Photo of preparations for TEDxUCLA

Written by on January 3, 2013

Being loud at TEDxUCLA

In the fall I was lucky to travel to UCLA to talk about… well, basically about what I’ve learned so far from working at this library. The talk is called Libraries Can Be Loud, which I meant literally and metaphorically. I illustrated the story of what I’ve learned through the tale of a particularly adventurous Cal Poly Science Cafe. It involved a bunch of stuff I still don’t understand — how arduinos and code can work together with the internet to make an interactive game that involves tin cans, helium balloons, live scoring and a lot of fun throwing tennis balls down our iconic concrete staircase. You can read more about that day elsewhere.

See, the thing I was most interested in talking about was the not understanding, or knowing, part. Since the Robert E. Kennedy Library is the first library where I’ve worked, there has been a lot of newness. It’s like a whole new industry, even if it is in higher education, where I have a lot of experience. In my search to better understand where libraries are at these days – the issues, concerns, future thinking – I discovered there is a lot of uncertainty in what some insiders call “library-land.” So, the not knowing isn’t just something I was feeling. It’s out there, like a rolling fog. What will it reveal? Will you wait to find out or will you work with it to create a new climate?

I feel very fortunate to be at the Robert E. Kennedy Library. We’re experimental, and the Cal Poly Science Cafe is just one illustration of that spirit. We do a lot with limited resources and have fun while doing it. Which is what I hoped to say in this talk. That although the unknown is inherent in our lives, including in many industries, it is an invitation to experiment (be loud) rather than to wait. Which is why I like being here, because we are a place of doing.

P.S. This is a live sketch of me looking sparkly, Image of Karen at TEDxUCLA by Steve Buccellatodone by illustrator Steve Buccellato who live sketched the whole day’s event! That’s like a marathon of art.

Also, there were so many amazing speakers and performers… like Laura Bates, who talked about the Transformative Power of Literature and Jorge Cham who had a great animation on the Science Gap… Check out more at TEDxUCLA.

Read more on Cal Poly Science Café, libraries can be loud, Robert E. Kennedy Library, and tedxucla.

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