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Reflection: Library as a Classroom

The article that made the most impact on me this week was Kenney’s (2015) review of modern-day reference services. I’ve always wondered why libraries place such an emphasis on the traditional reference model as it seems to no longer apply. In my 4+ years at the public library, I almost never see true reference questions make it to the desk. There were definitely more reference questions during my reference internship at a local community college, but even still, the majority of patrons who approach the desk often need directional (“Where’s XYZ?”) or technology (“How do I use the printer?”) help. We get a lot of, “How do I fill out this form for my driver’s license renewal / Section 8 housing / job application / etc.” or “How do I email this to my friend / loved one / lawyer / and so on”. People know what they want to do. They need help doing it. If you incidentally have a better method or better resource for them to do what they want to do, that would be the time to interject.

It’s easy to point at reference and say, this is no longer working. It’s a much harder thing to find a solution that does work. I was initially hired on at Sacramento Public Library (SPL) as a “Technology Associate” – a paraprofessional whose main job duties were to design programs to help the public become more comfortable with technology, and to field technology questions that might arise during the day-to-day. Last year, the system did away with technology associates. All paraprofessionals were given one job title and a new initiative rolled out – all library staff, and not just the technology assistants, were expected to equally bear the brunt of the technology inquiries at the desk, and the demand for technology literacy skills building from the public. To me, that indicates that SPL probably came to the same conclusion as Kenney did and is trying, in their own way, to address this new paradigm shift. Old habits die hard, though, and there has definitely been a lot of staff anxiety and pushback. After all, technophobia exists among staff just as it does among the public.

I have been involved in the system-wide effort to develop training for new and existing staff to help them become more comfortable in fielding technology questions, but it’s been a difficult road. I imagine our training will undergo many, many, many revisions as we test and roll it out. A few of the readings this week offered some ideas that we could pursue, including adopting Pewhairangi’s (2016) short, flexible, and interactive model for digital literacy modules; Professor Stephens’ (2013) idea of mandating that employees explore a new technology they’re curious about; and, of course, there’s 23 things as well that we could apply to Web 2.0 or mobile learning.

A few other things from Kenney (2015) that I appreciated:

  • He brings up the elephant in the room about people being “as excited about information literacy as they are about flossing”. Another revolution is needed here, I think.
  • It’s interesting (and enlightening) that Kenney (2015) makes a point about database and OPAC interfaces being difficult to use, which funnels a lot of traffic our way at the desk. User Experience appears to be another area requiring improvement.

References

Kenney, B. (2015, September 11). Where reference fits in the modern library. Retrieved from https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/libraries/article/68019-for-future-reference.html

Pewhairangi, S. (2016, June 28). The library as a classroom for library staff. Retrieved from https://findingheroes.co.nz/2016/06/28/the-library-as-a-classroom-for-library-staff/

Stephens, M. (2013, June 20). Learing to learn | Office hours. Library Journal. Retrieved from http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2013/06/opinion/michael-stephens/learning-to-learn-office-hours/

Reflection: Mobile Environments – “On the Horizon”

Of this week’s assigned readings and lectures, Professor Stephens’ “Serving the User When and Where They Are: Hyperlinked Libraries” got me thinking the most about the different directions libraries may take in the future with mobile technology. The “On the Horizon” section, in particular brought to mind a few different apps, games, and social media networks I’m familiar with that might have potential to be turned into some great programs or help libraries better connect with their communities.

Hyperlinked and Hyper-local

I have always been a fan of Yelp’s ability to find open restaurants within a mile of me at 11pm (why are restaurants not open longer than that in the suburbs?), and I don’t think it’s a new concept (for marketers especially) that people collocated in one area are able to influence each others’ tastes, purchases, likes, dislikes, and so on. This brought to mind the neighborhood-centric social media network, Nextdoor. Nextdoor is a highly-restrictive social network that connects neighbors to each other. You can begin the sign-up process online, but Nextdoor will send you something in the mail to confirm that you actually live where you say you live. Once you’ve gained access to the network, you can post, share, chat with people who live in the same neighborhood as you. A sample Nextdoor news feed can be viewed here.

Sample mobile Nextdoor news feed

Libraries can use Nextdoor to connect with the community in its immediate vicinity and “spot trends and expand library services” (Stephens, n.d.). It’s a way to tap into the immediate needs and interests of the local community, and offer convenient, nearby solutions where possible. Library programs can also be promoted on Nextdoor and maybe, if users are seeing friendly familiar faces and names respond positively to library programs and services, they would be more inclined to attend, participate, or partake as well.

Gamification

While reading the section on gamification in Stephens (n.d.), I immediately thought of Habitica (formerly HabitRPG). Habitica is an interesting web and mobile application that encourages you to build good habits and be productive by making an RPG (role-playing game) out of your life. You create and customize a character when you sign up. You fill up your dashboard with tasks for yourself, either recurring or just one-offs. For example, you may say “Do cardio for 30 minutes”, “Go to the gym Monday/Wednesday/Friday”, “Donate $15 to charity this month” and so on. When you complete a task, you mark it off and you gain experience points. The more experience points you gain, the more your character “levels up”. You also get rewarded with loot. Habitica gamifies productivity and allows you to connect with friends or strangers online via private or public groups so you can help each other reach your goals. You can go adventuring with your friends, defeat bosses, find treasure, and the stronger your character is (AKA the more habits you keep and the more tasks you complete) the better you do on these “quests”. If you don’t complete a habit or task you set out for yourself, you lose HP (health points). Once your HP is depleted to zero, your character dies and you have to reset.

Sample screen from the Habitica web app

What if we applied something similar to the library? Libraries have already gamified summer reading by awarding users with badges and points that can be redeemed for the free book, subsequent prizes, and raffle tickets for the grand prize drawing. But what if we gamified the entire library experience? Say, every time you visit the library, check out a book, say hi to the librarian, ask a question at the reference desk, you get X amount of points. Those points are part of virtual “environments with level-up properties that reward users” (Stephens, n.d.).

Or, what if the library used Habitica as a platform for community members to come together, set goals, and encourage each other to reach their own personal goals? The library could use the “particular elements, mechanics, and frameworks” already built into Habitica to “increase productivity, creativity, and problem solving” (Stephens, n.d.) within the community. Users could download the mobile app and have the app with them on-the-go so they could mark tasks off as they did them.

Second Screen Sharing

When my fiancee and I first started dating, we would use Rabb.it to watch movies and TV shows together from our respective homes. Available both as a web app and a mobile app, Rabb.it allows users who may be far apart from each other to watch videos via the internet and voice or text chat about what’s going on on-screen. It was initially marketed as an app for people in long-distance relationships or with friends in different cities. The streams are synced – you see and hear everything at the exact same time that the other participants do. Off the top of my head, I thought this would be fun to use during our teen lock-in programs. At SPL, the teen lock-ins usually occur at three different branches on the same night, at the same time. Oftentimes we show movies at the lock-in, and it would be cool to be able to connect those three disparate group of teens via the Internet to talk and chat as the movie’s playing. They could connect to the stream via their own devices and chat with each other.

Alternatively, libraries could have at-home movie discussions with patrons – set up a Rabb.it room, allow users to join, then stream a movie, show, anime, YouTube video, etc., and have a moderated discussion about the content. Patrons could participate in library programs from home if they wanted to.

Sample screenshot from screensharing app, Rabb.it

In addition to the list of social reading, social watching, and second screen computing examples mentioned briefly in lecture and in Stephens (n.d.), there is also now social gaming! The extremely popular series of games called Jackbox recently released its fourth edition. Jackbox is a party box – it comes usually with 5 – 6 games meant to be played by 2+ players. The game is run on one main screen (computer, TV, console, or otherwise), but each player brings their own device and navigates to www.jackbox.tv. Players must input a special four-character code for their personalized game displayed on-screen to participate in the game. There’s also an audience feature – people who don’t want to be players but want to interact can also put in a four-character code specific to the audience. The audience is able to vote on their favorite player answers, drawings, etc. (depending on the game) and can, in some instances, even affect the outcome of the game. Screenshots from the games can be shared out through integrated social media options. If that sounds confusing, I’d recommend looking it up on YouTube – be aware that some of the content will likely be raunchy.

Screenshot of Drawful, one of the Jackbox Party games where each player draws a picture based on a prompt, and other players have to guess what the prompt is based on the drawing

Libraries could definitely use this as a program, although it’d likely have to be restricted to adults, and even then, the content may be questionable and may need policing. Still, this illustrates a growing trend in interactive entertainment and “Bring-your-own-device” mentality.

Reference

Stephens, M. (n.d.). Serving the user when and where they are: Hyperlinked libraries. Retrieved from http://tametheweb.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Stephens_ServingtheUser_HyperlinkedLibraries.pdf

 

 

 

 

Emerging Technology Planning – Fixit Clinic

Introduction

A few weeks ago, Professor Stephens shared an American Libraries article about Repair Cafes and I commented briefly about my interest in kick-starting a similar program at Sacramento Public Library (SPL) where I currently work. In my comment, I told the story of how one of the teens attending my gaming tournament program got too excited and ended up breaking the disc tray of our Wii, cutting festivities short. He felt incredibly guilty for both breaking the console and being the cause of the tournament being cancelled. I offered him the opportunity to help me fix the Wii, hoping it would cheer him up a bit and give him an avenue to right a wrong. It ended up being a mutual learning and bonding experience. Neither of us knew how to fix a Wii, but we reasoned through it together. When the tray was finally fixed, it was a point of pride for both of us.

Purpose and Benefits

The experience above showed me the potential that fix-it programs have to bring communities together through an educational and cooperative effort to learn about an object and get it back to working order.The Fixit Clinic would teach valuable STEM skills to young people; allow different people in the community to meet each other and work on a project together; facilitate the transfer of skills from professionals to beginners and novices; help build real-world mechanical skills; promote sustainability in our communities; and increase awareness of library services and collections, among many other benefits.

In other words, it’s the perfect participatory service for the library. Like Professor Stephens’ (n.d.) example of the program that brought comic book creators and comic enthusiasts together to inspire and learn from each other, this program would encourage people from all walks of life with varying skill levels to put their heads together, tackle a problem, and learn from/with each other.  Libraries are uniquely suited to promote this type of collaboration as is described by Michael Casey (2016) in his talk on Civic Engagement and Participatory Learning. Through these programs, we can “connect student with teachers and mentors” (Casey, 2016) so that “people who wouldn’t normally cross paths are being brought together by the library…using library resources and spaces to connect and build what will eventually become very very rewarding relationships” (Casey, 2016).

Details about the library

SPL already has established makerspaces in a few of our branches, as well as a Library of Things that currently includes sewing machines and can be expanded to also include tools. We also have external Bike Fix-it stations in various locations. As we pilot most of our new and innovative programs at the Arcade branch, and since Arcade has the most robust Makerspace in the system (which includes a soldering station and sewing machine), it would be the ideal branch at which to test run a Fixit Clinic. In the future, the Martin Luther King Jr. Library could also be a candidate considering it has both a 3D printer (though not a Makerspace) and a Bike Fixit Station outside. With the 3D printer, a fix-it program would fit thematically with the library’s offerings. The Fixit Clinic would be a logical step for both branches given their current services and collections, and the fact that they already have staff and volunteers dedicated to the running and maintenance of the Makerspace / 3D printers.

 

Goals/Objectives for Technology or Service:

  1. Provide a participatory, hands-on learning experience for new, beginning, and novice fixers.
  2. Facilitate knowledge transfer between experienced fixers and new, beginning, and novice fixers.
  3. Promote STEM principles in our communities by allowing people to better understand how things function.
  4. Encourage the use of existing emerging technology at the library, e.g. by 3D-printing parts that might be needed in order to fix a broken object.
  5. Increase awareness of the library’s lesser-known services, including Bike Fix-it stations and Library of Things offerings, like sewing machines.
  6. Demonstrate the value of the library through our shared resources.
  7. Support sustainability in our communities.

 

Description of Community you wish to engage: We would want people from the general public to bring in their broken items, so the program would be open to everyone in that sense. Secondary target populations would include tinkering enthusiasts, established trade professionals (tailors, repairmen, engineers, etc.), up-and-coming professionals (e.g. students in engineering programs at local colleges or CSUS), and members of the community who are interested in sustainability.

 

Action Brief Statement:

For patrons:

Convince users and non-users that by attending / utilizing the Fixit Clinic they will learn and benefit from the collective knowledge, skills, and resources of their community which will help them learn practical skills, create lasting relationships, explore new technologies, and contribute to a sustainable society because the library is a place for learning, giving back, and connecting.

For staff:

Convince library staff and administrators that by offering Fixit Clinics through the library they will enrich the lives of their patrons by offering practical services and fun learning opportunities which will increase awareness of the value of the library because patrons will be exposed to the multitude of services and materials that the library offers.

 

Evidence and Resources to support Technology or Service: (URLS, articles to help guide you)

How-to’s:

Cottrell, M. (2017, September 1). Libraries and the art of everything maintenance: Hosting repair events reduces waste, brings in new patrons.

Fixit Clinic. (n.d.). Start a clinic.

 

Informational

Schimpf, C. (2017, February 16). Fix it at the library with DIY repair programs.

 

Examples at other libraries

Arlington Public Library. (2016, October). Maker workshop: Fix nearly anything.

Cotton, D. (2017, October 2). Fix it, don’t ditch it at Buffalo’s Dare to Repair Cafe!

Dakota County. (2017, September 18). Fix & repair.

Lyons, K. (2015, September 17). Why buy new? Fix what you have! Fixit clinics coming to the library’s Recycled Reads bookstore.

Martel, D. (2016, October 14). The fix ix free: Programs that pop. Library Journal.

 

Mission, Guidelines, and Policy related to Technology or Service: The Fixit Clinic will have to adhere to standing SPL policies in regards to collection, conduct, and 3D printing, and must remain in line with the library’s Mission, Vision, values, and goals. Additionally, we have internal policies that govern how volunteers are onboarded, and any new Fixit Clinic volunteers (called “coaches”) must be vetted through that process. Arcade has its own policies for the Makerspace, which will also apply. As for policies and guidelines that will be unique to this service, Fixit Clinic is an umbrella non-profit that helps other non-profits create new repair programs nationwide. In that respect, we are fortunate to have an archive and resource to turn to when deciding how to approach recruitment, marketing, scope, and so on. The Fixit Clinic website is a great tool for this, and we can also contact featured libraries that have held similar programs in the past. All new policies will be subject to our normal policy review via the branch management chain, and escalated to central administration if needed.

 

Funding Considerations for this Technology or Service: While the Library of Things has some shareable resources (e.g. sewing machines) that can be used for this program, the library might consider also purchasing a set of tools for a few hundred dollars when it next decides how to allocate the collection budget. It would benefit not only this service, but the system as a whole. As Kastanis (2015) noted in this week’s readings, “We’ve recently seen a huge rise in the sharing economy” that allows resources to “be active 24/7 rather than just when we’re personally using them”, and this can be a justification for the purchase. Alternatively, Arcade has a generous and thriving Friends group to which a request for purchase can be submitted.

If the purchasing of library-owned tools isn’t feasible, the Fixit Clinic website recommends asking volunteer coaches to bring their own personal tools so they have them available when attempting to help patrons fix their objects. Other costs incurred would be the purchase of odds and ends, such as washers, screws, ball bearings, small spare parts, and any of the plastic that might be used if the library ends up 3D printing these parts. The latter will likely already be accounted for in the branch budget due to regular use of the Makerspace.

If the branch considers partnerships with other non-profits and community organizations, donations of all required program materials would be very feasible.

 

Action Steps & Timeline: The service can be piloted at the Arcade branch and then replicated at other branches if it’s successful. The program could be up-and-running in about 3 – 6 months, depending on how successful recruitment is of internal staff or external volunteers to be Fixit Coaches, and how quickly the library can purchase any tools or parts deemed necessary for the clinic. The project flow and approval chain will likely be as follows:

  1. Project is pitched to the Arcade Branch Supervisor, whose approval will greenlight the service at the branch level [1 week].
  2. Arcade Branch Supervisor presents the idea to the Public Services Manager (regional manager) to determine if there are any admin concerns with the program [1 week]. Once approval is granted…
  3. Branch must decide whether to put in a purchase request to the Collection Services Department or Friends of the Arcade Library for general tools and parts [1 month] OR whether we will ask volunteer Fixit Coaches to bring their own tools [no time].
  4. Branch must decide what, if anything, on the recommended supply list will be necessary to purchase to run the program [1 month]
  5. Fixit Coach recruitment will begin via our normal avenues: in-house flyers, SPL’s website, social media [up to 2 months]
    1. Coaches will go through volunteering training once they agree to help with the program [up to 2 months, concurrent with 4.]
  6. Library staff can seek out community partnerships with local churches, schools, colleges, universities, non-profit groups, clubs, etc. [optional, up to 2 months]
  7. Once volunteers have been recruited, a target date and time will be chosen for the first clinic [1 day].
    1. Depending on the scope of the volunteers’ skills, the branch can decide whether or not to limit the types of objects can be brought to the Fixit Clinic.
  8. The service will be marketed via in-house flyers, SPL’s website, social media, outreach at schools and events, and the Fixit Clinic’s blog [up to 1 month].
  9. The first Fixit Clinic is held [4 hours]!
  10. Evaluation period

 

Staffing Considerations for this Technology or Service: Arcade will have a Library Assistant and one or two volunteers already dedicated to running and maintaining the branch’s Makerspace. The Repair Cafe pilot can be an extension of normal Makerspace hours, or replace one instance of an existing program. Additional volunteer Fixit coaches will be recruited prior to the actual program date (see action steps above) by the branch’s Adult Volunteer Coordinator as part of their regular duties. Teens and college students can be enticed with volunteer hours and experience to help out with the program.

The only additional staff hours required would possibly be to establish partnerships with community organizations or professionals. I would estimate this to be between 2 – 4 hours of staff time a week until the go-live date. This is optional, but can be done by being creative with scheduling to allow a staff member enough time off-desk and away from other duties to email, call, or visit potential partners. The branch can also utilize our robust roster of on-call staff to cover if necessary.

 

Training for this Technology or Service:  Branch staff and regular volunteers will already be familiar with the Makerspace machines. Any new volunteers onboarded specifically for this clinic will need to go through the branch’s standardized volunteer training session (about two hours). Otherwise, the branch will rely on the expertise of the Fixit Coaches for specific troubleshooting and fixing of objects brought in.

If the service is successful and the branch ends up making it an ongoing program, there will likely be regulars who can be tapped to be Fixit Coaches down the road. As the Fixit Clinic blog states, “Many of our best Fixit Coaches initially attended as participants” (Fixit Clinic, n.d.).

If other branches move to adopt Fixit Clinics at their own sites, the original team at Arcade can provide a short training session for interested parties on how best to implement and run the service.

 

Promotion & Marketing for this Technology or Service: To market to the public, all of SPL’s basic marketing strategies will be used, including in-house flyers, advertising on the website, social media posts, and word-of-mouth at the branch’s service desk. Beyond that, once the service has been greenlighted by the appropriate supervisors, the branch can send out a system-wide email requesting that the Fixit Clinic be promoted at all outreach events prior to the go-live date. SPL is always tabling at different events, so this will help get the word out and hopefully encourage the public to bring in their broken objects. The library should also consider partnerships with the engineering programs at the local Los Rios community college campuses, as well as California State University, Sacramento. One of our other branches, Pocket Library, serves as a joint-library with the 7th – 12th grade School of Engineering and Sciences, which would also be a great way to bring in younger, aspiring engineers to participate and coach.

The Fixit Clinic website also recommends seeking out non-profits focused on sustainability, and to “Spread the word that you want to start holding Fixit Clinics through local libraries, schools, community centers, senior centers, city government, chamber of commerce, hardware stores, computer / electronics stores, bicycle stores, churches, etc.” (Fixit Clinic, n.d.). Once a date and time has been decided, the Fixit Clinic blog requests that all Fixit Clinics submit their event to the website to be listed in the Upcoming Events section, and promoted via the Fixit Clinic social media channels.

Finally, internal marketing will occur through SPL’s intranet home page and online forums, mass e-mails to all SPL employees, and announcements at the appropriate recurring meetings (including the Volunteer Coordinator meeting, the library’s technology-focused Tech Academy, and the Youth Services and Adult Services meetings).

 

Evaluation: Evaluation criteria will include:

  • Program attendance
    • If we hold more than one, we can also evaluate program attendance over time.
  • Patron satisfaction
    • Short, paper surveys will be available at the program, as well as at the information desk
    • Feedback from social media via comments or PMs will be taken into account
  • Feedback from volunteer coaches (e.g. how they felt the program went, what could be done better, what types of objects were brought in most frequently, etc.)

As we’ve already seen in many of the articles listed above in the Evidence and Resources section, there are so many potential great stories to be told with repair programs. Not only are we adding value to our community by providing a free service for them to fix their broken objects, but we’re also giving people the opportunity to learn about how things are made and how they function, connect with others in their community they may never have connected with before, and contribute to a more sustainable earth.

As for expanding the program, we may begin with only fixing one type of object depending on the skills of the coaches the library can recruit. The more coaches we get, the more objects we can help patrons fix. After the initial pilot, the program can also be brought to other branches in the system that cater to different neighborhoods in Sacramento County.

 

References

Casey, M. [Michael Casey]. (2016, June 16). Library as classroom – Civic engagement and participatory learning [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pRSVEjgtk1M

Fixit Clinic. (n.d.). Start a clinic. Retrieved from http://fixitclinic.blogspot.com/p/start-one_13.html

Kastanis, D. (2015, November 15). What technology will look like in five years. Retrieved from https://techcrunch.com/2015/11/15/what-technology-will-look-like-in-five-years/?ncid=rss&sr_share=facebook#.duec3yb:tVVa

Stephens, M. (n.d.). The hyperlinked library & emerging technologies: Focus on participatory services & transparency [Video file]. Retrieved from https://sjsu-ischool.hosted.panopto.com/Panopto/Pages/Viewer.aspx?id=045fa418-fca1-4af1-81a6-1115e7533b39

Reflection: Curiosity and Play in the Hyperlinked Academic Library

For me, the heart of this week’s readings on the Hyperlinked Academic Library was Rempel and Deitering’s (2017) investigation into the lack of genuine curiosity in first-year students’ compositions for their writing classes. I currently work in a public library and I’ve noticed that curiosity is in abundance here. Children, teens, and adults browse and flip through materials that are of interest to them. They explore nearby books on the shelves. They ask for similar reads at the information desk based on what they’ve read before. Patrons wander in and out of programs that spark their interest. There’s a certain freedom to explore and investigate in public libraries that seems to be dampened in college or academic libraries.

Students, however, come in with a mission, usually to find and hit their quota of resources for a paper. When I interned at a local community college library, I definitely performed reference interviews with students similar to the ones described in Remper and Deitering (2017) – those trying to find tried and true topics and resources that would hit all the requirements for their class. While students may want to explore a topic, the notion that there isn’t enough information out there, or the topic is too avant garde, or (perhaps most significantly) the fear that whatever they want to investigate won’t meet the instructor’s standards are all limiting factors to student curiosity. Something may spark their interest, but these limiters make it difficult (and anxiety-inducing, as the authors mention) to stray from the beaten path.

How, then, can libraries help bring students back into the realm of curiosity, to reinstate the “play” element of the library environment that is so prevalent in public libraries?

Work with instructors

Let’s face it – the impetus for many students to enter an academic library is usually a class assignment. Encouragement to explore, therefore, must first be established within the classroom. Librarians should be “working closely with the faculty and GTAs who teach first-year composition to develop ways to reward students for taking intellectual risks and engaging in exploratory research” (Rempel & Deitering, 2017). If we can remove the fear of failure and a bad grade, and instead replace that with reassurance that exploration will not be punished, students will be more willing to investigate topics and ideas that truly resonate with them. For the more difficult subject matters, librarians and instructors can make themselves and other resources available to help with the research process, whether that be through reference interviews, office hours, library instruction, or the “conversations” Mathews (2015) describes in his article. In this way, we can help de-emphasize simply pleasing the instructor, and instead nurture curiosity.

Create avenues and tools for discovery

The library must also have a hand in exposing students to new ideas they may not encounter otherwise. OSU’s aggregator of easy-to-read press releases about recent research projects and discoveries (Rempel & Deitering, 2017) is an example of this, as is Copenhagen University Library’s Digital Social Science Lab for data exploration (Lauersen, 2016), the salon- and Socratic-style “conversation” programs discussed by Mathews (2015), and the high-tech interactive spaces designed by Snohetta for the North Carolina State University (NCSU) (NCState, 2013). Many of the readings this week touched on the idea that patrons create their own knowledge as well. All of the above mentioned innovations help start discourse and discovery, and help students on their way to learning how to participate in a research community, reason through a research problem, and ultimately produce their own findings and understanding of the topic they’re studying.

Rethink physical spaces

I was incredibly impressed with the Hunt Library and have been since it was initially introduced in the earlier modules of this class. It’s the epitome of the idea of “re-introducing play” I mentioned above. It’s a literal adult playground filled with collaborative spaces that allow you to draw all over the glass walls; create, display, and share ideas; and experiment with technology and your own creativity. While not all libraries will have the budget to implement what NCSU has done at Hunt, the fundamental principles can still be applied on a smaller scale. What are the principles of exploration and discovery? Is it bouncing ideas off of other people? Let’s create common rooms with multiple ways to visualize each others’ ideas, or creating programs and avenue for students to speak with each other, experts, faculty, etc. Is it creation? Let’s think about software and hardware that promote bringing ideas into reality (e.g. animation software, 3D printers, others?).

There’s a niche here, I’m sure, for academic librarians to study how young adults and adults explore the world. We hear a lot about children learning and exploring, but that doesn’t (or at least, shouldn’t) stop as we get older. From that, we can determine how best to configure our spaces to encourage those behaviors, and thus encourage curiosity and play.

 

References

Deitering, A. & Rempel, H.G. (2017). Sparking curiosity – Librarian’s role in encouraging exploration. In the Library with a Lead Pipe. Retrieved from http://www.inthelibrarywiththeleadpipe.org/2017/sparking-curiosity/

Lauersen, C. (2016, March 8). Towards Rubicon: The academic library and the importance of making a choice [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://christianlauersen.net/2016/03/08/towards-rubicon/?utm_content=buffer42d5d&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

Mathews, B. (2015, May 27). The evolving & expanding service landscape across academic libraries [Blog post]. The Ubiquitous Librarian. Retrieved from http://www.chronicle.com/blognetwork/theubiquitouslibrarian/2015/05/27/the-evolving-expanding-service-landscape-across-academic-libraries/

North Carolina State University. [NCState]. (2013, July 30). The Hunt Library story [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Okr78MUrImI

Reflection on Hyperlinked Communities

I have a friend who moved up to Norcal last year from Southern California. She knew no one when she moved here, but has since built up an incredible network of new friends in a relatively short amount of time. Her secret was Meetup – she picked a few groups with events for young adults in their 20s and 30s to get together, have drinks, and have fun. I get the impression from many of the readings this week that libraries are shifting to fulfill a similar role in patrons’ lives – we can connect people to each other based on shared interests or traits, help them build relationships, and give them a communal space to do so. Library staff act as the initial “leader” of the tribe by planning and implementing program ideas that allow people to join up. The knitting group at Gwinnett library that Professor Stephens (2017) was a great example of this. I’ve seen other great ideas in the past in my own library system, Sacramento Public Library (SPL).

SPL has innovative programming for adults in their 20s and 30s (Alt + Library) that include trivia nights at the local bars, adult animation showings (of South Park, for example), storytimes by a local celebrity drag queen, and serious discussions about important topics of the day. Why is this such a great idea? According to a recent Pew study, Millennials are the most likely generation to use libraries today. And per Pewhairangi (2014) we need to, “become obsessed with your most valuable members”. By targeting millennials, SPL is honing in on one of its largest user groups. The wide range of programming offered to this particular generation also seems to suggest that the library took Pewhairangi’s (2014) and Schmidt’s (2016) advice of getting to know their users beyond their interactions with the library, and instead asking “people about their lives” (Schmidt, 2016).

Sacramento Public Library's Alt Library program landing page on Meetup
Sacramento Public Library’s Alt Library program landing page on Meetup
A few examples of past Alt Library events.

 

 

 

 

 

 

These Alt+Library events happen mostly in the downtown/midtown area where trendy nightlife is prevalent. In the neighborhood branches, SPL has implemented things in the past like the (now defunct, unfortunately) “Tea and Technology” series where senior citizens could stop by for some tea and listen to lectures about technology from professionals, then engage in discussion and question and answer sessions. It was a safe and fun social space to learn about confounding new technology. Recently, one of our branches, the Colonial Heights library, has been remodeled to contain a kitchen. Though it’s much smaller than the examples presented in Kim’s (2014) article, it has been used in the past to hold Co-Op Community Kitchen events to teach patrons about cooking and nutrition. One thing I’ve noticed, however, is that these programs can be hard to maintain. It’s difficult to “delight” our patrons continuously, and/or the time/monetary cost of maintaining these programs (like the kitchen) can be high. I suppose this is all the more reason to continue discourse with our communities to ensure that we are providing them with services that speak to them, which gives us more motivation and reason to find creative ways to fund services and keep these programs going.

Finally, Schmidt’s (2016) article had the most impact on me in this group of readings because it reframes the way we look at library evaluation and user satisfaction surveys. I’ve always had an uneasiness about the questions we normally ask patrons, AKA the generic, “What do you want to see in the library?”. I didn’t truly understand why until reading Schmidt’s short article. It’s because, when faced with a question like that myself during systemwide staff surveys, I wrack my brain for something innovative. If instead asked what I like to do, I could write paragraphs on that.

 

References

Geiger, A. (2017, June 21). Millennials are the most likely generation of Americans to use public libraries. Retrieved from http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/06/21/millennials-are-the-most-likely-generation-of-americans-to-use-public-libraries/

Pewhairangi, S. (2014, May). A beautiful obsession. Weve. Retrieved from http://287.hyperlib.sjsu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/WEVE_May_2014.pdf

Schmidt, A. (2016, May 4). Asking the right questions: The user experience. Library Journal. Retrieved from http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2016/05/opinion/aaron-schmidt/asking-the-right-questions-the-user-experience/#_

Stephens, M. (n.d.). Hyperlinked communities. Retrieved from https://sjsu-ischool.hosted.panopto.com/Panopto/Pages/Viewer.aspx?id=7ef87729-0d46-4628-94c6-508c5b995428

 

Context Book Review: Quiet – The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain

I have known for a long time that I am an introvert, and during my adolescence that fact always made me feel “less than”. Now I know why. I have been wanting to read this book for a while, and I’m glad that it was on the recommended reading list for this assignment. It finally gave me an opportunity to pick it up and examine how introverts have a multitude of potential. What follows is my short review of this book and how the principles and theories found within are relatable to the field of library and information science.

Thinking about what the Hyperlinked Library represents, and what we can come to expect in the future in relation to participatory library services, addressing the needs of as many users as we can is a must if we hope to keep library organizations evolving. One way we as information professionals can do this is by understanding others’ information habits, and how we can facilitate a learning environment for different patrons. In Quiet – The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, Susan Cain seeks to deconstruct Western culture’s preconceived notions of “the extrovert ideal” and how introverts are not “less than,” but rather have their own distinctive set of strengths (Cain, 2012).

So how do we encourage introverts to use libraries, and enjoy services offered in these environments?

Better virtual environments

As Cain mentions on her book, “the same person who would never raise his hand in a lecture hall of two hundred people might blog to two thousand, or two million, without thinking twice” (Cain, 2012, p. 63). Here, Cain intimates the idea of what possibilities a virtual environment opens to an introverted person. In K.G. Schneider’s (2006) blog post, she states that “Most of your most passionate users will never meet you face to face. Most of your most alienated users will never meet you face to face”. In response to these ideas, libraries should focus on creating a welcoming virtual environments for users that are robust, easy to navigate, and allow patrons to take advantage of a wide range of library services without having to come into the physical library if they do not have to. After all, as both Schneider (2006) and Kenney (2014) emphasize, a library’s website is the “ambassador to tomorrow’s taxpayers”.

UCLA’s library has an excellent website, which can be explored here: http://www.library.ucla.edu/#oac. I created a GIF below of one functionality that makes it so user-friendly – users can simply click through tabs on the UI to search different resources. There’s no need to use “five clicks to get to popular resources”, as per Kenney’s (2014) “poor usability” example.

Solo and social spaces

Another way that libraries can encourage introverts to participate in libraries is through the physical layout of library space. In Schwartz’s (2013) overview of the James B. Hunt Jr. Library at North Carolina State University, one thing that stood out to me was the fact that, “The Hunt is engineered for everything from solo work to many kinds and sizes of collaborative projects up through mass events” (Schwartz, 2013). There are spaces for “solo work, or relaxation” (Schwartz, 2013), as well as configurable spaces with telecommunications and audiovisual capabilities for group work. The glass surrounding the video game design lab can also be made opaque “for designers who want to make their mistakes in privacy” (Schwartz, 2013). Introverts don’t necessarily want to avoid social encounters – they just don’t want to be overwhelmed with social interaction (Cain, 2012). In those cases, having solo work rooms, or rooms with transitioning glass like the Hunt would likely be greatly appreciated by introverts. It makes the library feel welcoming and like a safe space without being paralyzingly stimulating. Susan Cain actually participated in a Steelcase (company that sells furniture) ad that featured sample introvert spaces that promote productivity in the workplace. These can serve as a starting point for libraries when they consider redesigns or new buildings.

Understanding introverted behavior

Per Cain (2012), “Studies show that one third to one half of us are introverts” (p. 255). As such, one to every three, or every other person that walks into a library could potentially be an introvert. To make the library more welcoming to introverts, it is important that librarians recognize and understand introverted behavior, and “Remember that introverts react not only to new people, but also to new places and events” (Cain, 2012, p. 248). Librarians should be kind and open, but not pushy, and avoid overstimulating a patron by bombardment with social overtures or forcing them to participate in group activities during programs.

 

References

Cain, S. (2012). Quiet: The power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking. New York, NY: Crown Publishers.

Kenney, B. (2014, January 27). The user is (still) not broken. Retrieved from https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/libraries/article/60780-the-user-is-still-not-broken.html

Schneider, K. G. (2006, June 3). The user is not broken: A meme masquerading as a manifesto [Blog]. Retrieved from http://freerangelibrarian.com/2006/06/03/the-user-is-not-broken-a-meme-masquerading-as-a-manifesto/

Schwartz, M. (2013, September 18). Tomorrow, visualized | Library by design, fall 2013. Retrieved from http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2013/09/buildings/lbd/tomorrow-visualized-library-by-design-fall-2013/

Understanding the Hyperlinked Library

I’ve been trying to wrap my head around the concept of a Hyperlinked Library since the start of the course (for obvious reasons). Even after perusing the course website and foundational readings, I couldn’t seem to craft a defined conceptual model of it in my mind. Knowing this, I approached the Module 3 readings with curiosity and an open mind, and was surprised (and relieved) to find that each article brought me more clarity about what it means for a library to be “hyperlinked”. So, I wanted to reflect on the readings this week in hopes that, by discussing and sharing my thoughts with the class, I can further organize my ideas and allow others to clarify or strengthen my understanding where it might be weakest. (Also, sorry in advance for the length!)

To get straight to the point, all of the readings this week had the same fundamental message: We must embrace change. As this is my penultimate semester here at SJSU, this sentiment is nothing new. I’ve taken enough classes to understand that the library world has been in a state of flux for years ever since the advent of the Internet, and even more so after the rise of Web 2.0. While these readings present the same overall theme, they give a perspective I surprisingly haven’t thought of before – technology has certainly changed how people interact with and process information, but it has also fundamentally changed how people interact with and process everything else as well. We are not the only ones affected by what Denning (2015) dubs “the disruption”. While our domain is indisputably information, libraries may be doing themselves a disservice by focusing solely on how changes have affected information seeking and processing, and ignoring changes in how people (especially the younger generation) now experience the world. As Professor Stephens (2010) says in his article about hyperlinked school libraries, “These young people are living in a decidedly different world”.

This was my first ah-ha moment. It brings to mind the many proscriptive policies that currently exist in the public library system I work for. No talking above a whisper, no food in the library, and, in some joint-use branches, no cell phones allowed until after 3pm. When Pew last checked, 92% of adult Americans had access to a smartphone (Anderson, 2015). In my Social Media and Web 2.0 class last year, I discovered from several market studies that Instagram and Snapchat, both mobile apps, were the most popular social media platforms among teenagers today. Smartphones have become deeply integrated into our lives, so why try to eliminate them entirely from school library spaces instead of, as demonstrated in Matthews (2010), using them as a way to engage our patrons?

Cellphones, Computers Are the Most Commonly Owned Devices

I’m sure there are other examples of similarly outdated thinking, such as the organizational model itself, as was discussed at length in Weinberger’s (2001) mini-manifesto against traditional bureaucracy and top-down management and Mathews’ (2012) rallying call for libraries to start thinking like startups. People these days are used to iterative, dynamic, responsive, flexible, and instant services. Bureaucracy, with its myriad policies and red tape aren’t conducive to the user-centric paradigm in which we all find ourselves now.

Schmidt (2014) recommends that, in order to remedy this and move libraries out of the dinosaur age, we shouldn’t be afraid to offer innovative, contextually-appropriate services (his example being showers in the library). Break the mold, he seems to say, and evolve. Otherwise, “when we’re closed off to concepts without examining them fully, or without exploring the frameworks in which they exist, we’re unlikely truly to innovate or create any radically meaningful experiences” (Schmidt, 2014).

And in my experience, there ARE people out there who are concerned about how far we can take this line of thinking. Take, for example, this recent Annoyed Librarian post that pokes fun at the extent to which many of these new and innovative ideas have been taken. A quick jaunt through the comments is also illuminating as many oppose the new “Library Culture” push (as it’s dubbed in the article) to “bring all services within the library and giving meaning and purpose to everyone’s lives” (Annoyed Librarian, 2017). Though tongue-in-cheek and satiric in nature, the article and commenters do bring up an interesting point – is there a line we don’t cross when it comes to meeting our patrons’ needs? How far do we take this reinvention? Is there a limit to the redefinition of libraries before they become something completely different altogether?

I think that last point is where a lot of the fear with this type of change is – are we going to lose our “essence” as libraries and as librarians? If we cater to these new trends, what separates us from a café, or keeps us from becoming some kind of glorified social services space? This is where I finally began to understand what the idea of the Hyperlinked Library is. The switch, especially in public and school libraries, to becoming a more social space with services outside of our original domain of books and information, is inevitable. We need to “delight” and please our customers after all, as Denning (2015) points out multiple times. Our role has always been to connect our users to information and resources. With the Web and the shift in thinking caused by Web culture, we can continue to do so but must broaden our conceptualization of what these resources are, where they reside, how we can present them to our patrons, and so on. The Hyperlinked Model says that we are the connectors for our customers and it is our jobs as librarians to hyperlink them to the information they need in as many ways as we can swing it, whether that be connecting them to materials, other people, web pages, hands-on experiments, or so on. It is up to us to innovate what those “ways” are, and, as mentioned above, how far we want to take it. That limit (or lack thereof) is something I’m still reasoning through myself.

References

Anderson, M. (2015). Technology device ownership: 2015. Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/10/29/technology-device-ownership-2015/

Annoyed Librarian. (2017). Library culture: Dream into reality. Retrieved from http://lj.libraryjournal.com/blogs/annoyedlibrarian/2017/07/06/library-culture-dream-into-reality/

Denning, S. (2015). Do we need libraries? https://www.forbes.com/sites/stevedenning/2015/04/28/do-we-need-libraries/#687ec726cd7f

Matthews, B. (2010). Unquiet library has high-schoolers geeked. American Libraries. Retrieved from https://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/2010/06/21/unquiet-library-has-high-schoolers-geeked/

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 | The user experience. Library Journal. Retrieved from http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2014/05/opinion/aaron-schmidt/exploring-context-the-user-experience/#_

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/

Weinberger, D. (2001). The hyperlinked organization. In R. Levine, C. Locke, D. Searls, & D. Weinberger (Eds.), The cluetrain manifesto: The end of business as usual. Retrieved from http://www.cluetrain.com/book/hyperorg.html

An Introduction

Hi everyone!

My name is, Ashton Vagnone and this is my final year in the MLIS program here at SJSU! I chose this course because I’m very passionate about emerging technology trends in libraries and how they are used to engage patrons with information in new, creative ways. I’m very excited to be taking this course and using the knowledge gained from it to sharpen my technological skill set and learn effective methods in using the plethora of web 2.0 platforms available.

I’m strongly interested in working in academic libraries, and have tailored my courses the past couple years to fit my interests professionally. Last semester I completed an internship at a local community college here in Sacramento. My goal is to eventually work in reference and instruction.

Here’s a picture of me this year working as an out-of-class Teen Services Librarian:

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