Library as Classroom (Blog assignment #5)

In this module’s readings, I was particularly taken with ideas for how to engage students and patrons in immersive and active-learning environments. Examples include Richland Library in Columbia, South Carolina’s LIT Room where story time comes to life using light, sound, and motion (Bookey, 2015). This type of experience engages the listener through a variety of sensory functions which is an essential function of the learning process – indeed, auditory input alone is not an ideal learning format for every learner. Though the theory of individualized learning styles is proving somewhat mythical in scientific research, what we do know is that engaging a variety of senses through a variety of methods increases memory retention and helps students better understand material (Willingham, et al, 2015).

Working in an academic environment, I’m interested in how universities are using emerging technologies to support curriculum. Digital media centers are booming in academic libraries, where students can use creative spaces to collaborate on assignments deliverable through various media. Similarly to the format for many of our MLIS assignments, instructors have the opportunity to work with their institutional libraries in developing assignments which require students to deliver a product in a medium other than the written word – videos, podcasts, music, and tangible items made in makerspaces are all examples of assignment products produced outside the proverbial education box. Stephens (2014) talks about how libraries are poised to provide the type of creative learning spaces that are essential to today’s interactive learner. I’ve seen some of my fellow classmate librarians remark on resistance by their library administration or other staff stuck in the old ways, and I sincerely hope that our own learning helps to tear down these walls of ignorance.

Fortuitously, my university recently hosted the California State University (CSU) Immersive Learning Summit—”an event exploring the use of immersive technology for teaching and learning in higher education.” This event gave attendees the opportunity to try out many of the innovative technologies deployable in the classroom environment. I would have loved to see the SDSU Library partner with Instructional Technology Services to host this event, as the library would be the natural learning environment for exploring this type of technology.

 

Stephens, M. (2014, May 20). Library as classroom [Blog post]. Retrieved from: http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2014/05/opinion/michael-stephens/library-as-classroom-office-hours/#_

Willingham, D. T., Hughes, E. M., & Dobolyi, D. G. (2015). The Scientific Status of Learning Styles Theories. Teaching of Psychology, 42(3), 266-271.

Bookey, J.M. (2015, April 29). 8 awesome ways libraries are making learning fun [Blog post]. Retrieved from: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/jordan-lloyd-bookey/8-awesome-ways-libraries-_b_7157462.html

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Mobile Info Environments (Blog assignment #4)

Utilization of mobile technologies is essential for any modern library today. Coming back to the idea of meeting patrons where they are, using mobile tech to engage with patrons is essential to this concept because right now, almost everyone is mobile – almost. That last part is important, and I’ll come back to that later in this post.

Jan Holmquist, in his MOOC on mobile technology, tells us that the mobile technologies in the library “must be used in a meaningful way.” That is to say that in developing strategies for using these technologies, librarians need to think about why they are using them, not just that they are using them. How does a new mobile outreach program engage patrons in new ways? Who are we reaching that we didn’t before? What benefit does this new initiative bring to the library and its patrons? And, what are the pitfalls, roadblocks and concerns in implementing these technologies?

“It’s about making conversations happen and connecting with people,” Holmquist goes on to say. This is the cornerstone of the hyperlinked library and the heart of what we are learning through this course – we are learning how to create connections to the library, within the library, and among those who use the library.

To circle back to the issue of almost everyone being mobile:

Something that’s been on my mind more and more throughout the course is the digital divide. The more I learn about all the exciting new technologies libraries are debuting, the more concerned I am at how these developments might be outpacing underserved communities. Having yet to work inside a library, I may be overstepping here, but I would caution when library staff are making choices about what technologies to implement, to take deep consideration of who might be left out – especially when transitioning a service to a purely mobile platform. It will be essential in the coming years to ensure that our technolust isn’t further marginalizing already marginalized communities and that we take great care to keep all services inclusive.

References

Holmquist, J. (2013). MOOC. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLJFU8Vb2i7KwdDjZwceGOhRlb6LuuYMQV

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Emerging Technology Planning: Mobile Tech Lab

The Philadelphia Free Library Techmobile

 

Overview and background

In today’s ultra-connected world, it’s difficult to comprehend that some communities are left without access to or many of its citizens unable to afford basic internet access. While some might argue that disconnection results in some holistic peacefulness, the truth is that those without opportunity that is afforded to the rest of us in spades are unable to keep up – to remain competitive and marketable in the job market, to stay up to date on important local and global topics that affect them, and to learn and explore at the pace of those in connected communities. Jessamyn West, former American Library Association Councilmember, says that “helping people get online, in whatever fashion that takes, is actually helping them to be citizens, to be interactive, to be part of the information economy, to participating in a democracy.” And this is precisely what a mobile tech lab sets out to do – get people connected so they are afforded every opportunity to learn, explore, and participate in their communities in a meaningful and productive way.

Using repurposed buses, vans, and RVs, libraries are creating mini tech exploration and learning labs on wheels, designed to go wherever they are most needed. By providing internet access, technology instruction and equipment, and the opportunity to explore new technologies and resources, mobile tech labs give underserved and rural communities the same opportunities afforded to urban and connected communities. These types of services quite literally meet patrons where they are, helping to bridge the digital divide that is preventing too many people from reaching their full potential in a hyper-connected, competitive environment.

Mobile tech labs can offer an unlimited variety of programs and services, including free internet access, technology “petting zoos” and demonstrations, basic and advanced software, coding, and other computing instruction, homework help and tutoring, interactive play and gaming, and many, many more. Some mobile tech labs double as makerspaces on-the-go. For example, the San Francisco Public Library’s TechMobile offers 3D Printing and LEGO Robotics kits in addition to its basic computer classes and other instruction.

The idea of the mobile library is not new. Bookmobiles evoke welcomed educational nostalgia and excitement. Updated for the technology age, mobile libraries and tech labs can bring that same excitement and value back to communities where they can do the most good. Many good examples exist of successful library mobile tech labs. Information in this report is gleaned from those and other sources.

San Francisco Public Library TechMobile

 

Inside

 

Goals/Objectives for Technology or Service

  • To help bridge the digital divide by bringing library tech services to underserved communities
  • To give the library a greater presence and build partnerships in the community
  • To meet patrons “where they are” by providing services at their point of need
  • To bring the tradition of the bookmobile into the 21st century

Description of community you wish to engage

The mobile tech lab is primarily designed to provide services to underserved communities. This includes areas with limited or no internet access, and those without nearby library branches. These typically include rural and low-income communities without access to public transportation and without libraries and community centers within a few miles.

Action Brief Statement

Convince library administration that by operating a mobile tech lab they will engage underserved community members which will help to bridge the digital divide because it will meet these patrons at their point of need.

Convince underserved populations that by using the mobile tech lab they will learn about new and exciting tech tools and programs which will help them develop important tech skills because digital literacy is essential to developing an informed community

Mission, Guidelines, and Policy related to Technology or Service

The program mission should reflect the vision and values of the library system in which it is housed. Guidelines and policies should use existing library policies for serving patrons. Additionally, committees and staff setting program-specific policies and guidelines should outreach to target communities to determine what needs aren’t being met and how the mobile tech lab can mitigate this. Community partners such as local businesses should also provide input. Local governments should be an integral part of the planning process to understand any legal limitations, as well as to create strong partnerships with local officials and departments to promote the service. The mobile tech lab could also provide a technology “petting zoo” to give constituents an opportunity to learn about emerging technologies.

Funding Considerations for this Technology or Service

Funding sources for a mobile tech lab are broad and could include grants (such as LSTA grants), individual donations, such as a campaign launched by Friends of the Library, crowdfunding, in-kind donations such as tech equipment or perhaps even a donated vehicle in great condition, and support from local businesses. Another possible funding source could come from an endowment with flexible language to provide staffing for the mobile tech lab while allowing for funding of other emerging tech programs should the needs for the lab become obsolete.

Action Steps & Timeline

There are many successful mobile tech lab programs to study as prototypes, such as the Philadelphia Free Library’s Techmobile in service since 2012. By surveying libraries on the most successful strategies and guidelines, our library can take the best, most applicable advice to build our service.

Timeline to completion should be around 2 years, with the first year reserved for exploratory activities, partnership building, and fundraising, and the second year reserved for marketing, outreach, hiring, training, purchasing, and implementation. The timeline may vary depending on funding resources requiring deliverables at designated intervals.

Steps:

  1. Conduct informal information gathering to produce a compelling case to library administration
  2. Present to library administration and appropriate committees for initial approval
  3. Develop an exploratory committee made up of library staff, community members, elected officials, and key donors and produce a feasibility study
  4. Conduct field research to determine interest, needs, logistics, case studies, and funding sources
  5. Develop detailed program planning
  6. Implementation, purchasing, and delivery

Alternatives to the mobile tech lab, should it prove unfeasible, could include a hotspot lending program to bring internet access to underserved communities, in-home technology consultations and tutoring, or use of local business or community space for tech classes and demonstrations in areas where libraries are not within reasonable walking distance or along public transportation routes.

Staffing Considerations for this Technology or Service

Staffing considerations will be dependent upon the schedule of the mobile tech lab, which will depend on the amount and regularity of funding. Ideally, the program would initially employ two full-time staff members – one paraprofessional technical assistant and a digital technologies specialist librarian. Fundraising planning and/or grant submissions should allow for competitive salaries for staff over at least the pilot period. Should initial funding not allow for fulltime staff, lab hours could be minimal throughout the pilot program and utilize trained, quality volunteer librarians, or pay for part-time staffing – again, all dependent upon what type of funding is received.

Training for this Technology or Service

Ideally, hired staff will include paraprofessionals and trained librarians specializing in digital technologies and instruction, thereby limiting the need for service training and reducing time and expenses. Major training will come in the form of vehicle maintenance an operation, programming logistics, safety and security, and cultural competencies.

Promotion & Marketing for this Technology or Service

Marketing materials should be displayed and distributed liberally throughout all library branches.

Early marketing efforts could include presentation at street fairs, farmers markets, demonstrations at rural elementary schools and community centers without a nearby library, and local cultural events.  Participating in community parades may also draw interest, as would direct mail and canvassing campaigns to reach rural residents. Partnerships with local businesses, schools, and government locations will also prove helpful in outreach efforts.

Evaluation

As Casey and Stephens (2008) note, library 2.0 services require regular evaluation to determine their effectiveness and ongoing usefulness. This can be accomplished “via vertical teams or a mix of internal and external evaluators,”, and is essential in determining whether a program’s initial goals are being met.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services pools some helpful resources on its website to help guide the evaluation process, using literature from the Urban Institute and various government planning offices.

Grant-funded programs may require specific, complex evaluation procedures. Staff can plan for this by examining the Program Manager’s Guide to Evaluation issued by the Office of Planning, Research & Evaluation within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families.

Perhaps the simplest, most effective program measurement would be to survey regular users over a period of several years to measure skills improvement. The Philadelphia Free Library Techmobile requires training participants to complete an evaluation as part of the instruction in order to develop a large survey pool to draw from. Adding assessments to the evaluation process can help evaluators gather improvement information.

Evidence and Resources to support technology or service

Casey, M. and Stephens, M. (2008). Measuring progress [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://tametheweb.com/2008/04/15/measuring-progress/

Institute of Museum and Library Services. (n.d.). Evaluation resources. Retrieved from https://www.imls.gov/research-evaluation/evaluation-resources

League of California Cities (n.d.). Palmdale City Library Techmobile. Retrieved from https://www.cacities.org/Top/Partners/California-City-Solutions/2016/Palmdale-City-Library-Techmobile

Pyatetsky,J.  (2015, December 29). From bookmobile to techmobile. In Public Libraries Online. Retrieved from http://publiclibrariesonline.org/2015/12/from-bookmobile-to-techmobile/

San Francisco Public Library. (n.d.). TechMobile. Retrieved from https://sfpl.org/?pg=2000795701

TechSoup for Libraries. (2012). Edge benchmarks: Mobile computer labs. Retrieved from http://techsoupforlibraries.org/blog/edge-benchmarks-mobile-computer-labs

Warburton, B. (2013, September 26). Delivering the library. In Library Journal. Retrieved from http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2013/09/library-services/delivering-the-library/

West, J. (2014). 21st century digital divide [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://www.librarian.net/talks/rlc14/

Witteveen, A. (2017, April 6). Bookmobiles and beyond: New library services on wheels serve newborns through teens. In School Library Journal. Retrieved from http://www.slj.com/2017/04/programs/bookmobiles-and-beyond-new-library-services-on-wheels-serve-newborns-through-teens/

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Reflection on Hyperlinked Environments – Digital Environments in Academia (Blog assignment #4)

Christian Lauersen, head of Facutly Library at the University of Copenhagen, writes about the creation of the Digital Social Sciences Lab at the University, and once again, I am reminded of something similar where I work – the Digital Humanities Center at the San Diego State University Library. The DHC will replace the Library’s Media Center – an archaic basement space with 80s-era individual faux wood testing cubbies with metal chairs, a few stacks of DVDs, and a Betamax player – and is currently under renovation. The plans for the space are really exciting. It’s being designed to encourage collaboration, utilizes creative spaces, and allows for data visualization (and really, so much more). It will continue to use the type of moveable furniture with which the Library has been replacing its old stationary tables and chairs to allow users to create spaces that maximize collaboration, creativity, and comfort. Lauersen refers to this as “intelligent study environment” (Lauersen, 2015).

Blueprint of SDSU’s Digital Humanities Center

Scholars’ Lab, U of Virginia

As Mathews (2015) and Webster (2017) both note, new user-friendly technologies have resulted in a decline in librarian-patron interaction, but there is no question that the expertise of information professionals is as crucial now as it’s ever been. This is especially true in promoting information literacy in an informationally overloaded environment. It is (or will be) our job to help patrons navigate the information landscape using critical thinking skills. In order to do this, we have to meet patrons where they are – and they are in, around, and defined by technologies. This is why the creation of interactive, collaborative spaces within academic libraries is so important. At the heart of these ideas of digital humanities/social science spaces is a truly hyperlinked community. Lauersen (2016) asks us to remember why Caesar crossed the Rubicon – because his surroundings were changing, because if he remained in Gaul, maintained the status quo, he would eventually be made obsolete, redundant. What a fine analogy for what libraries have been facing now for decades – change, move, evolve, or get left behind.

References

Lauersen, C. (2015, March 14). Bringing technology and academia together: The making of Digital Social Science Lab [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://christianlauersen.net/2015/03/14/bringing-technology-and-academia-together-the-making-of-digital-social-science-lab/

Lauersen, C. (2016, March 8). Towards Rubicon: The Academic Library and the importance of making a choice [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://christianlauersen.net/2016/03/08/towards-rubicon/

Mathews, B. (2015, May 27). The evolving & expanding service landscape across academic libraries [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://www.chronicle.com/blognetwork/theubiquitouslibrarian/2015/05/27/the-evolving-expanding-service-landscape-across-academic-libraries/

Webster, K. (2017, February 15). Reimagining the role of the library in the digital age: Changing the use of space and navigating the information landscape [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/2017/02/15/reimagining-the-role-of-the-library-in-the-digital-age-changing-the-use-of-space-and-navigating-the-information-landscape

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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.

References

Casey, M. (2011, October 20). Revisiting participatory service in trying times [Web log post]. Tame the web. Retrieved from http://tametheweb.com/2011/10/20/revisiting-participatory-service-in-trying-times-a-ttw-guest-post-by-michael-casey/

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 https://www.good.is/articles/crowdsourced-design-why-los-angeles-is-asking-the-public-to-create-the-library-of-the-future

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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.

References

Stephens, M. (2006). Into a new world of librarianship. Next Space, The OCLC Newsletter, 2, 5 Retrieved from http://www.oclc.org/content/dam/oclc/publications/newsletters/nextspace/nextspace_002.pdf

Stephens, M. (2017). The Hyperlinked Libaray [Panopto recording]. Retrieved from https://sjsu-ischool.hosted.panopto.com/Panopto/Pages/Viewer.aspx?id=2d0f28cc-2337-4aaf-ae88-4f133c509f67

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: http://mason.gmu.edu/~lsmithg/jamespaulgee2print.html

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).

References

Edutopia (2012, March 21). James Paul Gee on learning with video games. Retreived from https://youtu.be/JnEN2Sm4IIQ

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 https://vtechworks.lib.vt.edu/bitstream/handle/10919/18649/Think%20like%20a%20STARTUP.pdf?sequence=1

Smith, L. M. (n.d.). Learning Principles*. Retrieved from http://mason.gmu.edu/~lsmithg/jamespaulgee2print.html

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Reflection on Participatory Service and Transparency

As I read through the topics in Module 4: Participatory Service & Transparency, I wanted to take a look at a familiar library to do some “comparison shopping,” i.e., inspect the San Diego Public Library website to see how it stacked up among some of the more engaging library sites I encountered while exploring this module.

The common themes surrounding conversations about participatory service seems to be engagement – how does the modern-day library compete with the constantly rotating buzz of an ever-evolving virtual world? How do we get and keep our patrons engaged – participating – in our services? The first, most seemingly obvious spot check is with a library website. By this logic, it would stand to reason that, despite what types of on-site programming a large public library system might be hosting, its online presence should, in today’s market, prove its most robustly useful resource. A public entity serving the seventh-largest city in the country might be expected to have a web presence which emulates such status. Alas, this is simply not the case for the San Diego Pubic Library.

Now, to be sure, the SDPL has some of the most innovative and exciting programs I’ve encountered in public libraries – it’s just that their web presence feels difficult to navigate, bloated, and redundant. The “meat” of the site is quality; that is to say that the content itself is comprehensive and useful. It’s just that it’s unnavigable. Menus and options don’t appear in logical areas; news items are in PDF form (also missing the opportunity for SEO engagement). I can’t help but wonder whether the site’s attachment to the City of San Diego (it is housed as a section of the city website) might have something to do with this. It’s entirely possible that the web design is under the onus of the city’s web developers, and that the library lacks the autonomy it would need to create a truly engaging web presence.

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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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