Benefits of infinite learning and reflective practice

Waiting for the Magic

It’s an ongoing joke with some of my co-workers that some of our best ideas or solutions come while taking a shower. In fact studies have demonstrated that “Wandering around, letting the mind connect the dots and dawdle is an essential element in creativity” (Smith, 2017). Adam Grant, in his TED Talk on the surprising habits of original thinkers even posits that the most creative thinkers are often procrastinators. As long as you delay work with the explicit idea of coming back to it, “procrastination gives you time to consider divergent ideas, to think in nonlinear ways, to make unexpected leaps” (Grant, 2016). Giving our minds space and time to mull over the information we are taking in is an important part of learning and creativity.

Avoiding Siloed Mindsets

As library professionals, we want libraries to be centers for learning and inspiration. Do to this, we can’t stay secluded inside our library walls. Branching out and looking to other fields for innovative ideas and concepts is an important step to giving our patrons the help they desire. As one LIS student contemplates, “to me, a professional who advocates for people to learn, access, and create knowledge on their terms sounds like a pretty respectable calling” (Stephens, 2014).

Always Be Searching for Answers

Sometimes searching for the solution is like a puzzle. It might take a while to find the right puzzle piece. New library programs and services don’t need to wait until the puzzle is completed. As Justin Hoenke from Chattanooga Public Library suggests, “part of the fun is trying new things and seeing how the public reacts” (Hoenke, 2013). If it isn’t successful, don’t give up. Just “keep on thinking, keep on trying” (Hoenke).

Practicing Reflection

Reflecting is an important step in the learning process. Without reflection, it’s difficult to take the information and incorporate it for true comprehension and transformation. In his book, Learning by Doing (1988), Professor Graham Gibbs illustrates the reflective cycle shown below. Following this or a similar process can help us learn from both successes and failures. In addition, as Michael Stephens (2014) describes, it helps us to be present and aware of the people around us, rather than technology and the other tools we use.

Gibbs Reflective Cycle

Keeping a Balance

Finally, maintaining a balance in our work and personal lives helps re-charge our batteries. Adding in joyful moments like spending time with loved ones, watching a sunset, or going for a bike ride can help take our minds off consuming or stressful things for a while. When we return, our batteries are re-charged and creativity is allowed to flow again.

I know for me I’m a lot better at the first few phases than the last few, but with practice these fairly simple steps can keep me in good form and able to continually progress and grow which will help me to be the best librarian I can be.

References

Gibbs, G. (1988). Learning by doing: A guide to teaching and learning methods. London: FEU.

Grant, A. (February, 2016). The surprising habits of original thinkers [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/adam_grant_the_surprising_habits_of_original_thinkers

Hoenke, J. (August, 2013). Making mistakes in our daily work: A TTW conversation between Warren Cheetham and Justin Hoenke. Retrieved from http://tametheweb.com/2013/08/19/making-mistakes-in-our-daily-work-a-ttw-conversation-between-warren-cheetham-and-justin-hoenke/

Smith, P. (March, 2017). What are you thinking? Retrieved from https://www.anythinklibraries.org/spark/what-are-you-thinking-2

Stephens, M. 9March, 2014). A genius idea. Retrieved from http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2014/03/opinion/michael-stephens/a-genius-idea-office-hours/

Stephens, M. (January, 2014). Reflective practice. Retrieved from http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2014/01/opinion/michael-stephens/reflective-practice-office-hours/

 

Virtual Symposium

As I’ve progressed throughout this course, I’ve discovered the themes and concepts discussed are found all around me in bits and pieces. This has not only ground home how important these principles are but also how interesting and exciting. Human innovation and creativity have always propelled us forward and new ways of innovation are no different. Yes, it can be disruptive, but it is the way forward.

Below is my virtual symposium artifact created using Canva.com.

Director’s Brief: Data Collection, Analyzation, and Visualization

Data analyzation is an interesting topic to me. I wanted to explore the topic of how libraries can use data to better understand their patrons’ lives and behaviors, but in the context of the themes of the course. Some people might see data as somewhat opposed to the hyperlinked library. For example, rather than engaging our patrons to ascertain their needs, we are observing at a distance. In addition, it would seem that data analyzation focuses on the technology rather than the person. However, I think data analyzation incorporates many course themes which are discussed in my director’s brief, but I will briefly mention here.

First, when libraries share what data they collect and how it is used, this allows them to be more transparent with their community. Second, I think it is important to educate patrons on the dangers and benefits of data curation including privacy concerns. Libraries are great places to start these conversations. Policies around data curation are in their infancy. Libraries have the opportunity to help build regulations and infrastructure. Finally, one of the main goals of the hyperlinked library is to provide services and resources that actually fit the needs of their patrons. Data analyzation is one tool that could be used to help answer this question. I think data analyzation could easily be used in combination with other methods of understanding our patrons’ needs.

While, I think libraries are still a little ways off from being able to easily gather and aggregate data, I think this is an area that we can and should prepare ourselves for. Data-driven decisions are changing our world. Developing critical thinking skills such as how to interpret data without bias are vital skills library staff should be developing. Without this training and preparation, libraries could get left behind.

Directors Brief: Data Collection, Analyzation, and Visualization

Below are some interesting TED Talks about data and other resources to give you a better understanding of data’s potential and pitfalls.

Big Data Revolution from TED Radio Hour

Decoding Big Data Buzz Words

9 Big Data Ted Talks Everyone Needs to See

Boundary Free Learning

With advances in technology, learning has become boundary free. In the old system, people were required to travel to locations such as schools where they waited to passively receive knowledge. The loosening of these barriers that restricted knowledge and information allows people to not only learn whenever and wherever works best for them but also in interesting and innovative ways.

The old system of learning wasn’t such a bad system in that it was really the only way of doing things. Knowledge was filtered and dispersed through books and experts. It was there for the taking with some effort, time, and sometimes money. However, now that connected technologies offer access to unfathomable amounts of information in an instant, it calls for new and varied methods of learning. These new ways don’t have to mimic old systems. They can be creative, free form, and outright fun!

The transition in educational archetypes calls for a variety of learning models and an emphasis on life-long learning. People are no longer required to become credentialed experts to play a role in the development of a subject or field. Learning is increasingly collaborative and as David Weinberger points out in his book, Too Big to Know, amateurs are becoming as important as experts. The example used in his book described the conundrum over how to clean up the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

“Cold temperatures rendered the oil too thick to be able to be moved by standard pumping equipment. Some of the best brains in the cleanup business worked on the problem but the answer remained elusive.

So, with a desperate need to find a solution the Oil Spill Recovery Institute, a non-profit organization decided to cast their net wider and turned to the public for help. They posted their problem in 2007 and the challenge was to come up with a way of separating frozen oil from water on the oil spill recovery barges. And within three months more than two dozen potentially viable solutions from all over the world had come in.

The winning solution came from John Davis, an oil industry outsider. He had spent some time in the construction industry and as he studied the challenge specs he realized that some of what he had learned there could help fix the problem that had boggled the minds of the oil industry scientists for decades.

Davis had some experience of pouring concrete. It involves a tool that vibrates the construction material to keep it in liquid form so that it can easily flow into cracks and crevices. It also helps restore flow to concrete that prematurely sets. He came to the conclusion that ensuring that oil remains a liquid in sub-Arctic waters is really not that different from keeping cement a liquid when you want to pour it into foundations.” Description copied from an article on IdeaConnection

Davis won a $20,000 prize for his solution, but says the money was not the motivation. Instead, his motivation was to help tackle a major environmental issue.

Examples like this show why it is tremendously important for libraries to embrace new ways of collaborating and learning. For example, in Lauren Britton’s Makerspace article she explains the importance of a library Makerspace. “Maker spaces promote learning through play; have the potential to demystify science, math, technology, and engineering; and encourage women and underrepresented minorities to seek careers in those fields.”

She goes on to state that “Incorporating Maker spaces into library service can have a life-altering impact on community members, who then have the tools, access, and training necessary to tinker with and remake their world. Just as libraries are reflections of their patrons, Maker spaces can reflect the needs and desires of the local residents. Typically, the spaces will:

  • Foster play and exploration
  • Facilitate informal learning opportunities
  • Nurture peer-to-peer training
  • Work with community members as true partners, not as users or patrons
  • Develop a culture of creating as opposed to consuming.”

Technology is indeed disrupting our former knowledge systems. However, it is also the key to unlocking more collaborative and interesting ways to learn. Libraries have the opportunity to implement new methods to learn which can encourage people to continue life-long learning and to grow and cultivate better connections to our communities and the world making it a better place for everyone.

People, Places, and Objects

As libraries anticipate and explore new possibilities for the future, there are three areas that should be focused on for a successful transition; people, places, and objects. Libraries have always desired to reach out to their users, but in the past this involved library buildings that had to be visited in person which were filled with row after row of books and little space left for anything other than reading. With advances in technology libraries have the opportunity to meet user needs in interesting and varied ways.

People

Technology has and will continue to transform people’s lives. Libraries have a role to play in this transformation. Transitional times, like today, can be very chaotic and frightening. Libraries must support and work with users to recognize how changes will impact their lives. They can do this by helping people explore their dreams in a safe environment (Stephens, 2017) and by supporting the discovery of what is possible. Championing patron hopes and needs can initiate their own innovative process.

“Libraries remain the gatekeepers to rich tapestries of information and knowledge. As the volume of web resources increases, libraries are charged with finding new ways to organize and disseminate research to make it easier to discover, digest, and track.” ~ Horizon Report > 2017 Library Edition

Places

Traditionally libraries have expected users to come to them. However, now that information is literally in the palm of one’s hand, this expectation must change. First, as users rely less on library spaces to access information, they are looking for better places to be productive and collaborate (Horizon Report, 2017). Reconfigured, inclusive spaces where users can experiment, learn, and grow should be a top priority for libraries.

“We are really shifting and think of the library less as a place to warehouse books, and more of a place where you can come and interact with information in a new way and actually participate in a new experience.” ~ Stacie Ledden, communications director with Anythink Libraries (Hood, 2014)

Second, libraries should be facilitating access to information anywhere and anytime. “Americans today are increasingly connected to the world of digital information while ‘on the go’ via smartphones and other mobile devices” (Pew, 2017). Changing needs through technological advancement should be viewed as a positive thing. It enables libraries to do what they’ve always wanted to do which is to reach and serve the needs of as many people as possible. It is just the method that has changed. Libraries should look for quick, intuitive ways users can have 24/7 access to learning opportunities.

Objects

Objects are the tools libraries can use to connect and meet the needs of their users. This can be done in a variety of ways. For example, in the article Mobile Learning Environments, by David Gagnon (2010), he illustrates how mobile devices can be used as interactive educational tools describing a location-based local history game for students to experience a historical event. “The goal of this design was to give students an active, experiential, embodied role in the events of history instead of just hearing about them.” This immersive educational experience would not be possible without a mobile device.

Another example is the use of beacon devices by some libraries. Beacon devices send location-triggered information to users who have downloaded an app and have Bluetooth technology enabled. Experts from beacon technology companies explain that libraries could use the devices to help “remind people of [the libraries’] importance in the community and showcase the wide range of services and resources they offer” (Sarmah, 2015).

Finally, in an attempt to expand and diversify their traditional role, many libraries are making use of less advanced objects to provide for users’ needs. Dubbed ‘The Library of Things” by Sacramento Public Library (Garrison, 2015), these are sewing machines, musical instruments, kitchen appliances, and tools such as hammers and drills that are made available for check out from the library. The idea is to provide objects that people may have need of but for various reasons would not consider purchasing. Libraries should be evaluating how objects can be utilized to transform user experiences.

“People use libraries in order to transform their lives, which is another type of innovation—becoming a better version of yourself. Whether in public or academic libraries, the learning that occurs is transformational, and that has little to do with specific technology. It happens with books as well as computers, in conversations and through relationships.” ~ Jeff Jacobs, Chief Information Officer, OCLC

References

Gagnon, D. (September 22, 2010) Mobile Learning Environments. Retrieved from http://er.educause.edu/articles/2010/9/mobile-learning-environments

Garrison, E. (February 1, 2015). Borrowing a sewing machine? Sacramento Public Library to start loaning more than books. Retrieved from http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/education/article8920145.html

Hood, G. (September 15, 2015). 5 ways Colorado libraries are going beyond books. Retrieved from http://www.kunc.org/post/5-ways-colorado-libraries-are-going-beyond-books#

Jacobs, J. (2015). Innovate anything. Next Space OCLC Newsletter. Retrieved from http://library.oclc.org/cdm/singleitem/collection/p15003coll11/id/23/rec/1

Pew Research Center (January 12, 2017) Mobile Fact Sheet. Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/fact-sheet/mobile/

NMC Horizon Report > 2017 Library Edition (2017). Retrieved from http://nmc.us12.list-manage.com/track/click?u=fdfddcfb94886c9a42ff42780&id=436c3a4f09&e=95b0c22e94

Sarmah, S. (January 7, 2015) The internet of things plan to make libraries and museums awesomer. Retrieved from https://www.fastcompany.com/3040451/elasticity/the-internet-of-things-plan-to-make-libraries-and-museums-awesomer

Stephens, M. (March 22, 2017). Chaos & caring. Retried from http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2017/03/opinion/michael-stephens/chaos-caring-office-hours/#_

Emerging Technology: Digital Media Lab

Throughout the course, I have uncovered many examples of the idea that traditional library spaces support only the consumption of knowledge while libraries of the future will enable individuals and communities to create and design their own learning and knowledge gathering. I wanted to explore this idea more and digital media labs along with their counterpart, makerspaces, are the perfect examples of the spaces that can be provided within libraries where dynamic learning and innovation can happen.

I chose to base this action plan on my own public library’s plans to build a digital media lab in the near future. Some of the plans come directly from what has already been discussed such as budget money for staff and the use of a large storage space for the future lab. Other parts, have come from what I have learned from library examples as I researched the topic and from what I have learned in this course so far.


DIGITAL MEDIA LAB ACTION PLAN

 

Goals/Objectives for Technology or Service:

Provo City Library will build an accessible community space with a variety of digital media tools to empower community members to creatively express themselves and develop 21st century digital literacy skills through the creation of digital videos, graphic design, podcasts, video presentations, and more. Free access to software, sound, and video equipment will encourage contributions to the growth and productivity of our community and its members as they evolve from consumers to creators.

Description of Community:

The new digital media lab will be open to all community members with a Provo City Library card in good standing. In addition, the library will seek to promote better connections with students from both secondary and college levels and individuals or small groups seeking new ways to create innovative productions.

Action Brief Statement:

CONVINCE: Provo community members both young and old

THAT BY: Learning innovative ways to create and express themselves using new digital technologies

THEY WILL: Ignite their ability to create, discover, and grow

WHICH WILL: Offer further opportunities to individuals while creating a flourishing community environment

BECAUSE: Provo City Library is a community space that kindles innovation, enthusiasm, and learning, to empower and connect our community.

Evidence and Resources to Support Technology or Service:

As electronic books and other digital media become more ubiquitous, libraries’ role in their communities have been called into doubt. The core mission of libraries, to provide a place for knowledge and learning, may still remain the same, but how this mission is accomplished needs to be reexamined. In the Pew Research Center’s 2014 typology report on U.S. libraries, it explains that while many people assume Americans are turning away from libraries because of newer technologies, in actuality “the data shows that most highly-engaged library users are also big technology users. In fact, members of the high engagement groups are more likely to use the internet than lower engagement groups” (Zickuhr, 2014).

In the Aspen Institute’s Dialogue on Public Libraries report on re-envisioning public libraries, it is emphasized how vital it is for libraries to expand access to these new digital literacies. As the world transitions to this new digital economy where knowledge and creativity are the “drivers of productivity and economic growth and information, technology and learning are central to economic performance and prosperity” (Garmer, 2014). The Dialogue goes on to explain that public libraries have a “proven track record in strengthening communities,” but that services that provide help in learning digital technologies are no longer just nice to have. Public libraries need to become key partners “in sustaining the educational, economic and civic health of the community during a time of dramatic change” (Garmer, 2014).

In addition, libraries should consider the Edge Initiative, a national coalition of leading library and local government organizations that provides benchmarks to help libraries manage their technology growth. Benchmark two recommends that, “libraries provide access to relevant digital content and enable community members to create their own digital content” (Edge toolkit, n.d.).

It should also be noted that just providing equipment is not enough. Demonstrations and training need to be provided so that people feel more comfortable. In a recent Atlantic Daily article by Derek Thompson (2017) about Raymond Loewy, the father of the industrial revolution, Thompson describes how Loewy observed that people are often reluctant to work with unfamiliar things yet feel excitement over new and challenging ideas. Loewy and others in his field recognize that people need “some sort of guide to make a foreign landscape more familiar.” Libraries can be this guide by providing training to help users through their reservations or fear of the unknown.

Finally, in her Library Journal article, Meredith Schwartz (2013) quotes Susan K. Nutter, vice provost and director of the NCSU Libraries and the 2005 LJ Librarian of the Year that libraries need to “create spaces that encourage collaboration, reflection, creativity, and awe” and “to be a place not of the past but of the future.” Let us be this place for the members of our community.

Mission, Guidelines, and Policy Related to Technology or Service:

Provo City Library Mission Statement:

The Provo City Library provides our community with an inviting center for information, instruction, learning, leisure and cultural opportunities.

Vision Statements:

Fundamental Priorities – Collections, Services and Staff
Goal 1: Our community is served by maintaining and improving library services through responsive and responsible collection development, patron services, and staff training.

Promote Digital Literacy
Goal 2: Community members of all ages will have access to technology through library resources and learning opportunities helping them live more fulfilling lives in a rapidly changing world.

Enriching the Community
Goal 3: Community residents will have a meeting area in which to gather and programs in which to participate in educational, civic and cultural events.

Youth
Goal 4: The youth of Provo will benefit by continuous development of services and programs which foster literacy, the use of libraries and the love of learning.

Mission of the Digital Media Lab

The mission for creating a new digital media lab will directly tie into the library’s vision and goals especially promoting digital literacy and enriching lives through a valuable community space. In addition, the digital media lab will seek to fulfill the community’s needs and aspirations by creating a space where members can experiment and play with technologies they might not have access to otherwise.

Examples of how other libraries have handled issues can be found online in the following places.

Digital Media Lab Guidelines

The library must consider how to provide equal and equitable access while considering the following issues:

  • Hours of operation
  • How to handle reservations for the lab
  • Time limits per individual or group
  • User orientation and/or training
  • Staff training

Digital Media Lab Policy

A written policy will need to cover some of the following items:

  • Requiring a lab orientation
  • Possible creation of waiver form
  • Age restrictions or required supervision of certain ages
  • Possible restrictions on types of use such as commercial
  • Mishandling or damaging equipment
  • Copyright infringement

Once the digital media lab policy is created, it will go through many reviews and revisions by the following groups:

  • Library director and management team
  • Library board
  • City attorneys

After all reviews and revisions, final approval will be made by the library board.

Funding Considerations for this Technology or Service:

Initial funding will be used for the following needs:

  • Architect firm for room design
  • Conversion and renovation of large storage room space
  • Purchasing equipment and software
  • Staff training
  • Staffing lab during open hours
  • Increased staff time from other departments (IT support, cataloging, marketing)
  • Future upgrades to software and equipment

Seeking funds from outside the library

Grants to help with funding of the initial room renovation and purchase of equipment should be searched for and submitted. LSTA and the Institute of Museum and Libraries Services grants are two possibilities.

In the last decade, Provo City has consistently been rated as a top tech entrepreneurial hub (Zaleski, 2016). Many startups and other technology firms might be interested in contributing to a space that could potentially train or better prepare future employees for jobs in the tech industry. The library should utilize these resources by searching for community partners willing to donate equipment or funds.

The library budget

Two additional part-time staff positions in the Community Relations department will need to be created to work in the lab space. With the recent retirement of three full-time employees who had each worked for over 20 years, enough budget money has been saved to create these two new positions. In addition, a few extra hours for staff outside the Community Relations department will initially be required.

Action Steps & Timeline:

  • Proposal presentation to director and management team to review details = 1 day
  • Proposal approved by library board at monthly meeting = After the presentation, 1-2 months to decide
  • Architect hired = Designing space 3-6 months
  • Conversion of storage room = 3-6 months
  • Setup of computers and equipment = 1-2 months
  • Staff training = 2-3 months
  • Marketing and promotion before grand opening (can be simultaneous with staff training) = 1 month
  • Total = 10-20 months

The goal of this proposal is to approve the building of a lab where creation of new media can occur. However, if the library board does not approve the proposed plan, the library could continue with the media conversion stations for older audio/visual formats already in use and add a few computers with creative software to the current computer lab. Smaller plans like this would not need to be approved by the library board. Howver, the board’s reasons for objection should be reviewed and a possible new plan created for future presentation.

Staffing Considerations for this Technology or Service:

Two additional part-time staff positions will be created within the Community Relations department. With two large universities in the Provo-Orem Metro area, the hope is to hire graduate students with expertise in digital media creation.

Lab hours may be affected by limitations of staff hours initially. If the digital media lab is popular enough, the budget may need to be re-examined to find additional hours. Another possible idea is to work closely with the graduate programs at Brigham Young University and Utah Valley University to encourage students to volunteer their time. This could possibly be included in the course requirements or possibly offer credit hours in exchange for volunteering.

In addition to two new part-time positions, the digital media lab will require a team effort from many other library departments.

Technical Services

  • Receiving and cataloging items and equipment

Systems (IT Department)

  • Providing advice on what software and computers to purchase.
  • Set up and install everything
  • Provide technical support

Outreach Department

  • Create and market promotional materials about the new lab

Adult Reference

  • Accept reservations
  • Plan educational classes

Building Maintenance

  • Maintain furnishings

Training for this Technology or Service:

Staff hired to work in the lab are expected to already have some expertise with the software and equipment available in the lab. Some training can be done through the library’s Lynda.com subscription which provides a wide variety of creative and technology related tutorials. In addition, staff from other departments with expertise in specific software programs or video/sound equipment could be asked to provide some training. Staff training will be completed before the grand opening. New staff will be trained during hours when the lab is not in use.

Promotion & Marketing for this Technology or Service:

Marketing of the digital media lab will initially target general, creatively minded individuals. Later marketing may attempt to target specific groups such as students.

Promotion of marketing materials will be through the following methods:

  • A well-designed and detailed page on the library website to funnel traffic from interested patrons.
  • Promotion on social media networks
    • Facebook (general audience)
    • Twitter (entrepreneurial community)
    • Instagram (creative community members)
  • In-house library marketing including posters and flyers
  • Building relationships with local educators to make them aware of this resource for their students

Marketing should be reassessed each month. Additional plans will be made if the initial marketing plans are not enough.

It will be important to get all library staff on board to instigate better word of mouth marketing. Once the digital media lab has been approved, an announcement should be made to staff. The goals and vision of the lab should be included with the announcement. Progress reports should also be regularly posted. These could be included in the monthly staff newsletter.

Once the lab design and setup has been completed, a good idea would be to hold a staff day in the lab where employees could try out and experiment with the software and equipment.

Evaluation:

Collect data, information, and stories

  1. Basic statistics will be counted
    1. Number of reservations
    2. Number of people who use the lab each day
  2. Survey those who use the lab
    1. Purpose of use (school, personal, entrepreneurial, etc.)
    2. Software and equipment used during each session
      1. Problems or difficulties with software or equipment
      2. Rating and review of software and equipment
    3. Collect experiences
      1. Skills developed
      2. Types of projects created
      3. How did the lab contribute to the user’s needs or goals?

Review

  • Review original goals after six months, then annually.
    • Three main goals:
      • Access to a community space where people can creatively express themselves
      • Development of 21st century digital literacy skills
      • An increase in content creation, collaboration, and productivity to better develop and grow Provo’s community.
    • Did the library meet those goals? If not, why?
    • Did usage increase over time? If not, why?
  • Review collected statistics and information from surveys
  • Use staff for anecdotal evidence
    • What were the observed user behaviors?
    • What ideas for change came up through observed use of the lab?

Evaluate

  • Expand or adjust hours offered?
  • Provide more equipment?
  • Provide more or different training?

References

Garmer, A. (2014). Rising to the challenge: Re-envisioning public libraries. Aspen Institute Dialogue on Public Libraries. Retrieved from http://csreports.aspeninstitute.org/documents/Aspen-LibrariesReport-2017-FINAL.pdf

Edge Toolkit. (n.d.) Retrieved from http://www.libraryedge.org/benchmarksv1/community-value

Schwarz, M. (September 18, 2013). Tomorrow, visualized. Retreived from http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2013/09/buildings/lbd/tomorrow-visualized-library-by-design-fall-2013/#_

Thompson, D. (2017). The four-letter code to selling just about anything. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/01/what-makes-things-cool/508772/

Zaleski, A. (July 13, 2016). A high-tech mecca rises to rival Silicon Valley. Retrieved from http://www.cnbc.com/2016/07/13/a-high-tech-mecca-rises-to-rival-silicon-valley.html

Zickuhr, K. (March 18, 2014). A new way of looking at public library engagement in America. Retrieved from http://libraries.pewinternet.org/2014/03/18/a-new-way-of-looking-at-public-library-engagement-in-america/

Removing barriers to access

I chose to focus on the Public Library mini-module, and while I found many of the library examples inspiring, I thought Edmonton Public Library’s (EPL) story from the library of the year article was especially compelling. There were so many great examples of Edmonton’s commitment to community-led service.

As I was reading the article, I noticed that many of their services were strategies to take away barriers to library services and resources. For example, the no ID, no address library card. “Until they can show proof of identity and residency, customers get a library card with a borrowing limit of one item and computer access.” I’m sure for many libraries this is a scary concept. For example, in the public library I work at, we loan out Chromebooks. We started with 20 and after about 2 ½ years all but six of them have, for one reason or another, never been returned. Despite examples like this, which to some might suggest that patrons cannot be trusted, EPL’s no ID, no address library card is a good balance of trust with conditions. In my opinion, helping patrons in their moment of need is worth the potential loss of one library book.

Next, at Edmonton Public Library every library branch has a community librarian who is there to connect and consult with users out in the community. The purpose is to “understand community needs, identify and eliminate barriers to service, and set the direction of library services and policies.” Rather than waiting for users to come to them, Edmonton is sending staff out to meet their community. I so admire EPL’s dedication to this idea. Unfortunately, I think that hiring a librarian for this sole purpose is beyond most libraries’ financial capabilities. But, I’m sure forays into the community that require shorter amounts of staff time could still be successful.

One final example. In a stroke of sheer brilliance, EPL has partnered with the University of Alberta School of Library and Information Studies to give recent library school graduates an opportunity to conduct research for their library system. “In one such study, EPL identified 11 underserved communities, and five barriers to access” which is actually where the idea for a no ID, no address library card came from. In addition, EPL also made changes to loan periods, eliminated late fees, and provided better service to geographically underserved areas.

Edmonton Public Library is a shining example of how libraries can take away barriers, many of which come from internal policies, and focus on inclusion and access for all members of their community. While I have little input over the way my public library handles many of the policies contributing to patron barriers, I do have to ability to start conversations with other library staff that could kindle ideas that possibly leads to change.

Berry, J. (June 11, 2014). 2014 Gale/LJ Library of the year: Edmonton Public Library, transformed by teamwork. Retrieved from http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2014/06/awards/2014-galelj-library-of-the-year-edmonton-public-library-transformed-by-teamwork.

Connecting with Our Communities

“The participatory library is open and transparent, and it communicates with its community through many mechanisms.” ~ Michael Casey

I’ve been pondering this sentence, especially what it means to communicate through “many mechanisms.” My first thought was obviously through social media, email, printed comment cards, and other methods for obtaining patron feedback. While I’m sure these are valuable tools, it wasn’t the answer I was looking for.

While looking for clues in the suggested readings, I came across this quote from Andy Havens in his article From Community to Technology…and Back Again Part 1. Havens explained, “What is explicit in any idea of a network is its connections. And in every case, the more connections there are, the more useful a network becomes.” While, I’m sure we would all love there to be one perfect answer for successful community connection, in actuality the more and varied ways libraries can connect with their communities, the stronger and more useful it will be to both libraries and their users.

As Michael Casey states in Revisiting Participatory Service in Trying Times, getting users to participate at any level, “will go a long way towards gaining their buy-in.” So here are the many and varied ways libraries can connect with their communities that I discovered.

Invite

In both articles, In San Francisco, Teens Design a Living Room for High-Tech Learning at the Public Library and User-Designed Libraries the authors describe inviting teens, in collaboration with library professionals, to directly drive the design decisions for the new teen spaces being built. In addition, Megan Ingle and Sally Pewhairangi the editors of Weve, suggest that we invite our communities to “walk with us as we develop our services” (pg. 3). I appreciate this phrase as it does not imply inviting patrons to use library services once they are ready but an invitation to join the journey.

Experiment

Experimenting with new library services is an important part of connecting with communities. John Blyberg in his article, Our Public Library Minecraft Community made a valuable point when he described the effect of the library’s Minecraft club. “What began as an experiment at our library has turned in to a sanctuary and a core service for a group of young users.”

Ask

Asking for input is probably the most basic way to better understand users. However, as Aaron Schmidt points out in his article, Asking the Right Questions, many libraries are misguided in their attempts to ask users. He goes on to explain that instead of asking people about the library, we should ask them about their lives. Megan Ingle and Sally Pewhairangi the editors of Weve, support this idea by suggesting libraries ask people to share their stories in place of looking strictly at facts and figures (pg. 40).

Involve

Libraries should seek to involve themselves in the things that matter to their community. As Andy Havens and Tom Storey discuss in part 2 of From Community to Technology…and Back Again, the “libraries at the center” concept is shifting. Successful libraries look for opportunities to place their “resources within the networks and environments already being used and valued by their communities” (pg. 6). Michael Stephens states in his article, The Age of Participation that Libraries can learn what networks their communities are involved in by playing an active and visible role in their communities. Visit local community groups, town hall meetings, business conferences, and more to build relationships. In Revisiting Participatory Service in Trying Times, Michael Casey explains that “Opportunities to expand a community’s network often rely on personal relationships and realworld partnerships.”

Nurture

While libraries should seek to involve themselves in community networks, they should also seek to involve their community in the library by nurturing those who show interest. For example, in …And the Kitch Sink, Sheila Kim relates how in Austin, Texas the library received many requests for local, world-renowned chefs to come to the library and talk about their new cookbooks. The library responded by creating a kitchen space where these chefs could demonstrate some of their cooking techniques and recipes.

Accept

Many libraries may fear complete transparency and openness within their community especially in today’s current climate of extreme points of view. However, it is important to create an open-door policy, provide an avenue for people to talk, and accept the good with the bad. Megan Ingle and Sally Pewhairangi, the editors of Weve, recommend libraries try to see the world as their users see it, along with their needs, wants, desires, fears and concerns (p. 43).

Context Book: Too Big to Know

Slide 1

Welcome. This is Anjanette Jones and I will be discussing the book, Too Big to Know by David Weinberger.

Slide 2

Dr. David Weinberger is the author of several books, including one of our assigned readings, The Cluetrain Manifesto. He mostly writes about the effect of the Internet on our ideas.

Slide 3

His latest book, Too Big to Know, examines how the instantaneous, collaborative, social, and hyperlinked nature of information in the age of the Internet has fundamentally transformed how people acquire knowledge.

Slide 4

Using several enlightening examples, Weinberger explores the knowledge that can be gained from unbound networks that form the Internet. Before the Internet, knowledge was sought from experts and the structure of books shaped and filtered knowledge. But the Internet scales indefinitely meaning with today’s instant access to these immeasurable amounts of data, any person, amateur or expert, is able to explore new possibilities and new solutions to any issue.

Slide 5

Upon a cursory glance at the content of this book, readers might fear Weinberger is predicting the end of printed books and by extension the end of libraries. While, he does advocate that libraries and other organizations need to rethink knowledge’s infrastructure, in my opinion, there is more encouragement and excitement amongst its pages than doom.

Slide 6

Use of the Internet’s great network of knowledge has driven a paradigm shift—from the need to “nail” down conclusions and form truths to the sharing of vast quantities of information which can be used as research for anyone “without regard to point of view or purpose.”

Weinberger calls this The Great Unnailing and you can see what he means through the listed examples such as the

  • Human Genome Project to sequence our DNA
  • gov to provide access and transparency to government data
  • Google Books with over 25 million digitized books
  • The release of economic data from the World Bank
  • And the attempt to Cataloging Earth’s species

Slide 7

“This transition from expertise modeled on books to expertise modeled on networks is uncomfortable, especially now as we live through the messy transition.”

In his article, Do We Need Libraries?, Steve Denning points out that libraries are facing inescapable disruption on a scale not seen before.

And as Weinberger states. “Networked knowledge is less certain but more human. Less settled but more transparent. Less reliable but more inclusive. Less consistent but far richer.”

Slide 8

As Brian Mathews states in Think Like a Startup, “With or without us, the nature of information, knowledge creation, and content sharing is going to evolve.”

I vote with us!

Slide 9

So, what we can learn from this book?

Let’s start by flattening libraries’ hierarchical organizations.

As Steven Denning states “In the Creative Economy…the management ideology is horizontal.”

Slide 10

The leadership required in this new world is not provided by one individual. It is distributed throughout the team and determined by the group and their ability to stay motivated, create new ways to solve problems, and undertake change as needed.

Slide 11

Weinberger says “[H]ierarchical organizations that rest the pointy end of the pyramid on the back of a single human being are not as resilient as organizations that distribute leadership throughout a connected network.”

Slide 12

Next, diversity is important too.

“The best problem solvers tend to be similar; therefore, a collection of the best problem solvers performs little better than any one of them individually. A collection of random, but intelligent, problem solvers tends to be diverse. This diversity allows them to be collectively better.”

Slide 13

Let’s empower our community.

Aaron Schmidt suggests that when we examine new initiatives, we need to think more about our communities.

Slide 14

Let’s empower our communities by promoting this important message.

“The internet is of us, by us, and for us.”

Slide 15

We can do this by teaching everyone.

If we want to move this new networked knowledge forward, we need to teach children from an early age and teach those who have learned differently how to effectively use the Internet, how to evaluate claims of truth, and how to love this change from the old paradigm to the new.

Knowledge should be valued and engaged in its new shape.

This doesn’t necessarily mean using traditional methods of teaching. Only, that we show how knowledge can now be:

  • Accessible
  • Wide
  • Boundary-free
  • You’re not require to be an expert to use it
  • And unsettled

Slide 16

A great way we can do this is to promote crowdsourcing.

The library concept center, DOK, explains that people need to be guided in their quest for information. “Why not involve your audience in what you’re developing? Develop in the open. People might help.”

Slide 17

While we should promote the benefits, we also need to be aware of some of its downfalls. For example, the echo chamber.

As Weinberger describes “Many people are mostly hearing more and louder echoes of their own voices, because the Internet so increases the range of choices the citizens can find narrowly focused groups that precisely mirror their point of view.”

Slide 18

So let’s be a part of the transformation.

Libraries have the special skills needed to make access to networked knowledge faster and more advantageous.

Slide 19

Weinberger explains “[A] new standard called Linked Data is making it easier to make the facts presented in one site useful to other sites in unanticipated ways—enabling an ad hoc worldwide data commons.”

In addition, Metadata—the information about the information—is more important than ever. “A net richer in metadata is richer in more usable and useful knowledge.”

Slide 20

In conclusion, as our professor describes in his article, The Hyperlinked School Library. This may be a challenging time to be a librarian, but it is also an exciting time. Let us choose to make a difference and impact the lives of those who use our libraries.

I’ve already touched on some of these, but I’ll list what Weinberger suggests:

  • Open up access
  • Provide hooks such as metadata so information can be reused
  • Link everything
  • Leave no institution behind
  • Teach everyone

Slide 21

Thank you

References:

Denning, S. (2015). Do we need libraries? Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/stevedenning/2015/04/28/do-we-need-libraries/#44e8c5426b91

Mathews, B. (2012). Think like a startup. Retrieved from https://vtechworks.lib.vt.edu/bitstream/handle/10919/18649/Think%20like%20a%20STARTUP.pdf?sequence=1

Schmidt, A. (2014). Exploring context. Retrieved from http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2014/05/opinion/aaron-schmidt/exploring-context-the-user-experience/#_

Searls, D. & Weinberger, D. (2015). New clues. Retrieved from http://newclues.cluetrain.com/

Stephens, M. (2010). The hyperlinked school library: Engage, explore, celebrate. Retrieved from http://tametheweb.com/2010/03/02/the-hyperlinked-school-library-engage-explore-celebrate/

Visser, J. (2011). DOK Delft, inspirational library concepts. Retrieved from http://themuseumofthefuture.com/2011/01/22/dok-delft-inspirational-library-concepts/

Weinberger, D. (2010). Too big to know: Rethinking knowledge now that the facts aren’t the facts, experts are everywhere, and the smartest person in the room is the room. New York: Basic Books.

Distilling the Readings

In the readings, there was definitely a lot of information to consume. In order to help myself absorb all of it, I have tried to distill what I learned. I have made sort of an outline listing out what I saw as the main actions that need to be taken to create a successful library that will stay relevant to its users. I filled in the outline with quotes from the readings that I thought were interesting and back these points up.

I. Listen to users and library staff about user needs.

“We must build mechanisms into our structure through which both users and nonusers can participate in the service creation process.” (Library 2.0)

“The problem with traditional library assessment is that it’s predominantly linked to satisfaction and performance. We’re focused on things like: how many articles are downloaded, how many pre-prints are in the repository, how many classes do we teach, or how our students feel about the library commons.” (Think like a Startup)

“Library 2.0 empowers library users by giving them the opportunity to assist in the creation and content management of services.” (Library 2.0)

II. Ask the right questions.

“How good is it?” is a measure of quality or, in effect, a measure of capability with respect to serving some actual or imagined demand. This kind of goodness is appropriate for the evaluation and measurement of means, of tools and techniques for providing service, as in “a good collection” or “a good catalog”. Output or performance measures are commonly of this type. ‘What good does it do’” is a different kind of question, appropriate to the evaluation of ends and to the relating of means to ends. What sort of good do we most want to achieve within available resources? Planning processes which concern themselves with which performance measures to use are of this type.” (Redesigning Library Services)

III. Make sure we truly understand what our users’ needs are not what we think they are.

“We’re too focused on trying to please our users rather than trying to anticipate their unarticulated needs.” (Think like a Startup)

“Old or new, the ultimate success of any service is determined by the library user.” (Library 2.0)

IV. Find and set goals (i.e. create a mission statement).

“A library without a clear mission is like a boat without a captain. Your mission will drive your organization, serving as a guide when selecting services for your users and letting you set a clear course for Library 2.0.” (Library 2.0)

V. Make sure staff know desired outcomes and are onboard.

 “The staff are key to making things happen, but they need the time and opportunity to explore and learn new services to implement them correctly.” (Library 2.0)

VI. Plan and implement.

“Good planning is a process that leads to consistent anticipatory decision-making. Planning that does not influence decisions is futile. Decision making should be anticipatory in that plans should be ready for events as (or before) events occur. Decisions should be consistent with the mission of the organization and with each other. Bad planning or, more commonly, an absence of planning is reflected in decisions that are taken too late and that are inconsistent: Any good resulting from one decision is liable to be undone by the next.” (Redesigning Library Services)

VII. Keep striving to reach the goal (don’t forget about the goal).

“Plan, Implement, and Forget occurs when a library decides to start a service, plans for it, rolls it out—and then promptly forgets about it. When this happens, it does not take long for library customers to forget about the service as well.” (Library 2.0)

VII. Get feedback from users and staff.

“When your library plans new programs…you need to build ways to include public comments and suggestions into the service-creation process.” (Library 2.0)

VIII. Be OK if the goal changes.

“The library that is flexible, listens to its community, and changes to meet changing demand and demographics will be the library that succeeds, prospers, and pushes its mission out to the most citizens.” (Library 2.0)

IX. Reassess the plan or make a new plan.

“What makes a service Library 2.0 is the planning and structure built into it. That structure needs to include:

Constant change. Is the service frequently evaluated to ensure that it is meeting its expected outcomes and that it is still relevant? When the service no longer meets its expectations, is it updated or replaced?
User participation. Was customer input used in the creation of the service? Does the review process continue to include customer feedback? Are library nonusers asked to participate in the service creation and review process?” (Library 2.0)

“Investing too much time on something that doesn’t work is a common startup mistake. Their concepts are not viable, but they don’t discover that until it is too late. Instead, build “failure” or adjustment into the process. Seek to validate your ideas early on and then expand, edit, and revise them along the way.” (Think like a Startup)

X. Again try to reach for the goal.

“Innovation is messy. It takes many wild ideas that flop in order to find transformative gold.” (Think like a Startup)