Reflections on Libraries as Modern Learning Environments


Libraries as Modern Learning Environments

     Learning has always been an integral part of the library’s mission. However, the nature of this mission, and the ways in which librarians can support it has changed. In the past, libraries sought to manage information by structuring it into hierarchal and independent silos. And provide services such as the reference desk, built around a transactional model of meeting their visitors’ learning needs (Rainie, 2011). This arrangement doesn’t work very well for today’s patrons who are highly networked and accustomed to having many information sources available at their fingertips.

Supporting a new learning environment within the library requires some adjustment and a recognition that for modern patrons, learning works best when it functions as an interactive process; this means involving participants intimately in their learning endeavors (Rainie, 2011). Today’s students (and adult learners) prefer to manage their own learning experiences. They want control and the “ability to take ownership of their personal learning” (Paganelli, 2017).

Personalized learning can be a ‘messy’ process but there are a few principles that can guide librarians and help them support their learners:

  • First, librarians can scout relevant materials and create taxonomies ahead of time (Raine, 2011). They can serve as curators, organizing resources and testing apps, especially those that provide opportunities for personalization (Easley, 2017).
  • Second, allow learners to make guided choices and take on ownership of the process.
  • Third, provide support in giving learners’ their own voice; allow them to express their own preferences for learning strategy, methods and pacing.
  • Fourth, provide feedback and just-in-time expertise when appropriate or necessary.
  • Fifth, foster collaboration by providing group accessible learning spaces – both physical and virtual.
    (Easley, 2017).

The final recommendation is especially important as group interaction allows students to display mastery, learn from each other, master social skills, and helps them build their own personalized learning networks.

Additional recommendations for librarians include:

  • Working with teachers to encourage students to produce output other than text such as video or multimedia presentations, activities that involve collaboration (Lippincott, 2015).
  • Creating Makerspaces that provide access to 3D printing, virtual reality, and programming. Libraries with limited resources can start small by offering demonstrations by hobbyists or professionals. These interactive environments need not be expensive, they just need to offer the participants the opportunity for “active knowledge creation” rather than “passive consumption of knowledge” (Nichols, Melo & Dewland, 2017).

Providing an interactive, self-regulated, social, cross-disciplinary learning environment that is effective requires oversight and monitoring of quality. It also requires a library staff that are encouraged by management to develop their own technical and social skills so that they can support the modern learning environment (Stephens, 2014).



Easley, M. (2017). Personalized learning environments and effective school library programs. Knowledge Quest, 45(4), 16-23.

Lippincott, J. K.. (2015, Feb. 26). The future for teaching and learning. Retrieved from

Nichols, J., Melo, M. & Dewland, J. (2017). Unifying space and service for makers, entrepreneurs, and digital scholars. Portal: Libraries & The Academy, 17(2), 363-374.

Paganelli, A. (2017). Power to the pupil: School libraries and student agency. Knowledge Quest, 45(4), 6-7.
Stephens, M. (2014, May 20). Library as classroom. Retrieved from

Reflections on New Models: Abandoning Old Myths


New Models: Abandoning Old Myths

“What will you do to smash that myth of libraries back into (the) dust?” – Laurida Thomas, Director, Aurora Foundation Leadership Institute for Information Professionals.

Henry Bemis (Burgess Meredith), in the Twilight Zone episode “Time Enough at Last”, 1959. A man who loved books – to the exclusion of all else.


Despite portrayals in the media that libraries are underutilized in today’s high tech environment, Laurida Thomas, former President, Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa (LIANZA), points out that libraries in New Zealand are busier than ever and saw over 50 million visitors, either physically or virtually, last year. Libraries in New Zealand saw a 68% increase in Internet sessions provided by public libraries over the previous year (2016).

Thomas notes that one reason the misperception of the dying library persists is that too many people hold onto the myth of the library as it was in the past. The old library of the past, of books, bookshelves and quiet zones; that library is indeed dying, but it is being replaced by a more vibrant, interactive and growing model. This idea of a constantly changing and revitalizing model is somewhat ironic in the sense that libraries provide a unique link into the past – yet simultaneously provide us a unique link to the future (Thomas, 2016).

Libraries are unique spaces, neither work nor home, these ‘third spaces’ provide “free and open access to information and ideas that transform lives and build community” (Ptacek, 2016). Collaboration with the local community is key as Matthew Battles of Harvard’ MetaLAB “ an idea foundry, knowledge-design lab, and production studio experimenting in the networked arts and humanities”, notes, “the future of libraries must be decided not by nostalgic scholars or librarians hoping to save their jobs, but in conversation with communities” (MetaLAB, n.d.; Agresta, 2014).

Building community means the creation of relationships that are meaningful. Ptacek provides the example of literacy programs for children and the moms who accompany the kids find that they can connect to other moms and these new social networks take shape. These networks provide resiliency and a support structure to the community (Ptacek, 2016).

WIckner (2015) makes a great point that the pace and patterns of life at a library can be difficult to quantify. Even with the best intentions and careful observation, divining a course of action that suits the community’s needs and makes the best use of space can be quite challenging. However, a willingness to try and fail is required as failures often lead to key insights. Furthermore, such efforts should be supported because designing a library for a community’s needs is a continuing iterative process – not a solution to a problem.

At some point, we’ll need to abandon the fictional depiction of the library that we carry with us in our heads from our past experiences and embrace the very real and vibrant idea of the library that is developing right before our eyes. For librarians, that means, innovation, leadership, collaboration, and perhaps most importantly, accepting change (, 2009).

These values are exemplified by the librarians of the Library as Incubator Project, an organization dedicated to new methods, media, and mediums for sharing art with local communities. Featured projects include libraries that share music and sketchbooks from artists in their local communities (Agresta, 2014). These are the types of efforts that even small libraries can take on. They can share their success or frustrations with other librarians – as there is truly no failure except the failure of holding onto past incarnations, at the expense of present day patrons.



Argresta, M. (2014, April 22). What will become of the library. Retrieved from

Brand. (2015). Kitsap Regional Library. Retrieved from

Core Competencies for all Anythinkers. (2009, June). Retrieved from

MetaLAB at Harvard. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Ptacek, B. (2016, Oct. 10). The library is not a place, it’s a concept. (Video file). Retrieved from

Thomas, L. (2016, April, 5). The dangerous myth about libraries. (Video file). Retrieved from

Wickner, A. (2015, Jan. 21). Designing library spaces. [Blog post]. Retrieved from

A Twitter-Based Framework for an Academic Library


Emerging Technology Plan:
A Twitter-Based Framework for an Academic Library

Goals/Objectives for the Technology/Service: The goal of the service is to (a) engage students (and faculty as well) and; (b) encourage them to seek out resources beyond the required reading that they are exposed to in their classes so that they (c) will use library resources more often. We also aim to (d) build research habits that will help them to be more participatory in their field of interest. Additionally, we believe that this service will (e) encourage students to follow current research done by our faculty.

Description of the Community we Wish to Engage: We seek to engage the community of undergraduate and graduate student of our university. In addition, we also hope to provide opportunity for faculty to share their current research with students and other faculty, thus helping establish greater interaction between students and faculty on our campus.

Action Brief Statement:

Convince students (and faculty)
that by following our subject matter Twitter feeds
they will find articles that interest them
which will help them gain greater insights into their fields of study
because part of our mission as an academic library is to motivate students to become more engaged in their field and assist them in establishing positive life-long learning trends.

We also seek to encourage students to follow current research done by our faculty and for our faculty to share their research so that it may inform and inspire our campus community.

Our Proposal: Our aim is to use Twitter to share URLs to academic articles. Twitter is a technology/service that is highly accessible with very low barriers to entry. The costs of implementing our plan are low, in addition its premise is supported by emerging trends such social media and smartphone use.

While a number of libraries use Twitter for self-promotion, few use it to post external URLs. However, many special libraries do use Twitter to share links to external articles (Emery & Schifeling, 2015). We recommend adopting this strategy for the academic library setting and adding a framework to facilitate usage by subject area. We will then share the subject matter accounts with relevant faculty and encourage them to post links to recent research that they find particularly interesting. Notices in the library will encourage students to follow the particular subject matter account that aligns best with their field of interest.

Our plan goes beyond simply encouraging Twitter use; it provides a lightweight framework for implementation so that the service is targeted at the specific areas of interest that serve our campus community.

We begin by dividing the disciplines that our academic library covers into major subject areas. Then we assign each subject area its own Twitter account. The following are the suggested areas of interest, note that our aim is to cover as many areas while limiting the number of accounts so that management of the accounts remains practical.

We recommend the use of accounts shared via Twitter’s TweetDeck feature over the use of hashtags because this will allow oversight and administration as well as curation by library staff. Furthermore, oversight and guidelines (discussed below) are very helpful when formatting messages with embedded URLs, and they also provide for the type of consistency that will enhance the user experience.

Here are the eight major subject areas that we recommended should be set up with subject matter accounts:

  • Art
  • Biology
  • Business
  • Chemistry
  • Health & Nursing
  • Humanities
  • Physics
  • Psychology

We recognize that some subject areas may prefer not to be grouped under a broader area of interest. However, ease of manageability of the accounts is one of the goals. Furthermore, the framework is easily expandable and can be revised based upon interaction and user feedback.

Evidence and Resources to support Technology or Service: While the Twitter platform is easily accessible (the app is free), a 2012 study found that only 34% (101) of a random sample of 296 academic libraries had a Twitter account set up (usage may have increased since this study). Of these, only 10% had individual departmental accounts (Del Bosque, Leif & Skarl, 2012).

Nearly all of the libraries surveyed offered reference services via email or over the web. We feel that Twitter may be a more useful and efficient method for sharing links to resources. However, it’s clear that some guidance is necessary for successful implementation as of those libraries using Twitter, only 30% posted once per day or more and only 10% had accounts with more than 1,000 posts (Del Bosque et al., 2012)

According to a 2015 study by eMarketer, 35.2% of U.S. college students are on Twitter (Emery & Schifeling, 2015). Additionally, “there is a strong overlap between the kinds of people who use libraries.. and the kinds if people who tweet” and “Twitter users are receptive to interacting with libraries on this platform” (Potter, 2013).

Furthermore, according to a 2016 study by Maleki, both the median and mean of unique links to academic articles posted within tweets by researchers, science communicators, practitioners (medical doctors), and members of the public (the four categories used by Altmetrics), has doubled in the past four years and tripled in the case of Physical Sciences (Maleki, 2016).

Our initial research has revealed the following technical resources that will help guide us in establishing an effective service. These resources may also serve to further educate both staff and faculty contributors.

  • Twitter – Using the Teams feature on TweetDeck
  • Twitter – Link shortening service
  • Twitter – Tweet activity dashboard
  • – How are Twitter demographics determined
  • Twittonomy – Twitter analytics

Mission, Guidelines, and Policy related to Technology or Service: For ease of use when citing articles, our framework will use the Twitter TweetDeck feature to establish teams of contributors grouped under the subject area/account. This allows for contributors to tweet from the account without sharing the password. One library staff member will act as administrator for each of the subject area/accounts.

This means that ownership will be shared with faculty members who choose to contribute. Librarians who are hesitant about this dynamic should consider that, in the present age, “the culture of libraries and their staff must proceed beyond a mindset primarily of ownership and control to one that seeks to provide service and guidance” (Association of College and Research Libraries in Stephens, 2008).

Since each subject matter account will be a shared account, a set of rules must be established for usage of the account. This is necessary in order to establish and maintain trust, especially for new followers. “Trust breeds loyalty, and loyal library users are more likely to take advantage of the library” (Schmidt, 2013). To that end, library staff must become acquainted with the Twitter-based framework we develop so that they can provide support, e.g. helping students access linked articles.

Another reason we favor shared accounts over hashtags is for oversight and establishment of guidelines. In order to promote readability and consistency, some guidance on the use of language used to introduce links to resources is necessary given that a number of faculty contributors will share each subject matter account. Proper formatting is crucial to keep within Twitter’s 140 character per tweet limit. Thankfully, the posting of links to academic articles is facilitated by Twitter’s existing link service ( that automatically shortens the links to 23 characters. Examples of formal vs informal language in tweets with URLs appear in the table below.

Table 1. Examples of Formal and Informal Language

Examples of formal language include:
• The 2009 Annual Book Sale continues this weekend
• President Obama proclaims October as National Information Literacy Awareness Month

Examples of informal language include:
• A state budget – hooray! Please, please CALL your legislator to make sure library funding is not drastically cut.
• Think you know what a librarian is like? Hmmm . . . – from a larger overview of the future of libraries on
(Aharony, 2010).

Funding Considerations for this Technology or Service: The library resources required to develop and implement our proposed Twitter-based framework are minimal as the hardware (smartphones) is already deployed in users hands and the software (the app) is free.

However, one dynamic that will determine the amount of library resources needed is whether faculty contribute the majority of the tweets or end up being only occasional posters of tweets. According to Thelwall, Tsou, Weingart, Holmerg & Haustein, the number of faculty that use Twitter in their capacity as researchers is very low as most researchers view Twitter as a tool for social or personal use only (2014).

Whether faculty can be convinced to contribute will determine if the bulk of the responsibility of maintaining the account will be shared or whether it will rest upon the librarian who is administering the account. Some trials, setting up a couple of subject matter accounts and inviting faculty contributors, could help quantify this.

Action Steps & Timeline: The Twitter-based framework we propose is built upon existing technology and features. Our plan requires minimal contributions from library staff, much of the implementation will be shared with faculty members who choose to contribute. In addition, the framework could be tested by setting up a single subject matter account and inviting faculty contributors. This would allow for development of best practices.

We recognize that this framework we are proposing may need revisions and tweaking but we encourage our library staff to learn to become comfortable with a technology rollout that may be ‘a work in progress’ and we plan to encourage them to interact and respond with new users, especially during the early stages (Stephens, 2008).

Staffing Considerations for this Technology or Service: For ease of use when citing articles, our framework will use the Twitter TweetDeck feature to establish teams of contributors grouped under the subject area/account. This allows for contributors to tweet from the account without sharing the password.

Ideally, one library staff member would act as administrator for each of the subject area/accounts, perhaps a subject matter expert. This means that ownership will be shared with faculty members who choose to contribute. Librarians who are hesitant about this dynamic should consider that, in the present age, “the culture of libraries and their staff must proceed beyond a mindset primarily of ownership and control to one that seeks to provide service and guidance” (ACRL in Stephens, 2008).

Training for this Technology or Service: Twitter is highly accessible, easy to master, and is nearly ubiquitous; the service has very low barriers to entry. Because the service is participatory, much of the resources required for success would be provided by faculty contributors.

Library staff would be designated as administrators of each the subject matter accounts, reviewing best practices and rules, providing faculty contributors with copies of rules and best practices, and initiating participation by posting the first round of Twitter posts from each of the accounts. Additionally, each administrator would be required to review, share and post metrics on their subject matter account.

In addition, initial testing of the framework could be done by setting up a single subject matter account, assigning a library staff member as an administrator, and inviting select faculty contributors. This testing would allow for development of a streamlined pathway for setting up accounts, composing tweets and posting links to resources. Once established, these best practices can be shared with other staff and faculty contributors.

Promotion & Marketing for this Technology or Service: For libraries, “Twitter is a golden opportunity to connect with library members (Bell in Carscaddon, 2013).”It can also encourage the sharing if information between faculty and the growth of new connections between colleges and departments on campus (Carscaddon, 2013).

All or nearly all of our students carry smartphones and QR codes are an easy user-friendly method of promoting Twitter accounts. The main subject matter accounts can be promoted through the posting of QR codes and brief descriptors on posters in the academic library. Links to the relevant Twitter accounts can be displayed on the library homepage or reference pages.

Faculty contributors and department heads will also be encouraged to post their own QR code and description in faculty and department offices to alert students and other faculty of the subject matter account. These QR codes would then be displayed where they can be easily scanned by students’ smartphones. To this end library staff will print out larger posters, suitable for display within the library, listing all of the subject matter accounts and their respective Twitter name and QR, followed by a brief description of each. Smaller 8 ½ by 11 posters that feature individual subject matter accounts will be developed by staff and distributed to departments, as well as any faculty that request one.

We would like to add one additional note about promotion of the service. While Twitter is a social platform and thus allows integration with Facebook and other social media, the academic library must examine its current social media strategy and determine how it will differentiate this new service from its existing Twitter and Facebook accounts. Each service should have its own distinct identity and any overlap should be pre-determined (Carscaddon, 2013).

Finally, according to Emery & Schifeling, most academic libraries do not communicate with each other (2015). For multi-campus systems, such as California State University and University of California, the opportunity to leverage network effects is substantial.

Evaluation: We hope to encourage friendly competition between each of the subject matter accounts. We foresee that faculty may develop a sense of ownership and enthusiasm, especially as this framework allows them to share recent articles that have piqued their own interests.

Part of the evaluation process will be to track the number of followers for each of the subject matter accounts. Tweet interactions will also be tracked and reported to all faculty and contributors and library staff sharing the Twitter TweetDeck account. In the interests of transparency, these metrics will also be shared with student followers.



Aharony, N. A. (2010). Twitter use in libraries: An exploratory analysis. Journal of Web Librarianship, 4(4), 333-350.

Carscaddon, L. & Chapman, K. (2013). Twitter as a marketing tool for libraries. Georgia State University. Retrieved from

Del Bosque, D. C., Leif, S. A., Skarl, S. (2012). Libraries a Twitter: Trends in academic library tweeting. Reference Services Review, 40(2), 199-213. Retrieved from

Emery, K. & Schifeling, T. (2015). Libraries using twitter better: insights on engagement from food trucks. American Library Association. Retrieved from

Maleki, A. (2016). Do tweets indicate scholarly communication? Paper presented at Scientometrics, University of Tehran. Retrieved from

Potter, N. (2013, Aug. 27). 10 golden rules to take your library’s twitter account to the next level. Library Journal. Retrieved from

Schmidt, A. (2013, Nov. 5). Earning trust: The user experience. Library Journal. Retrieved from

Stephens, M. (2008). Taming technolust: Ten steps for planning in a 2.0 world. Reference and User Services Quarterly, 47(4). pp. 314-317. Retrieved from

Thelwall, M., Tsou, A., Weingart, S., Holmerg, K. & Haustein, S. (2013). Tweeting links to academic articles. Cybermetrics: International Journal of Scientometrics, Informetrics and Bibliometrics, 2013. pp. 1-8. Retrieved from


Reflections on Modernizing Academic Libraries


Reflections on Modernizing Academic Libraries:
An Introduction to Using the ACRL Framework in the Academic Library Space

In the twenty years between 1995 and 2015, the number of research transactions at academic libraries in the United States decreased from 20 million to just five million (ARL Statistics in Matthews, 2015). Despite this drastic drop in research transactions, academic libraries are actually busier than ever and some have “seen the number of visits double in the past decade” (Webster, 2017).

This dichotomy between traditional design and current use illustrates that the academic library space has changed in several important ways. Keith Webster, Dean of University Libraries at Carnegie Mellon University makes the point that, “the majority of today’s students are not using libraries in a traditional sense. They pass by our collections and rarely interact with a librarian” (2017). Additionally, as college librarian Barbara Fister notes, there has been a “shift from ownership to access” as networked databases have become more important than physical assets such as books (2016).

However, the waning importance of books does not mean that libraries do not possess physical assets that are valued by today’s students. While students may not spend nearly as much time perusing the bookshelves, they are more interested in ever in spaces that offer quiet reflection or opportunities for collaboration with other students, as well as makerspaces where they can produce models and prototypes for use in their school projects (Webster, 2017).

To summarize how the academic library space has changed,

  • Physical assets are less important, networked digital assets are more.
  • Areas that offer opportunity for collaboration are highly sought after.
  • Spaces for quiet reflection are just as important as they ever have been.
  • Makerspaces have gained importance as areas for development of ideas.

Figure 1. Academic Library: Today vs Yesterday


How the Academic Library Space Has Changed 


Given these observations, how can we support the development of these new spaces?

In 2015, the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) introduced a Framework for Information Literacy For Higher Education. The framework introduces a “richer, more complex set of core ideas” and is somewhat challenging to dissect (there are actually six core concepts though I have condensed that here to four for brevity and simplicity) but some of the key insights are:

  • Information has value
  • Research should be viewed as a process
  • Information is produced and enhanced through conversation
  • Scholastic research requires an open mind, a well-defined scope, and an iterative approach.

(ACRL, 2015)

The ACRL Framework emphasizes the practices and approaches that will guide novice learners on their journey to become more expert learners. Some examples of the differences between novices and experts appear in the table below:

Table 1. Examples of Differences Between Novices and Experts from the ACRL Framework

Novices Experts
“Struggle to understand the diverse values of information in an environment where ‘free’ information and related services are plentiful”. “Understand that value may be wielded by powerful interests in ways that marginalize certain voices (but) value may also be leveraged by individuals and organizations to effect change”.
“Begin to recognize the significance of the creation process, leading them to increasingly sophisticated choices when matching information products with their information needs”. “Look to the underlying processes of creation as well as the final product to critically evaluate the usefulness of the information”.
“Acquire strategic perspectives on inquiry and a greater repertoire of investigative methods”. Recognize that “research is iterative and depends upon asking increasingly complex questions” and “see inquiry as a process that focuses on problems or questions in a discipline or between disciplines”.
“Developing familiarity with the sources of evidence, methods, and modes of discourse in the field (that will assist them) to enter the conversation”. Are “inclined to seek out many perspectives, not merely the ones with which they are familiar”.

(ACRL, 2015)

Looking at the desired practices emphasized in the ACRL Framework, we can see that the library space can certainly be designed to help encourage these practices. For example:

  • The use of collaborative spaces where students can work together encourages the exchange of different points of view, perhaps even introducing learners to marginalized viewpoints that they were not familiar with. It may also lead to discourse, including inter-disciplinary discussion, that enhances the students understanding.
  • Spaces that offer opportunity for quiet reflection encourage an iterative development of ideas and allow for more complex questions to emerge. It may also allow individuals to reflect on ways they can use information to effect change.
  • Makerspaces allow students to further develop ideas, collaborate with others and share what they have developed. Like collaborative spaces, they also provide practical experience in the “underlying processes of creation” of information and hence help underscore its value.
  • Finally, providing students access to networked databases, both remotely and in the library space, allows for reflection at home, collaboration on campus, and helps encourage exchange and development of more complex questions, as well as appreciation of diverse sources of information and the valuable work of scholars.

The Association of College and Research Libraries Framework is comprehensive and challenging to digest but it provides up-to-date guidance for academic librarians who struggle with updating their library spaces to the needs of modern students. The ARCL Framework is available online at the ALA site:




Association of College and Research Libraries. (2015, Feb. 2). Framework for information literacy for higher education. American Library Association. Retrieved from

Fister, B. (2016, March 23). Reframing libraries: How the Framework for Information Literacy might help us rethink what libraries are all about. Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved from

Matthews, B. (2015, May 27). The evolving and expanding service landscape across academic libraries. The Ubiquitous Librarian, The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from

Webster, K. (2017, Feb. 15). Reimagining the role of the library in the digital age: Changing the use of space and navigating the information landscape. London School of Economics and Political Science. Retrieved from


Reflections on Our Hyperlinked Communities


When new technologies are released to the public, there is a period of reconcilliation between the capabilities of the new technology and our practical use. Over time – and this process is notoriously difficult to predict – we incorporate the new technology and find a place for it in our lives (or we abandon it).

In this way, we assimilate new technology into our culture and, ultimately, it becomes a reflection of us. When we look at our computer screens or our TV screens or our smartphones, we aren’t really seeing the technology, we are seeing our own reflection.

Just as primitive man gazed down upon the waters and learned more about himself  (or herself), we learn more and more about ourselves when we examine how we use each new technical platform.

Recent technologies have revealed to us that we are inherently social animals. We use whatever means we have available to join together in groups. This process is not a reflection of the technology, it is a reflection of us, how we funtion at our most fundamental level.

This distinction is important. When we talk about the popularity and influence of ‘social media’, we should remember that all media is social – since it is all a reflection of our social nature. This means that one of the first questions we should ask when implementing new technology is, “how is this going to be shared?

And the nature of what we can share is changing. Modern technology has given us the ability to seek out ideas, meaning we can ‘pull’ information we are interested in instead of just recieving it passively, i.e, by ‘push’. As Haven notes, this has led to “the ability of communities to create networks around the ideas and objectives they share”. Each technical development is allowing us the ability to cast our reflection out into the world with greater accuracy.



Havens, A. (2013). From community to technology…and back again: Part 1. Next Space (20), 4-10. Retrieved from


Context Book Review: The Information Diet


The Information Diet by Clay A. Johnson

“There is no such thing as a tool that is good even if used without conscious consideration.” – Jaron Lanier, You Are Not A Gadget

book cover


Clay A. Johnson is a former volunteer for the Howard Dean presidential campaign; a former employee of the Sunlight Foundation, a government-run transparency organization; founder of Blue State Digital, a successful research company used by Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign; former Democratic political consultant; and frequent blogger about government, media, and information-related issues.


In The Information Diet, author Clay A. Johnson makes the case that, just as we need to seek out nutritional foods to stay healthy, in order to stay intellectually healthy, we need to focus on consuming news that is accurate, truthful, and comes from trusted sources. Americans spend 11 hours a day consuming information (Johnson, 2012). In this time of “information overconsumption”, Johnson tells us that a healthier relationship with information will result in benefits such as, having more free time, the ability to make better choices, and will result in more empowered citizens.

The subject matter of the book could not be more timely. With the recent rise in popularity of the term ‘fake news’, the introduction of the new term ‘alternative facts’ (by a member of the president’s cabinet no less!), the daily hourly spin put on news releases, and the emergence of Facebook and Twitter as acceptable news sources (the latter endorsed by our President), the dawn of the ‘post-truth’ age no longer seems like an exaggeration – it has arrived.

I specifically chose this book because I was feeling overwhelmed by the daily onslaught of remarkable news stories, and just as remarkable revisions of the truth. I was looking for a safe haven from ‘fake news’, or at least a reliable strategy for ducking ‘alternative facts’. As SNL actress Cecily Strong remarked in a recent comedy skit about President Trump’s impact upon the current news cycle, “I want one day without a CNN alert that scares the hell out of me” (Saturday Night Live, 2017).

Is it possible to build an awareness and develop skills that would help block poor information sources and lead to a healthy diet of information consumption? Johnson makes a powerful case, that it is. First of all, recognize that fasting is not a diet; the object is not to avoid information (Johnson, 2012). Decide for yourself to make active choices about the information you consume. Johnson suggests that we avoid (or at least recognize) affirmation and sensationalism, the obvious attempts to coax us into a lazy and comfortable resolve in the validity of our own views (Johnson, 2012). This could mean that conservatives avoid too much Bill O’Reilly in their diet, while liberals might limit their intake of Keith Olbermann rants.

In todays media rich landscape, it’s clearly necessary to have the capability to evaluate sources and make informed decisions about our consumption. Also critical is developing a habit of evaluating the credibility of the sources, and judge the potential impact of the information they provide. The capability to exchange information only after it has been moderated by internal reflection is another aspect of data literacy. Finally, being able to incorporate the ideas of others into our own understanding of an issue and invite feedback and debate, is also an important component of data literacy (Johnson, 2012).

Johnson suggests that we begin our information diet by reducing our consumption; wean yourself down from 11 hours a day to just six. This will reduce stress and help avoid attention fatigue. Limiting consumption also helps make us more selective about the information we consume. Furthermore, just as we should try to eat locally, we should seek out information that is produced near its source. We should look for news outlets that support “source-level” information, rather than pre-selected, opinion-laden news sources that only serve to reaffirm the their viewers’ attitudes. As Johnson says, “mass affirmation is the refined sugar of the mind” (2012).

Johnson reminds us that just as when striving to increase our physical health, eating right isn’t enough, we must also exercise. Developing our information fitness means learning to exercise our willpower over distractions and learning to focus more, gaining awareness and measuring our consumption( in hours per day and week), eliminating poor habits (such as responding to every social media alert) and training ourselves to increase our attention spans (Johnson, 2012).

Compared to previous definitions of literacy, we may seem to be asking a lot of today’s public. But keep in mind that “we are facing a modern epidemic” (Johnson, 2012). Critical thinking skills and data literacy are the only safeguards we have to provide our citizens to keep them from slipping into a distorted sense of reality.

If we are unhappy with the information choices Americans are making, we can not lay the blame on information overload, Republican majorities, corporate lobbyists, Citizens United, a lack of transparency, or even fake news outlets. More better information is not the answer. As Johnson points out “you cannot simply flood the market with broccoli and hope that people stop eating french fries” (Johnson, 2012). Educating our citizens to make more responsible choices is the only practical solution.

By the time that we interact with a library patron, it’s likely that they have already made several efforts to search for information they are seeking on their own; remember that, for most people, libraries are not their first option (OCLC in Casey & Savastinuk, 2007). As librarians, we have a duty to guide them in how to use the tools of technology responsibly.

Unfortunately, a drawback of the interactive nature of Web 2.0 is the rise of fake news stories, shared through social media. When we think about shaping Library 2.0, we must recognize that we need to help counterbalance this trend. If we want to truly empower our patrons, we should do more than just provide resources, we should be introducing them to a more critical framework for evaluating resources. This means, assisting them in developing information literacy skills that will allow them to navigate the modern media landscape without falling prey to the many traps that lie out there waiting for them.


Still not convinced about the need to inform and educate library patrons?
Like to hear more about the influence of fake news and its sources?
Listen to this informative NPR podcast:

Episode 739: Finding the Fake-News King (, 2016)

(Mirrored from my Dropbox account, duration: 18:48 min)



Casey, M. E. & Savastinuk, L. C. Library 2.0: A guide to participatory library service. (2007). Medford, N.J.: Information Today, Inc.

Johnson, C. A. The information diet. (2012). Electronic version. Sebastopol, CA: O’Reilly Media.

NPR. Episode 739: Finding the Fake-News king [Audio file]. (2016, Dec. 16). Retrieved from

Saturday Night Live. (2017, Feb. 12). Trump – People’s court SNL [Video file]. Retrieved from

Reflections on the Foundational Readings


Applying Agile Software Development Principles to Library 2.0 Implementations

While reading Library 2.0: A Guide to Participatory Library Service by Casey & Savastinuk, I was struck by the similarities between the challenges faced by modern librarians and those faced by modern software development teams. Can it be that the Internet and the World Wide Web have disrupted both the virtual and the physical world in similar ways? Could the solutions for dealing with change in these two realms be similar as well?

In the world of software development, there has been a paradigm shift. Developers have left behind the traditional Waterfall methodology, a type of project management that is characterized by long development cycles, a great deal of planning prior to development, and a strict adherence to design principles established in the planning stage. This traditional type of project management has been replaced by Agile development, a term that refers to a family of Rapid Development methodologies, of which the most popular is Scrum.

Agile development is focused upon shortening the software development lifecycle, implementing more limited solutions much quicker, incorporating frequent feedback into iterative design revisions, and adapting to changing needs by being flexible with design parameters. This sounds a lot like much of the advice from Casey & Savastinuk for dealing with the changing library environment.

To see if we are on the right track, let’s take a look at the Agile Manifesto as it was written by a group of software developers following discussions at a symposium in 2001. Here it is:

Agile Manifesto

Agile Manifesto. 2001. Agile Alliance. Retrieved from


Doesn’t this sound a lot like what’s needed in modern libraries? Could we rewrite these values for libraries? Let’s try:

  • Customer interactions over processes and tools.
  • Services that provide ease of use over reliance upon experts.
  • Participation over the old ways of doing things.
  • Responding to change rather than relying upon how we used to do it.

That was pretty easy; we hardly had to change these statements at all; we might be on to something. Let’s continue our examination of the similarities between the realms of software development and library services by examining The Twelve Principles of Agile Software:

Agile Principles

Twelve Principles of Agile Software. 2001. Agile Alliance. Retrieved from


These principles would be easy to rewrite for use in a modern library; just substitute “services” for “software”, “librarians” for “developers” and “managers and directors” for “business people”.

I think you can see that there is quite a lot of wisdom that we could glean from the revolution that has taken place in software development. By applying these principles, we can avoid duplication of effort and give ourselves a head start on the implementation of Library 2.0 services. It’s also kind of comforting to realize that our field is not the only one that has been disrupted; we are not alone. Others have learned to deal with the need for constant change, and we can too.


Welcome to Kristoffer’s Blog


Thank you for visiting my blog. My name is Kristoffer Moberg (I often go by just Kris) and I am currently in my second semester of the MLIS program.

I live in the city of Oceanside, California in San Diego’s North County. Oceanside is home to the longest wooden pier on the West Coast we also have a very picturesque harbor that’s a great place to stroll. Stop by and take a stroll on the pier if you find yourself traveling between San Diego and Orange County or LA.

I am interested in the collection, organization, storage and distribution of information and in systems and technologies that provide users access to their information needs. – from my LinkedIn profile

My background is in technology. Because I have had the opportunity to work with so many different technologies, I am quite comfortable with new and emerging technologies. Feel free to reach out to me if you need help troubleshooting any technical issues in your classes – I love trying new technology and solving problems.

Several of my information-related interests include Information Architecture, storage and retrieval techniques, database architecture, the curation of digital assets, and the collection and organization of medical data in particular.