Almost a month ago I spent a day working in Calgary Public Library. The day began with my first ever keynote speech, and as I was a bit nervous, I arrived five minutes before the library was due to open. I was astonished to see a queue of around 30 people waiting. I have never seen people queuing for a library to open before.
When the doors opened, I went to the John Dutton Theatre where the event was to be held, and met my contact, Roberta Kuzyk-Burton. We’d been emailing for months, so it was great to meet in person. I also met Michael Hare, the lovely bookseller from Owl’s Nest Books – he’d actually read parts of my book to help him sell it more effectively – and a whole bunch of other people. Meeting and greeting was fun, and time sped by.
My keynote went well with around 100 people attending: library staff, staff from other organisations, and members of the public. I was able to introduce some interactive elements, and we finished with a facilitated panel discussion. Then I spent a little more time at the bookstall, before a working lunch with senior library staff and the panel members. (I chose a noodle option. This was unwise. It is hard to eat noodles politely. Everyone kindly pretended not to notice.)
After lunch I was back in the theatre with around 30 library staff for a teaching session on using creative research methods in evaluation. I presented some principles and then divided them into small groups to work on an evaluation design. Then a nominated person from each group presented their design to the whole group for discussion. This worked well and deepened their understanding of how creative methods can complement traditional methods in practice.
The last session was a surgery, where library staff brought me information about their evaluation plans (some of which, thanks to Roberta, I had seen in advance) for trouble-shooting. It was like evaluation speed-dating, I rapidly lost count but I discussed 15-20 evaluation projects in 90 minutes and managed to produce helpful suggestions for pretty much all of them.
By the time that was finished at 5 pm, I was totally hyper. My next job was to be interviewed by Brian Wong, the Library’s communications specialist, for a video he wanted to produce, before a final wrap-up meeting with senior library staff. The interview took place in the spacious foyer of the Library, close to the main entrance, with people coming and going. I can now present the edited version for your viewing pleasure. You can see that Brian is a gifted video creator who has managed to make a virtue out of my manic presentation. I hope will be useful for some viewers. For me, it’s a wonderful memento of an untypical typical working day in my life: untypical because there will never be another day like that, typical because all my working days are different from each other. I hope you enjoy watching.
Fab video! You don’t seem manic just very enthused by your subject. I think you have clearly shown how methods can be mixed and how all research can be creative.
Great blog post and fab video!
Helen, it was such a treat to meet you and to share your big news at the end of a great learning day.