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MacGyver Librarianship: An Exercise in Crowdsourced AWEsomeness!


I hope everyone reading this has a “big idea” friend.  That person with whom no topic of conversation is too improbable or idealistic.  That friend who often feels more like a coconspirator than a traditional bestie. On those nights when you look up at the sky only to see the bat signal glowing persistently in the dark, this person is your first call.  For me, that guy is former school librarian and forever genius, Mark Samberg.

If you are not already following Mark on Twitter, do yourself a favor and correct that. Right now. Go  ahead. I’ll wait.

One of the many reasons why having a big idea friend is so important is because we all need someone with whom we can share our craziest notions and map out our most ambitious plans for changing the world.  In fact, it was during one of these very conversations that Mark and I had a crazy idea: what if MacGyver had been a school librarian?  You know MacGyver, of course, that mullet loving, plaid wearing, boy scout/heart throb from the 1980s who could repair a broken nuclear reactor with just a paperclip and a piece of chewing gum?  That guy.  What if HE had gone to library school and was then faced with his most difficult challenge yet: creating instructional magic in the library with not enough support and too few resources?  

Crazy?  You bet!  But we felt we were onto something.

So... we set out to create a presentation that would both empower school librarians to continue advocating for the best possible resources for their students, while also providing them with practical examples for making the most out of what they already have at their disposal. We didn’t know if anyone else would be interested in what we had to share, but we knew we’d have fun putting it together. And we did. We really, really did.

What happened next, though, was completely and utterly amazeballs.

It only took sharing our presentation a couple of times for us to realize that a) the world is full of school librarians who are already MacGyvering (yes, I just turned Angus MacGyver into a verb) the heck out of their own libraries and b) the hashtag #macgyverlibrarianship was a thing that absolutely had to exist.  So… we started asking for examples to share in future presentations, and boy did the Twitterverse deliver!  We’ve received suggestions from around the world involving spray paint, old wii remotes, post it notes, suran wrap, an endless supply of rulers and about a million uses for weeded books. Seriously, the stuff people have shared has been incredible. I've no doubt that our unfortunately coiffed hero would be so, so proud!

What's more, the ideas just keep coming.

Last week I had the honor of sharing this presentation with some truly badass school librarians in New Hampshire, and today the #macgyverlibrarianship hashtag has been on fire.  What these librarians, along with all the others from around the world who have channelled their inner MacGyver and then turned to Twitter to share their work, know is that the very thing you consider to be a small idea could, in fact, make a BIG difference for someone else.  Although the particulars may be different, in some ways, we’re all trying to crack the same puzzles.  Why not share what we know?  Put another way: individually we may be pretty great, but none of us is as awesome as we all are together.

Wanna know more? (And you know you do). Checkout the #macgyverlibrarianship hashtag and, if the spirit moves you, toss in a few ideas of your own.  Not only will you be contributing to our collective awesomeness, but you never know when Mark and I will share your idea(s) during a future presentation (with credit, of course). PLUS we’ll also add your name to our ever growing phone tree of super heroes to call the next time the bat signal goes up.


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