By Jan Zastrow
More than 20 members and friends convened for the DC/SLA 75th Jubilee program at Drexel University’s DC office the evening of Tuesday, May 5. The program was unusual, and I hope the first of many more: three illustrious past presidents from our chapter—Lyle Minter, Anne Caputo and Marie Kaddell—introduced specially selected TED talks (that’s Technology/Entertainment/Design) that we watched as a group and then discussed how they might relate to InfoPros. TED talks started way back in 1984 (who knew?) and their motto is “Ideas Worth Spreading”—and indeed they are!
Eileen Deegan introduced the speakers after a special shout-out to Drexel for again hosting us in its beautiful digs (the view of the White House from the rooftop is awesome!) with thanks to Sharon Lenius, for organizing this creative Jubilee event.
First up was Anne Caputo (DC/SLA President 2002-2003; SLA President 2010), who chose Susan Cain’s talk titled “The Power of Introverts” (2012) because many in our field are indeed introverted. That just means you gain energy and refuel by spending time alone—not that you‘re unsociable or don’t like people! Cain believes there’s a bias in our society toward extroverts. Introverts need a quiet, contemplative environment in order to create. Nowadays, the “ideal student” is thought to be an extrovert even though introverts get better grades! At work introverts are not really seen as leaders despite many historical examples such as Eleanor Roosevelt and Gandhi. A few lucky folks are “ambiverts”—in the middle of the spectrum—but that’s rare in our culture. Western society has always valued the “man of action” over the “man of solitude” and our contemporary society emphasizes personality over character. How can we turn this around? Cain suggested we:
- “Stop the madness” for constant group work. We need much more privacy, freedom and introspection at both school and work;
- “Go to the wilderness” as did religious leaders of yore who would retreat for insight and inspiration. A modern-day equivalent: unplug your devices and get inside your own head for a while;
- Learn what’s important to you, what you “carry around in your suitcase,” i.e. your bag, your interests, your passion—whether that’s books, skydiving or …. champagne glasses!
Next came Lyle Minter (DC/SLA President 1993-1994), who chose “Why Good Leaders Make You Feel Safe,” by Simon Sinek (2014). Sinek pondered why some people are willing to risk their lives for others. He claims it comes from the necessity for a feeling of trust and cooperation based on prehistoric days when humans came together for protection from danger. Today it’s the same in the business world—good leaders make sacrifices so their staffs can thrive. Minter used a flipchart to note our comments as to what that means for us: our staff should feel valued and receive positive feedback/acknowledgement; there should be good “customer service” both for our patrons and in our interactions with one another; and a sense that we’ve” got each other’s back” and are working toward a common cause.
Last but certainly not least was Marie Kaddell (DC/SLA President 2013), who generously filled in for Mary Talley (DC/SLA President 2011) who was unable to attend. This intriguing talk by Brian Dettmer was titled “Old Books Reborn As Art” (2014), and it really got our crowd talking! Dettmer cuts up books to make art—they literally become 3D sculptures. Amazing … beautiful … but a little disconcerting to see our beloved tomes “bowdlerized” (look it up! ) We tend to think of books as a kind of body, as a technology, as a tool. Dettmer uses them as landscape, carving through the pages with an X-Acto knife to reveal pictures and highlight text. While he doesn’t think the book will ever die, he says it will change and become “freer” now that so much information is available in digital formats. He thinks the book of the future will be an art form, saying it could “lose its day job” and become something else
Many in the audience admitted to feeling a twinge seeing these books sliced up, but since Dettmer was using obsolete reference books such as old dictionaries and encyclopedias we mostly liked the result. One of us even posited that maybe that’s what books were always meant to be … and it just took us five centuries to figure it out! All these TED talks and many more—over 1,000—can be viewed at www.ted.com.
Finally, details of our 75th Jubilee Gala were announced by current DC/SLA President Deena Adelman: save Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015, for a celebratory feast at Maggiano’s Little Italy in Friendship Heights. Hope to see you all there … and certainly before!
DC/SLA Communications Team