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Michelle asks: RU Ready 2 Trust ‘em? (@TEDxWestport)

Michelle Luhtala suggests we judge millennials unfairly.

Are they really coddled or are they resourceful?  Are they narcissistic or transparent? Unfocused or hyper-focused?

Is taking a selfie narcissistic, or is it a way to connect with the world?

In her kid-focused TEDx talk, Michelle, head librarian at New Canaan (CT) High School shares the importance of trusting our kids and engaging them in doing things–creative, important things.  Passive learning is not working for these kids.

Quoting Chelsea Clinton, she shares: It’s urgency, not arrogance, that drives their impatience, their frustration with the status quo.

Channeling Dave Lankes she reminds us: The test of a transformed library is in the achievements of its community.  We need to empower our millennials’ achievements.

Celebrate millennials, they bring gifts.  Michelle inspires us to foster that gift-giving through our (24/7) libraries, and through our trust.

I asked her to share the TEDxWestport back story:

I love my library. Yes, the one where I teach. Obviously.

But I have other library loves. And the Westport Public Library is high up on that list. I teach in New Canaan (CT), but I have been a Westport resident for over twenty years. When I first moved to Connecticut as a stay-at-home mom with my husband and our then eighteen-month-old daughter, I remarked to a friend, “It’s like war time during the day.  There are very few men.” (Please forgive that World War II-like perception of what war time looked like. Our Millennial wars set me straight.).

Coming from New York City, it felt like all aspects of my daily routine required some kind of an adjustment – not always a welcome one – with one exception: the library.

Our town library was a haven to me. It provided cultural diversion, parenting assistance, entertainment, and always great reading material. The library’s patron base seemed more heterogenous than the customer base on Main Street. I found a home in that library.

And then, a few years later, I went back to work – teaching in Bridgeport, CT.  Again, the Westport Public library was my lifeline.

We had limited classroom resources, but with the library’s exceptional staff and liberal lending policies for educators, I was able to bridge the gap between what I had, and what I wanted for my students.

Later still, I became a librarian – and sadly, once I had a library of my own, my routine visits to the Westport Library came to an end.

Sometimes, I have guilt pangs when I drive by, or read about an amazing library-sponsored program that I know I won’t get to.

So – and yes, THIS is the point of my library story.

I needed context for what I am about to say. Imagine my surprise and joy when I was invited to speak at the Westport Public Library’s TEDx May 3, 2014 event themed around Retinkering Libraries!

The speaker list featured a line-up of experts in their respective fields – an architect, a business consultant, a publisher, a marketer, and a tech guru (what else can you call David Pogue?).

It was a great honor to be included among them. The image map below links to all the presentations, the playlist itself and of, course, a link to the Westport Public Library.  Just hover and look for the buttons.

Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza

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