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Innovation Conversations
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Go to a conference and you can hear speakers tell story after story of success. Success stories are great, but a 20-minute presentation can easily hide a project’s learning curve. What did they try and then adapt or abandon their second time through? If they were starting over, having learned from their experiences, where would they begin?

These are the questions we’re asking at SWON’s Innovation Conversations. We do our homework so that when this live, online conversation begins, we’re ready with practical questions. When you join us, you help us get down to the valuable details that make sense of a project.

Movers. Also, shakers

So far, Innovation Conversations have featured winners of the Urban Libraries Council awards and Movers and Shakers from Ohio, Michigan, Georgia and Colorado. We’re taking advantage of our online platform to connect with people whose work we find exciting. If you’d like to suggest a speaker, please contact kaitlyn@swonlibraries.org.

One hour of your time, on time

Innovation Conversations last an hour so that we can learn what makes these projects tick. The first half hour is a presentation from our guest speaker. The other half hour is devoted to questions. Having spoken with them beforehand, your SWON host has plenty of questions ready, but we’re most excited to hear your questions.

The discussion so far

With four Innovation Conversations completed, we’ve heard a range of projects, from high-tech to markers-and-paper. Here’s a quick recap.

Connecting libraries and local schools

Jessica Liddell helped build a multi-prong literacy partnership between the Grand Rapids Public Library and local school systems, named Digi-Bridge. By building a relationship with a school media specialist and then a school’s Assistant Superintendant—connections that hadn’t existed before—Jessica opened the door to create thousands of digital-only library cards. She also worked with individual teachers to introduce eReaders in several classrooms.

Local authors collection

At Dayton Metro Library, self-published authors kept wanting to organize book signings at the library, though they never drew a crowd. Jennifer Spillman wanted to harness this energy to better effect. She not only created a local authors collection at the main library to display their works. She also organized a yearly event where local authors could gather to share their stories and sell copies. Next, she’s expanding the event to include a wider array of local artists.

Written conversation strategies

When students are assigned research projects, classroom discussion that’s meant to build foundational knowledge or generate ideas may leave some students behind. To include everyone, Buffy Hamilton adopted Harvey Daniels’s written conversation strategies, where small groups of students read printed materials and silently write responses on butcher paper spread over an entire table. They respond to each other’s comments as well. This “practice” work builds background knowledge, prepares them for discussion and guides further writing assignments.

Teaching web development

Denver has a very active technology sector, but few of its local youth are prepared to join the field. Nate Stone had been teaching HTML & CSS to adults at the library, but at the request of local parents, developed a week- long DevCamp where local tweens could jumpstart their skills. Instead of open registration, he worked with local branches and local schools to sign up students who needed the opportunity. The biggest breakthrough was in finding mentors from the community who taught the technical and collaborative skills needed to succeed.




Innovation Conversations are free to SWON Supporting Members. To see an up-to-date schedule of Innovation Conversations and current pricing for other participants, please click here.

Contact SWON

Do you have questions about the Innovation Conversations? Are there speakers you’d like to suggest, or topics you’d like covered? Please contact Kaitlyn Marsh, SWON’s CE Coordinator, at (513) 751-4422 ext. 10 or by email: kaitlyn@swonlibraries.org.

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