I say to myself after the completion of each module that it is the best module, yet. But now, I believe that every module is equally important; and therefore, the best. This class has reinforced every reason I want to be a librarian. And, it is especially exciting to be entering the field of librarianship in a new age—The Hyperlinked Library. Yes, it is a fact that some libraries are embracing the philosophy. We have seen many of these libraries in the readings and in the lectures. They are impressive and inspirational!
The libraries that have created an environment that encourages a hands-on approach to learning, are succeeding. In fact, one of my favorite local libraries is a stellar example: Freemont Public Library in Mundelein.
From the Freemont Public Library website (FPL), “Fremont Public Library strategically uses Every Child Ready to Read initiative (developed by the Association for Library Service to Children) in our story times. There are five practices that build literacy skills: talking (and listening!), singing, reading, writing, and playing. Building literacy starts at birth, and parents are their child’s best teacher.” The FPL youth department supports this auspicious goal. For interested parties, this is the link to a presentation on the program, Every Child Ready to Read @ Your Library.
I had never ventured into the youth wing of the FPL, but when I did, to say I was pleasantly surprised is an understatement. I started my exploration at the information desk where I had in a past visit discovered that the FPL offers an armada of telescopes for checkout. In this same area are some examples of 3D print items and an invitation to take advantage of this service offered by the library.
Then, I strolled into the youth wing which is quite roomy, bright, and cheery. There is a lot of space to move around and explore. This is not my childhood library with its quiet but friendly ambience. It is an environment that exudes learning through play.
Children were busy exploring a play area replete with puppet theater, table puzzles, and gadgets. And it had a faux but impressive tree with treehouse. There is a large dollhouse donated by the Mundelein Fire Department. I had an opportunity to talk with some of the parents that were there with their children. They were happy to share that coming to the library for programming and to play is not only an excellent experience for their children, it is a wonderful way to connect with their neighbors, make friends, and share information.
I moved to a table with four in-house use tablets. A grandmother and her granddaughter were sitting at the table. The grandmother told me that she babysits her granddaughter most weekdays, and they come to the library for programs and to play. She likes FPL because of its “play” and “learning” environment, and because her granddaughter looks forward to their library trips.
The library also offers games from a game cart with games to use in the library. These games encourage talking and collaboration.
There is a table designated for coloring pictures and/or writing letters for our troops overseas. This is an excellent way to connect the community and spread thoughtfulness and kindness to others.
There are four computers designated for “kid” use only. Parents must accompany children under the age of eight-years old. I inquired to one of the youth librarians if they were offering any digital literacy sessions specifically designated to young people. They do not offer any. I liked the article 8 Digital Skills We Must Teach Our Children by Yuhyun Park, so I shared it with the youth librarian on duty at the reference desk. She said she would forward it to the youth department manager. Park states, “Children are using digital technologies and media at increasingly younger ages and for longer periods of time. They spend an average of seven hours a day in front of screens — from televisions and computers, to mobile phones and various digital devices. This is more than the time children spend with their parents or in school. As such, it can have a significant impact on their health and well-being. What digital content they consume, who they meet online and how much time they spend onscreen — all these factors will greatly influence children’s overall development.” Yuhyun Park goes on to state, “So how can we, as parents, educators and leaders, prepare our children for the digital age? Without a doubt, it is critical for us to equip them with digital intelligence.” I see an opportunity here to create parent and youth programming around the 8 skills referred to in Park’s article. Directed at parents and youth individually, and/or parents and youth together, programming to raise “digital intelligence” is that opportunity.
If creating a welcoming environment that supports imagination, learning, and community is the goal, then supporting the community’s effective use of digital tools and digital information is a next level aspiration. I hope to be part of that movement!
“Scandinavian countries have introduced libraries to some wonderful things in the past few years. Nordic Noir fiction, some beautiful new buildings to gather inspiration from, and perhaps the most interesting of all: the concept of hygge. Pronounced “hoo-ga,” it loosely translates from the Danish as “coziness,” but bloggers, news reporters, and folks sharing #hygge-tagged images are quick to say it is so much more. Some might argue that it’s a feeling, a vibe, a state of mind. Others say it’s about connections, conversations, and comfort.”
~ Michael Stephens “The Hygge State of Mind” from March 23, 2016.
If a library successfully achieves this “feeling,” “vibe,” and/or “state of mind,” then they have achieved something truly great and truly inspirational. The TED talk “What to expect from libraries in the 21st century” by Pam Sandlian-Smith from December 2013 was moving. This is to what a library should aspire. A child made an honored request, and the child’s creativity was rewarded, and in turn, the library was rewarded. Rewarded in that they made a powerful connection to their community. The child who—with his family—was living in a homeless shelter, came to the library, and made it a space where he could explore, create, meet others, entertain, and—most importantly—be happy. In fact, he made a special point to come back and thank the library staff. I think that libraries aspiring to create a hygge environment are empowering. The child in Pam Sandlian-Smith’s story was welcomed by, at home in, and empowered by the library. In a world that felt out of his control, the library offered a safe place for him to take charge and to unleash his creativity with a puppet show. A library and its staff may not always know the positive impact it has on its community. Regardless, they should carefully consider how to design, organize, and inspire the library space.
Some libraries will not have the budget to construct a new library building or redesign an existing space. That does not mean it cannot infuse a change in its environment with its attitudes, actions, and creativity. Some libraries have fireplaces that create a cozy environment, but some libraries budgets and/or structures will not allow for that. I had an internship at a local university last semester. During finals week, the library staff hosts a party for faculty and students in the library. It is an annual event. This year, they brought a large flat screen television into the conversation area on the first floor of the library and played a roaring fireplace dvd. In that same area, they had a marshmallow fondue bar staffed by the library director. The library staff had rearranged the seating area to resemble a campfire setting. It was an awesome sight. Students and faculty gathered around in chairs and on the floor. There were plenty of friendly conversations, chuckles, and delicious treats. The hygge was palpable!
Some challenges I might meet in my librarian career are working in a library with building and/or budgeting constraints. Research from an “OCLC study published in 2008, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation,” and shared by Pam Sandlian-Smith in her article (keynote address), “Architects of Dreams: Anythink’s Pam Sandlian Smith on the Power of Children’s Librarians” from May 2013 discusses “key factors in why voters support funding for libraries.” It highlighted important “factors” like community members “interacting with librarians who are passionate about their work and having a transformative experience.” Think about these two “factors.” Neither one speaks to a physical library space. I guess the point I am trying to make is that if you want to transform a library space, it starts with the library and library staff. A commitment to include the community and meet them where they are coming from is integral to its funding and to its success. In Brian Matthews article “Think Like a Startup: 3 Years Later” from April 2015, he states that “if you want to think like a startup– if you want to be creative and innovative– you need to build your capacity for empathy. When we appreciate and participate in our communities outside of a pre-defined role, that’s when we become partners, advisors, and consultants. It’s there that transformative and entrepreneurial opportunities emerge.” Outreach to community is imperative. Value the community and help the community to value the library and its staff. There are plenty of opportunities to do this.
Keywords and phrases from this module resonate deeply in my soul: “Hygge,” “comfort,” “coziness,” “feeling,” “vibe,” “passionate,” “transformative experience,” “capacity,” and “empathy.” There are more, but I will leave you with this thought. I believe that these words exist in all librarians and even librarians-to-be, and when put into action can transform the world.
Embrace it! Let your librarian-flag fly!!!
Planning for emerging technology
Goals/Objectives for Technology or Service:
Our intention as a public library serving a small lake village in South Eastern Wisconsin is to engage and include our entire community in our offerings and be more transparent. Per Casey and Savastinuk (2007), “External blogs are open to your community of users, providing information and often inviting participation and feedback” (p. 82). Casey and Savastinuk (2007) go on to say that “broad purpose front page blogs serve as your library’s first point of contact with library customers online. Instead of simply pushing one-way content to them via announcements or calendars, we can now post this information and accept comments and questions in response” (p. 84). So, our plan will introduce an external blog linked from our library website and our Facebook page that will invite comments and questions, and will:
- support transparency of the inner workings of the library.
- publicize/advertise library activities and events.
- publicize/advertise the library collection: print and digital.
- highlight staff members.
- ask library users to express their vision for their community and their library.
- make us more connected to our community.
- support community activities and events.
- support local schools and the historical society.
- engage the community as guest bloggers (this is suggested but not set in stone).
Description of Community you wish to engage:
Williams Bay, Wisconsin is a beautiful lake town in Southeastern Wisconsin. Located on the shore of Geneva Lake, it is a destination for vacationers from all over the united states and other countries. The following information is from (U.S. Census Bureau, 2012):
Population as of 2010 Census: 2,564
Median age: 43.5
Breakdown by age:
|Under 5 years: 125||45 to 54 years: 369|
|5 to 17 years: 459||55 to 59 years: 192|
|18 to 20 years: 67||60 to 64 years: 209|
|21 to 24 years: 96||65 to 74 years: 249|
|25 to 34 years: 270||75 to 84 years: 139|
|35 to 44 years: 317||85 years and over: 72|
We are a library of one director, two full-time professional librarians, one full-time IT librarian, and four part-time professional and paraprofessional library staff. We have 2 to 4 adult volunteers and 2 to 4 teen volunteers at any given time. We have an active Friends of the Library organization and an active Teen Board. As a small library, we are fortunate to not have large departments creating a silo-effect. Michael Stephens (2012) states “Often times, it’s the marketing department that feels the need to control the library’s story – in an age where the message has long since passed to the people. PR speak, filtered voices and stifled projects lead down the wrong path for open libraries. Think of all the staff, all their enthusiasm, and all their creativity being set aside because none of it was in a prearranged marketing plan. Or it’s the IT department holding tight to any technology initiatives.” This has not been a problem for us. We are not a large library; we wear many hats. It makes us mighty in spirit and creativity. Our plans are a team effort.
Action Brief Statement:
Convince Williams Bay Public Library director and employees that by creating and managing a blog they will engage the community which will broaden outreach because the community will have greater opportunity to engage with the library.
Evidence and Resources to support Technology or Service:
Our committee investigated the following successful library blogs for ideas for our own blog.
Ann Arbor District Library’s Director Blog:
Freemont Public Library supports both a youth and a teen blog:
New York Public Library manages multiple blogs addressing multiple topics:
Seattle Public Library’s Blog:
See references below for additional sources reviewed for this technology plan.
Mission, Guidelines, and Policy related to Technology or Service:
Mission statement and intention for our library blog is to engage and include our entire community in our offerings and be more transparent.
- Blog posts should be 500 words or less. We want to convey information in a concise and succinct manner. In other words: less is more.
- We are aiming for 4 blog posts per month during our “beta” period which will be 6 months beginning on July 3, 2017.
- Our maiden voyage blog post will be from our library director. After that, the library director has kindly agreed to provide one blog post per month.
- Consider your target audience when you are creating your blog post. Make sure that your language and writing style is appropriate.
- Staff should check the blog site regularly to ensure comments and questions are addressed in a timely fashion. Familiarizing oneself with blog topics will be helpful when encouraging library users to engage.
**Blog Policy for Library Staff (internal) and Library Users (external):
- The Williams Bay Public Library is a welcoming and supportive environment. Our blog will reflect this.
- Blog materials should be original. We respect copyright and intellectual property.
- The blog should be reviewed frequently for comments and questions.
- Comments and questions should be addressed within 24 hours of when they are posted. 48 hours when there is a holiday or weekend.
- The Williams Bay Public Library is a welcoming and supportive environment.
- Commenters must provide their email address before their comment is posted. Commenters must have one approved post before their posts will automatically appear. Commenters are asked to review policy before commenting.
- Offensive posts and/or offensive language will not be tolerated.
- Please respect copyright and intellectual property.
**See above links to example blog policies.
Funding Considerations for this Technology or Service:
No new funding is necessary for this project. We will use the free WordPress, Inc. blog platform. It includes a plugin for statistics and basic security features. Vaaler & Brantley (2016) chose to use WordPress, Inc. because “it is an open source online publishing platform that supports multiple authors, making it a suitable platform for [their] collaborative blog…. Installing WordPress software on [their] library servers made [their] blog a cohesive part of the library’s website” (p. 15). After the initial 6-month trial, we can revisit additional features offered by WordPress, Inc. There are two hundred dollars available in the marketing budget if needed. Those marketing dollars can be used to publicize our blog and for fabulous prizes to encourage the community to check it out. Our intention is to not use these funds until after the “beta” period.
Action Steps & Timeline
From Michael Stephens (2012) we are determined to follow his recommendation to “let ‘beta’ be your friend. Let your users help you work out the bugs of that new service. Admit openly that whatever you are planning is new and there may be a few kinks. Share plans and prototypes. Be sure to interact and reply/respond. Make changes accordingly.” Our first official external blog post—by our library director—will address this. Feedback for the internal “sandbox” blog and from the external blog after rollout will be integral to our official blog’s success. We do not anticipate any “no” responses from staff to our plan. We were transparent from the beginning. Before we proceeded to make this plan, we surveyed our staff as to whether they wanted to introduce an external blog to our community. The staff (including our director) overwhelmingly agreed to “beta” test this endeavor. We will continue to be transparent throughout the planning process. Our plan allows for comments, questions, and input.
March 24: First meeting of the blog committee is comprised of the IT librarian, two professional librarian staff and two paraprofessional staff. The IT librarian manages our library website and Facebook page and will consult on the technical issues with the introduction of the blog. A secretary is designated to take minutes. The plan is introduced. Questions and comments are welcomed and noted. Committee and staff will review the plan over the coming week and bring suggestions for any changes or improvements to the next meeting. Minutes of meetings are to be completed and delivered to the committee and library staff within two days of the next meeting. All staff will receive a copy of this plan with the first set of minutes. Going forward, minutes from prior meeting will be reviewed and approved at the beginning of each meeting.
March 31: This meeting will finalize any changes or improvements to the blog plan, mission statement, guidelines, and policy. The committee will ask for a volunteer to format the blog mission statement, guidelines, and policy and ready it for review by the library director and the staff. Comments and suggestions are welcomed. The marketing plan will be included with the guidelines. Ideas for the Burma Shave style marketing signs are welcomed as well ideas for a name for our blog. Ideas can be submitted until April 14 when final verbiage will be decided. We need to allow a minimum of a week for our sign maker to produce the signs.
April 7: This meeting will take any comments and suggestions from the library director and other staff regarding blog guidelines and policy and make necessary changes. The finalized guidelines and policy will be distributed to the library director and staff.
April 14: This meeting will review the verbiage ideas from the staff for signage, library website banners, library Facebook page, and the library lobby monitor. Verbiage for signs will be finalized and submitted to the sign maker. Our IT librarian and a committee volunteer will create the banners for our website and the slides for the library lobby monitor. Teaser posts will be placed on our library Facebook page as well. Since this will be our first blog, we have determined that using WordPress, Inc. is optimal as it is free. Our IT librarian will determine how the blog can be incorporated safely into our website.
April 21: In this meeting the committee will establish the internal “sandbox” blog. An outline for in-service training will be created. A power point and a demonstration will be presented to staff. Our sign maker will deliver the signage in time for our next meeting.
April 28: Our marketing materials will be ready to go. May 1 the first set of signs will be placed by the roadside and the website and lobby monitor marketing will be installed. On June 1, the second set of signs will replace the first set of signs and the website, Facebook page, and lobby monitor will be updated. Training materials will be finalized for the in-service. IT librarian will present how the blog will be incorporated into the website. The “sandbox” internal blog will be finalized for staff to use after the in-service meeting. At that meeting, a sign-up sheet will be circulated for staff to have time to tinker with practice blog posts on the “sandbox” blog.
May 1: The committee has elected that I give the Power Point presentation. Our IT librarian will demonstrate the WordPress, Inc. “sandbox” blog. Throughout May and June, staff are encouraged to sign-up for a time to create blog posts. The IT librarian will choose a blog theme that best matches our website. We will ask that staff do not change the theme. Marketing materials go live on this day.
May 26: The committee will review the “sandbox” blogs and discuss any issues that may have surfaced. On this date, a sign-up sheet for our external blog will be posted in the staff-room. Blog posts must adhere to the guidelines and policy. The library director will create the first blog. Reminder to exchange the second set of marketing materials to be installed on June 1.
June 23: Committee members will review the theme of the external blog. The library director will create the first blog post. On July 3, the blog will go live. The IT librarian will test links to ensure that the blog is ready for the July 3 rollout date.
July 3: Committee meets to see the blog go live. Should be exciting!
August 4: After this meeting, we will not meet again until the end of the 6 month “beta” trial period unless there is a need to meet earlier. Next scheduled blog committee meeting is scheduled for January 8, 2018, when we will review evaluation materials to determine the impact (if any) of our “beta” blog. Of course, we will address any questions and concerns from staff and/or community members during the “beta” period.
Staffing Considerations for this Technology or Service:
Time will need to be allotted to those employees responsible for creating a blog post. This will require some planning and assembling. Blog entries should be short and to the point. Since the initial blog will have 4 posts per month, we estimate two hours per each blog. This equates to 8 hours per month. Hours of service are 9 am to 7 pm Monday and Wednesday, 9 am to 6 pm Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, and Saturday 9 am to 4 pm. Having reviewed our reference statistics, we have determined that there are several times during the week that reference desk activity is low enough to support a staff member to work on a blog post while at the reference desk. Those days are Monday from 5:00 pm to 6:30 pm, Friday from 4 pm to 5:30 pm, and Saturday from 2pm to 3:30 pm. The equates to 18 hours of potential. We realize that occasionally those times will be busy. Those 18 hours should support our initial goal. As far as monitoring and answering comments and questions related to the blog. That will also be included in the 18 hours allocated to support the blog initiative.
Training for this Technology or Service:
We are rolling out this plan to coordinate with our annual employee in-service day on Monday, May 1, 2017. The five members of the emerging technologies planning committee will create and administer a training. An internal blog is established as a learning tool. After the initial training, access to the internal blog will be available to the staff for practice. Each staff will contribute a minimum of one practice blog following the guidelines established by the blog committee.
Promotion & Marketing for this Technology or Service:
To market and promote the library blog, we will use a Burma Shave style marketing strategy. Before roll out, we will employ signage along the main thoroughfare on library property* the library website, and the library lobby monitor.
*zoning issues have been addressed with the village of Williams Bay. We can place the temporary signs.
The two sets of four signs placed in order along the road in front of the library are displayed during the months of May and June. Set one will display in May and set two will display in June. A local sign maker will make the signs for us at no cost. His wife and children are very involved with the library, so he is happy to help. The first set of four signs will say something like:
Extra! > Extra! > Read All > About It!
Second set of four signs:
Read! > Enjoy! > Comment! > Library Blog & Web Address!
Note: These are examples. The committee is open to creative suggestions from the staff.
Banners on the library website and Facebook page will mirror the Burma Shave style signs. Since we have a monitor in our lobby, it will also display the verbiage of signs. The signs on the road will be displayed over two periods of time: May & June. Our marketing will target those who use the website and Facebook page, those who visit the library, and those who drive by the library on a regular basis. So, just because a community member does not go to the library or go to the library website or Facebook page, it does not mean they will not know what’s going on at the library. We hope to pique interest with our marketing.
Per Stephens (2008), “it takes front-end work to evaluate services properly. Well-defined expectations and goals and a written statement regarding some measurable return make the evaluation process more effective and worthwhile. Also, get staff and customers/patrons on board for the review process. Let everyone know that, eventually, you’ll evaluate every service you roll out. This lends more transparency to your planning process.”
We are confident that our plan will enable us to effectively evaluate our “beta” blog at the end of the 6-month trial period.
We will survey our staff and our community after the initial 6-month trial of a minimum of 24 posts. A survey for the staff will be anonymous and ask for their opinion on allotted time to create blog posts and whether they believe the blog was effective in meeting its desired outcomes. They will also be asked what changes could be made to make the blog more effective. We will ask library users via a link to an anonymous survey on our website, our Facebook page, and via an anonymous paper survey in the library to answer several questions about the blog. Did they read it? Did it they attend a library event because of it? Did it make them use or check out library materials they would otherwise not use? Did they learn something new about library they didn’t know before the blog?
Other methods of evaluation will be to monitor comments. Look at event attendance for events that were publicized via the blog. Compare attendance numbers to those from before the blog. Look at blog hits via the stats feature on WordPress, Inc. or clicks on the link from the website.
And finally, Edelstein (2010) stated “consumers help define your brand and they want to feel valued. Make sure to ask questions and listen to opinions. When appropriate, implement and share your community’s ideas. This can result in not only great content but even stronger brand loyalty.” Our library has a very successful brand. We have a loyal patron base. Think of how much stronger it will be when we expand our means of connecting to them and them connecting to us.
This plan is open to comment, suggestions, and changes. However, it is important that we adhere to the set timeline. This is a “beta” test. We will have the opportunity to make ongoing improvements after the rollout. At the end of our “beta” period, we will determine the future of our blog. We are optimistic that this will be a worthy endeavor.
Go team Williams Bay Public Library!!!!
Casey, M. E., & Savastinuk, L. C. (2007). Library 2.0: A guide to participatory library service. Medford, N.J: Information Today.
M Edelstein (2010, June 25) How to: Evaluate your social media plan. [Web blog entry]. Retrieved from http://mashable.com/2010/06/25/evaluate-social-media-plan/#7.O53VU.N5qC
M Stephens (2012, May 30) Taming technolust: Ten steps for planning in a 2.0 world. [Web blog entry]. Retrieved from http://tametheweb.com/2012/05/30/taming-technolust-ten-steps-for-planning-in-a-2-0-world-full-text/
M Stephens (2008, April 15) Measuring progress. [Web Blog Entry]. Retrieved from http://tametheweb.com/2008/04/15/measuring-progress/
U.S. Census Bureau. (2012, December). Wisconsin: 2010 Summary Population and Housing Characteristics 2010 Census of Population and Housing. (Report No. P 52-53) Retrieved from https://www.census.gov/prod/cen2010/cph-2-51.pdf
Vaaler, A., & Brantley, S. (2016). Using a blog and social media promotion as a collaborative community building marketing tool for library resources. Library Hi Tech News, 33(5), 13-15.
The Hyperlinked Environment “Choose Your Own Adventure” was indicative of how users should be encouraged to use the library—whatever library that may be. We were invited to take ownership of what was meaningful and or important to us. So, in this module, I chose to follow my heart and interest and pick the public library adventure. The readings were inspirational and informative. Using the action words from “The Four Spaces” model, I counted how many times the words (including root words) were used in each article and created an interactive word cloud. I encourage you to click on the word cloud image and go to its page. Roll over the image and see the word cloud come to life. It is quite fun.
To inspire creativity, exploration, participation, and excitement is to achieve the ideal library environment. I am not currently working in a public library, but I hope that I will, and that I will have an opportunity to actively engage my library and its community while incorporating the genius design of The Four Spaces by Dorte Skot-Hansen, Henrik Jochumsen and Casper Hvenegaard Hansen as discussed in The Four Spaces of the Public Library by Jakob Guillois Laerkes. Jakob recommends considering this design when planning your library space. He states, “if you want to redesign your library, I recommend you look at the model and consider how you want to integrate the four spaces in your library and which ones you wish to empathize.”
De-emphasis of collections and emphasis of the environment as it relates to its community is the concept. When Phil Morehart reported, in Moving Beyond the “Third Place,” Marie Ostergaard’s description (from her IFLA presentation) of the “Dokk1 [library] as the “living room of the city,” and as such…less focused on books and more focused on human needs, providing space for performances, meetings, children’s activities, art installations, and general public gatherings,” I was enthralled.
This quotation from Ostergaard really hit home with me. The Dokk1 is the ideal. I embrace this philosophy of design, humanity, and community as a future library employee and as a library user. I aspire to work in a small community library, so I know it will be more modest than Dokk1. However, I see that as an opportunity not an obstacle. The joy will be exploring the possibilities and finding ways to achieve the goal.
I loved the story of the Westmount Public Library (WPL): Labor of Love: Opening Up Archival Gems for Community Engagement by Lora Baiocco. Doklab’s local stories application was purchased by WPL to house the postcard collection of 40,000 pieces. This exciting project was inspired by a community project to commemorate the library’s 75th anniversary. So, in 1974, the library asked the community to “scour their attics, old correspondence, albums[,] and other likely caches for contributions to the collection.” Now, with the introduction of the Doklab’s local stories program, the community can see and experience the collection in an inspired, interactive fashion with the “multitouch table.” This is so exciting. I love the communities I have lived in and have always loved local history. It is a great way to connect people. The postcard project was genius. I would love to participate in such a project. This would be my contribution to the history of Highland Park, Illinois where my grandmother was born and grew up.
This postcard was sent to Harry Hall and Mary Rafferty Hall in 1918 by Mary’s sister Jean Rafferty Ulbert and her husband Charles Ulbert. Note that there is no street number, but it still made it to its destination.
To give some context, this picture is of my grandmother Dorothy, her little brother Harry, and their mother Mary Rafferty Hall in the winter of 1918.
About the Hyperlinked Environment: inspired is an understatement!
The Hyperlinked Community speaks to me. It is the main reason I want to be a librarian. I want to be part of an important movement or profession that will connect people and communities. In my introductory blog post, I mentioned that I am very interested in the many dilemmas (positive reframe = opportunities) presented by the digital divide. One of which is exclusion. A hyperlinked community is the antithesis of an exclusionary environment or community. The potential of libraries to build community through programming, technology, outreach, and the creation of safe and supportive environments, is infinite. So, I ask myself. What can I offer? What can I bring to the table? Jessamyn West’s library talk, “21st Century Digital Divide” was so relatable. I am a jack of all trades with serious concerns about the digital divide. While I know enough about technology to help those who struggle, I also know that I am not the most technologically inclined person. And, with that admission, I know that I will always need to play in the sandbox, and that is okay, because I also realize that a librarian does not know everything, but has an innate and/or cultivated ability to connect people to the information, materials, and to the other people they may need.
In Andy Havens’ article “From Community to Technology…and Back Again (part 1)”, he refers to the book “The Power of Pull: How Small Moves, Smartly Made, Can Set Big Things in Motion.” I didn’t read this book, but I am drawn (pardon the play on words) to this quote from the book as applied in Havens’ article. “Pull…[is] the ability to draw out people and resources as needed to address opportunities and challenges.” I love that. To “draw out.” This is what I aspire to. I want to work in a community where I can help “draw out” its needs and help meet them.
Here is an example of how a small library created an opportunity to connect with its community and to connect people within the community to each other. I learned about this library when I wrote my first paper for library school on the digital divide. A small library in Alaska paired with the Chilkoot Indian Association, and with grant funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services created a technology education program. The program taught teens specific technology skills that they in turn would share with less technically inclined members of the community. Read more about the program at Haines Borough Public Library. The outreach potential is significant.
I have often pondered why I have not seen more libraries collaborating with local high schools to build similar programs. What a great way for students to complete volunteer service hours. At least two local community libraries in my area are located next to senior living buildings. I can’t get past the potential community connections. Did you ever hear of the Cyber Senior documentary? This is a great example of connecting people and meeting needs. Here is the trailer.
Oh. Why is the title of my blog post, My Dad Helped Build a Library? Because, my dad did help build a library. He was an electrician who helped build the library in the community where he raised his family. He was very proud of that fact. My parents loved the library. They found great value and great solace in its walls. resources, and programs. When I had the opportunity to work in that library, my father would visit me and point out all the lights he installed. I think he had forgotten that he showed me those installations when I was a child. I didn’t care. I enjoyed the fact that he felt so connected to the library.
It has been 12 years since my father passed away. My mother lives in a new community and frequents a different library. Amy Stoll’s article, “The Healing Power of Libraries” was so spot on for me as she connected me to the love of my current hometown library and the memories of my childhood library. Deerfield Library was recently renovated. I have not been inside since the completion of the renovations. To be honest, I am a little afraid. I am afraid that the lights my father was so proud of are gone. One thing that will never be gone is my connection with libraries. The connection nurtured by my parents.
These days, my husband and I often take an evening stroll through our town. We stop at the library to check out movies, CDs, or books. We love to see how it is hopping. Never a dull moment. I hope that others (those who don’t or rarely visit the library) will stop by and see what’s available. And, if they don’t, I hope I will be part of a solution to the disconnect.
Hagel, J., Brown, J. S., & Davison, L. (2010). The power of pull: How small moves, smartly made, can set big things in motion. New York: Basic Books.
Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell is a book that sets about breaking down the process of thinking and its resulting actions. Mr. Gladwell uses scientific studies and interacts with those responsible for the studies to relate relevant stories to support his concepts for Blink. He talks about a scientist who can observe a short conversation between a newly married couple and determine with significant accuracy if their marriage will last or will end in divorce. And, there is the story of how a doctor at Chicago’s (now defunct) Cook County Hospital employed a visual decision making tool that emergency room staff could use to quickly determine whether a patient is having a heart attack or that a heart attack is imminent. He relays stories of how thinking and resulting decisions can go very right or very wrong. He addresses the factors that impact thinking be they external and/or internal. He discusses how people have made efforts to improve thinking by acknowledging and addressing the external and/or internal factors whenever possible. The story he relates about how the Munich Philharmonic used a blind audition process to eliminate bias is an example of an improvement on the thinking process. Blind auditions are now a standard practice in many orchestras. Thus, women are more represented in orchestras.
Malcolm Gladwell–love him or not–is an amazing storyteller. I don’t mind that he is an armchair sociologist/psychologist/scientist. That suits me just fine. There are those that are not as complimentary. For example, Stephen Bayley reviewed the book for The Guardian on February 5, 2005. Given Mr. Gladwell’s book sales and his warm reception by the public in general, I would say that most negative press and opinion has not detoured Mr. Gladwell in his literary/scientific pursuits. Check out this podcast of a book talk he gave at The Philadelphia Free Library on February 3, 2005. I applaud Mr. Gladwell. He has made me think! As someone who aspires to work in a field of information. Thinking and resulting decision making is extremely important to me.
Gladwell (2005) wants us to believe that rapid decisions are equal to if not better than meticulously planned decisions. And, if our “rapid cognition[s]” are wrong, there are reasons, and that they can be “identified and understood.” Finally, “snap judgements and first impressions can be educated and controlled” (loc. 128). How do these theories apply to libraries, librarians, and library users?
In a sense, the first two messages of Mr. Gladwell aligned well with something I found in Mathews’ white paper, Think like a startup. Matthews (2012), discussed the idea of “Good Enough is Good Enough to Start.” From my own library work experiences, this is revolutionary. “When it’s good enough, go with it. Build upon success. That should be your initial objective. In the business lit they call this the minimum viable product. In Web 2.0 the motto is: everything is beta” (p. 5). Another of Mathews’ ideas is “Build, Measure, Learn.” “You take your initial concept and develop it into a shareable format. Test it and analyze the reaction. You then use this insight to build a better prototype. Repeat the process…. This cycle of rapid development keeps you on track for constant improvement instead of clinging to services that are no longer needed” (p. 6). As librarians, we want to innovate. We don’t want to be tethered to endless decision making processes. It is—in my opinion—why libraries have not been the first in library users’ pursuit of information. We were not thinking like startups. This implies that if there are problems, as Gladwell said for “rapid cognition” gone wrong, the problems can be “identified and understood.” Don’t stymie the process.
When I contemplated Gladwell’s last theory of how “snap judgements” can be educated and controlled, I considered how it applies to libraries, librarians, and users. The Internet has presented a phenomenon newly coined as “fake news.” It leads to poor “snap judgements” and “first impressions.” Libraries and their librarians can intervene by providing an opportunity for library users to learn to recognize “fake news” from real news. I am already seeing libraries providing these types of sessions. Insight and introspection are powerful tools. If we, as librarians, can offer and/or model the use of these tools to each other and to our communities, this is another hyperlinked opportunity.
Meticulous thinking and decision making is still a viable part of a library. Policy, budgeting, staffing, and other important aspects of a library do not occur organically. There will be meticulous thinking and planning involved. From Casey & Savastinuk (2007), one survey participant shared this. “At my branch, change can happen very quickly. We’re a very small library with only two full-time employees, including myself. If we have an idea, or a patron has an idea, and it seems feasible and good, we often put it into practice that day. Some kinds of decisions and changes take longer, since they involve system-wide policy” (p.49).
I think what I learned from Gladwell’s book is to consider my thinking process and to see if there are ways I can improve the way I do it. Of course, I understand that much of the process is unconscious. I can be introspective after the fact. Look inward and consider why I have decided to act in ways that were not optimal, so that I can improve my process. Libraries and Librarians can do the same.
Casey, M. E., & Savastinuk, L. C. (2007). Library 2.0: A guide to participatory library service. Medford, N.J: Information Today.
Gladwell, M. (2005). Blink: The power of thinking without thinking. New York: Little, Brown and Co.
Mathews, B. (2012). Think like a startup: A white paper to inspire library entrepreneurialism. https://vtechworks.lib.vt.edu/bitstream/handle/10919/18649/Think%20like%20a%20STARTUP.pdf?sequence=1
Paraphrasing a story by Michael Stephens from his lecture “Hyperlinked Library Model” (2017). Excited about his new position as Internet trainer, a recently promoted, Michael Stephens was about to cross paths (quite literally) with a very important library administrator. With all the possibilities of his position before him, he was going to say something to the administrator to let him know how grateful he was and what ideas he had about the introduction of the Internet to the library. Before he could say anything, the administrator shut him down with a dismissive “you don’t need to disturb me,” and “he kept right on walking” (14:20 – 14:49).
When I heard this story, I was saddened, but I was not surprised. If this happened in a library today, I would say that this library would have difficulty adapting and applying the Hyperlink Library Model. Not so many years ago, I worked in a public library that was working to embrace the model, but was falling short for three reasons.
The first reason was that its important administrator had a closed-door policy. This administrator was not at all like the administrator in Professor Stephens’ story. The administrator was friendly, appeared to be interested—at least peripherally—in what staff was working on, but when he was in his office—which was quite often—the door was always closed as were the blinds on the office windows. This sent a very distinct message to the staff. The spoken rule was that the administrator was not to be disturbed when the door was closed. To which the staff abided.
The second reason is that teams were not made up of representatives from all departments of the library including the director as is discussed in Casey & Savastinuk (2007). Library 2.0: A guide to participatory library service. Referred to as “vertical teams, like vertical communications, serve to flatten the organization, reinforce the sense of worth of staff from all levels of the library, and instill a sense of responsibility that everyone feels toward everyone else” (p. 45). The library would have benefited from “vertical teams.” In my opinion, it would have created more transparency in the process of project development/planning.
The third reason the library struggled with the model was that they clung to a “pyramid” organizational chart in conflict with staff that wanted to work in a hyperlinked modality. Here is what David Weinberger (2001), states in chapter 5 “The Hyperlinked Organization” of the book, The Cluetrain Manifesto: The End of Business as Usual, “org charts are written by the victors. But hyperlinks are created by people finding other people they trust, enjoy, and yes, in some ways love.” He also states, and I wholeheartedly agree, that “the company org chart shows me who does what so I know how to get things done. In fact, the org chart is an expression of a power structure. It is red tape. It is a map of whom to avoid.” If Weinberger is right, the pyramid org charts are going the way of the dinosaur. I agree, but even in my most recent employment experience, there were still some very determined holdouts.
I see the two scenarios above as good examples of obstacles and mixed messages that librarians might experience in real world employment settings. I know that I have experienced both in library settings and corporate settings. I believe that to provide successful hyperlinked environments to users, libraries must walk the walk. What we do and how we do it is important. The story from Professor Stephens’ lecture was important to me because the administrator missed an opportunity to create a hyperlink between two people. Just as Professor Stephens’ said in his lecture “Hyperlinked Library Model” (2017), “hyperlinks are people, too” (24:37). Wherever my future job lands me, I want to work in an environment of sharing nurturers who are not afraid to drop the boundaries and share the knowledge and information wealth. And, yes, I meant to say sharing.
Casey, M. E., & Savastinuk, L. C. (2007). Library 2.0: A guide to participatory library service.
Stephens, M. (2017) Hyperlink Library Model [Video]. Retrieved from San Jose State University Hyperlinked Library Website. https://sjsu-ischool.hosted.panopto.com/Panopto/Pages/Viewer.aspx?id=2d0f28cc-2337-4aaf-ae88-4f133c509f67
Weinberger, D. (2001). The hyperlinked organization.
My name is Sara Latham and I am in pursuit of an advanced degree in library science. This is what I like to think of as Sara 2.0. Up until 2007, I had worked for approximately 20 years in the financial industry. During that time, my husband pursued his doctorate degree in psychology. Once he had accomplished his goal and established himself in his field, he suggested I consider advancing my degree and pursuing a career in a field that held more interest for me than finance. I had always wanted to be a librarian, so I left banking and found a job in a local public library. A few years later, I had an opportunity to work in an academic library at a local community college. While there, I decided to pursue my library degree as the college provided tuition reimbursement. I worked there for four years. They paid for most of my degree, and that was a great benefit. I decided to take a few years off to finish my degree and help my elderly mother. I feel quite blessed to have an opportunity to do both.
I just finished an internship at a small liberal arts university in Chicago. It was an incredible opportunity to apply our craft. I would like to see that information literacy education is a vital part of public libraries. Today, with the existence of “fake news” and “alternative facts” this is vital. I have noted that several local libraries are offering sessions on how to recognize “fake news” from authentic news. Yay!!!
Digital literacy and information literacy are so important to me. The former, because I see how my own mother struggles with technology. She is not the only one. There are many people of all ages and all walks of life who struggle. In my opinion, it becomes a matter of inclusion vs. exclusion. I think my mother feels excluded. That troubles me. I want to ensure that all people are included and confident in our digital society.
I am calling my blog Sara’s insights. I hope to have many before the completion of my education at the iSchool. I hope those insights keep hyperlinking to additional insights. The possibilities are infinite, are they not?
I want to thank my husband for his support and our cats, ZuZu and Kimba, for adding value to our home and lives!!
Here are my fur babies. They are sisters.