Risk-takers Convene in Telluride

Guest Blog – by Donci Bardash

Have you been hearing your peers talk about “thinking sideways” and “role-storming” – or have you been surprised by a flash mob recently? Have you been asked to identify your library’s “meatloaves?” Are you wondering what’s in the water these days?

Earlier this month, ten Montana librarians attended the Risk and Reward (R-squared) Conference in Telluride, Colorado. The vision of the conference says it all: Faced with diminishing budgets, new technologies and changing customer needs, the traditional library faces extinction. We must adapt and innovate to transform from a quiet storehouse of books to a dynamic center of free engagement with knowledge.

The conference was designed to inspire creative, out-of-the-box thinking in four experiences (tracks): culture, customer curiosity, abundant community, and creative spaces. Some attendees confronted fears by holding snakes; others went to the streets of Telluride to interview the public about the role of libraries in their lives. Tamara Kleinberg, a creative-thinker and consultant so respected in her field that she is hired by Disney (yes- Disney) to inspire their employees, convinced us all to jump off our chairs.

The days were long, motivating, and exhausting (in a good way!)…

So what’s next? The attendees of the conference were so inspired that we’d like to bring a little bit of R-squared to Montana this spring. And for those of you who cannot wait quite that long, check out one of the many social media outlets documenting our experiences:

Twitter: #rsq12 or @rsquaredconf

Blog: http://www.rsquaredconference.org/blog

Facebook: R-Squared Conference

Or, read one of the many books we received:

Kleinberg, Tamara. Think Sideways: A Game-changing Playbook for Disruptive Thinking

Linkner, Josh. Disciplined Dreaming: A Proven System to Drive Breakthrough Creativity

McKnight, John. Building Communities from the Inside Out: A Path Toward Identifying and Mobilizing a Community’s Assets

McKnight, John. The Careless Society: Community and its Counterfeits

McKnight, John. The Abundant Community: Awakening the Power of Families and Neighborhoods

Simon, Nina. The Participatory Museum