Thursday, May 14, 2009

MLA 2009 Keynote: Paul Holdengraber

His programs are often discussions (no lectures). They are best with no rehearsals and with allowances for the unexpected.

Break all the rules of the library.

Try different things.

Don’t worry about failure.

The power to try, fail, succeed

Bringing solitudes together (respecting reading as a personal and isolated act, but recognizing the power of programs to bring individuals together)

Find humor in programs

Seek new forms of engagement

We must recognize the importance of the cultural sphere in the midst of scarcity, like the WPA during the Great Depression.

Make art popular or make people artistic – Oscar Wilde

The goal of library programs -- seek to create a moment of focus for your community.

Every good book, every good painting is a victory over death.

Learn the community, what they appreciate and then take them one step further. Don’t just give them what they want. Give them what they didn’t know they wanted.

What are subjects that people are thinking about today? Find themes that matter.

Smaller libraries can move very fast and are more agile. Use this to your advantage.

NYPL does not pay their speakers. Their programming budget is shoestring. Most programs have 800 seats and the library sells tickets to these events. There are two seasons for these programs. Sept – Dec & Feb – June; Summers off.

The importance of partnerships and sponsorships.

Stressed the importance of building a collection of email addresses. NYPL currently has 25-30k.

Holdengraber recommended Alain De Botton's The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work

It is natural for people to initially feel small in the presence of so much culture (at the library); we must discover how to move them, to empower them.

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