Reaching Across the Aisle for Library Funding and Other Initiatives: Building Bridges with the Discovery Model

Talking with political opponents during trying times
Free webinar: Thursday, August 29, 2019, 2 pm to 3 pm ET
Isn’t there a better way to discuss ideological differences and win financial and political support for your library, agency, or belief

Recent political campaigns and philosophical confrontations online and in the press have destroyed lasting friendships, frayed family ties, and alienated neighbors and co-workers. Social media has devolved into a battleground of nasty diatribes and personal slurs.

The Discovery Model is about first listening to the other person’s point of view and being able to understand their values and the world they live in. The point? It’s about strengthening and sustaining workplace, personal, and online relationships, not trying to win the argument du jour. And learning to live in peace on the same planet with people you disagree with.

For libraries and other organizations looking for financial and political support, influence begins with empathy. Do you know the other person’s priorities? How your political opponents find the information that guides their decisions? What misunderstandings they might have about your positions? And, most importantly, what mistakes might you have been making when communicating your values and advocating for your causes?

Topics include the concept of listening with a “clean heart and fresh eyes,” the 75% rule, why emotions can be more important than facts, questions that elicit information, building trust and respect, turning enemies into allies, and how the Discovery Model might change your opinions as well.


  • Introduction: The Elephant and the Wise Blind Seers
  • The Key Idea: Are Conversations Battles to Win or Lose?
  • The Rules of The Game: Agreements About Civility
  • Start with Commonality and Foundation Ideas
  • Precision in Language and Concepts
  • Verifying and Evaluating Information
  • Avoiding Common Critical Thinking Mistakes
  • Next steps


  • Build and maintain positive relationships based on trust and respect during divisive political times, even with political opponents.
  • Attract people who want to discuss issues and learn instead of debating them as competing in a reality-show contest.
  • Create safe public environments for difficult conversations.
  • Win financial and political support for institutions and causes.
  • Set an example of civil behavior for the people you serve.

A joint project of the EveryLibrary Institute ( Pattern Research, Inc. (

Patrick "PC" SweeneyPatrick “PC” Sweeney, Political Director at the EveryLibrary Institute, is a tireless and innovative advocate for libraries. A 2007 graduate of the San Jose School of Library and Information Sciences, PC is the former Administrative Librarian of the Sunnyvale (CA) Public Library and was Executive Director of EveryLibrary California, a statewide initiative to support library Propositions.He was awarded Library Journal’s “Movers and Shakers” award in 2015 for his library advocacy work. He is co-author of “Winning Elections and Influencing Politicians for Library Funding” as well as “Before the Ballot; Building Support for Library Funding.”

Pat Wagner, co-owner of Pattern Research, Inc., is a management consultant and instructional producer. She has been serving libraries, higher ed, and allied institutions since 1978. Pat is a frequent speaker at state and national library conferences and has worked for libraries and library associations from Alaska to Puerto Rico, from the smallest storefront rural libraries to the largest urban districts and academic learning centers. Pat specializes in skills to support library success, including marketing, conflict management, customer service, strategic planning, and project management. She is committed to the ideal of an open marketplace of ideas.

Laird Wilcox on The Practice of Ritual Defamation – 1990


How values, opinions and beliefs

are controlled in democratic societies

With Permission of the authorLaird Wilcox

Defamation is the destruction or attempted destruction of the reputation, status, character or standing in the community of a person or group of persons by unfair, wrongful, or malicious speech or publication. For the purposes of this essay, the central element is defamation in retaliation for the real or imagined attitudes, opinions or beliefs of the victim, with the intention of silencing or neutralizing his or her influence, and/or making an example of them so as to discourage similar independence and “insensitivity” or non-observance of taboos. It is different in nature and degree from simple criticism or disagreement in that it is aggressive, organized and skillfully applied, often by an organization or representative of a special interest group, and in that it consists of several characteristic elements.

Ritual Defamation is not ritualistic because it follows any prescribed religious or mystical doctrine, nor is it embraced in any particular document or scripture. Rather, it is ritualistic because it follows a predictable, stereotyped pattern which embraces a number of elements, as in a ritual.

The elements of a Ritual Defamation are these:

1. In a ritual defamation the victim must have violated a particular taboo in some way, usually by expressing or identifying with a forbidden attitude, opinion or belief. It is not necessary that he “do” anything about it or undertake any particular course of action, only that he engage in some form of communication or expression.

2. The method of attack in a ritual defamation is to assail the character of the victim, and never to offer more than a perfunctory challenge to the particular attitudes, opinions or beliefs expressed or implied. Character assassination is its primary tool.

3. An important rule in ritual defamation is to avoid engaging in any kind of debate over the truthfulness or reasonableness of what has been expressed, only condemn it. To debate opens the issue up for examination and discussion of its merits, and to consider the evidence that may support it, which is just what the ritual defamer is trying to avoid. The primary goal of a ritual defamation is censorship and repression.

4. The victim is often somebody in the public eye – someone who is vulnerable to public opinion – although perhaps in a very modest way. It could be a schoolteacher, writer, businessman, minor official, or merely an outspoken citizen. Visibility enhances vulnerability to ritual defamation.

5. An attempt, often successful, is made to involve others in the defamation. In the case of a public official, other public officials will be urged to denounce the offender. In the case of a student, other students will be called upon, and so on.

6. In order for a ritual defamation to be effective, the victim must be dehumanized to the extent that he becomes identical with the offending attitude, opinion or belief, and in a manner which distorts it to the point where it appears at its most extreme. For example, a victim who is defamed as a “subversive” will be identified with the worst images of subversion, such as espionage, terrorism or treason. A victim defamed as a “pervert” will be identified with the worst images of perversion, including child molestation and rape. A victim defamed as a “racist” or “anti-Semitic” will be identified with the worst images of racism or anti-Semitism, such as lynchings or gas chambers.

7. Also to be successful, a ritual defamation must bring pressure and humiliation on the victim from every quarter, including family and friends. If the victim has school children, they may be taunted and ridiculed as a consequence of adverse publicity. If they are employed, they may be fired from their job. If the victim belongs to clubs or associations, other members may be urged to expel them.

8. Any explanation the victim may offer, including the claim of being misunderstood, is considered irrelevant. To claim truth as a defense for a politically incorrect value, opinion or belief is interpreted as defiance and only compounds the problem. Ritual defamation is often not necessarily an issue of being wrong or incorrect but rather of “insensitivity” and failing to observe social taboos.

world-549425_1920 (1)An interesting aspect of ritual defamation as a practice is its universality. It is not specific to any value, opinion or belief or to any group or subculture. It may be used for or against any political, ethnic, national or religious group. It may, for example, by anti-Semites against Jews, or by Jews against anti-Semites; by rightists against leftists or by leftists against rightists, and so on.

The power of ritual defamation lies entirely in its capacity to intimidate and terrorize. It embraces some elements of primitive superstitious belief, as in a “curse” or “hex.” It plays into the subconscious fear most people have of being abandoned or rejected by the tribe or by society and being cut off from social and psychological support systems.

The weakness of ritual defamation lies in its tendency toward overkill and in its obvious maliciousness. Occasionally a ritual defamation will fail because of poor planning and failure to correctly judge the vulnerability of the victim or because its viciousness inadvertently generates sympathy.

It’s important to recognize and identify the patterns of a ritual defamation. Like all propaganda and disinformation campaigns it is accomplished primarily through the manipulation of words and symbols. It is not used to persuade, but to punish. Although it may have cognitive elements, its thrust is primarily emotional. Ritual Defamation is used to hurt, to intimidate, to destroy, and to persecute, and to avoid the dialogue, debate and discussion upon which a free society depends. On those grounds it must be opposed no matter who tries to justify its use.

Laird Wilcox on Extremist Traits [The Hoaxer Project Report, pp. 39-41]

With Permission of the authorLaird Wilcox

Robert F. Kennedy wrote:

rhinoceros-782279_1280 (1)“What is objectionable, what is dangerous about extremists is not that they are extreme, but that they are intolerant. The evil is not what they say about their cause, but what they say about their opponents.”

In analyzing the rhetoric and propaganda of several hundred militant “fringe” political and social groups across the political spectrum, I have identified a number of specific traits or behaviors that tend to represent the extremist “style”…

The Pursuit of Justice, 1964


Extremists often attack the character of an opponent rather than deal with the facts or issues raised. They will question motives, qualifications, past associations, alleged values, personality, looks, mental health, and so on as a diversion from the issues under consideration. Some of these matters are not entirely irrelevant , but they should not serve to avoid the real issues.

Extremists object strenuously when this is done to them, of course!


Extremists are quick to resort to epithets (racist, subversive, pervert, hate monger, nut, crackpot, degenerate, un-American, anti-semite, red, commie, nazi, kook, fink, liar, bigot, and so on) to label and condemn opponents in order to divert attention from their arguments and to discourage others from hearing them out. These epithets don’t have to be proved to be effective; the mere fact that they have been said is often enough.


Extremists tend to make sweeping claims or judgments on little or no evidence, and they have a tendency to confuse similarity with sameness. That is, they assume that because two (or more) things, events, or persons are alike in some respects, they must be alike in most respects. The sloppy use of analogy is a treacherous form of logic and has a high potential for false conclusions.


Extremists tend to be very fuzzy about what constitutes proof, and they also tend to get caught up in logical fallacies, such as post hoc ergo propter hoc (assuming that a prior event explains a subsequent occurrence simply because of their before and after relationship). They tend to project wished-for conclusions and to exaggerate the significance of information that confirms their beliefs while derogating or ignoring information that contradicts them. They tend to be motivated by feelings more than facts, by what they want to exist rather than what actually does exist. Extremists do a lot of wishful and fearful thinking.


Extremists generally tend to judge themselves or their interest group in terms of their intentions, which they tend to view very generously, and others by their acts, which they tend to view very critically. They would like you to accept their assertions on faith, but they demand proof for yours. They tend to engage in special pleading on behalf of themselves or their interests, usually because of some alleged special status, past circumstances, or present disadvantage.


To the extremist, opponents hold opposing positions because they are bad people, immoral, dishonest, unscrupulous, mean-spirited, hateful, cruel, or whatever, not merely because they simply disagree, see the matter differently, have competing interests, or are perhaps even mistaken.


Extremists have a tendency to see the world in terms of absolutes of good and evil, for them or against them, with no middle ground or intermediate positions. All issues are ultimately moral issues of right and wrong, with the “right” position coinciding with their interests. Their slogan is often “those who are not with me are against me.”


This may include a very active campaign to keep opponents from media access and a public hearing, as in the case of blacklisting, banning or “quarantining” dissident spokespersons. They may actually lobby for legislation against speaking, writing, teaching, or instructing “subversive” or forbidden information or opinions. They may even attempt to keep offending books out of stores or off of library shelves, discourage advertising with threats of reprisals, and keep spokespersons for “offensive” views off the airwaves or certain columnists out of newspapers. In each case the goal is some kind of information control. Extremists would prefer that you listen only to them. They feel threatened when someone talks back or challenges their views.


Accordingly, extremists may become emotionally bound to their opponents, who are often competing extremists themselves. Because they tend to view their enemies as evil and powerful, they tend, perhaps subconsciously, to emulate them, adopting the same tactics to a certain degree. For example, anti-Communist and anti-Nazi groups often behave surprisingly like their opponents. Anti-Klan rallies often take on much of the character of the stereotype of Klan rallies themselves, including the orgy of emotion, bullying, screaming epithets, and even acts of violence. To behave the opposite of someone is to actually surrender your will to them, and “opposites” are often more like mirror images that, although they have “left” and “right” reversed, look and behave amazingly alike.


Extremists tend to frame their arguments in such a way as to intimidate others into accepting their premises and conclusions. To disagree with them is to “ally oneself with the devil,” or to give aid and comfort to the enemy. They use a lot of moralizing and pontificating, and tend to be very judgmental. This shrill, harsh rhetorical style allows them to keep their opponents and critics on the defensive, cuts off troublesome lines of argument, and allows them to define the perimeters of debate.


For many extremists shortcuts in thinking and in reasoning matters out seem to be necessary in order to avoid or evade awareness of troublesome facts and compelling counter-arguments. Extremists generally behave in ways that reinforce their prejudices and alter their own consciousness in a manner that bolsters their false confidence and sense of self-righteousness.


Most obvious would be claims of general racial or ethnic superiority–a master race, for example. Less obvious are claims of ennoblement because of alleged victimhood, a special relationship with God, membership in a special “elite” or “class,” and a kind of aloof “highminded” snobbishness that accrues because of the weightiness of their preoccupations, their altruism, and their willingness to sacrifice themselves (and others) to their cause. After all, who can bear to deal with common people when one is trying to save the world! Extremists can show great indignation when one is “insensitive” enough to challenge these claims.


Extremists often predict dire or catastrophic consequences from a situation or from failure to follow a specific course, and they tend to exhibit a kind of “crisis-mindedness.” It can be a Communist takeover, a Nazi revival, nuclear war, earthquakes, floods, or the wrath of God. Whatever it is, it’s just around the corner unless we follow their program and listen to the special insight and wisdom, to which only the truly enlightened have access. For extremists, any setback or defeat is the “beginning of the end!”


Extremists may deliberately lie, distort, misquote, slander, defame, or libel their opponents and/or critics, engage in censorship or repression , or undertake violence in “special cases.” This is done with little or no remorse as long as it’s in the service of defeating the Communists or Fascists or whomever. Defeating an “enemy” becomes an all-encompassing goal to which other values are subordinate. With extremists, the end justifies the means.


Extremists have an unspoken reverence for propaganda, which they may call “education” or “consciousness-raising.” Symbolism plays an exaggerated role in their thinking, and they tend to think imprecisely and metamorphically. Harold D. Lasswell, in his book, *Psychopathology and Politics*, says, “The essential mark of the agitator is the high value he places on the emotional response of the public.” Effective extremists tend to be effective propagandists. Propaganda differs from education in that the former teaches one what to think, and the latter teaches one how to think.


Extremists perceive hostile innuendo in even casual comments; imagine rejection and antagonism concealed in honest disagreement and dissent; see “latent” subversion, anti-semitism, perversion, racism, disloyalty, and so on in innocent gestures and ambiguous behaviors. Although few extremists are clinically paranoid, many of them adopt a paranoid style with its attendant hostility and distrust.


Some extremists, particularly those involved in “cults” or extreme religious movements, such as fundamentalist Christians, militant Zionist extremists, and members of mystical and metaphysical organizations, claim some kind of supernatural rationale for their beliefs and actions, and that their movement or cause is ordained by God. In this case, stark extremism may become reframed in a “religious” context, which can have a legitimizing effect for some people. It’s surprising how many people are reluctant to challenge religiously motivated extremism because it represents “religious belief” or because of the sacred-cow status of some religions in our culture.


Indeed, the ideologies and belief systems to which extremists tend to attach themselves often represent grasping for certainty in an uncertain world, or an attempt to achieve absolute security in an environment that is naturally unpredictable or perhaps populated by people with interests opposed to their own. Extremists exhibit a kind of risk-aversiveness that compels them to engage in controlling and manipulative behavior, both on a personal level and in a political context, to protect themselves from the unforeseen and unknown. The more laws or “rules” there are that regulate the behavior of others–particular their “enemies”–the more secure extremists feel.


Extremists, their organizations , and their subcultures are prone to a kind of inward-looking group cohesiveness that leads to what Irving Janis discussed in his excellent book Victims of Groupthink. “Groupthink” involves a tendency to conform to group norms and to preserve solidarity and concurrence at the expense of distorting members’ observations of facts, conflicting evidence, and disquieting observations that would call into question the shared assumptions and beliefs of the group.

Right-wingers (or left-wingers), for example, talk only with one another, read material that reflects their own views, and can be almost phobic about the “propaganda” of the “other side.” The result is a deterioration of reality-testing, rationality, and moral judgment. With groupthink, shared illusions of righteousness, superior morality, persecution, and so on remain intact, and those who challenge them are viewed with skepticism and hostility.


Extremists often wish for the personal bad fortune of their “enemies,” and celebrate when it occurs. When a critic or an adversary dies or has a serious illness, a bad accident, or personal legal problems, extremists often rejoice and chortle about how they “deserved” it. I recall seeing right-wing extremists celebrate the assassination of Martin Luther King and leftists agonizing because George Wallace survived an assassination attempt. In each instance their hatred was not only directed against ideas, but also against individual human beings.


For example, if they lose an election, then it was “rigged.” If public opinion turns against them, it was because of “brainwashing.” If their followers become disillusioned, it’s because of “sabotage.” The test of the rightness or wrongness of the system is how it impacts upon them…

The Story of the Office for Open Network by Leif Smith and Pat Wagner

Open-house blog banner art

We wrote this essay over 20 years ago as a chapter in a book on community building. It describes our information and idea exchange business at the time, which lasted 25 years and impacted the lives of hundreds of people. It was written before social media and the ubiquitous online connections that most people count on these days. However, we still maintain that people, not computers, make the best network generators.

From In the Company of Others: Making Community in the Modern World
© 1993 by Leif Smith and Pat Wagner All rights reserved.
Claude Whitmyer, editor and contributor.
Foreword by Eric Utne
Published by Tarcher/Putnam, New York, 1993. Chapter 32.
Check out Claude’s current work at and

When David first visited our office in Denver, after months of working in Singapore, he expressed concern that he would be in our way. After all, his engineering skills were not needed amidst the piles of paperwork, books, and computer equipment. He wanted to be more than an idle tourist, but what kind of contribution could he make?

Singapore skyline open-house blog image 2016

“What could I possibly do to be of service?” he asked. A few minutes later, the phone rang. Did we know about our mutual friend Connie, the caller asked? Her husband had been transferred to Singapore, and she was frantically trying to find out about living conditions there. Had Connie contacted us yet for assistance? David’s jaw sagged in astonishment when we told him he had his first assignment.

We phoned Connie and explained that we had an expatriate American in our office who was currently living in Singapore. Would she like to talk to him? Would she?!! For the next hour or so, David proceeded to tell Connie everything she needed to know to smooth her family’s move to Singapore. When David returned to Singapore, he maintained his friendship with Connie and her family during their stay there and has continued to do so since.

We have become used to these kinds of coincidences.

The Office for Open Network, a project Leif started over 17 years ago [1975-2000], puts people in touch with each other for mutual benefit. It is fueled, not by some monster computer system, but rather by the hearts and minds of hundreds of people. These people, our clients and friends, tend to be adventurers poised on the edge of a great wilderness of which they know little. They come to us for maps, tools, and introductions to fellow travelers.

The Office for Open Network is not a network; it is a network generator. It is not a community; it contributes to many communities, some existing and others yet to be conceived. Our clients tend to be people who cherish their own ideas about the world, but still like to be in touch with other explorers no matter what their destination.

Exploring image for open-house blog

[The service was based at the time on a yearly fee of $60; a lifetime account was $250.00.] They might be starting a new business, a new nonprofit, or a new book project. They might be liberal, conservative, socialist, libertarian, green, or red.

Abe teaches businesses how to decrease bad debt. Rebecca sews bridal gowns. Jeff is bringing together some experienced, international coal brokers to examine a deal involving mines in Siberia. Liz, an official in a government agency, needs information to help her evaluate hardware and software for a multi-agency online clearinghouse. Fran wants to know the feasibility of setting up a home business writing for medical journals.

People sign up with us for many reasons.

Jan needs to sell some antique furniture and find someone to dig up her prize iris garden. Ginny is fundraising for a social venture foundation. Jim is looking for participants for his men’s group. Elizabeth needs a clinical psychologist to keynote a health conference. Marilyn is looking for ways to make her diabetic cat more comfortable. Carl is moving to Seattle and reviving his music career. Kathy is looking for a new boyfriend, and Kendra is trying to understand her economics homework.

It is not necessary to have detailed histories of each person. It is enough if we know something of the person’s past experience regarding their current interest and something of the trajectory of their quest. For example, we need to know if Marilyn already has consulted a number of veterinarians on behalf of her cat, if she prefers hi-tech to holistic solutions, and how much money and time she has budgeted. We also need to have a sense of what Marilyn “really” needs. Is she looking for a supportive friend or a clinically objective expert?

fish lures open-house blog image

For the results-oriented person on deadline, it is enough that we find them an electrician or locate a harvestable source of bat dung. But, we also pay attention to the potential content of the information exchange, where links of common interests join people in communities based on connections as tenuous as a shared love of fast cars or a mutual interest in participating in oil lease partnerships.

Some of our clients still cling to the notion that the Monster Computer really does exist and that their requests are fed into a giant database. [Sorry; it still does not exist.] Some of them seem to be wary of the ambiguity of our processes and still are not prepared to believe that when they contact our office, human beings think about what they need and make educated guesses about whom they should talk with and why. The part of our work that encompasses the process of building working relationships among our clients is the part that puzzles folks who want us to be a mechanized clearinghouse. It pleases those who are happy to build fellowship in addition to achieving immediate, measurable results.

Relationships versus results.

However, the people who focus too much on the relationships also may misunderstand what we are doing. They think that the warm feelings that exist among many of our clients, those feelings of trust and friendship that were not really part of the original purpose but are a reality for many people, are a product of… what? They are not sure how the warm feelings came to be, and this failure to understand is reflected in requests for access to people and their resources without consideration for the other person’s boundaries.

From the sincere businesswoman who asked for a list of rich people to call in order to bail her boyfriend out of financial trouble to the spiritual workshop leader who couldn’t understand why we wouldn’t give him the phone numbers of everybody we know, they are usually extremely friendly, but without a sense for the substance needed to make a successful connection based on mutual aid and interest.

pelicans image open0house blog

We ask folks who are focused only on their own needs to explain to us what the benefit would be to the other party to be put in touch with them. They often don’t think about the cost to the other person in terms of time and attention. They want instant rapport, trust, and an entry into the other person’s territory and personal communities. When we are not forthcoming with that information, they sometimes accuse us of elitism.

What these people don’t understand is that boundaries are necessary for creating good community. Each person must be able to decide for themselves what those boundaries are. Over the years we have discovered that the easier we make it for people to say “no”, the more likely they are to say “yes”. Our clients’ ability to request boundaries and our ability (which is far from perfect) to respond to those requests help keep the networks of relationships vigorous and stable.

Much of the vitality springs from its diversity; we are an “open network” office.

Attracting adventurers works. Keeping a balance between results and relationships works. Respecting boundaries works. What else promotes the health of the connections made through the Office for Open Network?

Our clients range from wealthy industrialists to communitarian rural Greens, from suburban housewives who play tennis and stay at home to raise their families to itinerant fitness junkies who peddle mountain bikes in Germany. We have clients who think nuclear energy is wonderful and ones who think it is the Devil’s own handmaiden. We have clients who hate Republicans and ones who serve on the state Republican committee. Pick an issue. Within the hour, we probably could supply you with the phone numbers of at least three sets of articulate, interesting people with conflicting points of view on the topic.

rocky mountains open-house

Journalists and librarians understand us best, and they know the great delight we get from the wonderful combinations of ideas and purposes visible from the walkways of our outpost. Each client is like a multi-faceted jewel, whose light splinters into a unique pattern of color and energy. Each individual pattern, which is constantly changing, contributes to the overall pattern, which also is constantly changing. The patterns represent shifting alliances, based on the most unlikely connections.

For example, the holistic therapist who hates food irradiation and the engineer who loves the idea are united in their appreciation of the mountain parks of the Front Range of Colorado. Often, the Enemy has the information and perspective we need to solve a problem, and if the Enemy is accessible to us, and we are motivated to do something for them in return, our world is better. Our office, and what it stands for, creates a neutral ground for the exploration of ideas without the fear of punishment or humiliation.

Where do the walls of the Office for Open Network end?

Some of our clients do not like the idea that their worst enemy also might be a client of the Office for Open Network. We once received a phone call from a woman active in local environmental issues who wanted us to know that as long as “that man” was a client, she would never sign up with us. If we followed her advice we would have to clear the acceptance of any client into our service with all the other clients, like the old private club “blackball”. The makeup of our clientele would be bland indeed.

Our clients are mostly white, mostly middle-class, mostly 35-50, mostly educated. It pleases us, however, that our contacts run deep into every part of our city.

abstract colors open-house blog

We have connections with gun-toting survivalists, lesbian feminists, Native Americans, conservative Christians, African-American Marxists, wiccan priestesses, people who use DOS computers, (or Amigas or NeXTs), and even a rare politician or two.

We take it as a good sign that less than 15% of our clients appear to share our personal philosophical biases. If we believed that we had special access to The Truth we might declare that connections made by us constitute “the One True Network,” and we might ask people to commit themselves to it [to us], forsaking all others. Instead, we see the Office for Open Network as a hardware store that people may employ to extend and enrich their own networks and to create new networks for themselves, their friends, and their allies.

Our hope is that through our work, and through the work of others, that the sense of open network, which amounts to the justified feeling that each individual is more likely to be ally than enemy, will become the possession of every human being. More listening posts resembling ours, established on the same frontier, whether formal or informal, will do much to achieve this end. Respect for boundaries, together with the willingness to serve all explorers, is crucial for success.

The shared expectation that a civilization fit for explorers may arise among us is not sufficient to constitute community, but it is an essential part of the ground on which many differently constituted communities may thrive, in peace, affording one another mutual aid, adventure, and joy.

This spirit still imbues our work.

Join us at the ALA Annual Conference for Great Advice on a Consulting Career

Lions Banner BlogCZqf3euXEAEJ4xASponsored by the Library Consultants Interest Group of the Association of Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies (ASCLA)

Topic: Freelance Success: Building a Business as A Library Trainer, Educator, Writer, Researcher, or Consultant
Pre-conference: Friday, June 24, 2016, 8:00AM – 12:00PM
Location: TBA – American Library Association Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida
Registration: register now

Elephant Art BlogTo register for this event, you can include it with your initial registration or add it later using the unique link in your email confirmation. If you don’t have your registration confirmation handy, you can request a copy by emailing

ALA Member: $235; ASCLA Member: $169; Other Member (Retired, Student, Trustee, Non-Salaried, and Support Staff): $99; NonMember: $275.

Provide consulting, programs, services, and products to the library community or use your library-related skills in the larger market. Learn what it takes, from testing the market to negotiating with customers and build an enterprise for yourself.

A new wave of library professionals is looking for ways to stay involved in supporting library success. In addition, even as the economy recovers, libraries are relying on independent librarians to provide one-time, temporary, and part-time support to libraries, particularly small, rural, and financially strapped institutions.
Eagle Owl Blog ArtFinally, the dramatic changes libraries are experiencing mean library leaders and managers are going outside their existing staff to seek people with experience in a variety of skills, including change management, instructional design, user experience, technology planning, and collection management. This half-day workshop is ideal for anyone at any level of librarianship, especially those considering or in the midst of a career change.

Pat Wagner has been self-employed since 1977 and has been working as a consultant and trainer for innovators in libraries, universities, government, nonprofits, and the private sector since 1978. She has made every mistake in the book (and invented a few) so you don’t have to.

Visiting Denver and Colorado for Conferences

Denver Daytime BlogIf you are coming to our fair state for the Public Library Association (PLA) conference in April 2016 (or for any other work or family event), please note that the dryness, intense sunlight, and lower levels of available oxygen can affect you in ways that the tourist brochures sometimes fail to note. Here are some tips to make it more likely that you will have a wonderful time in our beautiful mountains and plains.

Dress for everything!

Mittens BlogAlthough most of us like to think that our hometown weather is special, the truth is that Denver is like most of the mid-continental United States, where weather conditions can shift rapidly. In springtime, snow is not uncommon, so the two rules are the same here as elsewhere: Check the weather forecasts before you pack, and bring layers to ensure you are comfortable in the conference venues.

If you plan on going into our lovely mountains, remember that it can snow all year round, and storms can be sudden and vicious.

Experienced residents have extra blankets, winter clothes, food, water, and winter weather gear in their cars when they venture into the High Country, even in the peak of summer. (Do you wanna hear about the hikers that had to be rescued because they were caught in a blizzard on the 4th of July?)

Get Wet!

Water Face BlogHotel advice: Before you go to bed, plug your bathtub and turn on your shower (hottest water!); after the tub has accumulated a couple of inches of water in the bottom, turn off the shower and leave the bathroom door open so your room is humidified. When you wake up in the morning, a hot shower also can help alleviate an early morning headache due to dry sinuses.

Buy those inexpensive orange-capped bottles of saline spray to keep nasal membranes moist. You will probably want to use skin cream and lip balm, even if you don’t use these products at home.

Some people who wear contacts bring eyeglasses just in case they decide that contacts are too uncomfortable in our dry climate. If you need eye drops/ointment, check with your pharmacist about which brands have the fewest unwelcome side effects. We like Systane®. (Learn more about this product at:

Drink the Right Stuff!

Healthy Drink BlogIncrease the amount of water, seltzer, and fruit juices in your diet. Some experts will tell you to drink twice as much water as you are accustomed to.

Colorado is known for its craft beer and alcohol industry; please enjoy in moderation. However, alcohol can dehydrate you; it is said that hangovers can be more severe in our arid, mile-high climate.

Potassium, which also helps keep your nasal membranes moist, can be found in helpful amounts in bananas, oranges, and watermelon. Fruit smoothies! Virgin daiquiris! Yum!

(We are a drought-conscious state, so you probably will have to ask your wait staff for water at your meals.)

Keep Covered!

Child in Sun BlogThe sun here might be more intense than what you are used to back home; and sunburns are likely at any time of the year, particularly in our mountains and from 10 am to 2 pm. So wear a hat (particularly if your hair is thin), wear long sleeves (if you are susceptible to burning), wear the highest rated sunscreens, and if you do forget to protect, use aloe vera to help the burns heal quickly. Also, sunglasses are a must if you plan to spend time outside.


Mountains BlogAltitude or mountain sickness is caused by the difference in the available oxygen at higher elevations. The symptoms of altitude or mountain sickness are similar to the flu, but most cases do not occur until you go above 8,000 feet. However, I have known healthy teenagers to spend their vacation in a Denver hotel room, feeling sick and exhausted. Ironically, the fit visitor who insists on doing their daily five-mile run is as likely to get sick as the couch potato who takes it easy.

Even if you don’t come down with a full-blown case of altitude sickness, be prepared to sleep a little longer, to take a nap, and to take more breaks. If you are in a hotel or conference center, go outside during your breaks, if you can. At night, sleep with your windows cracked open, particularly if you visit the mountains: The lack of oxygen in the room can give you a headache in the morning.

Some people find the first couple of days difficult, others do well the first three days, and then crash. The only “cure” for real altitude sickness is travelling to a lower altitude or taking supplementary oxygen.

For more information about altitude sickness: