or services that they’re proud of and congratulating them on their success.
  • Working with colleagues who have similar interests to develop new initiatives.
  • Working with community partners to reach shared goals.
  • Working with colleagues to present conference sessions and workshops.
  • Joining professional organizations.
  • Nominating colleagues for committee work or professional awards.
  • Helping colleagues solve problems.
  • Being a protege.
  • Being a mentor.

How have you been properly involved throughout your career?  Unlike Tony Bennett and Duke Ellington, few of us have shared the spotlight on The Ed Sullivan Show, but we all have worked with colleagues whose inspiration encourages professional growth.  Each of us is responsible for proper involvement and by connecting with each other we reach goals and have a little fun.

Photo credit: “Tony Bennett Portrait of Duke Ellington Dedicated, Displayed.” Face-to-Face: A Blog from the National Portrait Gallery, April 29, 2009.

wpid-Library-Lost-And-Found-Image.jpgWhat did we find in our Library Lost & Found this week?

What did you find this week?  What are you looking forward to discovering?

What did you find this week?  What are you looking forward to discovering?


What did we find in our Library Lost & Found this week?

What did you find this week?  What are you looking forward to discovering?