Why I love the Ann Arbor Mini Maker Faire

The sixth annual Ann Arbor Mini Maker Faire is less than a week away (join us if you’re in the area!). I really enjoy being part of this community that comes together for one day to celebrate creativity, learning, passions, and being together. It’s inspiring to see the ideas other people have brought to life and to experience it myself.

A few weeks ago, I spoke at Nerd Nite Ann Arbor and I thought I’d share my slides and notes from the presentation here as well.

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Taking the City Bus

I’ll be honest, I’m pro-millage. What? Here in Ann Arbor, there’s a millage up for the vote on May 6 about increasing the amount of taxes we pay to support our local public transportation. I’m not writing this post, though, to talk about why I support the millage, I just want to write about why I like taking the city bus.

I’m from Arkansas. I love Arkansas. It’s my home state and I’m proud of what we Arkansans accomplish in the state and out of it. I graduated from the University of Arkansas and I’ve always lived, essentially, downtown. That means you’re within walking distance to your work, your school, your family, and your play. Because (let’s face it), public transportation in northwest Arkansas is no BART or EL or METRO or AATA or anything remotely like that.

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Us and Them.

I just came back from Austin, TX, where I attended the Digital Library Federation Forum. It was my first time in Austin (breakfast tacos?!) and to this conference. It seemed to hit all the topics I’m invested in learning more about (data management, digital collections, assessment) and had a nice mix of workshops, presentations, and even its very own THATCamp.

Photo of tacos from Austin Texas

Not breakfast tacos, but they were damn tasty.

It did, however, collide with the tenth anniversary of the Open Education conference in Park City, Utah. This is a community I care deeply about and I’ve made some great friends over the last three years I attended OpenEd. While my current professional relationship to this community is ambiguous, I still try to stay in touch with my colleagues and informally work on them on stuff and things. This meant that I have been paying attention to the  and I’m trying to keep up with the keynotes.

I am an introvert (surprise!) and my position at the library has lead me to a lot of points of introspection about my role and agency in my own communities: work, professional, societal. I have lately been thinking a lot about authenticity in its myriad forms and uses. I’ve also been thinking a lot about rhetoric–in higher education and in libraries.

There were a few messages from these conferences that solidified and articulated some of my own thoughts (and, admittedly, frustrations) about What Is Going On In Libraries and Education. I will likely iterate on some of tehse opinions and thoughts in the future, but for now… here’s what’s in my head.

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What is your dream job?

Since I have graduated from my master’s program, I’ve been asked “What is your dream job?” or “Where do you see yourself in five years?” which is, I think, very close to the “What do you want to be when you grow up?” question we all get as kids. I still don’t know the answer to these questions and I actually think they’re the wrong kind of question to ask people these days.

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“What amazing things have come to be because you were brave enough to ask a question”?

Last week I received an email from Alexis Caudell, director of the Mitchell Community Public Library. It was posed as a “very simple question” but it took me awhile to respond to her.

She asked:  “What amazing things have come to be because you were brave enough to ask a question”?

When I sat down to think about this question–this is what I came up with…

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Building with legos and playing at work

After the Mini Maker Faire I needed a break from organizing a major event. That break didn’t last long. When I first arrived at the Library in January, I came across MIT Media Lab’s Festival of Learning. I really liked the idea of professionals teaching and learning from one another, but not based on professional skills (powerpoint presentations, anyone?) but based on passions and outside work interests. I work at an academic library. A really big one. At one of the best public schools in the country. We help students, faculty, staff teach and learn every day in one way or another. We do a lot of professional development (internal and university-based), which is awesome. But we have around 400 folks who work in units spread across a lot of buildings and not all those people work directly with instruction, reference, or research support.

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The fifth annual Ann Arbor Mini Maker Faire Happened. And it was Awesome.

I have spent a lot of hours over the past seven or eight months meeting with a great group of folks to organize and host this year’s Ann Arbor Mini Maker Faire. I was asked to help organize this year’s faire by my friend Greg Austic.

While I participated in pretty much every aspect of the planning process, my focus was mostly to support marketing and promotion. So you’ll see my name almost exclusively on the Ann Arbor Mini Maker Faire’s blog for this year’s activities. I also got to be interviewed for a few articles by our local newspaper and I’ve included those links at the end of this post.

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