Patron Driven: A Great Bonding Moment

Patron Driven: Season One Blog Series

Patron Driven is a new podcast series that tells crowd-sourced library stories where the personal and professional meet. Season one looks at the work of four library staffers whose library flooded due to Hurricane Harvey. It arrives June 22, 2020.

Under the bright fluorescents, complimentary black-and-white striped tote bags in hand, Jennifer, Mikha, and Allison walked the bustling aisles of 2018’s Texas Library Association Conference, soaking in ideas and possibilities for their library remodel.

About nine months after Hurricane Harvey, the Kingwood library staffers convened at the TLA conference, set on a mission. The objective? Examine every mesh-backed office chair, every movable monitor, every booth in the lot, until they found concrete solutions for their own library.

Mikha, Allison, and Jennifer at the Texas Library Conference.

It was a lot of potential bottled up in a weekend of brightly patterned furniture and exciting new technology. Though Anne didn’t attend the conference, the three captured picture after picture to send back to her: Allison posed cross-legged on a foldable chair, Jennifer perched on gray-colored bench risers, and all three smiling wide for a selfie.

After the TLA Conference, Jennifer, Allison, Anne, and Mikha took to the highway to investigate academic libraries around Texas. Sometimes all four couldn’t make it due to their busy schedules, but usually the whole crew piled together in Jennifer’s Jeep. They learned from other librarians what to do, and especially, what not to do. They took the cautionary tales to heart, determined not to make the same mistakes as the libraries before them.

Allison and Jennifer at lunch after one of their vision tours.

But more important than discovering soundproof panels or improved workflows, the trips brought them closer together as a unit. Often, they grabbed lunch or dinner. They filled a calendar with dates for their trips—a sort of work-family vacation guide. Mikha marked that summer as “a great bonding moment,” which Jennifer agreed with: “It’s what made us as strong as we are.”

I don’t know if many in the academic library sphere consider conferences life-altering events. Though they can certainly inspire, for the Kingwood library staffers the TLA Conference made them realize that they can want, plan, and ask for more. Instead of settling for a couple more desktops and a new carpet, Allison, Jennifer, Anne, and Mikha set out on a series of road trips that helped them envision how far their new library could go, strengthening their bond in the process.

— Sabrina

To hear the whole story, subscribe wherever you get your podcasts on June 22.

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About the author:

Sabrina Cofer is the digital media assistant at Choice. She produces the Authority File and Patron Driven podcasts.