I found Modules 11 and 12 incredibly inspiring. I like to joke (but not really jokingly) that librarians are saving the world and I think these two modules provide great examples of how they’re doing this. I think my favorite example is the Fairy Hunt story in “8 Awesome Ways Libraries are Making Learning Fun” (Bookey, 2015). Maybe not everyone thinks that a Fairy Hunt is world-saving, but I think it is. Not only does it sound like A LOT of fun (I would go on a fairy hunt in a heartbeat), but it provided a *free* and enriching program to the whole community. It combined creative art projects (building fairy houses), exercise (going to each of the locations), critical thinking and learning (puzzling through the scavenger hunt clues), and bringing families and communities together (working together throughout the hunt). I think that is the recipe for making our world a better place. And I am certain that it created memories that the participants will remember forever, hopefully, turning them into lifetime library users.
I also liked the practical reminders from the Module 12 lecture (Stephens, 2017) on how to handle negative co-workers and “devil’s advocates” who try to stop progress or shut down attempts to try new things. I have been in situations like that and it is frustrating. As future leaders in the library world, it’s important to remember how vital it is to foster an environment of innovation, learning, and a willingness to try new things. It’s okay to fail as long as you’re learning.
I love, love, love the Kristine Lu article from Module 10 showing that older adults are driving growth in mobile news. I have a Masters in Gerontology and serving older adults has been my career focus for over 20 years. I wrote about increasing technology services to older adults in my Emerging Technologies assignment and I was delighted to find more on the topic this week.
While it’s true that you’re more likely to run into an older adult with low-tech skills than a younger adult, I think the stereotype of older adults as tech-phobic that many people have (and is often used to “comedic” effect in our media) is not only false, but extremely harmful. In the library world, I think this stereotype can impact the kind of programming we offer to older adults, either focusing on non-technology programs or only having technology programs that teach older adults basic skills. Those programs can be great, but maybe there are some older adults who also want to use the 3D printer.
Older adults are the fastest growing age group in the United States and their technology usage continues to grow (Anderson & Perrin, 2017). We will be seeing more and more tech-savvy seniors in our libraries and I’m excited about this! In order to diversify library programming to include older adults in our mobile and technology-based environments, here are a couple ideas for getting older adults involved:
Get a senior advisory group together and make sure there is representation from tech-savvy seniors in the group who can provide programming advice and act as ambassadors in the community
Do a survey of patrons, including older adults, to see what kind of technology, including mobile, they want to see at the library
Every time new technology programming is added for children, be sure to look for programming ideas for older adults, as well
Consider peer mentors who can teach seniors about technology – sometimes getting training from someone in your peer group can be very effective in alleviating barriers to learning
I’d love to hear other ideas about how to do great technology programming for older adults. I’d also love to hear about success stories in your libraries.
I am recommending my public library purchase a Glowforge 3D Laser Printer. If you are not familiar with the Glowforge, here is a short video (under 3 min) that describes how it works and provides examples of the wide variety of projects and materials it supports: https://glowforge.com
Goals/Objectives for Technology or Service:
As we learned in Module 7 (Stephens, 2017), it is important to test new technology. While that can be scary, one of the best ways to learn is through trial and error (Stephens, 2012). While not every new technology is right for every library, my library’s location in the heart of Silicon Valley means that many of our patrons are already very tech-savvy and familiar with the latest technology trends. Despite this, there is a digital divide in our community and there are many patrons who do not have wide access to technology due to a variety of factors including financial barriers. I hope the Glowforge will help bridge this gap by being both high-tech and accessible. To promote this new printer, I recommend a variety of programming that will target different age groups, interests, and technology skill levels.
I believe the Glowforge 3D Laser Printer will benefit our library and community in many ways. I have broken the benefits down into two groups: specific benefits of the Glowforge printer and more overarching benefits associated with technology programming.
Specific Glowforge benefits:
The Glowforge can utilize a wide array of materials, including cardboard, textiles, paper, wood, metal, and even chocolate, which will appeal to patrons with varied interests including food design, textile art, woodworking, jewelry-making, graphic design, decorating, and much more
Due to the variety of applications, the Glowforge is a great tool that will improve our Makerspace areas
The Glowforge is very new, so it will educate our community about an emerging technology
The Glowforge can be part of an eco-friendly movement – it can utilize cardboard, so some of our programs can encourage eco-friendly creations made with the use of recycled materials
Overarching benefits of technology programming:
Empowering patrons to explore new technology in a safe and free environment
Creating technology programing for patrons all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds to help bridge the digital divide
Inspiring creativity in our community
Showing that the library is a place of learning and fun
Description of Community you wish to engage:
I am planning this new Glowforge for public library patrons in the Silicon Valley. The library where I work already has quite a few 3D printers, but they are primarily used by children and teens. I want to use the Glowforge to encourage a wider variety of age groups to test the technology and learn new skills.
Action Brief Statement:
Convince patrons of all ages that by using a Glowforge 3D laser printer they will learn new skills which will enrich their lives because learning is fun and technology is for everyone.
Evidence and Resources to Support Technology or Service:
The Glowforge is still relatively new and is expensive so not many public libraries have one yet. I did see that the Riverside Public Library announced they have purchased a Glowforge for their Makerspace that will be delivered soon: http://riversideca.gov/library/makerspace.asp. I really like the idea of announcing the new technology in advance. This can encourage patrons to prepare for it, start thinking about how to use it, and be excited to participate in programs once it arrives.
This Technology Planning Evaluation is interesting food for thought that might be helpful when considering the library’s overall technology plans: https://www.webjunction.org/documents/webjunction/Technology_Planning_Evaluation.html. I especially like how it includes interviews with both patrons and staff during the evaluation. Both groups are needed for successful implementation, so both should be included in the evaluation. This important idea is also echoed in the Measuring Progress (Casey & Stephens, 2008) and Taming Technolust articles (Stephens, 2012).
The TechSoup for Libraries blog (http://www.techsoupforlibraries.org/blog) has interesting posts on how technology can serve patrons. Some of the latest posts are about assistive technology, mobile libraries in refugee camps, and lending hotspots. It is great to see what other libraries do in order to get new ideas and be inspired about how libraries are helping people and changing the world. The concepts can be applied to different kinds of technology.
Mission, Guidelines, and Policy related to Technology or Service:
The library has a technology committee. I think that this group should take the lead in setting the guidelines and policies surrounding the Glowforge. They will use the library’s mission as a guiding principle. Since all the branches already have 3D printers, we can borrow from the policies already developed for those. Before the committee gets started, I would like to interview or survey patrons and staff to get their opinions of the current 3D printers, programming, and usage (Stephens, 2012). I would also like to know what both groups think about the Glowforge and how they would recommend using and promoting it. This information should inform the decisions the technology committee makes. I would also reach out to other libraries who are using this technology to see what their policies and programming look like.
There are many guidelines for use and mission statement elements that could be included. One thing that is close to my heart is programming for older adults. I want to make sure that this new technology does not end up being utilized by only younger patrons as has happened with the 3D printers. Therefore, I want to make sure that our mission includes “for all ages” messaging and that our guidelines outline how we will use the Glowforge to reach patrons of all ages.
Funding Considerations for this Technology or Service:
As with most emerging technologies, the Glowforge is not cheap. Prices range from $2995.00 to $5995.00. If our budget does not cover the full price, we may seek a technology grant or ask the Friends of the Library to help cover the costs.
Action Steps & Timeline:
I estimate this project will take six months:
One month for the proposal phase and approval by senior management in charge of large purchases
Two months to purchase and receive the Glowforge
Two months for staff training
One month to advertise and launch first classes
I think the Glowforge could also work as a pilot project. We could select a couple branches in our system to be our pilot sites and buy two or three of the printers. If it were successful, we could share the printers with other sites and work on budgeting to buy more printers.
If the proposal were denied, then I would encourage the library to offer more technology focused training to older adults with what we already have, such as the 3D printers. We currently offer technology training programs to older adults about subjects like how to use e-readers. These programs only target low-tech seniors. These classes are important and should continue, but when it is the only technology related programming targeted at older adults, I think it encourages the stereotype that technology is not for older adults. I would love to see whether offering high-tech programming to older adults would be successful. I think we should conduct a senior-specific survey to see what interests they have and what kind of programming they would like to see (Stephens, 2012). Partnering with local senior groups would be a great way to advertise.
Staffing Considerations for this Technology or Service:
The Glowforge will require staff training. It is a complex piece of equipment and someone with expertise will likely need to be on-site when it is in use, at least at the beginning when people are still learning how to use it. Our library system currently has several staff members at each library who have received extensive training on the 3D printers each branch already owns. When the 3D printers were purchased, all staff were given the opportunity to attend training sessions. We could use similar structure for the Glowforge. All staff will be encouraged to attend the training with some volunteering to be on-site experts. In addition, when planning programming around the Glowforge, such as a “Creating Halloween Decorations with Recycled Cardboard” class, the Glowforge expert should be paired with other staff members to teach the class so that the work is balanced.
Training for this Technology or Service:
As mentioned above, each branch already has 3D printer experts. They were chosen before I worked at the library and as I understand it, they volunteered for the training. At my branch, one of the experts is a newly-minted teen services librarian who was interested in learning new technology and the other expert is a library assistant who is also designated as one of our on-site IT experts. I think encouraging all staff to learn how to use the Glowforge is ideal to help get buy-in from all staff and help them think of programming ideas.
I think it would be especially fun if at the training we demonstrated the Glowforge with a fun, library-related project for all staff members. For example, we could do laser-etched name badges. We could come up with a few fun ideas and let staff choose their favorite.
I think the library’s technology committee should designate a sub-committee to design the training, which can then be revised by the full committee. We will use our 3D printer training as a model, but before beginning we will survey staff on our 3D printer program and training so that we can improve on what was done before (Casey & Stephens, 2008). As far as scheduling training, we will offer several times and allow staff to attend during regular work hours. It would be great if we could film the training so that people can rewatch it online, as needed.
Promotion & Marketing for this Technology or Service:
Our current 3D printers are used via open library hours. For a long time, patrons had to make an appointment during a time when one of the designated experts was working. Recently, as more staff have been trained, the 3D printers are available on a first come, first serve basis anytime the library is open. I think that this system attracts people who are already confident in their technology skills and are willing to initiate their own project and work alone or with just one staff member. As a result, the vast majority of patrons who use these printers are school-age children, many of whom already have had exposure to similar printers at their schools. I want to reach a much wider audience with the Glowforge and encourage patrons of all ages to come together to learn and create. I particularly want to encourage people who may be intimidated by technology to participate.
To do this, I would like to create very specific classes that will appeal to people who are not necessarily motivated solely by the new technology. For example, I think it would be great to have a class on how to use recycled cardboard to make holiday decorations. This kind of class would appeal to people who are interested in decorating, crafting, eco-friendly décor, and/or new technology. Here are some additional class ideas:
Cupcake decorating class using Glowforge to cut out chocolate shapes as decorations
Jewelry engraving class
Wallet making class
Making a chess board (that can be used by a chess club at the library)
Make your own wedding/party invitations or greeting cards
Make cellphone stands with plywood
The time it takes for the Glowforge to print the objects will vary by how complex the objects are. Some classes will be able to print everyone’s objects during the class itself. Other classes may end up being like a pottery or ceramics session where the bulk of the work is done in one session and then the finished product is picked up at a later date when the printing is completed. Printing the objects and having them on display until they are picked up would be great advertising as other patron’s come to the library and see what was made.
As additional promotion, images from our classes and of the finished objects will be shared on our Facebook and Instagram pages. I would also like to create short or time-lapsed videos of the Glowforge printing to share on social media. I think this method will help give our patrons a voice, which is important because they are the community we are serving (Edelstein, 2010).
In order to evaluate the program, it would be important to track usage statistics, patron evaluations from our programs, and get staff evaluations, as well (Casey & Stephens, 2008; Stephens, 2012). Once the new class structure is in place for the Glowforge, I would like to compare the demographics of patrons who use our current 3D printers to the demographics of people who use the Glowforge. As noted above, I believe that our current 3D printer users are almost exclusively children and teens. I think it would be a success if in addition to the younger patrons, more adults and seniors got involved.
If the Glowforge were successful and we expanded its use, I would want patrons to suggest ideas for how to use it. I would make this a part of our class survey that we would hand out at the end of each program.
I would love to create videos of the people in the class showing off their items. These would make fantastic stories. I’m envisioning something similar to the videos at the end of Antiques Roadshow where people briefly talk about the items they brought in. They’re short and sweet and usually very interesting. I think this would be a very powerful way to share the story of our programs so that people could see the wide variety of patrons learning the Glowforge and be inspired to try it out themselves.
I’ll start by saying that I have a lot of questions about this topic and very few, if any, answers. Like the 93% of people surveyed in the Pew Research Center article (Madden & Rainie, 2015), I find the ability to control who has access to information about me very important. While there are some steps we can all take to keep our information private online, I’m not sure the average person has the technology skills or know-how to truly protect him- or herself from sophisticated people, corporations, or governments who want that information. When going through the privacy material for this module (Stephens, 2017), my first thought was the recent news that the United States plans to start collecting social media data on all immigrants who want to enter the country (Nixon, 2017).
I’m not sure how this could impact libraries, but it seems worth considering. One thing that came to mind was Banned Books Week. I’ve enjoyed in the last week or so looking through all the social media posts from a library group I belong to on Facebook. Many people posted their creative displays and discussed books that were challenged in their libraries. In honor of Banned Books Week, I can easily see a library posting a question on its social media account asking followers to weigh in on something like, “What is your favorite banned book?” What if a future-immigrant answered that question and then came under scrutiny by law enforcement or immigration officers who objected to the content? In some ways it seems very far-fetched, and in other ways, unfortunately, it does not.
As I said, I do not have answers, but I do think it’s important that librarians be mindful of the broader implications of our actions. These days, it seems like there’s an ever-narrowing fine line between not censoring ourselves or our patrons and protecting our privacy online.
Madden, M. and Rainie, L. (2015). Americans’ attitudes about privacy, security and surveillance. Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/05/20/americans-attitudes-about-privacy-security-and-surveillance/
In watching this week’s lecture (Stephens, 2017) and contemplating the materials, what I kept thinking about was that participation is a two-way street. Much of our educational focus in this program is patron-centered and dedicated to how we can get user participation. I think to ensure success we also need to consider how to get staff participation so that these interactions work well from both directions.
In my experience in a variety of work settings, not just at libraries, ideas often come from administration or supervisors with staff members lower in the chain of command responsible for implementing the new ideas. If the staff is not engaged in the idea for whatever reason, then the new program probably won’t work, even if patrons like it. For example, one library I’m familiar with (I’m not naming names) had a top-down request for improved social media engagement. Staff members at individual branches were in charge of implementation. Many didn’t use social media beyond Facebook in their personal lives, so weren’t familiar with Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or other forums. And some who were using these platforms in their personal lives didn’t see how it was relevant for libraries and assumed that patrons weren’t interested. The general staff-level feeling was that this was not a good use of time, with many people saying exactly what Casey (“Revisiting participatory service in trying times,” 2011) said was a common complaint – social media is fleeting and it’s impossible to stay on top of the changes. Needless to say, the social media efforts of this library have not been very successful.
I wonder how this could have gone differently… Perhaps starting with a survey of patrons asking them about social media, how they use it, which platforms they like best, and how they would recommend the library participate would be a great first step. After that, maybe bringing staff together to discuss the survey results and come up with implementation strategies would be a good idea. If staff can see how patrons feel about it and then be involved in the planning, maybe they will feel more excited about participating in it themselves. Sharing pieces like Casey’s blog post (2011) mentioned above, pointing out how social media is not going anywhere, coupled with great examples of other libraries using social media, would likely be helpful as well. After the group develops a strategy and the staff who will be in charge of implementing it are chosen, some training and planning sessions would a great follow up.
Dixon’s (2017) article on eliminating fines reminded me of another example of failed staff buy-in. Another library system I’m familiar with is part of a consortium. About half of the libraries in the consortium would like to eliminate all fines. The other half of the libraries will only agree to eliminate fines for children and teens. There are complicated reasons for this involving different tax and funding streams for the two sets of libraries. As a result, the half that wants to eliminate fines has told its staff that it’s “not a priority” to collect fines for their own books – so they are allowed to waive fines for books they own, but not books owned by the other libraries. It’s complicated. Anyhow, the reason I bring this up is because there has been resistance from some staff members in the half of the consortium that wants to eliminate fines altogether. I think because the library is not able to make a “rule” about waiving fines, it is left up to staff members to use their judgment. This has allowed staff members who think that fines are a good idea to continue collecting fines, which is not what the library wants.
Again, I’m only an outsider looking in, so I am sure the issues are more complex than I’m presenting. However, I think it illustrates my larger point about participation being a two-way street. If staff does not buy in to policies or programs, it is unlikely to be successful. As future managers and administrators, when we are planning changes and programs, we need to put as much time into considering staff participation as we do into patron participation.
Authenticity has been on my mind lately. From all the recent issues with fake news, discussions about how perceived authenticity factored into our latest election, and the continued popularity of “reality” TV, I think the topic is having a moment right now. On a personal level, I recently saw the movie Ingrid Goes West and it got me thinking a lot about authenticity and social media. The movie follows a woman who becomes obsessed with another woman’s Instagram page. I won’t spoil the movie for you, but I thought it was fascinating and I’ve been thinking about it and social media authenticity ever since. When I checked our reading list for this assignment and saw Authenticity: What Consumers Really Want by James H. Gilmore and B. Joseph Pine II, I knew I wanted to read it immediately.
Authenticity focuses mainly on large companies, but it had some interesting ideas that I think can be applied to libraries. In particular, I liked a test they put forth for gauging authenticity – the Polonius Test. This test is based on the Polonius line from Hamlet, “This above all; to thine own self be true: And it must follow, as the Night the Day, Thou canst not then be false to any man [see image above].” Here is how the authors formulate the Polonius Test:
Being true to your own self – Is the offering true to itself?
Being who you say you are to others – Is the offering what it says it is?
Gilmore and Pine discuss this in terms of how companies talk to customers, describe themselves, and market their products. I think Instagram pages are good measures of whether libraries are passing the Polonius Test, at least in regards to their social media presence. Here are two examples of public libraries that I think pass with flying colors – one example from a large library and one from a small library:
This page has a very interesting mix of posts – from charming pictures of handwritten reference questions they have received over the years to a timely picture of Sloane Stephens, this year’s U.S. Open tennis champion, visiting a branch. Overall, the pictures are very high quality and look professionally done. Here’s an example of an ad for their 2018 calendar: https://www.instagram.com/p/BYir27KFeJt/?hl=en&taken-by=nypl
This is a small town library. It is part of a larger county consortium for borrowing purposes, but their Instagram page is produced by and reflects the individual, local branch. Their page has a great mix of videos and images. The videos really stand out to me and clearly take quite a bit of planning and technical skill to produce and edit. Here’s an example of a post advertising their new book delivery service: https://www.instagram.com/p/BWdWpCpArju/?hl=en&taken-by=burlingame_library
Both of these social media accounts appear cohesive, as if created with a unified vision about who that library is and what message it wants to convey about itself. The high engagement and positive feedback their followers have provided indicate that this message is resonating well. Polonius Test passed!
Most of the large companies discussed in Authenticity, like the Walt Disney Company, have a staff of people whose job it is to craft and convey their company’s image. It appears that the New York and Burlingame public libraries have either intentionally recruited staff who are skilled at social media or are lucky to have someone on staff who happens to be very good at it. Not all public libraries are so lucky. This could be because managers do not see the value in social media so they do not consider it when hiring, do not encourage training opportunities for staff tasked with maintaining the accounts, or do not allow sufficient work time to devote to creating high-quality content.
I think the techno-fears discussed in The Hyperlinked Library (Stephens, 2011) may play a role in libraries that do not embrace social media. In particular, I think techno-stress and techno-hesitation could be common culprits. Techno-stress is the feeling of being overwhelmed by new technologies. For people who are not tech-savvy, I think it is understandable to see the constant stream of new technology and feel paralyzed. Stephens (2011) explains that techno-hesitation arises when libraries decide not to implement new technologies, instead waiting to adopt the next thing that comes along. I have heard people say that they do not have the time or budget to jump on every new social media bandwagon.
Personally, I think libraries benefit from being involved in social media. A criticism I have repeatedly heard lodged at libraries is that they are not relevant anymore. I think not adopting technologies and not engaging in technology forums only adds to this perception. To succeed in a modern world, I think libraries need to adapt to user’s wants and needs.
To play Devil’s Advocate, I do think it’s valid to question whether maintaining social media accounts is worth the effort for some libraries. Do patrons pay attention? Libraries in some communities may and in other communities may not. Does it impact library usage or program attendance? Is there a negative impact if it is done poorly? Are there so many different and emerging social media forums that it is impossible to stay current and, therefore, not worth the investment of staff time? I don’t think there are any easy answers to these questions and if the aim is truly authenticity, then there won’t be a one-size-fits-all answer because every library is unique and has its own identity.
This week’s lecture about how technology has changed us was 100% correct. Like most of the world it seems, I have been caught up in the Game of Thrones phenomenon. Not only do I watch the show and talk to friends, family, and co-workers about it, but I read online articles about it, listen to podcasts about it, and read and participate in online forums discussing it. Before computers and the internet, these last three things weren’t an option – and how lucky I feel to be living in a time when it is possible because I can’t get enough Game of Thrones. Here’s a great YouTube video that discusses the latest Game of Thrones finale (season 7, episode 7) – SPOILERS, obviously:
What’s interested me most about this new way of consuming media though, is that I find myself wanting it for other shows and books. For example, I just started reading The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood and I wish there was a podcast that discussed the book chapter-by-chapter that I could listen to and/or an online book club I could join (on-demand of course because I want it right now, not next month). There are a million ways that technology has changed our lives, but this one made me wonder if libraries could play a role. I’ll be looking for innovative library examples throughout the semester. And if anyone wants to discuss The Handmaid’s Tale with me, let me know.
Photo credit: Library books by timetrax2 (via Creative Commons)
While browsing books in the library the other day, I noticed that each time I picked up a book, turned it over to read the description, and found that the description was covered by a library sticker, I gave up on that book and put it back on the shelf. I was sort of shocked with I noticed I was doing this (and had been doing this forever) – Was I just lazy? Was there a reason library staff did this? Was that reason good enough to impede access to the material? If I have this response to library stickers, I’m sure other people do as well.
About a week after having this revelation, I had another related experience that shocked me. I participate in an amazing online forum for librarians. I’m routinely inspired by the members there and the amazing work they do, programs they create, patrons they help, and their general love for the field. However, on this day there was a conversation where several people shared how much they enjoy putting stickers over book descriptions on the back of the book just to mess with people. After having my revelation about how these stickers impact my use of these books – and getting over my frustration – it really got me thinking about how small things in a library (or one staff member) can make a huge difference. A couple people chimed in to say that they did not like putting stickers over descriptions, but were required to because of library policies.
This week’s material made me remember this incident and it got me thinking about the future of libraries. What are the things that libraries do that make it hard for users to access materials? How does library staff culture impact patron and library usage? The Module 3 lecture did a great job of pointing out how a “library director” parking spot or an unwelcoming reference desk can negatively impact libraries. I loved the Aaron Schmidt article because it touched on one of my all-time favorite topics – innovation and being open to possibility. I think this is one of the key issues that determine success and failure – in every realm, not just libraries. I will definitely be coming back to this idea over the course of the semester.
I think being a librarian has always been my destiny, but it took me awhile to get there. Along the way, I’ve been a gerontologist and a lawyer. I started my first library job about a year and a half ago. Over the summer I interned at an academic law library and this semester I’m volunteering at a museum doing cataloging. I want to figure out which environment is the best fit for me. I started the MLIS program in Spring 2016 and it’s amazing how much I’ve learned and grown since then.
In my spare time, I like to read, make art, hang out with friends and family, eat good food, watch the SF Giants, crochet, see movies, binge watch great shows, and write. I wrote a baby name book that was published in 2009, Baby Names Made Easy. If you have an interesting name story, I’d love to hear it! Fair warning, if you share a good story (and you don’t object), you may show up in my blog – www.amandabarden.com.
I love meeting other MLIS students, so if you live in the Bay Area let’s put together a study group or grab some coffee.
Looking forward to getting to know you all this semester!