As an officially registered TED Circles host, the McPherson Public Library is bringing TED Talks to its patrons in 2020.
Anyone who officially registers to be a TED Circles host is empowered by the TED Circles program to host conversations about each month's theme in a public small group format. Marketing and Communications Manager Shannon Brake is a Circles host, so the McPherson Public Library group is virtually connected through the TED Circles platform with every Circle in the world talking about the same topic each month.
Brake noted there is some wiggle room in running the program at a local level — both in terms of choosing the topic of discussion and directing the conversation (with some talking points shared through the TED collective). The conversations themselves will remain local, but Brake noted the discussion in McPherson will be shared among Circles members and given some global perspective.
"In Kansas, this is what's really important to us and it may be different or it may be the same as another group talking about that in Thailand. That is a really cool aspect of that," Brake said. "It kind of shows that, of course, there's differences among populations in the world, but there's also a lot of similarities too, and they're very universal topics."
McPherson patrons are well-versed in the big picture topics that will be part of TED Circles discussion and Brake admitted she knew there would a market for such a program given the previous success of the library's "Big Ideas" talks.
"Anytime we do something where we present a topic and give them a chance to discuss it, it usually is a pretty popular event or program. Just based on history, I knew that it would be something that most of our patrons would enjoy," Brake said. "TED Circles, in a way, just continues that sort of programming just bringing patrons together and being able to express and articulate their knowledge, their beliefs, their values, and coming together where we're not dependent upon looking at social media device. It's just a conversation with each other."
The first discussion in January focused on the future, while upcoming sessions will look at "How We Love," coming up on Feb. 17, "Who Has Power" and "Money Matters," with Brake noting there is normally a variety of discussions to choose from (as well as the deep TED database) to allow for some personalization for local patrons. Talks will normally go for an hour from noon to 1 p.m. on the third or fourth Monday of the month (depending on activities schedules).
For the first TED Circles session, roughly six patrons showed up for the discussion and Brake said she got good feedback about the program. With the focus on conversations regarding the human condition, and the idea-sharing element that is tied in, Brake predicts the program will be well-received and a benefit for patrons to take part in regularly.
"I'm encouraged and excited for our next one. I think the best thing that I heard was a couple of the participants saying, 'that's something that I've never thought of before.' Really, that's our goal, is to present ideas that otherwise we never would have thought of or we would not have had the chance to be confronted with; those are the best TED Talks are when we hear something that we've never heard before," Brake said. "If you're never exposed to new ideas, you never know any different. I think that's a very important part of what the library does."
Additional information on TED Circles can be gained by calling the library at 245-2570 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.