What topic should be the theme of the next Taiga Forum?

UPDATED: Voting Deadline set for Friday, August 2, 5pm  PST.  Make your preferences known by voting now! 

Your Taiga Steering Committee is busy planning a day-long Taiga Forum to be held on November 7, 2013, immediately following the DLF Fall Forum in Austin Texas. Registration for the Taiga Forum ($105 registration fee, which includes lunch) will be available at the DLF site soon.

We have come up with 2 great proposals and are asking for community input to help us decide which topic to focus on for our November event. Note that both proposals are for events that would be OPEN to ALL interested parties. The 2 proposals are described in Draft form below, followed by a poll designed to gauge community interest. Thanks in advance for participating.

Proposal #1: Propose, Manage and Sustain an Awesome Technical Project

The combination of libraries and technology is not unlike chocolate & peanut butter – each, on their own, can be a one-note flavor, but combined they promise the salty sweet goodness of a perfect blend.

The inclusion of technical projects is not new for most libraries, but what is different is the growing and welcomed influx of non-librarians in front line roles. Instead of data librarians there are now post docs supporting spatial & numeric services, the digital humanities program is run by a ClIR Fellow, and your user interface expert is an escapee from Silicon Valley. The influx of non-native (MLS) talent ensures excitement as well as different forms of expertise and assumptions.

Join us in a full day workshop as we teach across the divide. This program is open to technical experts who want to improve their chances for proposing and successfully completing a new project. New librarians with mad tech skills and technological astute non-MLS folk are invited as are department heads, AUL/ADs, and ULs who are deeply interested in improving their technological services and footprint.

We will hear people at different levels of an organization convey their respective concerns, frustrations and needs. This day will address common foibles and provide conversations across the divide. By the end of the day you will have a better understanding of the other side’s frustrations and requirements – building towards a healthier conversation and successful projects.

DRAFT SCHEDULE (open to suggestions!)
8:30-9 Coffee
9-10 Welcome, opening speech (somebody who helps folks cross the divide. Business school faculty at UT?)
10-11 Examples of spectacular failures (from a project management perspective)
11-noon Styles Analysis (communication/work/expectations)
Noon-1pm Lunch
1-2:30 The technologists speak (what we need our administration to know)
2:30-3:30 The administrators speak (what we need our technical staff to know)
3:30-4:30 Share across the aisles / examples of spectacular wins and why they worked

Proposal #2: Diversity & Leadership in Academic Libraries

Despite a stated commitment to Diversity as a core value, libraries seriously lack demographic diversity (87% of ALA members are white, 80% are female). As library materials budgets continue to shrink, many worry that our collections will become less diverse as well, as libraries can no longer afford to collect heavily in foreign languages and on niche topics. Moreover, conversations here at Gentle Disturbances and elsewhere indicate that many in our profession feel that gender, race, class and other aspects of difference contribute to a professional culture that lacks support for the very openness we claim to value.

Join us for a day-long Taiga event dedicated to an exploration of diversity in our libraries, with a focus on how leaders can promote and leverage diversity in individual libraries and in the profession as a whole.

Questions to be addressed might include:

  • What is the current state of diversity in our libraries?
  • Where are we falling short of embodying the ALA value of Diversity — in staff, in collections & services, in organizational & professional culture?
  • What are our fears and hopes for the future with respect to increased diversity in our libraries?
  • In a female dominated profession, why do so many women feel disempowered, frustrated, and silenced? What can we do about that?
  • Why are people of color so under-represented in academic libraries? What can we do about that?
  • What are some best practices for having productive discussions about diversity at our conferences and in our own workplaces?
  • What can leaders do to better leverage diversity to achieve our organizational and professional vision and goals?

The program is likely to include:

  • Guest speaker/s with expertise in organizational diversity (e.g. noted scholars and/or staff from ALA, ARL, or ACRL diversity offices)
  • Small group break-out sessions on specific topics
  • Commitment to developing action items and best practices for leveraging diversity in our organizations and in our profession.


Please vote for the topic that is most likely to convince you to attend and/or recommend that others attend the Taiga Forum (or suggest an alternate topic that would entice you).  Please also provide comments, suggestions, and feedback on either theme in the comments. As we noted when we launched this blog, we hope to use Taiga “to spark productive discussions around key challenges and opportunities facing libraries.” We need your participation and your input to Make It Happen.

AUL for Public Services, Stanford University Libraries

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2 comments on “What topic should be the theme of the next Taiga Forum?
  1. Laurie Phillips says:

    I don’t think either of these topics would serve me all that well, although they are interesting for the profession. We, and other schools like us, are dealing with serious enrollment issues. How do we continue to serve the students we do have, who are still paying high tuition, and retain them, when we have less money to do so?

    • Chris Bourg says:

      Thanks for chiming in Laurie.
      I think that Taiga should keep your topic in mind for future events, perhaps targeting a panel or workshop at ALA Midwinter or Annual; which might draw a more diverse crowd of AUL/ADs than does DLF.

2 Pings/Trackbacks for "What topic should be the theme of the next Taiga Forum?"
  1. […] Loon also wishes to draw attention to Taiga’s choices of topic for its next meeting, which include an option that will itself include a discussion of silencing and its effects. […]

  2. […] to all of you who voted on the 2 proposals for our next Taiga Forum. Now that the votes are all in, we have decided to go with the Diversity […]

About “Gentle Disturbances”

The title of our new blog, “Gentle Disturbances”, is a tribute and a reference to the husband and wife artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude. Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s art consists of vast, temporary outdoor installations, such as the wrapping of the Reichstag in Berlin, the 24-mile Running Fence in Sonoma and Marin counties in California, and The Gates in New York City's Central Park. Christo has asserted that their art creates “gentle disturbances," designed to challenge traditional perceptions of the spaces and landscapes they inhabit. By encouraging viewers to see familiar landscapes in new ways, their art disrupts assumptions about permanence, ownership, and categorization.

While we claim none of the artistic or political impact of Christo and Jeanne-Claude, we hope that this blog and its many contributors will challenge us all to look at the landscape of academic libraries and higher education in new ways. We aspire to “gentle disturbances” of the kind that will lead to productive conversations and creative approaches to our common challenges.