[Libs-Or] What Oregon Battle of the Books can do for you

Elke Bruton elke.bruton at state.or.us
Wed Jul 23 15:08:27 PDT 2014

Dear Oregon Library Colleagues,

Recently, I posted an open volunteer position with Oregon Battle of the Books: the Administrative Chair position that I am currently occupying.  However, I have not gotten much response and I think it's because I came at this from the wrong angle.  I told you all about what I've done for OBOB-ie; the position description.  Just the facts; what OBOB is and does and what all YOU can do for OBOB as the Administrative Chair.

But let me tell you what OBOB has done for me and what it could, in turn, do for you.

The Oregon Battle of the Books is a statewide voluntary reading motivation program sponsored by the Oregon Association of School Libraries in conjunction with a Library Services and Technology Act grant.  Students in 3rd-12th grades, regardless of ability, are exposed to quality literature representing a variety of literary styles and viewpoint. The mission is to encourage and recognize students who enjoy reading, to broaden reading interests, to increase reading comprehension, promote academic excellence, and to promote cooperative learning and teamwork among students.

When I joined OBOB in May 2012 my understanding of the program was minimal.  I understood the concept, as described above, but not the actual nuts and bolts.  I was completely out of my league in terms of the body of work and was pretty sure that I was going to fail miserably and be asked to "move on" as politely and quickly as possible.  I was only hoping it would be sooner rather than later because I didn't want to ruin the Statewide Committee's hard work and dedication.

What I found was a truly collaborative group of people following a single mission.  Everyone was willing to share information with me and give me plenty of time to work through the details of my position.  In turn, I and my fellow co-chairs proposed lots of changes to the  organization structure and operation of OBOB.  We were met with a surprising amount of cooperation...surprising because the OBOB Statewide Committee is a group of well over 40 people.  That's a HUGE amount of people when you're trying to reach consensus!  It takes a group that is, overall, very amenable to change and willing to try new things and take risks.

What I learned was a tremendous amount of patience and diplomacy.  Through working with the Statewide Committee and, throughout the year, communicating with parents, teachers, professionals, students, and everyone in between I got lots of practice at not reacting from the hip-taking deep breaths, thinking through my communications, and overall, becoming a better communicator and facilitator.

Yay me, right?  Sure, okay, maybe.  But, what I'd like to see happen is for this really cool volunteer position to be passed on to somebody else.  To give somebody like YOU a chance to enjoy working with the fantastic team of people who make up the Oregon Battle of the Books.

The position description is available if you want to know more...but first ask yourself,

ü  Do you want a challenge?

ü  Do you like to get out of your comfort zone to learn something new?

ü  Do you like meeting new people and working collaboratively?

ü  Do you think that getting young people excited about reading is important?

If so, consider joining the Oregon Battle of the Books statewide committee as their Administrative Chair.  You will shadow/apprentice me through the fall during the registration and book grants process.  Attend the August meeting and the November meeting to get a feel for how the group dynamic works.  "Listen in" on my email correspondence with teachers, students, parents, etc. and get a feel for the communications work. Take the reins in January.  The commitment is two years...or longer, depending on YOU.

Lastly, I want to share something that sums up the 'why I do what I do' question.  It's from our State Librarian Emeritus, Jim Scheppke, written as part of our nomination for the Walt Morey Award in 2012:
"I remember happening by a rural elementary school outside of Salem and seeing on the sign outside the school in big letters "GOING TO STATE! OBOB." What a thrill it was to see that sign. It's great to be a state champion in sports, but to aspire to be the state reading champs is really something special. OBOB makes that possible."

Elke B
OBOB Administrative Chair

Elke H. Bruton, MLIS
Public Services Librarian
Oregon Talking Book and Braille Library
Oregon State Library
250 Winter St NE
Salem, OR 97301
elke.bruton at state.or.us<mailto:elke.bruton at state.or.us>
Follow us:  [http://library.state.or.us/images/FB-logo_blue.jpg] <https://www.facebook.com/ORtbabs>

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