One would have thought that browsing through Richard Mulholland’s various online writings before the conference (“Your conference sucks”, or “The Gautrain: Sh*t”) might have prepared one for his closing talk at the SAOIM 2012 meeting, but one would be downright mistaken…..
Up close and in person the man is a no-holds-barred free-thinking liberal, a stirrer of note, an avid reader, an articulate clown: all this funkily wrapped in a controversial Capetonian package.
Richard’s talk was aimed at displaying how non-innovative thinking rings the death knell for all industries, be it refridgeration practices, recorded music formats, or libraries. One has to QUESTION the legacies. His almost SNL13 portrayal of the urinating male’s dilemma in dealing with impractical buttoned male jeans, or beige male pants, brought the house down. At least the section of the auditorium I was seated at….
Another aspect needed for success was mentioned to be the kick-ass trick. Having one extra-ordinary ability not held by competitors or those in the same industry, e.g. excellent customer service, is often the difference between a flourishing library with loyal patrons and a dying institution. We were entertaining by a delightful encounter between the speaker and Jeff Bezos and apart from having his kindle signed customers rule by the Amazon boss, Richard is living proof of the company’s extraordinary quest for client satisfaction by having his dropped kindle replaced free of charge and postage fees for the returned kindle refunded.
The speaker made an important distinction between the concept of “the best” vs “my favourite”. One can easily argue about which CD is “the best ever music CD”, but one’s “favourite” CD, the one which is played more often than the other CD’s on one’s stack, is a concept that cannot be argued with. In the same vein libraries and those working in the information professions should strive towards having patrons view them as their “favourite” place, service or resource.
An uniquely-amazing talk….as tweeted by a delegate: “What an appropriate close for an inspiring conference! And a brilliant opening for the next conference”.
Personally, I think if Richard Mulholland were able to sell his personality, presentation style and humorous yet much-needed societal critique, we would have no more more boring conferences, a more alert society and Mr Mulholland on early retirement in a Llandudno mansion!