Participatory Service (Blog assignment #3)

Participatory library services demand that library staff involve their community in the decision-making process, especially in the interest of implementing new services and programming, redesigning physical spaces, and in collection management. Michael E. Casey, Director of Customer Experience for the Gwinnett County Public Library in Atlanta, writes that “the participatory library engages and queries its entire community and seeks to integrate them into the structure of change” (Casey, 2011).

I read recently in another course in the MLIS program that 6.1 percent of public libraries serve populations over one hundred thousand (de la Peña McCook, 2015). In this same course, we read texts that stressed the importance of libraries reflecting the shared values of the communities in which they reside. Kathleen de la Peña McCook refers to this as “community anchoring” – the library’s role in defining a community’s self-identity. So, in a city such as Los Angeles, with 72 branches serving nearly 4 million people, a one-size-fits-all design – whether in structure, logistics, or mission – just doesn’t make sense. Of course that doesn’t include the most deeply sacred, common values such as free open access to all people regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, or socio-economic background. It’s more about tailoring community libraries specific programming and functions to meet the unique needs of their communities.

Los Angeles Public Library’s civic engagement projects are a wonderful example of an institution leveraging its natural resource – the public who acts as both customer and financier – to help forge the path forward. What better source to build your organization’s next incarnation than those who you serve? In 2011, the library system offered an open survey to users asking for their input on what they like, dislike, and would like to see in their libraries (Mack, 2011). This call to action displays precisely the type of community participation Casey references.

I can imagine, for example, a public library in a community heavily populated by refugees, offering citizenship courses, legal clinics, self-sufficiency resources, and English classes; or a community with a high elderly population offering legacy planning, continuing education and technology courses, social functions, and other programs serving the interest areas of the aging population. Identifying the specific needs within a community in the way LA has done is exemplary of participatory librarianship and community anchoring.


Casey, M. (2011, October 20). Revisiting participatory service in trying times [Web log post]. Tame the web. Retrieved from

de la Peña McCook, K. (2015). Community anchors for lifelong learning: Public libraries. In S. Hirsh (Ed.), Information services today: An introduction (pp. 70-81). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

Mack, C. (2013, February 17). Crowdsourced design: Why Los Angeles is asking the public to create the library of the future [Web log post]. Retrieved from

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Reflection on the Hyperlinked Library Model (Blog assignment #2)

Something I have been reading about within our course’s foundational readings and in other student’s blogging, is this idea of resistance to change among librarians and library staff. This fascinates me. Having yet to work inside a library, I have only my narrowest impressions and assumptions to build upon, but I suppose it makes some sense. In Into a New World of Librarianship (2006) Michael Stephens outlines important traits of a connected librarian, including one who is both an “embracer” and a trendspotter.” The effective, active librarian of today must be not only receptive to but a facilitator of change. That isn’t to say that we need to adopt every shiny new toy that comes into fashion (whatever happened to all the unused Zunes?!), but rather we need to be making informed, educated decisions about the best technology that makes the best fit for our patrons.

A term that I feel compelled to use here is “digital humanities.” The more I understand about libertarianism in 2017, the more I am tempted to include our profession within this context. Both libraries and the digital humanities are interdisciplinary spaces, and librarianship, at least in the way were are being instructed, is a human process in both research and service, and is ever more reliant on fresh technologies to remain relevant and competitive. We need to understand the human condition to best serve our patrons, and we need to use the best available resources to do so.

I think what we can focus on as hyperlinked librarians, as digital humanitarians, as humanists, is to tell better stories. By that, I mean we need to focus on being the sense-makers in a world that has long since stopped making sense. As  Daniel Weinberger notes, “If you want understanding, you have to reenter the human world of stories.” We aren’t just here to dump information – we are here to help our patrons make sense of the worlds they are building in their research and exploration.  Professor Stephens remarked in his lecture The Hyperlinked Library Model (2017), “we are not talking about tech, we are talking about people.” The hyperlinked library is not about the technologies we use – it’s about the needs of the people who use these technologies. A hyperlinked library – a humanistic, connected library – anticipates the needs of its patrons and responds accordingly. It can be said then, that the link in hyperlink is about human connection.


Stephens, M. (2006). Into a new world of librarianship. Next Space, The OCLC Newsletter, 2, 5 Retrieved from

Stephens, M. (2017). The Hyperlinked Libaray [Panopto recording]. Retrieved from

Weinberger, D. (2001). The hyperlinked organization. In C. Locke, R. Levine, D. Searls, & D. Weinberger, The cluetrain manifesto: The end of business as usual (115-159). New York: Basic Books.

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Context Book Review: What Video Games Have to Teach Us about Learning and Literacy by James P. Gee

In What Video Games Have to Teach Us about Learning and Literacy (2007), James Paul Gee explores the mechanisms by which players learn gameplay and develop subsequent mastery skills and strategies and how those mechanisms relate to literacy and learning. A quote from the book’s final chapter sums up beautifully what is Gee’s core argument: “The argument in this book is not that what people are learning when they are playing video games is always good. Rather, what they are doing when they are playing good video games is often good learning.” There are a couple of key points in that sentence of particular importance: “good video games” and “good learning.” These key concepts comprise the entire frame for Gee’s investigation. Gee defines a good video game as that which incorporates a list of 36 personally curated learning principles supported by current cognitive science research. He assigns consistent descriptors – games that are long, hard, complex, and enjoyable – as a diagnostic tool to assess a game’s usefulness in this manner. These descriptors are the necessary elements to learning and literacy – education that is engaging, complex, and contextual. The 36 Learning Principles as outlined by Gee can be seen here:

Gee demonstrates how good video game learning can translate into good classroom learning by emphasizing the importance of context in learning, defined by the term “semiotics.” He demonstrates how simply learning the thing is not as important as understanding the use of that thing – that is, that to learn a word does nothing without the understanding of the word’s meaning (sometimes multiple meanings), and how it can be used and manipulated to create the desired outcome (a structure, a sentence to convey an emotion, an inquiry, a demand, and so on). Similarly, Gee relates an example of students who could recite Newtonian principles but couldn’t manage to make sense of the principles used in practical application. By this measure, Gee asserts that current popular pedagogy fails to value context in favor of content and that this proves a disservice to long-term learning, especially in a K-12 educational setting. He stresses that the type of classroom instruction that shares modality with the theory of learning in good video games “is rare and getting yet rarer as testing and skill-and-drill retake our schools” (p. 6).

So then, the hyperlinked library model naturally lends itself to an environment that promotes video game-based learning. The library as classroom plays a particularly important role in video game learning concepts. Public, school, and academic libraries have a unique position to draw patrons into exciting and innovative programming that uses Gee’s Principles of Learning to provide educative tools. It’s important to consider, however, using video gaming as an instruction tool can provoke apprehension among the technophobic crowd, and even more so, perhaps, with those who find video gaming useless, or a waste of time. And here is where Brian Mathews, in his white paper Think Like a Startup (2012), urges us to invite and accept this challenge of change making: “We don’t just need change, we need breakthrough, paradigm-shifting, transformative, disruptive ideas.” How disruptive and paradigm-shifting the thought of using video gaming as an educative tool is, indeed!

Libraries are at an advantage having some autonomy outside an institution to provide supplemental instruction. Imagine how a public library might transform an after-school program by creating an interactive, immersive space with educative video games as the main event. How about a homework help program that integrates fun and engaging video game-based lessons? The possibilities for how libraries can meet student patrons where they are – and they are where video games are being played! – are seemingly endless. Libraries have the opportunity here to comingle learning and entertainment spaces for youth, and the importance of such an opportunity cannot be understated. As Mathews urges, “let’s not pigeonhole ourselves into finite roles, such as print collections, computer labs, or information literacy.” Agreed! Let’s resist the fear of change, the uncertainty over new technology and challenge ourselves as educators, service providers, and literacy facilitators to meet head on the technology that already has the young public in its grasp – let’s harness its power for good, for learning, for better serving learners who deserve better than the status quo from their educators.

Watch: James Paul Gee on Learning with Video Games (courtesy of Edutopia).


Edutopia (2012, March 21). James Paul Gee on learning with video games. Retreived from

Gee, J. (2007). What video games have to teach us about learning and literacy (Rev. and updated ed.). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Mathews, B. (2012). Think like a startup: A white paper to inspire library entrepreneurialism [White paper]. Retrieved from

Smith, L. M. (n.d.). Learning Principles*. Retrieved from

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Welcome! (Blog assignment #1)

Hey, everyone – thanks for stopping by!

I’m Shana and I’m in my second semester at the SJSU iSchool. I’m pursuing the academic librarianship path, as working in a university setting the past few years has amplified my interest in higher education, especially within the frame of research and resource services. The prospect of one day working with students and faculty on various research projects and helping to guide others in the use of new technologies and programs is something I’m really looking forward to!

I chose this course for several reasons. First, the subject matter is incredibly important to understanding how libraries are and can continue to be relevant – and essential – in the digital age. I’m interested to learn about how libraries are using emerging technologies to keep patrons engaged and active in the community.

I know we have a lot of fellow students already working in libraries, so one of the things I’m most excited about is learning about their firsthand experiences with emerging trends.

On a personal note, I work in development at San Diego State University – that’s fundraising! It’s challenging but rewarding work.

In my spare time, I love to travel and explore as much as possible. I just returned yesterday from my first visit to the northeast coast, where my beau and I did a road trip from Northampton, MA for my sister’s wedding, to Boston, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, and terminating in Philadelphia. It was tons of fun but I feel like I barely scratched the proverbial surface and can’t wait to do it again soon!

Here is a nice photo of me and my dude at the wedding. We both hate having our photos taken so this was a rare delight for our moms!


And here is a photo from our trip when we stopped at Walden Pond. The park has this replica of Henry David Thoreau’s cabin. It’s only 16×10 feet!


And here is a photo of the kitty cat I am fostering. Her name is Izzy, but I call her Lazy because she loves to snooze!

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