It’s possible for libraries everywhere to be creative classrooms for not just the patrons but for library staff as well. But the administration must support this initiative. In his article Beyond the Walled Garden: LIS Students in an Era of Participatory Culture, Professor Stephens discusses his concept which represents a barrier to participation and experiences. As he states, “learning leads to sharing which leads to teaching which leads to more learning” (pp 5). Thus, by moving beyond a closed environment (aka: a walled garden) this will allow people a broader experience and understanding of community participation that just cannot be imparted within a closed environment. For example, receiving encouragement to engage and evolve with various forms of technology can thus encourage artistic expression helping information professionals and library staff to “learn from everyone and everything”. Such artistic expression can create new possibilities and opportunities for creative ideas of all kinds to be fashioned. Encouraging and supporting creativity from ourselves and each other will help libraries remain relevant to the community.
Professor Stephens further discusses in his Office Hours article Learning to Learn how it’s possible for administrators to create a “healthy library” by making it a priority initiative to promote a culture of learning all year long, providing encouragement and support so that all library staff may continually expand upon their knowledge and opportunities. His suggestions of mandating weekly times to explore something new related to jobs such as social tools, web services or to read articles and books is spot on! And I agree with his advice that it’s necessary for staff to keep track of their activities and progress. Doing this through an exploration blog is a great suggestion! I love this idea as it would not only help staff to feel professionally engaged but could also help connect them with their fellow library professionals, creating a more connected and engaged culture within the library staff itself. Wonderful!
The longer I work in libraries the more I see just how library staff, no matter the position they may hold, are themselves lifelong learners. We need to make sure that creativity of thought is encouraged so that our staff members can continue to thrive. By making sure that all library staff from page to Director have the opportunity to explore and learn, we’ll be doing good for libraries, our communities, and ourselves. We need our patrons and the community to dream big, but how can we do that if we ourselves are not doing the same? Supporting a culture of always learning, library staff will be open to knowledge and changing trends, helping the library become a welcoming community space for all to discover, create, and thrive. Becoming truly a learning organization that will be around for generations to come.
Learning To Learn | Office Hours. (n.d.). Retrieved April 19, 2017, from http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2013/06/opinion/michael-stephens/learning-to-learn-office-hours/
Stephens, M. (2011). Beyond the walled garden: LIS students in an era of participatory culture. SLIS Student Research Journal, 1(2).