Knitting club as collectivist information practice

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Today I chaired my last Knitting club meeting in the library. The idea behind this club is that everyone is welcome to come along, have a go at knitting or crochet in a relaxed friendly fun environment of all ability. We hold it every Thursday lunchtime on the ground floor of the library and it is open to staff and students.

I set up this initiative after having organised the Get Creative Event. I discovered that a lot of students and staff people love knitting and they asked me to set up a regular meeting just to relax and discuss current projects.
I enjoyed spending time showing people how to knit and crochet the basics, and share hints tips and patterns, even though we end up just laughing and chatting. I think it is a very good time for networking with staff coming from other departments (HR, IT, Marketing, Registry) and use the library spaces for creative initiatives.

Our weekly meeting helped fostering network connections. I had the opportunity to interact with and learn from others colleagues sharing a common interest in a craft. People also came to the library at the invitation of friends and I can proudly say that working relationships begun during the knitting meeting are extending beyond it. Plus crafting is therapeutic and create common information ground.

I firmly believe that, as Prigoda & McKenzie (2007) really well stated, “group participation can be seen both to fill information gaps and to fulfil participants’ need to socialise, form a caring community, and participate in craft, and the knitting group is a site for collectivist information practices”. Let me just give you some examples: a Portuguese student joined our group and she was knitting in a completely different way by keeping the thread around her neck, my Syrian colleague was stitching with her fingers and I taught how to chain bind off along a straight edge in my Italian way. In this way experienced knitters served as expert information sources for staff/students with less experience.

You don’t have idea how much I love the spontaneous and serendipitous sharing of information (I am a librarian at the end!). Go knitting!

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References
Prigoda, E., & McKenzie, P. J. (2007). Purls of wisdom: A collectivist study of human information behaviour in a public library knitting group. Journal of Documentation, 63(1), 90-114. doi:10.1108/00220410710723902

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An unusual meeting about the format of our meetings

This morning I led a meeting about the format of our team meetings. Thanks to my open-minded manager I had the opportunity/freedom to run a session composed by practical exercises in order to let my team reflecting on our current format of our meetings.

I am proud of the way I run it because I used bits of ideas and inspirations from workshops I attended and readings about how to interact with students. I blended them together, shifted the focus on the main purpose of the meeting and hoped for the best.

In this post I am documenting how I have structured it, I’ll discuss the outcomes in next one.

Here is my recipe.

Uses: Getting my team reflecting on how we can improve our meetings.

Materials required: Flipchart, sticky notes in three colours (preferably green, red and yellow), pencils and scrap papers.

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  • Brain-warming exercise (3-4 min.): As warm up I asked my team to write their names down, vertically, on scrap papers (Francis, 2009:127-129). They had to create a sentence (even surreal) about the desirable outcomes of the session. I was impressed by the results. I was sorry for colleagues had to use “K” or “Y”, even if one came up with “Yes!” (I liked it!). My personal statement was:
    Federica
    Enhances
    Direct
    Experiments
    Regarding
    Implementing
    Communications
    Actively
    This brief session is absolutely beneficial for activating synapses that generate ideas, thoughts on the topic, needs and personal opinions.
  • Brainstorming (3 min.): The team had to write on a blank paper whatever was coming in their minds about the topic. In order to facilitate it I offered two general questions to reflect on:
    – What makes a meeting successful and worthwhile for you?
    – What are the problems and barriers that get in the way of effective meetings for you?
  • Stop, start, continue exercise (5 min.): This was the core exercise of the session, I followed Andrew Walsh’s tips (2010:33). I asked my team to identify the most important concepts they wrote on the paper and classify them using the sticky notes as follow.
    – Red = Stop doing (things done badly or inappropriately)
    – Yellow = Continue doing (things that are good)
    – Green = Start doing (things that we want to introduce or ideas)
    They wrote down their concepts/ideas and then stick them on the flip chart.

Cataloguing part (3-4 min.): Good time for a break while my manager and me sorted out and grouped ideas together. Basically our cataloguing job. Look at the result.

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I’ll discuss the outcomes in the next post. Just to say that my manager’s manager asked me to run this session also for another team. So exciting!

References

Francis, P. (2009). Inspiring writing in art and design : taking a line for a write. Oxford, Intellect Books.

Walsh, A., Inala P. (2010). Active learning techniques for librarians : practical examples. Oxford, Chandos.