I hope that 2017 will be the beginning of a habit of reflective practice for me. This semester, the activity of practicing mindfulness and refection have repeatedly shown their value. The few times I have embraced this task on my own I have found my focus and my motivation renewed. Reminding myself of the larger vision for my library, as well as the small individuals that comprise it, help concentrate my efforts on the center of my work- my patrons. This mindfulness of the individuals that I am serving, helps me ward off burn-out and roll with disappointments and stress at work. Shifting to a growth/positive mindset also helps me see change and/or failure as an opportunity to learn.
I have learned a little bit about self-reflection in my personal life this semester as well. I realized (and I’m betting I’m not alone here) I tend to short change myself and the work I do. I shy away from praise and public recognition, when I should be taking some pride in it and saying “thank you.” This has been some of my personal life homework recently and I have had to give myself permission to reflect and recognize my strengths. I know this practice will help as I move forward in my career (and, yikes, have to do a little self-promotion). But, as Professor Stephens said in What’s Your Pitch?, these reflections actually help us “redefine our goals and redirect our efforts.”
Reflection on work/library life and personal life have the potential to renew our focus on our bigger goals – that is motivation enough for me. I also appreciated the article What Are You Thinking? and its support of daydreaming. Daydreaming is a kind of reflection, a time to ponder, and replay or invent. I think daydreaming is a lovely way to think of reflection and the opportunity to redefine larger goals. We can allow ourselves to daydream (it’s productive) and promote it in the libraries where we work. 🙂
This week I was able to try a tool that I have been wanting to play with for some time. StoryBird.com is a website that has tons of illustrations and the user gets to build a story using these illustrations. It is a tool I came across a few years ago and have recommended to others, but not something I had actually tried. I loved it. I found an artist that I liked and looked through hundreds of images to choose ones that helped tell the story of my journey this semester. I hope you enjoy it.
The Library as a Classroom lecture exemplified why I love the school library. School libraries are in a unique position to facilitate opportunities for students to use their imaginations, create, explore their passions and promote curiosity. This mission drives my actions at work and is what gets me excited about finishing my degree. School libraries support teachers as they meet curriculum and standards based materials, but the library has more flexibility and freedom to let students learn through exploration rather than requiring them to meet an expectation. From displays and programming to makerspaces, services, and library lessons- school libraries that inspire students to wonder can help keep the joy in learning for many students.
Ideally these spaces include current, relevant, and useful technology along with low-tech tools for students to utilize. They are spaces that promote sharing, collaboration, and interaction with other students They are places where the educators are modeling a growth mindset for our students as we are active learners and curious ourselves. Rather than zero-sum attitudes, the school library is a place that demands an open mind and a flexible schedule.
Our school library currently offers a Lego lab and craft lab at lunch time. I enjoy seeing students come to unwind, collaborate, and create. Even when there are prompts for creating something, the students often go beyond those boundaries and surprise me with their innovations. I have seen the value play has for our students. I love how Jordan Lloyd Bookey put it, “Play is early literacy.” I have also seen how providing an environment for play has brought all kinds of students together who may not have found each other or collaborated with each other on the playground.
In spite of all the positive activity I see in our lunchtime labs, there is work to be done. One idea that was touched on in the Lego, Learning Through Play video, was the importance of reflection. I know that this is valuable and something that I need to facilitate in our lunchtime play labs. Inviting students to document their creations and think about the big ideas involved, and the process, will make their playful learning even more valuable.
This week the lecture and readings prompted me to think about two changes that I have seen in the school library world that help meet users on their frequently used devices/technology. Our students primarily use Chromebooks at school and iPads or iPhones at home. While most do not have their own iPhone, many students have at least one family member who uses a smart phone and will let them borrow it occasionally to play games, search the web or use applications. Our school district uses Follett Destiny for our library catalog and circulation system. Follett has two innovations that came to mind as I read David Weinberger’s article Let the Future Go.
The first is the new Follett Discover Google Chrome add-on. Students are able to find the free add-on in the Chrome store and install it in their browser. Once the student has logged into the Destiny program using their Google sign-in it is automatically saved and they will not have to go through that step again. Once installed, the library’s collection of print and eBooks is displayed at the top of the list of results when they do a Google search. For example, if students in fourth grade are researching the California Gold Rush, and they type that into the query box and hit enter- their results will first show what our library collection has, then display the usual Google hits below. If a student sees a print book they are interested in they can easily hold the book with just a click or two. If an eBook is displayed- it can also be accessed in full by just clicking the book cover and then clicking “open.” While this add-on is still in beta stages I have seen it used effectively at our school. Some librarians vilify Google and I think that just makes us look stubborn and irrelevant. We must meet students where they are and teach them not only how to access library materials, but how to become a better Google searcher as well.
The second application that students are using is the Follett Destiny Quest app. This is an app that we have on our library search station iPads mounted within the library stacks. Students are familiar with the intuitive application and learn that they can easily download the app on their family’s tablet or smartphone to have access to the library collection wherever they are.
While I know there is much more innovation to come in the school library world, these are two things that I have seen recently that have met students where they are. I cannot wait to see what comes next.
I am proposing adding a subscription to Biblionasium to our school library’s services for the 2017-18 school year. This program is a social, engaging, digital tool that fosters community and conversation about reading. It encourages students to take the lead in reader’s advisory. Adding this service allows our student patrons to access book reviews from their friends and teachers and publish their own recommendations. This hyperlinked service tool connects students to one another and aligns with district curriculum supporting book clubs, publishing content, and digital literacy.
New Participatory Tool Proposed:
Biblionasium is a Good Reads-like platform specifically designed for elementary aged students. Students and teachers can like, share, and create book lists and book reviews.
About the Library:
Elementary school library
430 students, grades preschool – sixth
I will secure funding for and set up the Biblionasium program for the 2017-18 school year in order to engage students in peer to peer book recommendations in a digital and social way.
Students will give and receive book recommendations among peers
Students will experience a safe social network and practice digital citizenship
Students will feel engaged and empowered to see their reviews published
Description of Community you wish to engage:
Students at Hawthorne Elementary in grades 4-6
Action Brief Statement:
Convince students that by participating in Bilbionasium they will have fun sharing books which will lead to more reading because they will have so many new book recommendations from friends.
Evidence and Resources to support Technology or Service:
I loved the choose your own adventure! I chose to explore hyperlinked school libraries and their role in student learning opportunities. In the article “16 Modern Realities” the author talks about how traditional school learning is no longer enough for our children. He says we must embrace changes that allow educators to remove barriers to information and foster learning experiences for students. This change challenges the traditional school library to adapt and evolve and examine what it is doing to facilitate learning opportunities that require less teacher-led learning and more student to student collaboration. School libraries can ask themselves how they are using technology to foster these experiences.
In the “Flip this Library” article, libraries are called to act less like Microsoft (if you build it, they will come) and more like Google (integrate this into your life). The author encourages us to “resolve to think like a patron rather than a provider” in order to continually make choices that put the user first (Loertscher, 2008).
My favorite part of this learning adventure was the TED talk by Ken Robinson, Bring on the learning Revolution (2010). It is a great reminder that one size does not fit all when it comes to education. Our students have gifts and talents that need discovery and nourishment- school libraries are in a unique position to nurture these.
In the lecture this week there was discussion about Technoshame and Techno-isolation. This reminded me of how many of us follow other libraries/librarians on Instagram and how important it can be to be transparent about successes and failures. Here’s what I mean- We all know those people who post only the shiny highlights of their life on Facebook even though their everyday life is rather ordinary. It can create insecurities to scroll through all these highlights- leading us to believe our own life is lacking. I’m a huge fan and enthusiastic user of Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest and follow a wide variety of amazing librarians. But just like in our personal lives, it can feel exhausting to flick through only the highlights: amazing remodeled spaces, the best innovations, and successful programming. I have found librarians/libraries who are truly transparent will post the challenges and/or failures, too. I appreciate this. Innovation means taking risks and I like to think we can all be real about it. Maybe it means making a faux site that just shares the hilarious trials and errors or maybe it just means keeping the regular feed human in another way. Just a thought. Any other ideas for what we could call this?
This weekend I traveled to the Bay Area with my daughter and had miles of time to ponder this week’s topic. I tumbled these things around in my head as I drove: hyperlinks as people, connectedness, and the digital divide. I love technology and how it can bring people together who may not be geographically close- but this week I kept coming back to human connections and how this could apply to the library where I work.
Hyperlinks as People and Connectedness
This concept mentioned in our lecture and highlighted with the visual of the knitting group had an impact on me. This is a connectedness that I would like to create in the school library where I work. Finding our similarities, providing an environment that facilitates conversations and opportunities for building relatedness are all concepts that I would love to promote. I feel we need these connections fostered particularly in this political climate. Even in the school library the negative news and division can be present and I would like to find ways to bring students together to encourage finding common ground. We have time to discuss books, construct LEGOs, and create crafts in the library and these make for great conversations, but I know I can do more. I love the Idea Box for bringing people together for a common project. While I don’t have the space for that exact thing, I can adapt the principle and implement it on a smaller scale. I’ve been inspired to add a new board to my Pinterest account to find ways to do this. I’d love to see links or hear ideas from classmates, too.
Addressing the Digital Divide
I related to some of the statistics shared in 21st Century Digital Divide article by Jessamyn West. She discussed that in her community, someone may have a member of the household with internet access, yet that doesn’t mean each person can share that access. This is the case with many students at the school where I work. As West states, “access is often ‘personal’ and people don’t share access.” A parent or older sibling may have a smartphone, but allowing a younger child/sibling to use that device to access school work or eBooks may be inconvenient. Our local city library is aware of the need in our community and is working to address this by providing Chromebooks and Hot Spots for checkout.
Messy: The Power of Disorder to Transform our Lives by Tim Harford
Libraries are overall tidy places. Knowing everything has a place in the library is comforting to me. The task of shelving books or adding links to a website or library guide is orderly and purposeful. Yet in other areas of my life I am critical of my ability to stay organized. How organized is enough? How tidy is truly tidy? Whatever my bar of organization and tidiness is, it seems always out of reach. The title of this book intrigued me and I started to wonder if a little mess might not be so bad. And what about a little mess in the library? In this presentation, I will introduce what messy means in the context of this book and share some of the author’s ideas of how messy can have positive, even desirable qualities. Finally, I will discuss how the author’s ideas can be applied in the hyperlinked library.
What does the author mean by messy? According to the book, messy is real, messy is in-progress, and messy has potential. The author proposes that humans tend to idealize tidy in various areas of our lives- and tidiness can be helpful, but life is messy. Perhaps we can learn something positive from the mess around us. The author uses an amazing number of examples of how life’s messy moments can bring out our best or challenge us to think creatively. Could it be that some amount of chaos is what stimulates creativity? If that is true, can our desire for tidiness be holding us back?
With example after example he shows us people and situations where the untidiness brought about a magical experience, a moment of success, or change for the better. Each chapter focuses on a quality of messy and argues that these qualities could foster resiliency and creativity in ourselves and as I will propose, our hyperlinked libraries. Our foundational readings and lectures support embracing the mess. Part of that is evaluating our service, opening up to feedback from our patrons and staff, involving these parties in planning for our future, being open and ready to change and adapt knowing that evolution is key to our relevance.
I thought I knew what the book, Library 2.0, was going to be about. I had an expectation that I would read examples of librarians and administrators implementing user-centered, participatory changes. I was pleasantly surprised to find this book was not advocating for a top-down model for change- instead it was asking for a whole-organization mind shift toward participatory service. Yes, user satisfaction is still the endgame, but this change-making process is far from linear. How refreshing!
Communication among library staff and users is a key component of Library 2.0 service. Some of us have worked in an organization where we relate to Dilbert’s relationship with his out-of-touch administrators and over-the-top bureaucracy. Like this cartoon, we may have been expected to enact changes without any input or explanation. The authors of Library 2.0 encourage the exact opposite. Listening becomes a priority, vertical teams include all voices, feedback and evaluation ward of stagnation. Everyone’s voice and opinion matters – from the user to the front-line library staff to the managers and above. Change that is demanded from the top down can often frustrate the ones that have to implement it, but when a variety of members of an organization have contributed to a decision with a common goal there can be meaningful change. The 2.0 design of inclusivity and participation is an investment in the people, staff and users, and if done well can result in a library that is more effectively accomplishing its mission.
Open mindedness is another characteristic of a library embracing Library 2.0. Big ideas have the potential to be anywhere in our organization, but we must make channels to ensure they are heard. Not every idea is going to be realistic for our library and not every new change has to be big, but encouraging feedback and implementing purposeful changes will keep us moving toward progress. If/when we are ever The Management and the ideas are coming from us, we have to communicate and ensure staff and user buy-in to make the changes effective. Part of this process is accepting failure, maybe even expecting failure in some of our implementations. Delegating staff to team up to investigate, plan, and review these ideas regularly engages and empowers all voices. These risks show faith in our staff and users, show that we are listening, and will move our library forward.
As I read, I circled words that stood out to me- words that sounded like positive and inclusive change and put them in a Tagxedo below. I am looking forward to reading your reflections.
Casey, M. E., & Savastinuk, L. C. (2007). Library 2.0: a Guide to Participatory Library Service.