Unplug. Reflect. Reset.

Casey N. Cep’s article, “The Pointlessness of Unplugging” hit home for me in so many ways. On a personal level, I always say, “I hate this phone.” And yet this very same phone is with me virtually every single moment of my day. I laugh with the phone. I plan with the phone. I prepare with the phone. And God forbid if I should lose this phone. Yet, I hate it (at times), want to run away and be rid of the device altogether. But do I really? Professionally, I need it. I am an unorganized mess without it. Truthfully. I have, “Leave right now to pick up your child from softball practice” as a calendar event. Then I get a chance to turn it off…not on vibrate, but completely off. If I’m feeling really spunky, I might even take the battery out. This gives me a chance to stop, think deeply, reflect and reset. This is invaluable. Without this pause, I would have very little need for this organizational device (outside of a reminder to pick up my child, of course). I wouldn’t have back to back to back meetings or events or conferences because I wouldn’t have allowed the creative juices to flow…making me so busy. This is our beautiful, messy digital world

Along the same vein, I feel the same way about libraries. I love working at a library. I love the work that I do. I love the impact, the people, the community, the staff…I love it all. Then why do I get to conference (pick any one) and feel such a light and airy feeling? It’s a reflective space where I’m not in the grind of doing. I get a chance to hear from others. Dream up exciting new projects. Think in a way that everyday life (if I let it) may not afford me. My final analysis…reflection is key. It opens of a space within myself that makes me effective on a personal and professional level.

This class was such a wonderful experience. First, I loved the platform. I forgot how much I enjoy writing non-research papery things. It made me happy to be able to add a bit of humor into subject matter that I am truly passionate about. I love the archival nature of blogs. I had forgotten about some of the posts that I wrote towards the beginning of the semester. When I re-read them..I thought, I really like this author…who is she? I also loved reading the work of my classmates and not on a canvas discussion board. If anything on the earth should be done away with, once all the evil is removed, world peace is established and hunger is abolished, it should be discussion board posts. It’s so very clunky…thank you for not using them in this course.

The content was so meaningful to me and gave me an opportunity to lay out my thoughts. I spend so much time talking to others about engagement and community, it was very refreshing to take in so many thought provoking articles and exploration sites. Honestly, I think something like this course should pop up every so often in a librarian’s/director’s calendar. It’s so very easy to get bogged down in the details that we forget about the connectedness and intentionality of library work. This course content is like a domino effect. Once you come in contact with it, it starts a chain reaction. You engage. You listen. You plan. You execute. Finally, unplugging, reflection and resetting. This is my new to-do list.

Idea Box


As libraries continue to think about the services that are offered to their service population, participatory services continues to be discussed. Libraries have shed the traditional “book only” model and have expanded their impact by offering programs and services that engage the community and offer the opportunity to participate in creation as well as consumption. The Idea Box concept, championed by the Oak Park Public Library, is one such area of participatory services that are community focused.


Jewell – Idea Box

Plasticity Here Please

I absolutely love what Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown penned in A New Culture of Learning, “Where imaginations play, learning happens.” Yes, yes and yes, again! One of my favorite quotes on learning is from Jean Piaget, clinical psychologist known for his work on child development, “…but the essential thing is that in order for a child to understand something, he must construct it himself, he must re-invent it. Every time we teach a child something, we keep him from inventing it himself.”1 Now connect Piaget’s thoughts with what the advances and neuroscience and what scientists are learning about neuroplasticity.

We keep learning!2 The library is one of the few institutions that provide education and educational resources for people from Birth to Seniors.

I heard someone mention the shift in a librarian’s role away from simply collection development. I might say community development (engagement) but digging deeper into this thought brings me to the development of learning opportunities. Brian Matthews talks about being a curator of learning experiences.3 I can already hear some of my colleagues saying, what do you mean curate learning! We’re already doing so — Yes.  Yes, my friend, but walk with me towards the future.


Libraries are so much more than where artifacts and information are housed. Libraries are where new artifacts and new information are created…if we allow it to happen. That is not to say we stand watch and become the gatekeepers of creation. We allow it by creating an atmosphere that is primed for collaboration and knowledge creation. We allow it by creating a space for connected learning to percolate and grow.4 In the same way that scientists have found that our brains have plasticity, our profession must also declare…we (libraries) keep curating/facilitating/encouraging/allowing learning!

  1. 1972, Book title: Play and Development: A Symposium with Contributions by Jean Piaget, Peter H. Wolff and Others, Editor: Maria W. Piers, Article title: Some Aspects of Operations, Article author: Jean Piaget, Start Page 15, Quote Page 27, Published by W. W. Norton & Company, New York.
  2. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/iage/201304/brain-plasticity-in-older-adults
  3. http://www.chronicle.com/blognetwork/theubiquitouslibrarian/2013/09/05/curating-learning-experiences-a-future-role-for-librarians/
  4. http://library.ifla.org/1014/1/167-nygren-en.pdf

OBS Technology Plan

OBS Technology Plan

Goals/Objectives for Technology or Service:

The goal of the One Button Studio (OBS) is to provide a simplified video recording setup that the community can use to create high-quality video products even if do not have any experience in video production.


The community that I wish to engage are:

  • Elementary, Middle and High School students
  • College and Graduate school students
  • Business owners
  • Startups
  • Families
  • Homeschoolers
  • Town Government
  • ESOL students
  • Teachers/Educators
  • Non-profit organizations
  • Churches

Action Brief Statement:

Convince students, educators, businesses and organizations that by using the OBS they will be able to provide high-quality videos which will assist in completing their goal because the library is a community resource.

Evidence and Resources to support Technology or Service:






Mission: Provide a simplified video production experience.

Guidelines: This equipment is available by reservations or walk-in (as available) on a first come, first serve basis for any patron with a library card in good standing. Reservations take priority over walk-in requests. Reservations may be forfeited if the room the participant does not show up within 15 minutes of the reservation time.

Participants under 12 years old must have a parent or guardian present. All participants will be provided with a short tutorial prior to the first use.

Participants of the OBS are reminded they must comply with the Library Code of Conduct and the Acceptable Use Policies. Failure to adhere to the posted rules within the OBS room and/or the above mentioned policies may result in the loss of privileges.

Please do not make adjustments to the equipment. If you need the camera adjusted, please contact a staff member.

Participants must supply their own USB drive or purchase one from the circulation desk.

Policies: The policies for the OBS will be set by the library administration and approved by the Board of Commissioners. The library administration will use the mantra Overthink and Die (http://tametheweb.com/2012/05/30/taming-technolust-ten-steps-for-planning-in-a-2-0-world-full-text/) for the policy creation. We will contact libraries that already have OBS in their library to obtain policies/procedures and then adapt them.

Funding Considerations for this Technology or Service:  Funding for this service will be provided in-part by the current programming budget, grants and donations. Library administration will provide the initial staff time to get the service started and library staff trained. The teen volunteers will also be trained to provide support during the afterschool hours.

Action Steps & Timeline: The library already has much of the equipment necessary to get the OBS up and running. The equipment that must be acquired would be purchased after grant funding has been secured. The timeline for the completion of grants/donations to purchase the equipment would be the end of June. The library staff would train on the equipment in July. The teen volunteers would train on the OBS in August. The library would begin marketing the service to the schools, churches and Chamber of Commerce in August. The service would debut in September.

The library director has the final say on the approval of the project. If the funding is not secured, the library administration and the IT staff will consider a variety of ways to use the current equipment to create a similar environment.

Staffing Considerations for this Technology or Service: The service will require some assistance from library staff. During the day, there is adequate staff members to fully staff the OBS. The teen/adult volunteers will be trained to provide support for the afternoon and evening hours. The library will seek partnership with the local community college to get interns to assist with staffing.

Training for this Technology or Service:  The entire staff will be trained for the OBS room. The training will be designed by library administration in collaboration with other libraries who currently have a running OBS room. Training will occur during our current Friday professional development days. The training for the teen, adult and intern volunteers will be scheduled on an appointment basis.

Promotion & Marketing for this Technology or Service:  The OBS room will be promoted through the current social media channels and information will be posted in the library. The librarians will use the OBS to promote new materials and post this information to social media with a dual purpose (promote OBS and materials). The teen volunteers will create mock (or real) presentations to demonstrate how students can use the OBS. We will partner with an educator to mock the use of an OBS and email it to each of the teachers in the school system. We will get a homeschooler to create a video to share with the homeschool listserv. We will partner with the Chamber of Commerce president to create a video for the next chamber meeting. We will partner with a local business to shoot a commercial for their business as an example to businesses and startups.

Evaluation: The beginning of the evaluation will be the times OBS is used, number of participants, and length of session.  At the conclusion of the session, the participants will be asked to complete a short survey regarding the ease of use and effectiveness and impact of the OBS. I envision telling the story of a classroom that used the OBS for an assigned group project, which the library (with permission) could share in the YouTube page. I envision telling the story of a graduate student who received an A on a presentation. I envision telling the story of a business who created a commercial and increased profits. I envision the Town Council using the OBS to promote the council meetings and result in increased attendance. This service could be expanded to additional rooms or an off-site location through a partner organization.

4 Circles and a Square

Who knew that four circles and a square could be such a big deal? The four spaces model set out by Jochumsen, Rasmussen and Skot-Hansen (2012) is a model that breathes fresh air into the traditional library view. The four goals of experience, involvement, empowerment and innovation speak to the public library/community engagement strategy that so strongly aligns with my belief. I honestly never bought into the whole idea of the library as a third space. So, if home is space number one and work is space number two…what makes the library space three? Why not a park or different community space? The model shows overlapping spaces…and that’s the library in the community. We overlap with home. We overlap with work. We overlap with any other space that our community is in. This model views the spaces, not as physical set places, and sections them into three different “rooms”; learning, inspiration, meeting and performance space. It was great to read about the variety of ways that libraries are using this model to improve their services, planning, structure, and redesign. It also goes back to the question…what are libraries here for? What do we value? With a square and four circles, everyone is brought back to the drawing board. Let’s think about libraries is in a fresh, new way. I’m here for it!

Community Think: From Passive to Engaged

First of all, this module nearly blew my mind…seriously, ka-boom. Way back in the day (actually, only a few years ago), when I worked in youth services everyone was talking about passive programming. The librarian would get an awesome idea for a program that wasn’t led by the librarian but patron-driven, community-driven. The ideas were great! And then everyone slapped the “passive” programming label on it because, aren’t we oh, so, tired and this is one program that we don’t have to run. While this was technically true, I believe this is the wrong view. The focus was on us and not on our community. When you watch the children, teens, families participate in these type of programs they were engaged! They were totally, 100% engaged in an experience that deepened the level of connection between the patron and the library. This is huge! Why do we go to any of our favorite restaurants or vacation spots? They give us an experience that is memorable.

This weekend we took my daughter to a birthday dinner at Morimoto’s in Philadelphia. For those of you who are not familiar, Masaharu Morimoto is one of (my favorite) Iron Chefs. This was my daughter’s first time at the restaurant. The food was delicious but we have delicious food all the time. What made this special was the menu’s intentional engagement with the diner. From the table side preparation of the stone bowl, that literally cooked the meal in the bowl while we were watching, to the explanation of the dishes that dared us to try it in a different way, all the way to the desserts. One needed to be cracked open for the surprise treat and the other was set on fire to reveal the marshmallow gooeyness. Needless to say, from beginning to end we were dazzled with the experience. It was fun. It was playful. It was designed for us to be engaged in the experience. It was unforgettable.

This is the same thing that Oak Park Public Library is doing with their Idea Box. They are creating a shared patron experience that is completely engaging…intentionally and completely engaging. This empty space that is transformed monthly (monthly!) to an amazing community experience is…amazing. I bet people are eager to see what they’re going to do next. This is so exciting and I’m absolutely stealing this idea on some level. But back to my introduction, we probably already do this or something like this. Our challenge is to take ourselves out of the limelight and put it squarely where it belongs, our patrons, our community. So, we become less consumed with giving them a story and more focused on helping them create their own story through engaged experiences.

Poke the Library

Poke the Box, (author interview) is a must read for every librarian, library director, circulation supervisor, library staff…pretty much anyone who works in a library (or any industry for that matter). Ironically, I purchased this book a few months ago and it was sitting in my stack of still-have-to-read books when this assignment came along. In fact, I almost bought it a second time when Amazon kindly reminded me that I purchased this item on such and such a date. After reading this, I am inclined to purchase it for everyone I know because Mr. Godin dares to challenge the reader by asking, “When was the last time you did something for the first time?” Or in other words, How long have you been doing the same exact thing?

This makes perfect sense to think about for libraries. We have a system. We’ve been around for-ever. Forever – with our books and our librarians and our Dewey system…shelve the A’s before the B’s, the 100’s before the 200’s. This is what we teach people when they walk through the door. Do not question this beautiful, elaborate system of arranged books and quite patrons and no eating or talking or behaving in any way human. This is how we do it. This book challenges us to stop watching, stop hoarding ideas, stop watching the library go by…start something!

As young as children, we are programmed to start something only on command. On your mark! Get set! If you run before go, the whole count starts over. You get looks of disdain. If you run before the command too often, you’ll get disqualified. We are taught to raise our hands. Wait our turn. This would all be great and orderly except we are a bunch of instigators. We, meaning humans. Buried deep within the training we’ve received is the spark to change something.

Is it possible to create an organization of box pokers? I think so. In my library experience, this is often a hard pill to swallow. The starting. I have found that giving people permission to start something isn’t enough. Holding a meeting to inform library staff that, yes, please think of better ways to do this and do it. People are afraid. They are afraid to fail. They are afraid that you won’t like their idea. They are afraid of being disqualified. Starting too soon. Disrupting the system.

We (library people, administrators, leaders) need to dismantle the bigger than life library legacy that people are afraid to change. We hold our library system with the careful touch of a special collections/museum expert. White gloves and all. It’s time we turn that thinking upside down. The system isn’t what is precious. It’s the people who are precious. The community. They are why we start, shift, move and disrupt. The importance of our connection with our community necessitates the evaluation and re-evaluation of the system. We (library people, administrators, leaders) need to create the environment that creates the environment that shapes the environment.


Hyperlinked Native

This is me. A digital…strike that…a hyperlinked native. You see, the thing about my library journey is that, relatively speaking, I came in at the emergence of the iPhone and the decline of the Blackberry or Nextel. I started cutting my teeth in circulation while the ink was still drying on R. David Lankes, An Atlas of New Librarianship (2011) and the idea that the community is a partner was presented. The hyperlinked model not only makes sense to me but it is a part of my library DNA…I was “born into librarianship” believing deeply in the necessity of community and human connections.

In Brian Matthews article, “The Unquiet Library”, he talks about a library that by the very design is made to participate in ways that are natural to the users, meeting them right where they are. Once the users get over the initial shock…”I can actually talk in the library?”, engagement is second nature. This gives rise to conversations and, lo and behold, understanding. Oh! And now that I have an understanding of what a user needs I can make a change based on my new…understanding. Like a domino effect, the more we communicate, the more the library user feels empowered to participate and engage…I understand more. I understand that I when I say pound sign, the user understands hashtag. So, I make a change and say hashtag…and we are connected.




Hello, all! My name is Tameca from the Eastern Shore.  I love libraries and technology, so this was the perfect course for me! Working at a small, rural library while keeping a close eye on emerging technology has given me the opportunity to try a few diy projects. I am hoping that this course will give me another opportunity to add to our library’s emerging tech and solve a problem for our members. I truly believe that necessity can be the mother of invention, especially when you are trying to hack the library…on limited budgets. Good luck to everyone!