Bookend Reflection

What an incredible semester! It has been a tough one. I had to move across the country, leaving wonderful friends and colleagues and a job I love. I took three courses this semester in prep for a December grad date. I’m still unpacking and getting acclimated to the different pace and flavor of my new home.

Throughout the unmooring from my old life, this class has kept me focused on the direction I want to travel. It has cemented my desire to become a librarian and it has given me new tools to engage and serve our customers.

 

While we have been introduced to different technologies and trends during this course, the core of the message of this class is that WE are the hyperlinked library. Our knowledge, our versatility, our openness to change, our compassion, and our kindness is what will move libraries forward and keep them relevant. When we come from a place of kindness, those other aspects of service will fall into place. I am so inspired by this final module. It is not only our services, programs, and technology that must be reviewed and reevaluated, it is ourselves. We must always keep revising and learning. Ever moving like the shark . [*wink]

Thanks everyone for sharing this journey. I appreciate all your thoughts and astute posts. I leave you with my favorite Irish Blessing:

Sincerely, Veronica

Curiosity Driven Learning

The internet has sprouted a variety of information delivery systems. One that is quite prolific and valuable to the curiosity-driven learner is the video tutorial. If you want to learn it, there is probably a video tutorial for that. There are video tutorials that will lead you through any number of activities- from how to install a smoke detector to how to properly groom your eyebrows. The instructors are diverse and production quality varied so that you can shop for the one that is right for you. In very many cases the videos are on free to view sites, producers being willing to share their knowledge at no cost to the learner. My brother has used video tutorials to help him perform routine maintenance on his car. My mother, who describes herself as an internet novice uses them for art and jewelry making instruction. She has her preferred genres of art. She also has teachers that she is loyal to because she likes their pacing or teaching style. She can pick and choose what she wants to learn and who she wants to learn it from. This is a perfect example of modern curiosity-driven learning.  Picture credit: Silvia Nosti (my mom)

The Future is Here: Hyperlinked Museums

When I was back in my much-loved Las Vegas a couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of going to Avenger’s S.T.A.T.I.O.N.  This interactive exhibit is a Marvel Universe museum that uses cutting-edge technology to engage the audience and impart information about the characters we all know and love from the movies and comic books.

As we entered the space we were given a “training device”. This device was the size of a smartphone, with a camera, audio, and a touchscreen. It guided us through the display space. We were given recorded directions in the form of communications first from Maria Hill, SHIELD agent and later from Friday, Tony Starks A. I. Assistant. As we moved through the space, we were invited to supplement the information we found in the exhibition with videos that loaded onto our training device. As we did, the device would populate picture bubbles that signified advancement. Each room was dedicated to one character or group of characters from the Avengers films. Along with informative expositions, there were interactive stations where you could squeeze a bar like the Hulk and see how many PSIs you can exert or maneuver one of Iron Man’s suits through an obstacle course with just the use of your eye movements. There were replicas of the vehicles, costumes, weapons, and villains from the movies. Periodically you were prompted to take pictures of yourself interacting with the exhibit. These were recorded in the device and you were encouraged to make a “dossier” collage of your pics.

The interactive displays made this incredibly engaging for our whole party (ages 45, 27, 11, & 8) and the excitement of our communiques from our “guides” kept us moving and connecting with each other.  

For each character dedicated room, there was a quiz on what you had learned on your training device. You gained achievements by completing all the tasks and there was a cumulative result at the end. Your grade was recorded and you could purchase it as a souvenir. The whole exhibit was an incredible example of gamification and the use of technology to enhance learning; a valuable example of the future of museums and entertainment (edutainment).

 

Digital Literacy Tutorials and Programs

While working in the computer lab I inevitably came across questions that I did not have the immediate answer to. The internet and accompanying software tutorials to the rescue! Whether it was Mac formatting, tablet apps, or Excel questions there are tutorials and how-to videos that are out there to help. Finding them quickly in order to respond to a patron in a timely fashion became a fun “race to the answer”. There are online resources to learn almost anything imaginable. And so… how “meta” to learn digital literacy online!

I first discovered GCFlearnfree.org in the computer lab. Our computer class teacher (volunteer) had failed to come in for the class due to a family emergency. I had a group of unhappy Excel class participants. As the adult services assistant, I could not leave my post to teach a class, even if I had the Excel “chops” to lead it. I invited the class participants to stay and explore the internet on our computers for the duration of the class time. Then I went back to my desk and looked for Excel tutorials. I found GCF and saw their extensive offerings of free software tutorials, including Excel. I shared this with the class participants. Some stayed and “played”, some tried the website right there, some went home with the information. The following week one of the patrons who had taken the website information home came up to me to thank me. She said that the self-guided tutorial was wonderful and she loved it because she could repeat parts that she needed help with, and she could skip ahead when she found she had already mastered a particular aspect.

Independent Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are not new to me. When I was between jobs in 2013 I took two edX courses; Poverty Economics and Human Health and Global Environmental Change. I LOVED them! My enjoyment of those courses, my boss’ encouragement, and the incentive of starting with a colleague (hi Cristi!*) all led to my reaching for my MLIS. Because of this, MOOCs hold a special place in my heart. I know they will help a new generation of curiosity-driven learners!

Director’s Brief INFO 287 Manthei

 

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 Digitallearn.org, 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.

References

Digital Promise. (2016, January 28). The Library as a Gateway to 21st Century Skills. Retrieved April 19, 2017, from http://digitalpromise.org/2016/01/28/chicago-public-library-the-library-as-a-gateway-to-21st-century-skills/

Nygren, A. (2014). The Public Library as a Community Hub for Connected Learning. IFLA 2014 Lyon Conference. Retrieved April 19, 2017, from http://library.ifla.org/1014/1/167-nygren-en.pdf

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.

 

References:

Rainie, L. (2016, February 9). The Puzzles Librarians Need to Solve – Vala 2016. Retrieved April 09, 2017, from https://www.slideshare.net/slideshow/embed_code/key/nn79i0jAIP2F1

Zickuhr, K., Purcell, K., & Rainie, L. (2014, March 13). From Distant Admirers to Library Lovers–and beyond. Retrieved April 09, 2017, from http://www.pewinternet.org/2014/03/13/library-engagement-typology/

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) (http://libraries.pewinternet.org/2013/01/22/library-services/) 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) (http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2013/04/opinion/michael-stephens/holding-us-back-office-hours/#) 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 (hhttp://www.ala.org/advocacy/proethics/codeofethics/codeethics) 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 (http://www.apple.com/retail/geniusbar/).

Funding:

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.

Staffing:

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:

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.

Promotion:

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.

Evaluation:

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 https://uklibchat.wordpress.com/2012/11/30/feature-01-innovative-use-of-technology-in-libraries/].

 

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.

 

References:

ALA. (2017, January 04). Code of Ethics of the American Library Association. Retrieved March 20, 2017, from http://www.ala.org/advocacy/proethics/codeofethics/codeethics

Apple Inc. (2017). Genius Bar Reservation and Apple Support Options. Retrieved March 20, 2017, from http://www.apple.com/retail/geniusbar/

Green, G. (2013, October 11). Feature #01: Innovative use of Technology in Libraries. Retrieved March 20, 2017, from https://uklibchat.wordpress.com/2012/11/30/feature-01-innovative-use-of-technology-in-libraries/

June, L. (2013, January 13). America’s first bookless public library will look ‘like an Apple Store’ Retrieved March 20, 2017, from http://www.theverge.com/2013/1/13/3872478/americas-first-bookless-public-library-will-look-like-an-apple-store (image credit)

Stephens, M. (2004, November 1). Technoplans vs. technolust. Retrieved March 20, 2017, from http://tametheweb.com/2004/11/01/technoplans-vs-technolust/

Stephens, M. (2013, April 18). Holding Us Back | Office Hours. Retrieved March 20, 2017, from http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2013/04/opinion/michael-stephens/holding-us-back-office-hours/#

Zickuhr, K., Rainie, L., & Purcell, K. (2013, January 21). Library Services in the Digital Age. Retrieved March 20, 2017, from http://libraries.pewinternet.org/2013/01/22/library-services/

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. https://www.us-cert.gov/ncas/tips

https://www.usa.gov/online-safety 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”. https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/topics/online-security

 

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

MIT: https://ist.mit.edu/security/tips

Berkley: https://security.berkeley.edu/resources/best-practices-how-to-articles/top-10-secure-computing-tips

University of Central Florida: http://www.cst.ucf.edu/about/information-security-office/iso-resources-rewrite/security-tips-for-it/

The University of Texas at Austin’s wittily named “Protect Your Privates” https://security.utexas.edu/Protect-Your-Privates

And San Jose State University: http://its.sjsu.edu/email-newsletters/security/october-2016.html?utm_source=infosecnews_oct16&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=infosecnews

 

 

References

ALA, A. (2017, January 04). Code of Ethics of the American Library Association. Retrieved March 12, 2017, from http://www.ala.org/advocacy/proethics/codeofethics/codeethics

Madden, M., & Rainie, L. (2015, May 20). Americans’ Attitudes About Privacy, Security and Surveillance. Retrieved March 12, 2017, from http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/05/20/americans-attitudes-about-privacy-security-and-surveillance/

Transparency

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.*

 

References:

Casey, M., & Stephens, M. (2007, December 15). A Road Map to Transparency. Retrieved February 26, 2017, from http://tametheweb.com/2007/12/15/a-road-map-to-transparency/

Schneider, K. G. (2006, June 03). The User Is Not Broken: A meme masquerading as a manifesto. Retrieved February 26, 2017, from http://freerangelibrarian.com/2006/06/03/the-user-is-not-broken-a-meme-masquerading-as-a-manifesto/

Stephens, M. (2012, February 17). The Age of Participation | Office Hours. Retrieved February 26, 2017, from http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2012/02/opinion/michael-stephens/the-age-of-participation-office-hours/#_

 

 

 

 

*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.

 

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