Learn more about their innovation here.
Jim Heuer [00:00:16] Hi, everybody, this is Jim Heuer, host of the Ingram Library Services podcast, Two Librarians and a Microphone. I'm here with librarian number two, Donna George. We're excited to come to you live from the Urban Library Council Annual Forum in Baltimore, Maryland. Ingram Library Services is a proud sponsor of the Innovation Awards that the ULC bestows upon their member librarians. Today, we are joined by one of the top innovators from Howard County, Tonya Kennon. Tonya, welcome, thank you for being with us.
Tonya Kennon [00:00:49] Thank you so much.
Jim Heuer [00:00:50] So you all were given an honorable mention in the Customer Experience category for your DIY education center. Could you tell us a little bit about that and how it came to be?
Tonya Kennon [00:01:00] Absolutely, I will first give a very well-deserved shout out to the entire team at Howard County for this innovation, it is really their great work along with our community. We were kind of in line just with the keeping of libraries as leading innovators and educational leaders in our communities, looking for a way to kind of expand and build on our educational mission as an educator in Howard County. Our team saw an opportunity with the planned renovation and expansion of our Elkridge branch, which was a 15,000 square foot, 23-year-old building, dark, drab, really needing some love. We had the opportunity to expand and renovate that to a 35,000 square foot, bright and inviting community gathering space. And we thought, what unique element can we bring to this space, and really engaged our staff and community around that idea of another educational element, and were really inspired by the Tool Lending Library at Berkeley Public Library in California, and paid them a visit, and decided to have a tool lending collection, but then really looked at our community and thought about the items that we could include in that collection. We do lend tools for home improvement and yard maintenance, but also cake pans, hiking poles, all kinds of things, and then really built in
Tonya Kennon [00:02:47] Sometimes overcome the intimidation around a certain
Donna George [00:03:02] Tonya, when I read the little writeup about your award and what you're doing there, the note I wrote on this piece of paper that I'm looking at is,
Tonya Kennon [00:03:11] Yes, yes!
Donna George [00:03:12] It really is kind of the next level of this
Tonya Kennon [00:03:28] Sure, absolutely, so it's definitely resonating with our adult community, whereas the traditional
Jim Heuer [00:04:20] So you've talked about some pretty eclectic, different things from cake pans to hiking poles, to constructing a salad
Tonya Kennon [00:04:36] They are a very talented bunch, and we actually in the planning stages of this wanted to make sure that we had the right people in place, to really take this thing to its highest peak. That involved hiring
Jim Heuer [00:05:39] So it seems that some timing came
Tonya Kennon [00:05:58] I do, I do. I think if there is any way... We are all very flexible and creative in libraries and know how to work within tight means, whether that's tight spaces, tight funding, tight staffing. So absolutely, even if you do not have this new space that you're going to build from scratch, if you've got a way to utilize an auditorium, to scheduling in time, if you've got a way to move some of the stacks to create a space where you can do some demonstration, any sort of thing like that. If you have to use the story time space, right, when it's not in use for that. So I definitely think there are ways to do that. Then, if you don't have the in-house staff with the expertise, we are masters at collaboration, libraries, right, and bringing other partners to the table around a good idea, and finding those resources in your community for people that may be able to come in and be willing to do that. I'm certain they are out there. Your local Home Depot offers a lot of those classes and may become a good partner for you, or things like that, retired workers in the community that would share their expertise. So I would not say anyone would need to shy away from it just because they're not embarking on a new building project, but rather look for the opportunities in the community to make this happen.
Jim Heuer [00:07:13] Did you have to shift money in your budget to cover any of the somewhat different material that you might have had in the
Tonya Kennon [00:07:22] Not so much for the construction piece, but definitely in looking how we go forward, because a lot of these items are consumables, right? When we're talking about
Jim Heuer [00:08:06] So when you think back on it, what was the most interesting or unique or fun class, or demonstration or thing that you guys have done there?
Tonya Kennon [00:08:13] I think it might have been the salad table. The team had a lot of fun with that, but I don't know. I mean, that would be it for me. I think if you asked, you might get something on everything that they've done just
Jim Heuer [00:08:51] For me, I love the fact that the folks from Berkeley were here this week. There's a good idea, across the country, right, but it's an idea that would work in Howard County, Maryland as well. This is what the library world is about, right? So we're going to bring that in, let our citizens, patrons, experience the same thing, and I think that's
Tonya Kennon [00:09:14] I agree, and ULC is one of those places where thought leaders and libraries come together for that purpose of rejuvenating and sharing information and drawing from the collective wisdom in the room, right? And I know we all definitely got our fill and feel so overwhelmed, we're just overflowing with great ideas and good information to take back to our teams. That's something that libraries do continually and it's just great to have so many wonderful colleagues. Berkeley was very open to us coming to visit, so thank you to them as well.
Jim Heuer [00:09:49] Well, we offer our congratulations. It sounds great, and you're really doing some wonderful stuff there.
Tonya Kennon [00:09:54] Thank you, and just one more thank you to the Howard County Library team, and especially Phil Lord, who is the branch manager out at Elkridge.
Jim Heuer [00:10:00] We'll give a shout out to Phil, good job, Phil.
Tonya Kennon [00:10:02] Great job, Phil.
Jim Heuer [00:10:02] Excellent, thank you.
Tonya Kennon [00:10:04] Thank you.
Jim Heuer [00:10:05] Two Librarians and a Microphone is brought to you by Ingram Library Services, a division of Ingram Content Group. Our producer/director is Rachel Cope, sound engineering by Craig Simpson, special assistance by Essence Brisco and Elizabeth Wilcox. The research
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