Michelle Bradley, MCLS Manager of Engagement, Consulting, and Training, recaps weekly virtual dialogues

Posted: June 1, 2020

Throughout the COVID-19 shut down of libraries in Indiana and Michigan, MCLS has hosted weekly virtual dialogues. Each Friday since March 27, the Engagement, Consulting, and Training Team has facilitated Zoom sessions around the environment we find ourselves working in right now and what opportunities might exist as we move forward. We set out to provide an alternative to the deluge of information and advice being presented by various organizations, and to simply create a space for discussion, using generative questions, with the hope that they would lead to small actions that you can take at your own library. Each week, nearly 200 of you, representing all types of libraries in all types of roles, have joined us.

The aim of these dialogues has been part support group and part visioning as we have shared our thoughts and ideas and innovated ways to create our post-pandemic future.  We have discussed topics such as remote work, resilience, re-opening, removing barriers, virtual programming, and more.

We have also experimented. We have used breakout rooms, tried crazy icebreakers, survived a Zoom-bombing, created a Slack workspace, and challenged you to hold similar dialogues with your own library’s staff. If you would like to catch up on what we’ve been doing, you can access the recordings and chat logs from the previous dialogues anytime.

On behalf of the Engagement, Consulting, and Training Team at MCLS, I want to thank you for the time you have spent with us. It has been as much support to us as it has been to you. I know that I speak for the rest the team – Gwen Haviland, Jan Davidson, Lissa Krull, and Pam Seabolt – when I say that we feel we have made new friends who we look forward to seeing each week! It is our hope that you have had meaningful conversations, made new connections, and learned new things. We plan to continue these weekly dialogues through June 19, and just as we will all phase back into our regular work, we’ll eventually phase out of these dialogues, maybe moving them to monthly, or as needed.

The conversations have also continued outside of the dialogues through an MCLS Virtual Dialogues #Slack workspace. If you’re interested in joining the workspace, please contact Pam Seabolt at seaboltp@mcls.org.

The next dialogue will be on Friday, June 5 at 11am Eastern (10am Central) on Zoom. Watch the email lists for login information. You don’t need to have attended previous dialogues to join us.