When I was in high school and undergraduate school, I didn’t quite know what career I wanted. I simply knew that I wanted to work somewhere that did good. I wanted to be a positive force for change in peoples’ lives. I feel lucky that I happened upon librarianship, and I am intrigued to see what the future of libraries looks like. The hyperlinked library is great progress. Libraries are focusing on people, connections, and playfulness. It makes me so glad and excited to be a librarian at this point in time. There are many changes happening in our field and in society. Some changes are certainly scary while others are wonderful. No matter the kind of change, librarians need to able to navigate and embrace them. Our communities will always be changing, and it is a challenging part of our job to keep up!
In order to keep up, I find myself constantly reflecting and looking for the right balance at work. How much outreach should I be doing compared to the number of programs in the library? What collections should I grow or shrink? How much time should I spend on the front desk compared to in my office or out in the community? Finding that balance is tricky and takes a lot of trial and error, in my experience. I am certain though, that in the hyperlinked library, I should be engaging more with people and facilitating connections. It’s the ‘how’ part that is a little more challenging.
With the hyperlinked library being focused on people, it’s imperative that librarians remember to be kind to our coworkers and to our patrons. We may not be aware of the struggles people face or what happened to them before they came into the library that day. We need to remember that we are all human, and we could all use some support from time to time. Librarians serve all people, which can be difficult and emotionally demanding but also rewarding. I chose this field to make a difference in peoples’ lives. I knew it wouldn’t be easy, and sometimes change can take a long time. As librarians, we need to remember to be kind to ourselves, too.
As technology advances and community needs change, library spaces are evolving to keep up. One way that libraries are doing this is by providing participatory spaces such as art spaces. An art space is a valuable resource for the community because it helps make art accessible to everyone, fill a gap in arts education, and improve visual literacy.
The content from the recent modules highlights the trend of and the need for libraries to move from solely places of consumption to places of creation. Learning is becoming more of a participatory practice that tends to be active, hands-on, and social (Kansas City Public Libraries, 2015). To me, this shift away from passive learning is exciting but still relatively new. Many libraries have started incorporating programs that make learning fun and engaging (Bookey, 2015). These programs can include play, science, art, technology, and many other important subjects. The library is no longer simply providing access to information about certain topics, but actively helping people learn by doing. I think now is an excellent time for libraries to do this, as there is also a trend in society for people to focus on experiences over material goods. Sometimes instead of giving physical gifts, people are buying experiences such as dance lessons, art classes, beer tastings, escape rooms, and rafting trips to name a few. Many of these things are being done or included in library programs, and often for free, which is helping libraries stay relevant and entertaining.
One way libraries are becoming places of creation is by offering maker spaces, which have been popping up all over the world. Although these are very exiting, they are also new and not consistently defined, in my opinion. I have heard of many different kinds of maker spaces. Some include advanced technology and cost lots of money. Others include lower levels of technology and focus on making with physical materials. Some include all aspects of S.T.E.A.M while others could be defined as craft stations. Are all of these maker spaces? In a way, yes. According to Lauren Britton (2012), “A Maker space refers to people coming together to create and share resources, knowledge, and ‘stuff.'” This definition is very broad and could be used to describe a number of spaces. Of course each space is going to look a little different depending on the needs of the community and the resources available. However, I feel all libraries should be a place for people to gather, share, learn, and create. It seems a little problematic to me to have spaces or programs centered around creating and simply labeling it a maker space. Is this doing justice to how libraries are evolving and presenting themselves? Will this only be a feature that libraries offer and not an essential component of what libraries are now or are becoming? Do patrons and nonusers know what a ‘maker space’ is and are we alienating those who don’t know? Are maker spaces another example of technolust or an inevitable necessity? While there are many questions with any new trend, libraries have been entering a time of tremendous change with many technological advances and major social changes that have occurred in the past couple of decades. This trend of making is colliding with libraries as they are trying to demonstrate their relevance and reaffirm their position as essential aspects of their communities. I don’t know the effect this will have on libraries, but I am certainly interested to see how participatory practices, maker spaces, and hyperlinked libraries evolve in the coming years.
Our world is constantly evolving and improving. As the needs and wants of communities change, libraries are trying hard to keep up. I find myself constantly thinking about how things are different nowadays and what more libraries can do.
Thankfully, we have come to better understand how people learn and seek knowledge. There is not one right way to learn, but we know that people learn best when they are actively participating and managing their learning (Raine, 2016). Passive learning, where people sit and receive information through listening, can be beneficial, but it is not the only way. Furthermore, when learners create knowledge, it helps solidify what they know and it can be shared with others. Print materials such as books are still popular, but many libraries also offer electronics resources, non-book collections, and a wide range of programming. This is definitely a step in the right direction. Libraries are redesigning their spaces to become community living rooms and learning centers. They provide hands on activities, makerspaces, new experiences, opportunities to play, and more (Sandlian-Smith, 2013). To me, libraries are embracing their calling to provide access in its many forms.
While libraries continue to find ways to stay relevant and meet the needs of their communities, there is still a huge perception problem. Libraries are often seen as outdated, unnecessary, and simply warehouses of books. Lack of visibility in the community and on the web is a major contributor to this, but the solution is not quick nor easy (Weinberger, 2014). Some people think libraries are being replaced by search engines, eBooks, and phone apps to name a few. There will always be new technologies, but that does not mean the need for libraries will disappear. Technology is simply a tool, and there will also always be people who need help navigating these new tools and people who do not have access to them outside of the library. Libraries will keep providing free and equal access to high quality resources, information, and instruction, but they need to find better ways to promote this to the public. If libraries are seen as important to the community and trustworthy institutions, what continues to perpetuates the common misperception that libraries are no longer needed? I think a big part is the rumor mill, which often includes well connected community members who do not understand what the library does or who have not visited the library in a long time. To counter this, I believe libraries need to do things bigger and more visibly. They are already doing so many wonderful things, the public just needs to be shown. Libraries need to be out in their communities, increase the number of people through the library doors, and get more publicity for all they do. Unfortunately, it will take a lot of energy and time, but it is certainly doable.
I do not want art for a few, any more than education for a few, or freedom for a few.
William Morris – artist, writer, socialist activist
My plan is to create an art studio space at the North Sacramento-Hagginwood Library that would be open for use during specific hours and have ongoing programs for all ages. While the library is small, we recently removed some shelving and could have a small but dedicated art studio space. The art practiced in this space would include, but is not necessarily limited to, painting, drawing, sculpture, mixed media, and fiber arts.
I chose not to create a ‘makerspace’ because I have found in my community that many people do not know what that actually is, and my branch does not have the funding for something that is so heavily focused on technology. Although I cannot deny that I would enjoy having a makerspace, I think adding one to my library would be a case of technolust (Stephens, 2004). I do not think having 3D printers and high level technology would best fit my community when many people have a basic level of computer knowledge and often do not own a computer. I also did not think having a low tech makerspace that focused on everyday materials and crafting would be the right alternative. While the materials can be inexpensive, I do not feel it would draw people in. The art studio space could certainly be seen as a kind of makerspace, but I wanted to narrow the focus to be on art and the space to be clearly defined and recognizable to anyone.
This art studio space touches on all of the four spaces of the public library as described by Jakob Laerkes (2016): the inspiration space, the learning space, the meeting space and the performative space. Patrons will find inspiration, learn by doing, engage with others who are similar and different, and express themselves through activities.
Goals/Objectives for Technology or Service:
Make art more accessible and less intimidating to the general public by providing a space, materials, and instruction for art making.
Provide art as a recreational activity that is free of charge.
Foster creativity and learning through art programs.
Support artists in the community and those who do not consider themselves artists but have an interest in art.
Offer a space to display art that was made at the library.
Strengthen the sense of community by providing opportunities for people to connect and socialize with each other.
Promote diversity by allowing people to express themselves, share their experiences and stories, and connect with others.
Increase number of visits and visitors to the library.
Description of Community you wish to engage:
There are two communities I would like to engage: local artists and the general public in the North Sacramento area.
Like any big city, there are many artists in Sacramento, and there are even some located in the North Sacramento area. There are a couple of artist studios just down the street from the library. This art space could be a place where artists come to practice, find inspiration, meet other artists, or share their skills.
Even though there are some artist studios near the library, not many have offerings for the public nor are there many organizations or businesses that offer classes, programs, or instruction in the North Sacramento area. Occasionally, the local studios or other organizations offer art related classes, but most organizations that offer them are located outside of North Sacramento. Many of the people in this community walk, bike, or ride the bus to the library which means transpiration to an art related event would be a barrier. It is also unlikely that they would be able to afford the cost of art classes or programs as many families in the community have lower levels of socioeconomic status and education.
Action Brief Statement:
Public: Convince users and nonusers that by visiting the art studio space they will explore and discover art which will provide many benefits such as enhancing creativity, fostering lifelong learning, connecting with others, encouraging creative thinking, and receiving entertainment because art is important and should be accessible to everyone.
Staff: Convince The Sacramento Public Library that by offering an art studio space they will be filling an unmet need in the community which will enrich lives and the community because art should be accessible to everyone and libraries offer more than materials such as books and DVDs.
Evidence and Resources to support Technology or Service:
Mission, Guidelines, and Policy related to Technology or Service:
Mission of the Sacramento Public Library:
Sacramento Public Library inspires our communities to discover, learn and grow.
Mission of an art studio space:
Make art accessible to everyone.
Creating policies and guidelines:
The Sacramento Public Library has rules of conduct already in place which would address many of the potential issues for any program or service. As the branch supervisor of the North Sacramento-Hagginwood Library, I would be responsible for setting additional policies for this specific service, but the public service managers would need to be involved in the process at least by approving it. I would also get input from all of the branch staff for the policies because some of them would be interacting with patrons in the art studio space, and all of the staff would likely be affected by a new offering since they work the front circulation desk or in other public areas of the building.
Additional guidelines that apply to the art studio space specifically:
Be respectful of others and their art.
Try not to waste materials.
Examples of policies:
Many art studios, after school programs, and organizations have policies that could be looked at as examples. While most of them include information about fees and attendance that would not apply to the library, some aspects are still relevant.
Funding Considerations for this Technology or Service:
To lower the amount of staff time needed to run programs and the money needed for instructors, I would ask local artists to donate their time to give a talk or teach a program. I would also check with art teachers and students at the local colleges as well as community members. Not everyone would be willing to donate their time, so we would have to obtain funds to pay for instructors as well.
Friends of the Library
I would propose that the Friends of the Library help fund the art studio space as they are instrumental in funding most of the programs at our branch. They have been supportive of art related programs in the past, so I expect they would be supportive. Even though they are a small group, they are actively involved.
We could do material donation drives in the branch or potentially system-wide if other branches are willing. We could also ask businesses for donations. Some businesses like to sponsor programs by donating the supplies or money to cover the cost of one program in exchange for advertising the business name on the flyer or during the program.
The Sacramento Public Library requires approval from the public service managers to apply for grants, but if they are supportive of the service it is likely they would also allow us to apply for grants.
Part of the plan for the art studio space is to create art that could be displayed in the library or at local galleries. It is possible, with the permission of the artists, that pieces could be sold to generate some revenue. The library could also partner with local organizations or businesses to hold fundraisers.
Action Steps & Timeline:
We have held instructional art classes at the library before that have been successful. This art studio space would be a more permanent expansion of that. If I were to start now, I would expect to launch this space in the summer of 2018 at the earliest.
Gain approval from public service managers. 1 week. If public service managers say no, we could offer occasional art programs instead of a dedicated art space.
Work with staff to create policies. Determine what start up supplies are needed. Get staff and Friends of the Library buy in. 1-2 months. If the Friends say no, we would have to rely on donations or materials the library already owns.
Determine potential community partners and volunteers. Outline basic programming for the first 6 months. Begin working with the communication and marketing department. Start soliciting donations. 1-2 months.
Start recruiting and training volunteers and staff. Buy supplies and furniture that could not be obtained through donations. Finalize program offerings. Begin heavily marketing. 1-2 months.
Set up the space. Continue marketing. Look for more donations and volunteers if needed. 1 month.
Begin offering open hours and holding programs. Continue looking for partners, volunteers, and donations as needed. 3 months.
Evaluate and adjust accordingly. Ongoing.
Staffing Considerations for this Technology or Service:
Planning and organizing the space and ongoing programs would require staff time similar to any other program or service the library offers. Since I currently run most of the programs at the branch, I would likely be the one to run this as well. This would likely mean giving up some opportunities to do other programs or outreach and some of my ‘off desk’ time. If other library staff are interested, they could potentially run programs or assist with the planning, which could even be done during their circulation desk shifts when it is slow.
Ideally, volunteers would be heavily used to the point where staff time would be minimal and only to oversee some events and organize volunteers. Anyone who wanted to volunteer would have to go through the standard Sacramento Public Library volunteer application process and get fingerprinted since they would probably be working with children. The library has a system-wide volunteer coordinator who would work with the branch volunteer coordinator to help fill volunteer positions if needed.
In addition to having programs offered by staff and volunteers, the art studio space could be used for passive programs. Certain hours could be dedicated as ‘open studio’ time where people come and use the space and supplies without instruction, or we could offer stations and activities that don not require staff to be present. This would still require some preparation or setup. For example, we could create still life arrangements that people use as reference while they are in the library. We could put up large sheets of butcher paper and have people collaborate and create murals over a period of time. Additionally, we could show art related movies or documentaries.
Training for this Technology or Service:
First, I would look for staff and volunteers that have experience with art and would not need much training beyond what we would normally do for someone who is going to lead a program. I would also train staff who do not have experience but are interested in leading or assisting with programs. I would not train all the staff members since some will never have the option or desire to participate. I would work with the system-wide volunteer coordinator to design the training. Anyone who works or volunteers at the art studio space would need to go through a general training as well as a training specifically for this service.
Promotion & Marketing for this Technology or Service:
For most programs, the usual marketing is done by someone in the branch. One of the library assistants creates the monthly program calendar and flyers. She also posts each program to three local event and news websites. Word of mouth marketing is also very effective at the branch and outreaches. The Sacramento Public Library has a communication and marketing department that will also promote larger programs, initiatives, and services. This could include advertising on the website, social media, news coverage, and email newsletters. I would work closely with that department to promote the new service.
Offer an activity or program for classes that come for school visits and field trips.
Hold shows at local galleries of artwork made at the art studio space.
Create a digital magazine from artwork made at the art studio space.
Offer library cards that feature artwork made at the art studio space.
Run a logo design contest for the art studio space.
Hold art ‘giveaway’ programs where people make art and then leave them around town for others to find with a note about the art studio space.
Create or work with a local Meetup for artists to advertise programs.
Attendance would be one factor that would help us gauge if we are on the right track or if the idea is a total flop. Low numbers do not always indicate failure though, since sometimes it is better to have a smaller engaged group rather than a large group that did not gain anything from their experience.
Additionally, I would have optional paper evaluations available after the programs, but I would actively try to get people to fill them out once a quarter. I would also have volunteers or staff engage with patrons during or after the program to find out more about them and why they attend. This would need to be done through casual conversation. Afterwards, I would have the staff or volunteers write up what they learned from attendees. If there were people who attended regularly or appeared to be particularly enjoying the programs, I would ask if they would share their stories with me.
I imagine this space as somewhere local artists and community members can gather, share experiences, and express their creativity regardless of their age, education level, or socioeconomic status. If this space is successful, I would work with other branches who wanted to implement a similar service. There are also future plans for the North Sacramento-Hagginwood branch to move to a larger building which would allow for more programming and a bigger art studio space.
I believe public libraries should move away from being ‘houses of knowledge’ and move more towards being ‘houses of access.’
-Kathryn Zickuhr (2014)
For the Hyperlinked Environments module, I chose to focus on public libraries, but I did also look at some of the other types as well. Mostly, I found myself interested in how public libraries are representing themselves to users, the community, and local governments. It seems we are continuously trying to raise awareness about what libraries do and the services provided. Many people aren’t aware of the wide range of things that libraries do, or they still consider them to be book warehouses. This is an issue I have come across in many of my classes as well as at my work or when I tell people what I do for a living. I find myself having a lot of conversations advocating for libraries, and people often surprised that the libraries offers more than books. With limited (and sometimes reduced) resources, budget, and staff, how do libraries continue providing the same level of service while increasing awareness in the community? That surely is a tricky balancing act that I face.
I liked how Kathryn Zickuhr (2014) mentioned that librarians are seeing libraries move towards being houses of access as that is what the public is asking for. Physical books are wonderful, and I certainly don’t think they should be eliminated from libraries. However, I have found that some people have an aversion to recognizing that the library is indeed books and more. When I mention various activities the library does or how we could use more space for people to gather, some people agree but hesitate and say ‘as long as you still have books!’ or ‘but libraries need space for books!’ as if I meant we no longer need books. Zickuhr (2014) noted that computer access has been one of the most popular services that libraries provide, which I have found to be true as well. However, I often hear people complain that libraries have turned into computer labs or they disapprove of others who spend so much time on the computers. I don’t think people always realize the multitude of activities there are and benefits that come from having computer access for the public.
I also enjoyed how Jakob Guillois Laerkes (2016) described the four overlapping spaces of the public library: the inspiration space, the learning space, the meeting space, and the performative space. I think this highlights the complexity of libraries and allows for the inclusion of people who learn differently or are looking for various kinds of activities. Libraries want to serve as many people as possible by offering something for everyone, rather than only offering the same thing for everyone. By engaging people in different ways, libraries are advocating for how important and relevant they still are. Programs and events are some obvious ways to promote libraries as ‘houses of access’ but as technology advances and the needs of the public change, I imagine there will be many opportunities for libraries to engage with people through more participatory methods.
I am continuously amazed by all of the ways that libraries are engaging with the community and building relationships. Two of the topics from the modules, food and art, really stuck in my brain, mostly because they currently relate to the library I work at and the community. My branch is small but well used. Poverty, homelessness, and unemployment are major issues that affect the community, and the library is always trying to find ways to alleviate them.
As you might imagine, there is a lack of access to healthy food in my community. Food is a basic necessity that no one should worry about not having, and as Mike Zuehlke says “Food is one of those things that we all share—across cultures, races, economic, or educational level. Few things promote gathering and interaction as well as a shared meal” (Kim, 2014). Libraries are always looking for ways to get people to gather and interact, and food seems like a spectacular way to do that.
Unfortunately, my branch is too small to have a kitchen like the Meadowridge Branch Library. There are, however, plenty of other ways to incorporate food into our programs or services. Over the summer, a nonprofit came to my library and put on two food literacy programs. Kids and their families learned how to read a recipe, practices (plastic) knife skills, and made (really delicious) salads and dressings. I was surprised that it was actually one of our most popular programs this summer, but it made sense. The program was hands on and fun yet also practical. We were providing something people need AND want, which is something we usually struggle to find.
I first learned of The Idea Box in one my of previous classes, but now I view it a little differently, as a piece of the hyperlinked library. By providing a space and materials, people can use their experiences, feelings, and creativity to share and connect with others. I like that this could be done with others or even in solitary. I enjoyed so many of the themes that I do not think I could pick a favorite. I greatly appreciate the way this program incorporates art in many of the themes. So often, art is one of the first subjects eliminated in schools and is generally valued less in our society. There was (and still is) disagreement about art being a part of STEM and changing the acronym to STEAM. However, many of us know the importance of art and there is plenty of research out there that supports it, especially in early childhood development and for individuals with special needs or autism.
In the libraries I have worked at and visited as a patron, art is not a top priority. I can understand that reading and literacy are regarded as most important, and there are many other worthy causes as well. While art could certainly play into them, libraries often do not have enough time, money, staff, or energy to incorporate more art. However, in most of my experience when art is offered, it is popular and well received. Recently, my library had a paint night for adults. The program was full and many people (kids, teens, AND adults) who saw the program wanted to do it too. When I was talking to one young girl who was maybe 8 years old about why she wanted to paint, she said she’s never painted before, not at school or at home. She mentioned she’s done other things like coloring but never painting. Perhaps it is because painting is messy or too expensive, but I was sad that she never has and maybe never will paint. This made me consider how libraries can help fill this gap, especially since there aren’t many options for people to learn or practice art for cheap or free in a welcoming environment.
There are many barriers to accessing both art and food, and I believe that libraries can help lessen or remove them. We are going beyond helping patrons find and consume information to helping them produce and create it. I think libraries are in an ideal position to continue to build relationships and engage with people by feeding their minds and their bodies.
I will admit that I chose to read Messy: The Power of Disorder to Transform our Lives by Tim Harford because I tend to be a messy person. My stuff can often be found in piles on random surfaces throughout my house. I remember always being this way, even when I was a child. Attempts to clean my room were almost pointless, and I’ve only gotten somewhat better at it as an adult. My hope was that this book was going to praise these habits. Well, the book focuses mostly on the benefits of mental disruption or being forced to work in a different way. There are some sections that highlight having a messy desk or an unorganized inbox. While this book did not justify all of messy ways, I did gain some valuable insights and will not fret too much over my desk.
Harford used anecdotes to illustrate various ways that ‘messy’ can have positive outcomes in nine various areas: creativity, collaboration, workplaces, improvisation, winning, incentives, automation, resilience, and life. The book begins with a story about Keith Jarrett, a jazz pianist, who requested a specific piano for his performances. The Opera House had the wrong piano, and it was in such poor shape that it was considered unplayable. At first, he refused to play if the Opera House could not get him what he needed, but then he decided to go through with the performance anyways. The defective piano forced him to change his methods, and it turned out to be one of his best performances. I could see this technique being useful in libraries because often we have limited resources. By being forced to use what is on hand, this could lead to a creative solution that is better than what was originally planned.
I was interested and relieved to read the ‘Life’ section that covered organizing files and emails, which suggested that these practices are generally a waste of time. For email, it is quicker to use the search box to find what is needed than to click through organized folders. Instead of constantly determining where to put emails and moving them into folders, it is better to spend that time on something else. For paper files, those who diligently filed away papers saved everything and rarely used any of it again. Harford mentions a few filing techniques that some people have found effective, including the simple pile of papers on the desk. This method means that the most important or frequently used papers are on top and easily accessible. While I will not be tossing out all my files, I will be reevaluating my current work practices!
The Noguchi Filing System
The Pile Filing System
Time management was also briefly mentioned in the ‘Life’ section of the book. Harford wrote about a study done on undergraduate students that looked at the difference between daily plans, monthly plans, and no plans for studying and homework. The researchers thought the daily planners would be the most successful but were surprised to learn that the monthly planners did much better than daily planners. It was theorized that daily planning took too much time, effort, and motivation for the students, especially when things did not go as planned and goals had to be adjusted constantly. Alternatively, monthly plans allowed students to have broad goals which did not require changing when something unexpected happened. Harford concluded that “[d]aily plans are tidy, but life is messy” (2016, p. 243). This concept resonated with me in relation to my personal life as well as my job. There have been so many times that my daily plans at work have been interrupted by an incident in the library, someone calling in sick, a program not going as planned, or an unexpected meeting. It would be exhausting to create a plan every day that I felt the need to follow only to have it interrupted almost daily. Having a monthly, or perhaps weekly, plan will allow for those unexpected changes, but it does require planning a little further in advance.
My main take away from the book is that one should not strive to be tidy for the sake of being tidy, especially if that is not how one normally functions. People have varying preferences for how they like their spaces set up, how they like to organize their files, and what methods work best for them. What is crucial is that we let people decide. By giving people autonomy, we allow them to create spaces in which they feel comfortable. We spend so much of our time at work, and that space needs to reflect us. The areas in which we should push people out of their comfort zones have to do mostly with ways of thinking. Harford mentions musicians and other famous figures who used improvisation or other techniques to break out of their routines. Martin Luther King Jr. spent hours each week preparing his Sunday sermons, but his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech was a work of improvisation. Musicians Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt created the Oblique Strategies cards that had challenging tasks or phrases designed to disrupt the thoughts of musicians and help break creative blocks.
Remember those quiet evenings
Change instrument roles
Use ‘unqualified’ people
Breathe more deeply
What are you really thinking about just now?
Use an unacceptable color
Tape your mouth
Bridges -build -burn
Get your neck massaged
Only a part, not the whole
Now more than ever, with technology advances, Web 2.0, and community demands, library workers need to start thinking differently in order for libraries to stay relevant. This was clear in many of our class readings. In Think like a startup, Brian Mathews discussed how we need to change the way we think dramatically and not just “find new ways of doing the same old thing” (p. 12). This is not an easy task that can be done overnight. However, we could easily incorporate some of the techniques or strategies that were mentioned above in an upcoming meeting or brainstorming session. Additionally, many libraries have begun moving in the right direction of becoming more participatory. This has not been easy either. Many libraries start out with good intentions by asking community members what they want from libraries. However, Aaron Schmidt (2016) notes that this puts an unreasonable burden on people to determine what libraries should be offering. Instead, he suggests libraries use a different approach and ask people about their lives then use that information to create services that interest them. All of these techniques are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what libraries could be doing differently. There are no shortage of ideas, but first, we must realize that library work is certainly not tidy, and we need to learn to embrace messy rather than fight it.
Harford, T. (2016). Messy: The power of disorder to transform our lives. New York: Riverhead Books.
Throughout the readings and videos from the first weeks of class, change was a theme that kept popping up and catching my attention. Casey & Savastinuk (2007) mentioned change frequently, focusing on how libraries can use it to improve. Brian Mathews (2012) discussed how libraries need to move beyond basic change and think more like startups. These were my favorite readings that got me thinking about what we do in libraries and how change needs to be a bigger part of that. Change is something people generally do not enjoy, but it can rarely be avoided. Many struggle through it, fight it, or try to ignore it. I have always felt that supervisors in particular need to be skilled at leading employees through change, but that can be hard to do. I tend to like routine because it makes it easier for me to organize, plan, and make sure things get done. However, I also strongly believe we (myself, employees, libraries, etc.) can always find ways to do things better, which usually requires change.
Since I’m relatively new at my job, I am currently focusing on learning more about the community my library is serving and trying to gain an overall understanding of how things work. My next steps will be to improve the services and programs we provide, which will certainly require change in some form. Casey & Savastinuk (2007) recommend using consistent and purposeful change and continual evaluation. Doing this requires a lot of effort and buy in from all staff, but I think it is exactly what libraries need to be doing to stay relevant and keep up with the demand of our communities.
Through my work experience, I have found that evaluation tends to come at a few specific times: once a year, at the end of a season, or when there is an internal or external force that requires it (lack of funding, change in priorities, etc.). By having evaluations only at these times, they can become routine and lack value, or they frighten employees because this means making hard choices to get rid of things. If evaluation and change become a natural and consistent part of the process (but not simply routine), those feelings could likely be avoided. I think libraries are great at evaluating, and we love collecting data. However, we need to be using that to move forward, not just look back.
Main takeaways from the readings:
Incorporate change and evaluation making it part of the process.
Evaluate all services on a regular basis.
Nothing is sacred.
Get feedback from patrons AND staff.
Make it easy for them to submit suggestions without fear of rejection or being ignored.
Ask the tough questions: Does the library change enough? Does the library consistently offer the services that library users (or potential users) want?
Do not change things simply for the sake of change.
Do not be afraid of failing. Include it in the process.
“Now is not the time to find new ways of doing the same old thing” (Mathews, 2012, p. 12).
Hi everyone! My name is Michelle Brown, and I am about 3/4 of the way done with the MLIS program. I’m doing the full time work part time school thing, so it’s taking me a little longer than I planned. I’ve been trying to focus on classes that teach things I won’t learn on the job. I’m hoping this class will give me some tools or expose me to ideas that I can use to navigate the ever changing technology and library fields. I’m interested in how libraries are evolving as community spaces and what I can do to help advocate for libraries as essential parts of our communities.
Over the summer, I was hired as a Library Supervisor at the Sacramento Public Library. I run a small neighborhood branch in North Sacramento. It’s only been three months, but I love it! I supervise 1 full time and 2 part time Library Assistants as well as two Shelvers. There are no other staff (Librarians, Circ Supervisor, etc.), so I get to wear many hats and do lots of everything. Previously, I worked at the Roseville Public Library and the Humboldt County Library. I want to continue working in public libraries, but I don’t have a next step planned yet. I think I’ll be happy with where I am for at least a while.
For my bachelor’s degree, I studied Studio Art at Humboldt State University. I learned many different kinds of art but focused mostly on photography and painting. In my spare time, I enjoy art, yoga, camping, and of course reading. I like picture books because I actually have the time to finish them!