Library as Classroom

I have spent most of my adult life working in a library system and one thing that have always stood out for me as opposed to the non-library worker is the extent to which library workers are involved in supporting  self-learning or assisted learning among its clientele.  To the layman, library workers ensure that the library is open, that books and resources are available and by some kind of magic, programs and events are provided to serve the needs of the clients.  For library workers however, who I see as the elves behind the scene, significant effort, brainstorming, meetings, planning and staff training goes into the reference, technology and outreach services that are provided. 

While a public library may not be able to label itself as a formal educational establishment, the variety of informal, semi-formal and at times formal learning that has taken place there over time is amazing.  Stephens (2014) in his article, Library as Classroom called libraries “creative classrooms” and that is what they truly are, i.e., places to create, innovate, explore, meet, greet, relax and learn at your own pace.  It is a place where you go not because you must but because you want to. 

Nygren (2014) in the paper The Public Library as a Community Hub for Connected Learning noted quite rightly that “librarians don’t always have all the skills needed in order to satisfy the… learning needs of all groups, but they have the ability to connect people” (p. 3).  It is this ability to bring together people from all walks of life, with varied interests that allow libraries to maintain their positions as “hubs” of informal learning.  Nygren went on a discuss the concept of connected learning which I believe libraries as community focused organizations set the trend.  He made in my opinion, two profound statements which are in direct alignment with the library’s place in fostering learning, i.e., “in the networked society, learning is everywhere and everywhere is here” and “learning is accelerated when it is powered by an individual’s interests and passions, supported by peers, and in spaces where an individual feels valued and safe” (p. 4).  As libraries, we are part of Nygren’s everywhere place, we support learning both formal and informal, we provide a safe place for peers to gather, and the very nature of the services we provide and the ways in which we gather our communities together and encourage them to provide those services shows that we value the people we serve.

Bookey (2015) in 8 Awesome Ways Libraries Are Making Learning Fun noted that libraries are now being used as literacy spaces, stating that “the next generation of libraries are not filled with students hunkered down over encyclopedias… They also offer homework help, punk rock aerobics, gardening, movies, musical storytimes, and more. For FREE”.  Today at my library, one of those next generation libraries, there is always a free class of some sort being conducted, many of which are oversubscribed.  There are the storytelling and craft sessions for children; information literacy classes for teens, computer, internet and financial literacy classes for adults and seniors, and language classes for all ages.  Our library in association with an external organization has also been conducting basic reading and writing literacy training for adults who are challenged in this area, and I can go on and on. 

Essentially, the library is and has always been a classroom for informal learning or as one community services organization called it, life skills learning.  While it is true that we can use the library’s resources to aid in pursuing formal academic certification, for many persons who are just interested in gaining some type of basic knowledge in a given area, such as a class in “Text Messaging for Seniors”, or “English as a Second Language” the library is the go to place for this type of user centric service.  

This entry was posted on April 19, 2017. 5 Comments

Mobile Information Environments- My Devices and I

I work in web development so I am appended to my devices or vice versa.  In the office I have a double screen workstation, a laptop, a tablet and two android phones all running at the same time, and all interacting and synced throughout the day.  In addition to this, many of my colleagues have a similar array of devices and we troll the halls many days in the name of work and other stuff looking for persons to test something or search for something on their devices for the sake of divining their experience using their unique devices.  My colleagues with their Windows and Apple devices are my go to people because being a strong Android fan myself, I need the fans of the other devices to help me get my job done.

At home, I am similarly equip, so I use multiple devices there as well.  Recently my tablet died and I went into panic mode! I felt…lost! I loved that device, we went almost everywhere together.  It was my classroom, office, entertainment etc., in fact, I can relate to Michael when he spoke about slowly unveiling his new iPhone in his article, Mobile at the Library | Office Hours, it is a pleasure that only true fans of mobile device understands and appreciates.  That’s how I feel about my Samsung Galaxy devices and how I will feel this weekend when I get my new Samsung Galaxy Tab S3!  Until then my Galaxy phone is my next best friend.  I use it for everything a mobile user will use their phone for.  I check in with my office if I’m on the road, check in and checkout ebooks and other resources at my library, respond to class information, posts, group sessions etc., watch movies, catch up on the latest gossip, text and chat with friend and family even if we all in the same physical space.  By the way, most of my light mobile using friends, family and my mum don’t understand this at all, which is? Why if we are all in the same physical space do we need to use our devices to communicate?  I on the other hand don’t understand what it is that they don’t understand, weird.

My mobile devices, disturbingly enough, are my world and the Mobile Information Environment continues to morph as a world in its own sense with its own rules, resources, risks and rewards.  This is an environment that keeps many of us connected, on top of things, in touch, and in the know.  I am not unique in this because for many of us today function more efficiently because of our always on, always connected devices.  Is this a good thing? Not always, I would say it depends on the circumstances.  In my environment due to my work and distance from school, persons and other resources, I need my mobile devices to function.

David Gagnon talking about the Mobile Learning Environments enacted the typical day in the life of a mobile device user (me), from ordering food, to checking in their locations with friends, to looking to the stars, all possible by the simple touching of an app.  Information that would have taken the average user eons to find, is now available in an instant.  Gagnon believed that the impact of mobile devices is inestimable with millions of devices in use and millions to be put to use in the future.  So why not use it in learning environments?  According to Gagnon, “learning happens anywhere someone has questions and the means to explore answers.”  What better place for this learning to happen in my opinion than your local library or virtual using mobile devices.  Mobile devices are some of this era’s most valuable, innovative, creative and engaging learning tools with something to appeal to all age groups, even if that appeal is just the novelty of the newest version of the device, or in my case that Android Nougat OS which promises me that I will be able to personalize my devices even more.  Even more that what, I have no idea, but whatever that means, I am sold.

Mobile AppsOn a serious note, library users are using their devices to interact with their libraries, whether it’s the online catalogue, database, events calendar, and social media sites.  Libraries that have taken steps to understand the needs of mobile users are now using mobile devices as information and learning tools.  Those who are lagging behind on the rapidly growing mobile device trend are missing out on a vast array of opportunities to be visible on the web, relevant  to their users and leaders in the provision of informal learning environments.

As David Weinberger noted in his article Let the Future Go, unfortunately, many libraries are not even visible on the web and in some cases, many do not actively see the future possibilities of technology and how it can impact positively on the visibility of libraries.  Weinberger ended his article with some profound words, stating that “libraries do not have to invent their own future. But…do have to create an environment in which the rest of the world can make everything out of libraries that can be imagined.”  I believe that beginning with a small mobile information environment which highlights and encourages user engagement with all of the library’s resources is a good first step in improving the library’s visibility, their vision of themselves in the future and the client’s engagement with their mobile friendly library from wherever they are.

This entry was posted on April 9, 2017. 7 Comments

Planning Brief: DIGITAL BOOKMOBILE

EMERGING TECHNOLOGY: DIGITAL BOOKMOBILE

Advances in the development of technology have been moving ahead at a pace which baffles many of us. As we acquire a new device or equipment, new upgrades to existing systems are being rolled out and prototypes of the next generation our devices are often ready for release.  Consequently, as consumers, the information overload that we experience in the face of rapid technological changes forces us at times to continuously improve our technology skills.

For libraries, whose services today are very much intertwined with developments in technologies, from Web 2.0 applications to advanced library management systems and techno savvy customers, we are often called to ensure that our library services are at a place where we can meet and match the level of technical services demanded by our clients. What however, happens to those of our clients who for reasons such as, aging, low literacy, unemployment and more so, geographic spread across rural areas who are unable to both access or keep up with advances in technology? How can we expose them to digital services like that offered by physical and virtual libraries?  Better yet, how can we reach and serve them where they are?

DESCRIPTION OF COMMUNITY YOU WISH TO ENGAGE:

In my library’s thrust to shrink the digital divide which affects rural clients within the geographic areas which the library is expected to serve, the Digital Bookmobile service is being introduced to serve those dispersed clients. This fully equip library vehicle will serve persons in rural areas who are unable to access physical or virtual library services in their area due predominantly to the great distance to the closest library and absence of computer and internet access in their area.

The concept of the Mobile Library Service or Book Mobile as it is sometimes called is not new to rural areas. These libraries on wheels have been delivering much needed library services inclusive of registration, loans, information literacy, outreach programmes and community engagement for generations.  Today, in a new incarnation of the traditional service, libraries serving rural areas have been investing in Digital Bookmobiles, fully equip with the latest, innovative technologies to assist in not only providing traditional library services, but to introduce and expose rural clients in to new technological innovations.

GOALS/OBJECTIVES FOR TECHNOLOGY OR SERVICE:

The goals and objectives this Digital Bookmobile service are determined the overall goals and objectives of my library in relation to its provision of public library services. The following are adapted from the (Seattle Public Library [SPL], n.d.) since they are in alignment with my organization’s goals and objectives:

Goal 1: Empower Rural Communities by Decreasing the Digital Divide

Objectives:

  • Deliver library services and resources to people where they are
  • Adapt mobile library spaces and services to support rural communities

Goal 2: Expand Access to Information and Ideas

Objectives:

  • Provide rural areas with access to digital material
  • Develop collections that meets community needs and expectations
  • Provide innovative improvements in information access and delivery

Goal 3: Encourage A Passion for Reading, Learning, Creating and Experimenting

Objectives:

  • Integrate learning into daily life
  • Provide free instruction and programs to support personal growth
  • Encourage hands on, practical, creative experimentation

Goal 4: Foster a Culture of Innovation Among Clients and Staff

Objectives:

  • Build library staff and institutional capacity to innovate
  • Use rigorous analysis to provide a positive user experience
  • Communicate and celebrate progress
  • Partner with communities to improve rural library services (SPL, n.d.)

ACTION BRIEF STATEMENT:

  • CONVINCEClients in rural areas with limited or no access to traditional library services and the latest eLibrary services
  • THAT BY – Accessing services of the Digital Bookmobile with its roving digital exhibit
  • THEY WILL – Have the opportunity to explore, learn about and use new technologies and mobile devices; and access interactive displays, eResources, online information services and innovative breakout spaces
  • WHICH WILL – Expose them in a creative way to new innovations, new sources of information, opportunities for learning from and interacting with their libraries, and in so doing, reduce the digital divide for rural clients
  • BECAUSE – As libraries we are responsible for providing equal access to information services and resources to all our clients wherever they are located.

EVIDENCE AND RESOURCES TO SUPPORT TECHNOLOGY OR SERVICE:

Planning for a Digital Bookmobile service must take into consideration the history and purpose of related traditional services. Introduced primarily to serve dispersed rural populations in an age of limited technologies, this new concept of a digital service embraces as many aspects of technology and services inherent in modern library services than can be embodied within a roving vehicle. Warburton (2013) in a Library Journal article “Delivering the Library” discussed the relevance of Bookmobile services today and the transformation of the service to meet the challenges of the digital age. He states that “as instruments of community outreach,” Bookmobiles factor significantly on a library’s strategic planning today. Additionally, many Bookmobile services are now taking advantage of new, trending digital devices such as “iPads, ereaders, ebooks, and computer stations” as part of their service delivery.  In a discussion of participatory library service, Schwartz (2013) followed this concept in her article which envisioned the library as a lab for creative thinking and expression. While the focus of this article was on the physical/virtual library, it can also be expanded to suit a new model for Digital Bookmobiles.

The Overdrive Digital Bookmobile is one such initiative that shows the possibilities for a new digital library service on wheels incorporating the latest technologies. This roving caravan is divided into six sections each providing a unique service and customer experience. The sections as follows: Welcome and Orientation, Audiobook Alley, eBook Experience, Gadgets Gallery, Digital Catalog, and Video Lounge. This innovative space introduces a new model for library service that libraries serving rural areas can consider. The following are an additional list of resources that can be reviewed when planning for a Digital Bookmobile service:

MISSION, GUIDELINES, AND POLICY RELATED TO TECHNOLOGY OR SERVICE:

The responsibility of the setting the mission, guidelines and policies for the Digital Bookmobile service will be coordinated by the Head of the Public Library service, in collaboration with the Information Technology (IT) Unit based on the strategic goals and objectives of the parent organization.

Mission: While the organization’s mission will define this Digital Bookmobile library, I believe that this service requires a defined Mission Statement of its own to direct the path and purpose of the service. I propose the following from the Overdrive Digital Bookmobile website:

“To help libraries … promote the digital services available to their communities” Digital Bookmobile (n.d.).

Policy: The organization’s public library and IT policies are the main policies to guide the services of the Digital Bookmobile service. Internal policies for consideration will include:

  • Registration
  • Loan
  • Collection development
  • User services
  • Social media
  • Mobile device
  • Acceptable use – Computer and Internet
  • Information security
  • Human resource
  • Health and safety
  • Vehicle maintenance

Examples of policies that will be useful for a generic Bookmobile service which can be adapted for a digital service can be found on the following sites:

Guidelines: Since Bookmobile services are as relevant today as it was from its inception, the American library Association (ALA), International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) and many other bodies continue to provide guidelines and support for this service.

ALA (n.d.) in its Handbook for Mobile Services Staff, provides the following guidelines:

  • Bookmobile vehicle specifications
  • Maintenance schedules
  • Information for outfitting the vehicles
  • Outreach training resources
  • Checklists to support the services when on the road.

IFLA (2010) provides guidelines for libraries providing a mobile service covering issues such as:

  • Government/organization responsibility to support library services to disadvantage communities
  • Vehicle specifications and considerations
  • Staffing matters including training
  • Collections to suit the needs of the communities
  • Furniture and equipment required for a Bookmobile service

FUNDING CONSIDERATIONS FOR THIS TECHNOLOGY OR SERVICE: 

Initial funding for the Digital Bookmobile service can be accessed from the organization’s current budgetary allocations for the existing Bookmobile services. This allocation will cover book and non-book collections, and staff training. In a very dated article about funding for Bookmobile which is still very relevant today for a new digital unit, Little (n.d.) broke down the cost into both variable and fixed costs per vehicle. Little proposed the following costs for a Bookmobile unit:

Fixed Costs:

  • Depreciation or Replacement – Vehicle, Equipment
  • License – Vehicles, Equipment
  • Insurance – Vehicle, Employee
  • Labor – Librarians, Drivers, Technical staff

Variable Costs:

  • Gasoline and Oil
  • Repairs and Maintenance
  • Tires
  • Other – Issues not listed that may arise (Little, n.d.).

Since however, as stated by Warburton (2013) that “the average annual cost of keeping a Bookmobile on the road is about $200,000,” to offset that cost, it might be in the organization’s best interest to seek funding for acquisition and new customized vehicles, furniture and equipment, IT equipment, mobile devices, and gadgets from donations, and grants from corporate partners and grant funding agencies.  Under the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) the library can seek funding for the Digital Bookmobile unit as a technology initiative, and many of these grants are administered by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

ACTION STEPS & TIMELINE: 

The launch of a new Digital Bookmobile service is expected to be completed in one calendar year from January to December 2018 during which time tasks will be conducted concurrently and/or sequentially where possible. This project is dependent on the following action items:

  • Develop and submit proposal for new service – January 2018
  • Identify contractors for supply and outfitting of Bookmobile unit – 2 weeks
  • Identify Librarians, Technical Assistants, Drivers to staff the unit – 2 weeks
  • Identify, source and test new technology for use by library clients – 3 months
  • Acquire and outfit of the new Digital Bookmobile vehicle – 9 months
  • Develop a vehicle maintenance schedule – 3 weeks
  • Acquire, install and test of computer equipment – 4 months
  • Acquire library management system software licenses – 3 months
  • Install and test of and library management system – 1 month
  • License and insure new vehicle – 1 week
  • Acquire and process book, non-book items and mobile devices – 5 months
  • Develop a training schedule and material – 1 week
  • Conduct staff training in the use of the new vehicle and varied mobile technologies – 1 month
  • Pilot run of new service – 1 week
  • Handover of new Digital Bookmobile service – December 2018

Approvals: All initiatives will be signed off by following departments: Public Library, Fleet, Manager, Finance, Procurement, Legal, IT Unit, Project, Marketing, Human Resource, Library Director, Board of Directors. If the process is queried by any department, additional discussions as required will occur to reach a resolution. In the event of further delays, the Board of Directors will make the final decision.

STAFFING CONSIDERATIONS FOR THIS TECHNOLOGY OR SERVICE: 

Staffing would be allocated from the existing staffing complement and would be compensated at their current salary rates for a 40-hour work week. All staff will be trained in the use and maintenance of the vehicle and equipment, and preference will be given to staff with proven technical competencies as identified by their academic qualifications and work based experience. Technical support for the computer hardware and software vehicle will be provided by the IT department and one technician will be assigned exclusively to the applications used on the Digital Bookmobile. Additional technical support will be provided through contractual arrangements with the various vendors.

Additional time outside working hours for all staff working on the Digital Bookmobile both on the road and in house will be compensated at time and a half for every hour over the 40-hour period for the first 2 hours and double time after the additional two hours. Overtime will be activated where circumstances dictated that the Digital Bookmobile be on the road for extended periods beyond normal working hours. These circumstances are as follows:

  • Cross country tours and exhibitions
  • Natural disasters – fire, storms, earthquake, snow storms, floods etc.
  • Vehicle breakdown due to normal wear and tear
  • Vandalism by forces external to the library
  • Illness of staff while on a service visit
  • Request to services from the communities served that would occur outside of the normal working hours

Training for this Technology or Service:  

Training will be provided to librarians, technical assistants, computer technicians and driver/operators. Training material will be developed by the Training Unit of the Human Resource Department in association with a cross functional team from the Public Library and IT Departments. The vendors will also prepare and administer training as per equipment support agreements. This training will also be coordinated by the Human Resource Department. Training will be scheduled throughout the project period on the completion/implementation of each service.

Service Persons to be trained/activated
Vehicle delivered and outfitted Drivers/Operators, Librarians, Technicians, Technical Assistants
Computers, mobile technology, software and hardware licences and equipment received and installed Librarians, Technicians, Technical Assistants
Book and non-book items received and processed Librarians, Technical Assistants
Library management system installed Librarians, Technicians, Technical Assistants,

Promotion & Marketing for this Technology or Service: 

The Digital Bookmobile Service will be publicized as part of an integrated marketing and communication plan for the entire public library service. This plan will include a combination of press, social media, word of mouth advertising through individual and community groups. We also will leverage our community partnerships to promote the new service via their media. Mechanism for marketing the service include:

  • A rebranded website to promote the service
  • Stationary and other concession items to celebrate the service
  • Social media posts on internal Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest sites.
  • Social media posts on external partner sites
  • Radio and newspaper advertisements
  • Advertisement in community newsletters and message boards
  • Banner, posters, flyers, bookmarks
  • Advertisements on digital sign boards
  • Word of mouth advertisements at schools, churches and community events
  • Creative graphic design on Digital Bookmobile vehicle

Evaluation:

Benchmarks and performance metrics: Continuous impact analysis will be used to gauge the success of the Digital Bookmobile when in operation. Short survey instruments will be administered by staff in the field to gather patron feedback on the services provided.  Feedback sourced will include:

  • The appropriateness of collections
  • The ability of customers to use the technologies provided on the unit
  • The ability of staff to train customers in the use of the new technologies

Checklists provided in the ALA Handbook for Mobile Services and IFLA Mobile Library Guidelines will be used to ensure that all criteria for providing an effective service are adhered to. We will keep track of all site visits and capture loan, equipment usage, customer visits, vehicular issues etc. We will benchmark the models such as the Overdrive Digital Bookmobile to guide us in what is possible in technology focused Bookmobile services.

Performance metric to be used will include:

  • 100 percent uptime of vehicles and equipment,
  • 100 percent instance of community visits
  • Number of customer visits
  • Number of persons interacting with the technologies on the vehicle
  • Number of request to library service
  • Number of training conducted on a site visit

Assessment will be based on the following:

  • Has library usage increased/decreased?
  • Are more/less customers using the technologies?
  • Has information and digital literacy skills improved?
  • Are technologies and collections suited to the communities?
  • Are we reaching a mix of persons based on demographic criteria?
  • Has the new Digital Bookmobile service met the goals and objectives identified above?

Stories: I envision a service that can reach communities previously not served by a library, receiving not only traditional library service offerings, but also access to new digital media tools. I envision a well-trained, customer service oriented staff eager to share their knowledge with person in outlying districts where computer, internet and information services are non-existence or limited.  I envision socially disadvantage persons of all age groups eager to visit, participate and learn in a safe innovative, creative space.

Service Expansion: Using Overdrive’s digital model, I foresee the opportunity to expand our Bookmobile service to also provide a roving exhibition library to both rural and suburban communities within two to five years after the initial launch of the first Digital Bookmobile. This timeframe is based on the availability of funding and staff considerations for any new project.

 

Reference

ALA. (n.d.). Handbook for mobile services staff. Retrieved from

http://www.ala.org/offices/sites/ala.org.offices/files/content/olos/bookmobiles/Mobile_Services_Handbook.pdf

IFLA. (2010). Professional report no. 123: Mobile library guidelines. Retrieved from

https://www.ifla.org/files/assets/hq/publications/professional-report/123.pdf

Little, M. (n.d.). Budgeting the operation cost of Bookmobiles. Retrieved from

https://www.ideals.illinois.edu/bitstream/handle/2142/5954/librarytrendsv9i3h_opt.pdf?sequence=1

Overdrive Digital Bookmobile. (n.d.). Discover ebooks and more…from your library. Retrieved from

Home

SPL. (n.d.). Goals and objectives.

http://www.spl.org/about-the-library/mission-statement/strategic-planning/goals-and-objectives

Schwartz, M. (2013, September 18). Tomorrow, visualized | library by design, Fall 2013 [Weblog post].

Retrieved from

http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2013/09/buildings/lbd/tomorrow-visualized-library-by-design-fall-2013/#_

Warburton, B. (2013, September 26). Delivering the library [Weblog post]. Retrieved from

http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2013/09/library-services/delivering-the-library/#_

 

 

This entry was posted on March 19, 2017. 8 Comments

My Adventure in Privacy and the Hyperlinked Library

September 7, 2014

As I looked at the data collected by a 2016 Pew Research Center study on Americans’ Attitudes About Privacy, Security and Surveillance, the results shows that many persons are very aware that their personal information is increasingly at risk for unauthorized access as the internet, social media and online services continues to grow.  Respondents expressed a general lack of confidence in the security and privacy of their personal data and the mapping of their online activity by online service providers.  There was also a sense that they the consumer were powerless to control the ways in which their data would be used even though there has been attempts by some security minded persons to limit the amount of information they place out there.

I believe that we are now at a stage where the horse is out of the barn where our digital footprint is concerned. The more we choose, or are forced to transact our affairs online, the less we are able to control what we put out there, inadvertently or otherwise.  Pew’s article on Privacy and Information Sharing noted that “while many Americans are willing to share personal information in exchange for tangible benefits, they are often cautious about disclosing their information and frequently unhappy about what happens to that information once companies have collected it” (Pew, 2016).  When that “tangible benefit” (whether that may be simply ordering movie tickets or filing taxes online) is very important to us, we are very often willing to risk life and limb for the ease of getting what we need online.

So that yes, we can take steps to be careful about what type of websites we go on and the amount of private information we submit on online forms.  However, there may be no real way for us to limit the type of personal information captured when we really don’t know who is capturing that information, what type of data they are interested in and for what purpose, and how they access the data in the first place.  Additionally, as the Big Data phenomena continues to grow, mining of data is almost as exciting as mining for gold in the good old days.

The fact therefore is that while we may not be able to control how our digital information is used, we can indeed take steps to educate ourselves about privacy in the digital age, and as professionals, sensitize our customers about the risks of putting their information out there.  We can also plan for security initiatives in our libraries help us along the way.

In the Copyright Toolkit, there is a link to an article by Alison Macrina  about Protection Patron Privacy.  Macrina looked at the role libraries can play in expanding traditional literacy training to include methods that patrons can use to minimize threats to their digital information.  Macrina suggested a combination of creating a more secure systems infrastructure, and security and privacy education in libraries through the following tasks:

  • Teach strong password strategies
  • Teach secure texting and calling
  • Update software and remove Flash
  • Offer online anonymity with Tor Browser
  • Use HTTPS for all library digital services

I also looked the Library Freedom Pledge which is a wonderful step in the right direction for “libraries, vendors that serve libraries, and membership organizations” to ensure that all parties involved in providing library services to customers are committed as a group to the protection of customer privacy.  This Pledge also focus on the need for secure HTTPS connections and encryption when using the library websites and other online services.  Feel free to also look at the Library Freedom Project, the founders of this Pledge and the role they play in educating libraries about privacy in an age of increased digital surveillance.

This entry was posted on March 12, 2017. 3 Comments

Participatory and Transparent Libraries

In a recent study at my library where we examined new service models for libraries, we looked in particular at the type of participatory library models mentioned by Casey and Stephens (2014) in their book The Transparent Library.  The authors in discussing this innovative type of library service noted something which continues to strike me when faced with reduced budgets and accompanying cutbacks in staffing resources and locations, i.e., that libraries and librarians can choose to be either active or passive when considering the services they provide.

Passive service is generally at the highest risk for downsizing because there is a distinct sense of powerlessness on the parts of the libraries in the fight for the continued service.  Active service see libraries while not immune and unaffected by cutbacks, certainly not powerless in the initiatives they undertake to remain relevant.  These libraries immediately begin an assessment of their services in tandem with intensive community engagement to conceptualize new service models that makes their various stakeholders sit back and take notice.

Conan the librarian.

Casey (2011) in his article Revisiting Participatory Service in Trying Times, noted that “the participatory library is open and transparent, and it communicates with its community through many mechanisms. The participatory library engages and queries its entire community and seeks to integrate them into the structure of change.”  For me, Casey’s statement embodies the active position my library took when faced with the reality of an economic downturn, the threat of closure of some of its services and the accompanying loss of jobs and service to its communities. We could not afford to sit back and hope for the best.  Faced with the axe so to speak when providing traditional and at times, inflexible services no longer embraced by our clients, we began looking at ways to get our communities actively involved in our planning process for new, innovative user friendly services.

We communicated…period! We took a long hard look at what we offered, noted our shortcomings and went out to our users. We surveyed, talked, walked about, observed, piloted way out ideas, listened, engaged, sought partnerships, used social media to advance our cause and spread the word.  We felt that in light of shrinking funds, new innovative service offering, repurposed spaces, revenue generating ideas, and word of mouth among our community members were some of our greatest communication tools.  These new initiatives in turn, allowed us to get our communities to sit up and take notice of our libraries once more and show our relevance to our funders.

Partnership became our buzzword since we could no longer depend on our own resources and members of our profession only to advance our cause.  We began improving and expanding our partnerships with individuals, related institutions, public service entities, social, cultural, political and religious groups, and international organizations. We began working with our partners for one common purpose only, which is to serve the information and recreational needs of our clients.  In effect, we sought to open up our libraries, abdicate some of our powers and invite the masses to share the responsibility for determining how we could serve them.

This entry was posted on February 26, 2017. 6 Comments

Enchanting Ourselves and Others

In my previous blog I touched on the concept of “delight” which Denning (2015) believed to be one of the main ingredients in an engaging, innovative, relevant library service. Denning’s choice of this word was a “eureka” moment for me since I believe that this is one of the missing elements in many library service delivery models and certainly in the one at my library.

We need to delight our clients, excite them to the point that they keep coming back for more of this positive experience and emotion. When I go to my favorite clothing and shoe store and get not only what I was looking for, but also something wonderful that I may not have been looking for I am delighted. When I get excellent customer service at a store I find myself making a purchase not so much because I need an item there, but because the person giving the service inspire me to reciprocate. When I am hungry and think of the pleasure of eating something fabulous, the element of delight is established even before I am in very close proximity to the food I desire.  For a nice break down of the concept of delight that I liked go to Richard Hill’s blog where he examined John Heron’s “Upward Hierarchy of Delight” for a better view of the image above. The text in this image truly encapsulates that point I am trying to make.

So once again, I believe as mentioned in my previous post, a delightful service and library experience can contribute significantly to improved social collaboration, learning, sharing and innovation in libraries. In commenting on my post Michael Stephens introduced the element of “JOY” which is closely aligned to delight and I have seen this joy especially with the younger children using their libraries. It is an innocent, holistic, all embracing pleasure in being in the library space, using the library material and interacting with their peers and having a fun filled time. This joy is therefore what we need to instil if possible into our staff and clients when they interact with the space, service libraries provides and with each other. So how do we do this?

Building on my conversation above, I looked at Guy Kawasaki’s book “Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds and Actions,” a title which I absolutely loved by the way and as a result, selected for my Context Book.  Kawasaki (2011) took the concepts of “delight” and “joy” to another level. In fact, in my opinion Kawasaki took these two concepts, rolled them into one word “enchantment” and sought to make them actionable. In an opening statement about his book, Kawasaki states that “This book is for people who see life for what it can be rather than what it can’t” (p. xx).  To the author, this is a book for people who see possibilities, people with imagination, people with a “can do”, “win win” mind-set, people who are willing to make the most out of little (at least that is my take on it).

Kawasaki’s purpose therefore is also clearly stated in his introduction, where he is “going to take you on a journey to learn how to change the hearts, minds, and actions of people” (p. xx).  As library practitioners, that to me is also one of our roles. The book outlines what we need to do to enchant the people we interact with each day, the positive attitudes that we need to adopt and internalize, the adjustments required in our demeanor, and an examination of our reasons for wanting to enchant others in the first place.

Kawasaki maintains that “when you enchant people, your goal is not to make money from them or to get them to do what you want, but to fill them with great delight” (p.2).  He believes that being likable is half of the work required to enchant others and that likability can be achieved by the following: you must listen and engage those you wish to enchant; you must accept others, their opinions, their uniqueness and their point of view;  you should strive for simplicity and brevity in communication, maintain eye contact and use the right words to capture the hearts and mind of the person you are engaging. In essence, speak their language with honesty, and authenticity, do not impose your values on others, be trustworthy, inspire trust and be real.

For library practitioners working in close proximity with a variety of people from different backgrounds, with differing needs, real engagement and social interaction with clients demands some measure of likability, trust, simplicity of communication, understanding and acceptance of differences.  For us, maintaining existing services and launching new ones require that personal, sympathetic, honest “human” interaction that establishes a bond between us and the people we engage with be they staff or patrons to achieve a common purpose.  Incidentally, Kawasaki advised us to become a Mensch “a German word for “human being” (p.28) in our everyday lives. According to him, by adopting this mind-set we and by that I mean library practitioners can be “honest, fair, kind, and transparent, no matter whom you’re dealing with” (p. 28).

For me a person currently tasked with introducing a new service model at my library, to gain buy in and adoption, it is essential that I, along with my team find ways to change the “hearts, mind and actions” of our staff who will provide new services and engagements, and clients who receive these new services.  It must however be done in a way that is honest, participatory and beneficial to everyone.  After reading Kawasaki’s book, I realize that to make a difference, I must first start with some honest introspection and personal changes.  While most of the ingredients for a successful project are there, the elements of delight, joy and enchantment were somehow missing in the mix.  I am one of those persons who “sees life for what it can be rather than what it can’t” as stated by Kawasaki therefore, in order to enchant others I have to be enchanting, so I definitely have some work to do on the woman in the mirror.

 

Reference

Denning, S. (2015, April 28). Do we need libraries? [Weblog post]. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/stevedenning/2015/04/28/do-we-need-libraries/#3e3f42276b91

Kawasaki, Guy. (2011). Enchantment: The art of changing hearts, minds, and actions. Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Millwood, R. (2008, May 15). An analysis of delight [Weblog post]. Retrieved from http://blog.richardmillwood.net/2008/05/15/an-analysis-of-delight/

This entry was posted on February 19, 2017. 6 Comments

Reflection on the Hyperlinked Library Model

In my review of the Hyperlinked Library Model and other readings on the topic, I was struck by the focus of making library services about the needs of the people in the truest sense of the word, and not about the maintenance of rigid structures both from an individual and organizational perspective which can run the risk of alienating persons from the services that libraries have to offer.

Denning (2015) in asking if we need libraries reflects the consideration of many administrators as they reduce funding for library services.  He asked “who needs a library today, when it is possible, without even getting out of bed, to find and read almost any book or article that has ever been published?”  In fact, his question also reflects the mindset of many persons I have encountered who said at one time or the other that they don’t see the need for using their libraries since they can find what they want online.  Even I have to admit that I rarely use my library at its physical location, not because I don’t recognize the importance of the services they offer, but simply because I prefer to use their online services for my convenience and eliminate the middle man/librarian if necessary.  Also, if I need a book I sometimes prefer to go to Open Library or Amazon Kindle, and if I need to see a book review I go to Amazon or Goodreads or any other related sites, again eliminating the need to Ask a Librarian at my local library.

This type of “blasphemy” from me a person who has a long and if I might add, extremely positive history of working for and with libraries brings home the fact that libraries cannot afford to become complacent in serving their clients.  I believe that in order to remain relevant libraries need to understand and meet the changing needs of their users, and at the same time respond to environmental changes.  To do this of course there must be some significant level of internal assessment of their processes, people, culture and traditional mindset to see where they may be going “wrong” for want of a better word in meeting client needs.

The OCLC Next Space newsletter explores this new paradigm for libraries by looking at initiatives that libraries have embarked on or could embark on to not only remain relevant, but to truly embrace the services required in the 21st Century.  Some of the buzzwords for this era in OCLC’s Next Space are things such as Web.2.0, partnerships, collaboration, metadata, advocacy and many others which speaks the language of a new “open, participatory” Stephens (n.d.) user-centric library and information service which is greatly needed at this time.

In essence, the Hyperlinked Library Model may be asking a question from Denning (2015), i.e., “How can we delight our users and customers?” This element of delight can be assisted in part by encouraging a refocusing of library services on the People, i.e. providing that social collaborative environment that really works towards listening to what people want rather than what librarians and administrators thinks that people wants.  It can also speak to the availability of a secure, neutral social Place or space to meet, socialize, learn, share and innovate.

This entry was posted on February 12, 2017. 2 Comments

Greetings

Hello and welcome to My 287 Blog.  I am Paula from NJ and I am looking forward to a very exciting Spring semester as I work with all of you as we look at new trends and technologies that impact the way we live and work.  I am a systems developer who have worked in IT for too long so I felt the need to spread my wings and try something I have wanted to do for the longest while, i.e. get my MLIS.  I shall be graduating in Fall 2017.  I have been looking at this course for the longest while since it really touched on my interest in keeping abreast of changes in technology especially as it relates to libraries, education, new social tools and gadgets.  So far in my time at SJSU I have had the opportunity to explore and try so many of these new technologies and I think this class and my Emerging Futures class which I am also taking this semester will really open my eyes to what is out there.  So that said, I hope that all of my fellow classmates are as excited as I am and I hope I can keep up. Cheers!

Cheers

This entry was posted on January 29, 2017. 11 Comments