4 TED Talks That Help Librarians Explain the Magic of Libraries

tedtalksSince 2006, millions have been inspired by TED Talks: short, inspirational and educational videos by speakers expounding on topics from science to spirituality to dance. TED stands for technology, education and design, and its stated mission is to spread ideas.

The talks are often thought provoking and the speakers passionate about their topics. None last more than 18 minutes.

While a pleasure to watch, the videos also can provide librarians with a jumping point for their own blog posts and public talks.

Here are four TED Talks that you can use to help explain the magic of your public library.

  1. Lisa Bu, How Books Can Open Your Mind

Lisa Bu is the content distribution manager for TED. In her talk, she shares details about her early life in China, and how, after moving to America, she turned to books to “expand her mind and create a new path for herself.” She used comparative reading to develop a better understanding of many subjects.

“Compare and contrast gives scholars a more complete understanding of a topic. So I thought, well, if comparative reading works for research, why not do it in daily life too? So I started reading books in pairs.”

 How to use it: This is a great opportunity to recommend and promote the public library’s collection. For example, you can build on Ms. Bu’s reading list. Or create your own “compare and contrast” book pairs. The opportunities are limitless, and this could become a regular series for your public library blog.

  1. John Green, The Nerd’s Guide to Learning Everything Online

John Green is the best-selling novelist of books such as “Paper Towns” and “The Fault in Our Stars,” as well as one half of the popular YouTube “vlogbrothers.” In this TED Talk, Mr. Green discusses the potential of online communities of learning.

“I really believe that these spaces, these communities, have become for a new generation of learners, the kind of communities, the kind of cartographic communities that I had when I was in high school, and then again when I was in college. And as an adult, re-finding these communities has re-introduced me to a community of learners, and has encouraged me to continue to be a learner even in my adulthood, so that I no longer feel like learning is something reserved for the young.”

How to use it: For those without a computer or Internet access at home, public libraries can open windows of learning to people of all ages. Share this video and its resources as part of your community outreach efforts. You can also build your own list of online communities to complement Mr. Green’s, and share it with your community’s lifelong learners in a blog post.

  1. Sir Ken Robinson, Bring on the Learning Revolution

Author and education expert Sir Ken Robinson has the distinction of having the most popular TED Talk of all time. “Do Schools Kill Creativity” has been viewed nearly 35 million times. In this follow up, he advocates personalized learning.

“Human flourishing is an organic process.”

How to use it:  Write a blog post about all the ways a visitor can use the library to find and nurture her passion – or her child’s passion. This is an opportunity to talk about specific collections, upcoming events or the services of the reference librarian.

  1. Mac Barnett, Why a Good Book is a Secret Door

Mac Barnett is a children’s book author, so it’s not surprising that this talk focuses on creativity, imagination and wonder. He explains why a good story can blend fiction into reality.

“I want a book to be a secret door that opens and lets the stories out into reality.”

How to use it: Some of the most magical moments in the library occur during children’s story time, but adults experience these moments too. There are many ways to use this talk as a jumping point for your next blog post. Write about the importance of storytelling and how it affects our lives and perspectives. Or use it as an opportunity to share children’s reactions to your latest story time.

These are just a few ideas from only a handful of TED Talks. With more than 2000 talks, this nonprofit is an incredible resource for public library marketers.

About Tiffany McClary

Tiffany McClary is the Director of Communications, Marketing & Outreach for the New Jersey State Library. She coordinates marketing and public relations initiatives in order to enhance the reputation of the State Library, and promote the value of NJ libraries and the services and programs that they provide to residents.