Infinite Learning in the Hyperlinked Library

Lifelong learning is our mission at the library. Once upon a time, we were the repository of most, if not all, the knowledge that could be had. Now, with the advent of the internet, that is no longer true. Most of the reference questions I field are answered with an online search. But despite the broadening of access and connection to the internet, many users are not skilled in navigating the new information landscape. Here is where we can step in to bridge the skills gap for our users.

A great example of a successful digital literacy program is Chicago Public Library’s(CPL) Digital Learn. Based on the Public Library Association’s, their program provides instruction on digital literacy from the most basic skills such as turning on a computer to more advanced processes like buying an airplane ticket. Along with the computer program, CPL trains community mentors to aid patrons in their maneuvering through the new world of digital literacy. For many, this program is a gateway to further dedication to learning.

In the 2014 IFLA Conference paper “The Public Library as a Community Hub for Connected Learning”, Åke Nygren points out that connectivity does not equal proficiency. In Sweden, where 94% of the population has access to the internet, many people are still “shaky” users. He quotes the IFLA manifesto, pointing out that the library should be “ facilitating the development of information and computer literacy skills; supporting and participating in literacy activities and programmes for all age groups, and initiating such activities if necessary.” He proposes that the best way to do this is to connect non-skilled users with skilled users. This is a perfect example of people as hyperlinks.

Nygren calls for librarians to connect people to promote learning, rather than taking it upon ourselves as librarians to know all the things. Connected learning is driven by an individual’s interests and bolstered by peer involvement. He gives us examples of some great programs from around the world. Then he provides us with tasks that we can implement to develop our own connected libraries: create a network of like-minded librarians to share ideas, reach out to the community to gauge their wants and needs, develop programs around creating, train and keep learning as professionals.

Where once we were the gatekeepers of knowledge, now we must act as facilitators in the new world of connected learning.


Digital Promise. (2016, January 28). The Library as a Gateway to 21st Century Skills. Retrieved April 19, 2017, from

Nygren, A. (2014). The Public Library as a Community Hub for Connected Learning. IFLA 2014 Lyon Conference. Retrieved April 19, 2017, from

New Horizons in the Hyperlinked Library

Trying to keep up with technology changes and applying them to our work as Librarians strikes me as quite daunting. How do we stay ahead of user needs without investing in bleeding edge technology that will be obsolete next year? Spotting trends and evaluating what will work in specific communities is a skill we should all cultivate. In The Puzzle Librarians Need to Solve, Lee Rainie gives us a framework of questions we need to ask and answer in order to remain relevant for our library users:

  1. What is the future of knowledge?
  2. What is the future of reference expertise?
  3. What is the future of public technology and community anchor institutions?
  4. What is the future of learning spaces?
  5. What is the future of attention?
  6. Where does your organization fall in the continuum of providing these things to your constituents?

And then Rainie gives us answers from the Pew Research Center Reports on Library Users. The responses that were collected in this research point us in the right direction for developing significant programming and formatting technology policies that will speak to our customer’s needs. Continuing to provide lifelong learning, collaboration with existing community entities, teaching new information literacy, enabling users to create, and cultivating the library as a learning center are all bigger ideas that the author leads us to with the support of the user data. At the end of the presentation, we are given a bibliography in the form of books on library and technology trends that apply to each of the above questions.

This presentation does much to assuage my anxiety on trendspotting. But, just like Raine tells us in the end of the slideshow, there will be homework.



Rainie, L. (2016, February 9). The Puzzles Librarians Need to Solve – Vala 2016. Retrieved April 09, 2017, from

Zickuhr, K., Purcell, K., & Rainie, L. (2014, March 13). From Distant Admirers to Library Lovers–and beyond. Retrieved April 09, 2017, from

Emerging Technology Planning

Technology Exploration

Our goal will be to expand the reference desk to assist patrons with the technologies that they can access through the library. Dedicated staff will be able to answer questions on devices, apps, downloadables, databases, and streaming services offered by the library. At the Technology Exploration Desk, we will also have versions of the devices that they may have questions about so that they can maneuver them in real time and explore what they have to offer. This Technology Exploration Desk would exist at a unique (not-reference) desk, but would also have a dedicated phone line and online office hours for IM question and answer chats with a librarian.

We wish to engage all our users with a specific focus on users who may suffer from “technophobia”, young users who may be learning about technology, and our newer users who may not be familiar with services and technology that the library has for public use.


Action Brief:

Convince our users

that by engaging with our staff at the Technology Exploration Desk

they will become familiar with our technology

which will broaden their knowledge and access to information

because they will be able to drive their information seeking through technology independently.


In Pew’s “Library Services in the Digital Age” (2013) ( respondents to the Pew survey said that they would like access to new devices via ‘technology petting zoos’ (69% were “very likely” or “somewhat likely” to use this). People questioned also wanted online research services to ask questions of librarians (73% were “very likely” or “somewhat likely” to use such a service). A Technology Exploration Desk would speak to both those needs.

Stephen’s “Holding Us Back” (2013) ( reminds us that “encouraging and facilitating learning” is one of our missions as librarians. A help desk devoted to promoting not only technology but the technology that our patrons can access through our organization serves this mission and also that of maximizing the benefits that we bring to our stakeholders. Supporting familiarity with all the services we provide will improve usage and widen access.

image credit: The Verge

The mission of the Technology Exploration Desk will be to encourage patrons to seek out and test our technology. The staff is on hand to answer questions and facilitate patron use of library technology and services.

Policies will be set by management and staff as a team. Complying with the ALA Code of Ethics (h and the library’s greater mission, the policies team will define a standard of service that benefits our customer (Stephens, 2004). Our main goal should be eliminating barriers to access.

A private sector service model we may look at for inspiration is the Apple Genius Bar. With all the technology out in the open for exploration, the geniuses are there to answer questions and provide assistance (


New budget costs may be offset by grant funding. Staff or staff assistants may be volunteers. Technology locks to prevent theft may be needed. Donations of these can be solicited from local computer stores.

Action Steps:

In the current building, space formerly allocated to an oversized map table and free materials can be outfitted immediately with a spare desk and in-stock devices that we currently own can be used to answer questions. Reference desk staff can be trained on these devices and attend to the new Technology Exploration Desk whenever there is double coverage on the Reference Desk.

Approval would be needed from the Reference Supervisor for possible staffing reallocation and training, the IT Supervisor for phone and website set up as well as possible staffing, and the Branch Manager. Accounting, Human Services, and Administration approval will be needed for further staff hires.

Implementation can be launched at the branch in three weeks allowing for training on devices and apps for applicable staff. This would also allow for promotion in branch and through the website and social media. [This start time for the branch Technology Exploration Desk would be pushed back for additional training if new hires were approved].

Timelines for the telephone line and online iterations of the Technology Exploration Desk would be arranged with IT.


Staff may be reassigned from reference, IT, or newly hired. We could seek future staff or volunteers from local college and university IT students. Tech savvy high schoolers could assist librarians at the desk and perhaps fulfill community service requirements for graduation.


Training should be designed by the Reference supervisor. This should go hand in hand with the technology in question and already existing tutorials (no need to reinvent the wheel). Training should also be up to date with software updates and new acquisitions. Ideally, all building staff would be trained on all the library services and technology. After all, this is our inventory. It is important that we know our products. Critical training would be for the staff and volunteers manning the Technology Exploration Desk. For existing staff, training can be conducted around current desk hours. For future staff, training would be part of the orientation process.


The new Technology Exploration Desk should be promoted in-house. A “coming soon” teaser is a great way to encourage anticipatory interest and allows staff the opportunity to answer questions positively and encourage customer “buy in”. The social media the library uses and library website are built in promotional outlets. Outreach to schools, nursing homes, and community centers are also chances to showcase the new Technology Exploration Desk and seek out our target audience. Inviting partner organizations to have a field trip to try out the new program can generate cross-organizational interest.


Success will be measured by counting the number of patrons who use the Exploration Desk. Other metrics that can be used are changes in consumption of featured technology. A statistical shift from one month to the other in use of a certain software featured at the Technology Exploration Desk can be measured. The use of this space as a promotional tool for the greater services offered by the library is an additional benefit to this independent learning space.

A day in the life of a Technology Exploration Specialist may include: playing online games with an elementary school student, promoting the use of hoopla on one of our laptops to the high schooler who is looking for a specific book whose copies are all checked out, showing a mom our Learning Express database, or teaching a senior how to maneuver the web page on one of our iPads.

In the future, this program could expand to our two sister libraries. A Technology Exploration bookmobile that acts as a mobile hotspot would be a great future outreach program springboarding off this program. [Fraser Valley Regional Library in Canada has a program like this].


Promoting our existing services and technologies are critical to ensuring that we are meeting the needs of our community. A Technology Exploration Desk is a prime opportunity to gauge if what we are offering is relevant to our constituents. The feedback we get from such an endeavor could help to guide our future planning and purchases and ensure that we are not chasing trends that don’t matter to our patrons.



ALA. (2017, January 04). Code of Ethics of the American Library Association. Retrieved March 20, 2017, from

Apple Inc. (2017). Genius Bar Reservation and Apple Support Options. Retrieved March 20, 2017, from

Green, G. (2013, October 11). Feature #01: Innovative use of Technology in Libraries. Retrieved March 20, 2017, from

June, L. (2013, January 13). America’s first bookless public library will look ‘like an Apple Store’ Retrieved March 20, 2017, from (image credit)

Stephens, M. (2004, November 1). Technoplans vs. technolust. Retrieved March 20, 2017, from

Stephens, M. (2013, April 18). Holding Us Back | Office Hours. Retrieved March 20, 2017, from

Zickuhr, K., Rainie, L., & Purcell, K. (2013, January 21). Library Services in the Digital Age. Retrieved March 20, 2017, from

Privacy and the Hyperlinked Library

Most of my workdays at the library are spent attending to the computer lab. Patrons are often confused about privacy issues surrounding their computer and technology use. Daily I have customers who come up to the help desk quite concerned about their account and whether their email, documents, or Facebook account will be visible to the next user. At our library, we do not record computer use, keep browsing histories, or have a “cloud” for customer documents. Every time a customer logs off, the browsing history, passwords, and any documents or downloads that were “saved” are completely removed from the system. As soon as they log off, line staff cannot even tell who the last user was on a specific computer terminal. In addition, items that were printed from an account are deleted from the queue within two hours. All this clearing of data is part of an effort to keep the privacy and confidentiality of our patrons.

The ALA code of Ethics calls us to “protect each library user’s right to privacy and confidentiality with respect to information sought or received and resources consulted, borrowed, acquired or transmitted”, (principle III). This directly coincides with our mission to protect intellectual freedom and tear down barriers to access of information.

Mary Madden and Lee Rainie’s article for the Pew Research Center “Americans’ Attitudes About Privacy, Security, and Surveillance” shines a light on how we as a nation find it difficult to navigate technology and privacy.  I admit that I am vaguely concerned about my own digital privacy but am unaware of how much I should be concerned. I’m not haphazard with my private information, but I do feel slight unease when I have to fill out forms online. I am in the process of selling my home and we have been signing some of the forms electronically. This method is so convenient, but does this put me at additional risk? This article reminded me to clear my cookies and browsing history. Other common activities that users apply to try to protect their privacy are refusing to provide information that isn’t relevant to a transaction, using a temporary username or email address, giving inaccurate information, and avoiding websites that require their real names.

Customers at the library often ask me if it is safe to transmit their information via our computers. I let them know that we do not keep their information in a cache, but I cannot assure them that the website that they are using is safe. Some websites are more trustworthy than others, I tell them. It is so difficult to help them decide on their own threshold of comfort when sharing personal information. Reminding them that most government pages will have .gov in the address, making sure that they are not misspelling the web page they are seeking, and not divulging personal information or providing payment for services that should be free of charge are some of the tips I commonly share. This is part of information literacy and something that we need to teach our constituents. Some customers are new to the access we provide and may fall prey to pitfalls that those of us who have been using the internet for a while would quickly avoid.


Out of curiosity, I went online to find tips for safe computing that I can share with my customers. Some of the concerns shared in the Pew articles are of government surveillance. Ironically the government provides some valuable articles on internet safety.

US-CERT (The United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team) has a slew of pages to help non-technical computer users. Articles on Mobile Devices, Safe Browsing, and Email and Communication are just some of the resources provided. has articles on Phishing, Online Security and Safety, and Internet Fraud.

The Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Information page on Online Security has tips on Malware, Apps, and “Scams”.


Most universities provide online safety pages for their students. Here are just a few:



University of Central Florida:

The University of Texas at Austin’s wittily named “Protect Your Privates”

And San Jose State University:




ALA, A. (2017, January 04). Code of Ethics of the American Library Association. Retrieved March 12, 2017, from

Madden, M., & Rainie, L. (2015, May 20). Americans’ Attitudes About Privacy, Security and Surveillance. Retrieved March 12, 2017, from


In A Road Map to Transparency (2007) Casey and Stephens show how a transparent relationship with customers begins with internal company transparency in libraries. Having line staff aid in decision making with frequent and open communication, cross training to encourage understanding between co-workers, providing learning and training opportunities that inform staff on best practices and library missions, and encouraging group planning of projects so that everyone has a buy-in are all great ways to create internal transparency.

Oftentimes workplace culture gives extended homage to customer service while forgetting to create and encourage excellent INTERNAL customer service. We spend most of our working hours with our co-workers. Cooperation and a pleasant workplace will be visible to customers. This is the trickle-down theory of staff happiness. When employees feel heard and respected they perform better. They feel inspired to help customers creatively and empowered to listen openly to customer concerns and ideas. They will know how to listen openly and help creatively because it was modeled for them behind the scenes by library administration and management.

Prof. Stephens speaks of the humanism that should be at the center of our service. Civility, sharing, and caring are all ways in which we should engage our communities. Here WE are the human hyperlinks.  In everyday interactions, outreach services, blogging, and social media, the library should engage patrons in ways that make them FEEL. That is our promotional “in”.

The User is Not Broken(2006), from Schneider’s  Free Range Librarian blog, is a hysterical and no-nonsense look at how we should seek to serve customers. Every line in his manifesto holds an abundance of unspoken follow-up addendums that put in perspective what our daily focus should be. While it may read as snarky criticism “Your system is broken until proven otherwise,” the underlying theme is that we are trying to hit a moving target. No matter how good you are, you can always be better. Technology and user needs are shifting constantly. WE need to shift services and accessibility to meet customer needs.

We will never be allowed to sit on our laurels. We are like the shark, we must always keep moving to stay alive.*



Casey, M., & Stephens, M. (2007, December 15). A Road Map to Transparency. Retrieved February 26, 2017, from

Schneider, K. G. (2006, June 03). The User Is Not Broken: A meme masquerading as a manifesto. Retrieved February 26, 2017, from

Stephens, M. (2012, February 17). The Age of Participation | Office Hours. Retrieved February 26, 2017, from





*Unless they are using buccal pumping. Some sharks, like the nurse shark, use buccal pumping to “breathe”. BUT we are librarians, not sharks. It is an analogy, I was saying we are like sharks. You know what I’m saying.


BiblioTECH: Why Libraries Matter More Than Ever in the Age of Google

In his book  Biblio TECH: Why Libraries Matter More Than Ever in the Age of Google, John Palfrey calls us to look beyond the traditional view of libraries and hack our libraries by deconstructing them, deciding what works, deciding what is needed by our constituents, and then rebuilding them in the new technologically advancing environment that we now live in. As a self -proclaimed “feral librarian”, a librarian who does not have a Master’s Degree in Library Science, Palfrey has the unique perspective of not being mired or married to the traditional library model. At the same time, he recognizes those things that work for our communities and what we can do to keep those things relevant in the digital age. His book asks and answers the questions of how to develop our germane strengths, how to use technology to further the goals of the library, and how to engage and collaborate with our users so that we can continue to change with the times.

One of Palfrey’s main points is that libraries are important third party providers of services without expectation of monetary remuneration. Libraries do not “push” information or advertisements. Users do not need to purchase anything to use our Wi-Fi. We are not promoting our agenda for patrons to read a certain book that would encourage the purchase of accompanying merchandising or even the book itself. And yet, we can learn and use the techniques found in the for-profit sector to enrich our toolkit for service and platforms that work for our customers.

The library industry is responding to the disruption that technological advances have wrought in our society. The loaning of e-books, providing access to streaming services, and even the ability to borrow mobile devices and mobile hot-spots are all ways that libraries are keeping up with technological changes. Palfrey asks libraries to move ahead of the curve and create change so that we are not always reliant on replying to advancements that others have made.

His is also a cautionary tale. The digital materials that we are now moving towards utilizing more and more, are harder than physical materials to preserve. Without libraries and librarians being curators and stewards of physical resources (books, magazines, newspapers, letters, photographs, etc.) and keeping those for posterity we may lose many documents to “digital rot”. Digital items and storage continue to shift. Along with environmental degradation, the future inability to read or translate digital formats will make items inaccessible. We once stored digital information in magnetic tapes, and not long ago we used floppy disks. I think we would all be hard pressed to find a floppy disk drive so that we can read files stored in the 1980’s. Yet we have albums, novels, and records from then that are all stored in print and are easily found and read in their original iterations. Our move to the digital “future” will not be as easy and streamlined as sci-fi films might lead us to believe. Libraries and librarians will still be needed to be keepers and distributors of our hard-copy information resources.

Throughout the book, Palfrey gives us ideas for maximizing the digital revolution to the benefit of libraries and library users. He also gives us designs for furthering our missions of universal access, information literacy, and freedom of information. He backs these concepts with examples of real life librarians who are innovators at the front lines. These are librarians who are creating partnerships among libraries and the private sector, librarians who are fostering community engagement through programs and shifts in service paradigms (Casey, 2011), and librarians who are bridging the digital divide through education, research, and development (Stephens, 2010).

Despite the shift to living more “online”, Palfrey reminds us of the valuable need that our physical libraries fill. “Without the public spaces that libraries provide, the most vulnerable people in our society will not have comfortable places to go to access information, think, write, and learn.”

I began experiencing this book online. Through library access to Hoopla, the digital streaming service, I began to listen to this book. When I realized I would need to reference it for this blog (and because there were so many quotable gems) I RAN to a neighboring library (not my own home library) to borrow a hard copy. I have loved this book so much I will be purchasing it for my professional reference library at home. I will go online on my computer to Amazon and have it delivered to my door.  My experience illustrates so fully how libraries provide crucial services through access, that sometimes only a physical copy will do, and that we are not really in competition with the private sector but should seek to partner with them to enhance the user experience at ALL the service points.


Casey, M. (2011, October 20). Revisiting Participatory Service in Trying Times – a TTW Guest Post by Michael Casey 5. Retrieved February 19, 2017, from

Denning, S. (2015, May 01). Do We Need Libraries? Retrieved February 12, 2017, from

Palfrey, J. G. (2015). BiblioTech: why libraries matter more than ever in the age of Google. New York: Basic Books, A Member of the Perseus Books Group.

Stephens, M. (2010, March 2). The hyperlinked school library: engage, explore, celebrate 5. Retrieved February 19, 2017, from

Access is just the beginning

Dear friends,

As I sat down to write my reflection on this week’s readings on the Hyperlinked Library, the power went out. Laptop went dim, which means my battery has a death timer on it. No electricity means no Wi-Fi. (Can you guys taste the panic?)  I can’t write on anything I haven’t previously downloaded or printed out. How will I be able to upload my post? I won’t be able to search for pictures or links online. Access to my own personal items held in the cloud is blocked. Will I make my deadline? I’m freaking out!

Being disconnected from my primary information source has left me…well disconnected. Not only can I not reach out to garner information, I cannot connect to a variety of information communities (Linkedin, Facebook, World of Warcraft) or even upload my work. For many people, this situation is commonplace, either through lack of access to the physical peripherals (computer) or access to the infrastructure (the internet or even electricity). The library can be the great equalizer, allowing those who lack this access the opportunity to share in the connectivity that is the internet.

Steve Denning asks us in this week’s reading “Do we need libraries?”(2015). The answer is a resounding yes! When the lights went out I thought “I need a library STAT!” Denning’s article is not about whether we need libraries, but how libraries should function in today’s computer age. The internet has caused a cultural and cross-industry disruption. As an enterprise, libraries need to evolve with this disruption. Customer focus and customer needs should drive us to a new level of service that will make us relevant beyond simple access to information. Denning outlines a five-point approach for staying ahead of customer needs. 1. Delight our users by being agile and delivering what they need and want. 2. Enable continuous innovation by allowing all employees a voice in conversations about what that looks like for customers. 3. Make things better, faster, cheaper, more convenient, and more personalized for the user by focusing on the USER. 4. Meet unanticipated user needs by keeping abreast of current user needs. 5. And finally, do what we already do well better and lose the things we currently do that are no longer needed.

Denning ends his article with two powerful quotes. On access: “The future is already here. It’s just unevenly distributed” -William Gibson. And on innovative thought: “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”-Marcel Proust.

The blackout that inspired this post (and initial freak out) lasted approximately 30 minutes. The comfort and convenience of connection were restored fairly quickly. Much problem solving and solution finding was made instantly unnecessary. For many of our constituents, these solutions can only be found in our libraries. We owe them our best services and opportunities to access.

Thank goodness for the gas stove, hand coffee grinder, and French press. Things would have really gotten bad if a good cup of coffee were not on hand!(*wink).


P.S. Before the blackout I was considering writing about the “Facing the Future” article by Brian Mathews. I love and have quoted his opening line “don’t think about better vacuum cleaners, think about cleaner floors.” The customer’s needs should be the goal, the mechanisms by which we get there are infinite.



Denning, S. (2015, May 01). Do We Need Libraries? Retrieved February 12, 2017, from



A little about me

Hello, I’m Veronica.

I live in Henderson, NV a suburb of Las Vegas. I will soon be moving to Lake Charles, Louisiana. My husband’s name is Greg and I have two children Garion and Alexandra. I currently work at my local public library.  I work at the Reference Desk and the Computer Lab. Public service is my jam. Assisting patrons in finding what they need and helping them maneuver through websites and programs is what I find fulfilling. I intend to continue working in public libraries but am not averse to exploring alternative careers that would put my library and information skills to good use.

This is my second to last semester in the MLIS program at San Jose State. I chose to take this course on the Hyperlinked Library in order to get a better grasp of what technological applications and services are out there for our patrons. The edge of technology and the use of the web is constantly shifting, I hope to use this class to keep abreast of trends and emerging services.


I try to go walking in my neighborhood daily. The other day the mountains looked so beautiful I had to photograph them. I imagine I am becoming sentimental because of the imminent move. Although… my phone is full of pics of the mountains, so perhaps I just love the mountains. Because of the fresh snow, the breeze felt like someone had turned on the AC.

That’s me in the middle. We went hiking on Mew Year’s Eve. This was a picture my husband took of us on the summit.

I am a consummate typing errorist. I’ve embraced it in this post. I hope you enjoy.  [Alternate video for my typo].

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