Censorship Battles in Public Libraries

Across the country libraries have seen an increase in book challenges, especially around race relations and LGBTQ-themed books. While these sorts of challenges have always been part of the landscape, during the past year they have intensified. The ALA Office of Intellectual Freedom recently reported that challenges quadrupled in 2021. The office also keeps a list of the top ten most recently challenged books on its web site.

An example of how this struggle is happening is encapsulated in a recent story about the Citrus County Library System and a battle by activists to get a seat on its Advisory Board. The Tampa Bay Times reported on the story of the battle that started over a small Pride Month display.

The yearly LGBTQ Pride Month display in the Citrus County library went largely unnoticed until 2021.

But last year, the small array of LGBTQ-themed books surrounded by rainbow hearts and signs saying “love is love” became a point of contention that has expanded into a larger partisan battle, pushed by the fringes of the conservative movement, over censorship and children’s education.

Last month, the library’s advisory board was inundated with candidates trying to replace five of the nine sitting board members. It was the first time the board, which does not control the content on the library shelves, had seen such interest.

Read the full story on the Tampa Bay Times web site.

Leading Your Team to Productivity

Back at this year’s Florida Library Association annual conference, the FLA Professional Development Committee released a video highlighting productivity practices, tips and tricks from three leaders in the library field. I was included along with Dr. Leo Lo, Dean and Professor of the College of University Libraries and Learning Services and Dr. Vanessa Reyes, Assistant Professor for the School of Information at the University of South Florida.

I was interviewed by Amy Harris, Instruction & Assessment Librarian at Saint Leo University. During my portion of the presentation, I discussed the basic principle of GTD and how to apply them in the workplace.

The full video can be found on YouTube.

Director’s Dialogue – A Public Libraries Podcast

The PLA Leadership Development Committee is always looking for ways to bring value to library workers across the profession. Earlier this year, the committee developed an idea to do a podcast series where current Public Library Directors would have a casual conversation about their work and offer insights into the profession. This led to the creation of a new Public Libraries podcast special edition episode called Director’s Dialogue.

The inaugural episode featured me and Kent Oliver, who recently retired as chief executive of the Nashville Public Library. Future episodes will aim to provide a diverse cross section of library leaders from both large and small systems.

The description for the twenty-minute episode was as follows:

From leadership and management matters to current public library hot topics to strategic planning, capital projects, collection development, program planning, and so much more, the Directors Dialogue episodes aim to share ideas, best practices, and lessons learned.

Both are also members of the PLA Leadership Development Committee and the idea for the Library Directors Conversation series came out of their committee discussions.

Listen online or through your favorite podcast app and watch for more episodes later this year.

Recording of Tiago Forte Interview

Last week I had the honor of interviewing Tiago Forte about his new book, Building a Second Brain. In a sixty-minute Zoom interview with audience Q&A, we touched on a wide range of aspects around digital note taking and how it compliments a GTD practice. A link to the recording can be found on the Palm Beach County Library System web site.

Below is a selection of the questions I asked Tiago:

  • Briefly share how you became interested in the power of digital notes?
  • Explain the concept of CODE and how it applies to digital note taking.
  • What are the four principles of PARA and do they contribute to designing a Second Brain?
  • What are the best practices around processing digital notes for discoverability?
  • The book highlights how notes can be applied over many different projects. To that end, please explain what is meant by an intermediate packet.
  • What are the biggest mistakes people make when taking digital notes and how can they be avoided?
  • What prompted you to share your publishing journey through your blog?
  • Share a book recommendation (fiction or non-fiction) other than your own.

Stay tuned to the end of the interview where I subject Tiago to a fun game based on the podcast, Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me.

Getting Real with Reality

The pursuit of productivity is never just a goal in and of itself.

It is possible to whip off lots of items from your “to do” list and not actually accomplish anything of true merit. In fact, there are two things necessary to ensure that your productivity skills are being used for meaningful work. The first is to be clear on strategy, mission and objectives. The second is more subtle, but probably more impactful. It is to understand the current reality. If the truth of the situation is misunderstood, strategy is moot.

In a blog post earlier this year, David Allen of GTD fame mapped out the case for current reality. He notes that many problems stem from a lack of understanding the exact nature of what is really going on.

Companies, departments, and individuals may have big goals, even well expressed, and yet there can be a lack of energy, or a lack of real actions being defined and in motion. Groups bicker about the smallest things and can’t seem to get in gear. And the biggest problem about this is that they don’t know what the problem is. They are probably trying to build a house on sand. There’s no stake in the ground. There’s no traction.

To overcome this problem, David believes it necessary to unearth the relevant facts about the situation, even if they are hard to face. Only then can a person or group move forward.

The great challenge is to face current reality head on without letting it “get to you” and cause you to program the next one as no better. Bean counters are a critical component to the team. You need to know how many beans you have. But if all you’re doing is just protecting your current beans, soon you may not have any more beans to count. You cannot drive by just looking at the rearview mirror.

Read the entire blog post at the Getting Things Done web site.

A Neuroscientist’s Advice on Productivity

There are many factors that affect our productivity. However, they all come back to the fact that knowledge works happens in our brains. Therefore, a healthy brain should enable us to get more things done. To that end, what does the field of neuroscience say about productivity?

In a recent article in Science Focus, neuroscientist Dean Burnett discusses the connection between the brain and knowledge work. Specifically, he lists five tips to be more productive. The first one highlights the beneficial effect of background music.

When we’re trying to focus on a task, our conscious attention is occupied, but can still be diverted by the unconscious system. And if we’re in complete silence, any creaks or sighs or murmurs or other random sounds stand out more, meaning our unconscious attention is more likely to be distracted, which hinders our productivity.

But, if we play music in the background, it masks obtrusive noises and occupies our unconscious attention, like giving a bored child a toy to play with while you’re trying to work. Obviously, the type of music will make a difference. Things with lyrics aren’t as good because our brains are more stimulated by linguistic information, and music that has a negative impact on mood can sap motivation.

Discover the other four tips by reading the full, and fairly short, article.

Interview with Tiago Forte

In less than two weeks I will interview Tiago Forte, the leading expert in how to manage your digital notes and use them for greater recall and creativity. See the details below if you want to join the Zoom interview. Feel free to share with others:

Meet the Author: Tiago Forte
Thursday, Jul 14, 2:00 pm EST

Workplace productivity expert and author Tiago Forte discusses his newest book, “Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential,” in conversation with Library Director Doug Crane. (60 min.) Presented by Community Engagement.

Preregister through this link.

This event is hosted by the Palm Beach County Library System. Hope to see you there.

Building a Second Brain Now Released

After many years of anticipation, Tiago Forte has released his book, Building a Second Brain. It is the distillation of the ideas and exercises originating from his signature course of the same name. Here is how Tiago introduces the book on his web site:

What if you made use of the ideas, wisdom, and resources available to you online instead of stockpiling and hoarding information with no end in sight? 

What if you knew with total confidence that you could find the information you need when you need it instead of wasting time looking for notes you swore you’d saved? 

What if you could leverage technology to think better, clear your mind, and get more done instead of letting it disrupt you with constant notifications and demands? 

All this and more is possible with a Second Brain – a trusted place outside your head where you can collect and organize your most important ideas and insights and use them to do your best work.

As part of his promotional tour, the Palm Beach County Library System is honored to host Tiago for a virtual meet the author session on July 14, 2 pm EST. Preregister to receive the Zoom link.

Congratulations Tiago on this great achievement!

Unite Against Book Bans

Across the country attacks on the freedom to read have multiplied. While there have always been attempts to remove books from library shelves, this time the movement is more organized and widespread. Most of the targeted items are children’s material covering LQBTQIA+ information and race relations, such as Black Lives Matter.

The American Library Association stands at the forefront to protect the right to read. For years they have tracked book challenges and compiled the top ten list of targeted titles. With the threat rising, they recently started a campaign called Unite Against Book Bans. The site contains the results of a nationwide poll that clearly shows book banners are a minority.

On both sides of the aisle, large majorities of voters and parents oppose book bans. 71% of voters oppose efforts to remove books from public libraries. 67% of voters oppose efforts to remove books from school libraries. And yet, attempts to ban books from libraries are rising at an unprecedented level across the country. The American Library Association reported more than 729 attempted bans of 1,597 individual books in 2021 alone.

Join the campaign to preserve the right to read and fight book bans. It is as simple as signing up through the ALA’s campaign page. The web site also includes an action kit and ways your organization can partner with the movement.

Don’t let a small minority ban books from our library shelves. Join the cause and unite against book bans.