How art made me a better librarian

how art made me a better librarian

So I made this bold claim during a talk I gave a few weeks ago, at the SUNYLA annual conference. The theme of the conference was “the art of librarianship” and a few months ago they asked if I’d be interested in speaking broadly on that topic. I’ll be honest: I haven’t done much presenting in the last few years, for a bunch of different reasons. But as soon as I heard the topic on this one, I sort of jumped all over it.

Back when I used to present really often, conference prep usually began between 72-48 hours before go-time. The youth and folly that enabled that sort of procrastination and last-minute frenzy has long passed and nowadays, I begin preparing for presentations weeks in advance (#adultinglikeaboss). This one I started working on about 8 weeks before the conference because I knew I wanted to draw the whole thing.

While it took at least twice as long as I expected to draw/handletter every slide, I had a tonne of fun doing it. Not only because, well, drawing, but also because this was probably the most personal presentation I’ve ever done and I really got to tell the story of how the last year and a half of focussing on creativity has impacted my work life as much as it’s informed my creative practice.

Here’s a 50-second flavour of the kinds of things I talked about:

I owe a hat-tip of considerable gratitude to Austin Kleon whose books on creativity directly account for two of the five “lessons” I shared in my presentation. Of course there were also quite a few other books and a load of podcasts (not to mention countless articles, blog posts, instagram/twitter friends, etc.) that have been hugely influential, so there was ample evidence of those sprinkled throughout my presentation, too.

Of course the biggest thank you goes to the SUNLYA folks for having me (and humouring me as I made them sit through an hour of great self-indulgence).