Alejandra’s Blog

Final Reflection

May 17, 2021 · Leave a Comment

This is the last course I am completing at the iSchool before graduating. I think it is incredibly fitting for this reflection to be my final assignment because of the impact it has had on me and my perception of libraries as an institution.  

This course was unlike any course I have taken because it truly inspired me to be more creative and passionate about my work in an information environment. Initially, I came into this class pessimistic and holding onto my ideas of what it means to work in a library. I quickly learned from the lectures, readings, and classmate interactions that there is so much more to librarianship than the constraints of the status quo. I am so lucky to have found myself in the position to find a profession that I am passionate about. It would be a waste to subject myself to fit the traditional mold of what a librarian should be. 

Libraries are not just buildings holding books. It is a community space that facilitates learning and connects people with ideas. Libraries connect people to other people. The hyperlinked library has shown me the humanity in libraries and technology. Technology can be used to enhance library services and enhance the user experience. Using technology in libraries should always be evaluated and assessed to discover if the community is utilizing them. Not all new technology should be used for every library. Use what works and what is helpful for the community. 

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned during this class is the importance of trying something new and not being afraid of failure. With innovation, there are many failures before you reach the successful program or service that works. Once that perfect program or service has been found, we must continue innovating and re-evaluating how to enhance it. As information professionals, we need to build organizations that support innovation. Doing this allows for creativity and finding new services and programs that support community needs. 

The hyperlinked library is a mindset that can set libraries free to create, share, and build communities. I plan to continue building this mindset by having confidence in my abilities and finding community with my fellow information professionals and with the users I serve. I am excited to begin my career and continue learning how to create participatory services that connect people to ideas, stories, and information.

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May 16, 2021 · Leave a Comment

For my symposium project I was inspired by a Tweet of a person submitting their resume to Spotify with a Spotify theme. How does this relate to my time in the Hyperlinked Library? I used that format to create a #hyperlib playlist with my personal mile stones during this course. I created the Spotify layout using Canva. Originally, my vision was to make the document clickable to listen to audio files of myself talking about each section (similar to a podcast), but that did not workout. In true Hyperlinked library fashion, I readjusted and continued my journey for a new final product that is just as amazing. Listen to me discuss my experience with each of the sections on this YouTube video.

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Director’s Brief

May 3, 2021 · 3 Comments

Executive Summary: This city is filled with history, and during COVID19 we have seen the value of virtual programs and bringing the library to the people. A virtual history walk will allow anyone to jump online and listen to the history of the city while at home or while walking throughout the city. These histories will incorporate stories from community members of their memories of landmarks or stories they have and want to share. This is an excellent way to allow user participation in the creation of our library collection and allow for the use of stories to humanize the history of the city. A virtual history walk involves investment of staff time in the creation, curation, and maintenance.

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Professional Learning Experiences

April 30, 2021 · 2 Comments

I decided to pursue my MLIS at SJSU because I love to learn, and I love to facilitate learning. After working in a few different library settings, I knew that librarianship was the profession for me. This is my last semester at the iSchool before I graduate, and the Professional Learning Experiences module really caught my attention and gave me the space to explore what learning will look like post-graduation. 

In the Heart of Librarianship, Michael highlights the importance of libraries fostering a culture of learning. In INFO 230, I learned about academic libraries and the space they give libraries to research and explore new trends. This is a far cry from my experience working in public libraries. I often heard about colleagues attending the California Library Association (CLA) conference but never knew of any new trends or ideas learned at the conference. During the pandemic, I have been able to attend 2 conferences and take free online learning classes through LinkedIn Learning. These opportunities have helped me grow in my position, but the ideas I gained usually went out the window after reporting to my supervisor what I learned. In this course, I have learned to have hope and think beyond the constraints of “what has always been done” in libraries. It is very easy to complain and blame the institution for the lack of innovation and inability to collaborate to create something new. It is bold and inspiring to take the initiative to start conversations around new trends and put in the leg work to make those ideas a reality. 

Moving forward, I want to present the 3-2-1 plan outlined in Wholehearted Librarianship to my current organization. The plan shared by library director Jennifer Cottrill described their professional learning experience reporting system to include 3 of the best sessions, 2 new concepts learned, and 1 idea to apply immediately (p. 57). Having actionable items is the most important idea to take forward with me into my career. It is so easy to write a report on how great a conference was. Having one actionable item sounds so simple, but it is something I struggle to remember. 

Libraries are excellent at sharing information with consortia efforts and loaning programs that allow our collections to be shared across systems. A similar strategy needs to be created with learning and innovation, especially in public libraries. I think this can be done by networking and collaborating with other librarians online. This can also be done by building relationships with our colleagues. Breaking up new ideas into actionable steps is also a great way to convert professional learning ideas into reality. As with most things, there needs to be institutional change to revolutionize libraries. But a revolution does not happen overnight. It starts with individual action and community organizing. How can I personally engage my fellow library professionals as I begin my career? And how can I lead innovation and library participation in the organizations I work within? Time will tell how I accomplish this, but I have tangible strategies and words of wisdom to guide me.


Stephens, M. (2019). “PLEs & ALA” in Wholehearted Librarianship, p. 55

Stephens, M. (2016). “Learning to Learn” in The Heart of Librarianship, p. 140

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The Power of Stories

April 30, 2021 · 1 Comment

During my time as an undergraduate student, I was fascinated with the idea of collective memory. The monuments, symbols, media, and stories from our peers shape how we remember past events. The concept of collective memory was constantly coming back to me as I learned about the Power of Storytelling in Libraries. How can patron participation through storytelling impact the collective memory of the library?

I spend almost an hour caught in the endless YouTube algorithm watching Storycorps videos. I loved the imagery and the humanity the stories brought to the events of our past. The StoryCorps DIY is an excellent resource for libraries to learn how to give the service of storytelling to the community. Many libraries have space to provide, from empty conference rooms to vacant offices. These spaces shouldn’t become storage closets for the Summer Reading Program but transformed into something new and exciting.

StoryCorps video:

I was drawn to the article, Challenged, note Dying (2019) because of the hope I found in that article of what libraries could be. In my current library, the regular patrons know everything that happens at the public library. They are on top of all the new programs and booklists. They find the latest resources available and constantly give feedback on what they like and what they don’t like. How can libraries harness these library stories and contribute to the collective memory of what libraries are? I resonate with the need to “get the message out and bringing in our funders, and our governing bodies to make them understand that the library is not just what it has always been” (Paxman, 2019). Looking to the director’s brief assignment, I want to harness this idea of creating a collective memory around library services and what they can be through community stories.


Paxaman, M. (2019). Challenged but not dying, the public libraries are more relevant than ever.

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Participatory Services & Emerging Technology Planning: Your History Board

March 27, 2021 · Leave a Comment

DOK Library Concept Center was an inspiration for this project: Image from

Goals/Objectives for Technology or Service: This service aims to allow community members to share family history in pictures and personal stories using an interactive touchscreen table called Your History Board at the San Leandro Public Library. This interactive community board will allow users to upload photos via Airdrop, USB, or Flickr. Librarians will moderate submissions and organize photos for users to view on the community board. Your History Board will allow users to contribute to the San Leandro Public Library collection. This community board will also allow users to engage with community members’ photos and comment on photos or the new technology’s overall impact. Many of our community members love to share stories. This is an excellent way for community members to engage with the library while also contributing to starting new conversations about history and each other’s stories. The library understands that there are different experiences and differences in collective memory. Our goal is to highlight these differences and start conversations around local history and how our stories create our local history.

  • Community members will have the opportunity to contribute to community history by sharing their photos and documents of San Leandro and surrounding Bay Area cities. 
  • Library staff will curate the submissions to highlight all aspects of San Leandro’s history and memories for users to view. 
  • Users will be able to participate in the collection of digital archives of the city to share with their community members. 
  • Users will feel connected to the area’s history by submitting their own photos, documents, and comments. 

Description of Community you wish to engage: I want to engage all community members who come into the library with this new service. The touchscreen display design will be made for teens’ and adults’ height, but it will have information for families with children to engage with the large touchscreen device together. 

Action Brief Statement: Convince library users that by sharing their local history perspective, they will learn about themselves and others which will encourage community engagement because understanding differences in collective memory will start new community conversations. 

Evidence and Resources to support Technology or Service:

Similar programs utilizing touchscreen technology:

Trying the Heritage Browser

The benefit of Touchscreen technology in Libraries:

Accessibility with Touchscreen technology:

Utalizing services to start community conversations:|A509729549&v=2.1&it=r&sid=AONE&asid=6fbaea81

Mission, Guidelines, and Policy related to Technology or Service:

The Your History Board will be a digital space for users to share their own pictures and history of San Leandro and the Greater Bay Area. This will be a space for positivity but also hard conversations about different perspectives of local history. Librarians will be responsible for maintaining this community board through moderating submissions and organizing the photo submissions in a searchable manner. The newest submissions will be featured on the homepage, and archived photos and documents will be organized by librarians for users to view at any time on the Your History Board or online.

Some of the Guidelines: 

  • There is no limit to the number of photos or posts a user may submit.
  • Users are encouraged to “Like” community photos when browsing on the Your History Board. 
  • Users may comment on the Your History Board by logging in with their library card. 
  • Commenters are subject to our social media policies. Profanity, discrimination, and harassment comments are prohibited and will be removed from the board. 
  • Users cannot use profanity in any post submissions, and no illicit or inappropriate photos will be allowed. 
  • This is Your History Board! We encourage you all to enjoy, learn, and share your history with the community. 

Briefly outline how your technology or service’s grant, allocated funding, budget, available free-space, etc. will be distributed:

The Your History Board is an amazing resource that is planned to be used daily by users. Because of this, all staff members will be trained on how to assist patrons with using the board. This will consist of a 30-minute training administered by adult services librarians, which will be done over the course of 2 weeks for all library staff. Five adult services librarians will be trained on how to review posted photos on the Your History Board. This will ensure that there will always be one person available to review any photos and review new comments. 

The Your History Board will need regular system updates that one library staff member will administer before open hours. Daily cleaning will be administered by custodial staff every evening to maintain the cleanliness of the touchscreen surface. There will be hand sanitizer available for users next to the Your History Board since it is a high touch area. The sanitizer stations will be refilled by library staff an estimated 4 times a month. The Your History Board has a durable screen protector that should prevent any scratches or damage. There are two replacement screen protectors in storage to replace whenever it is necessary to replace them. 

Action Steps & Timeline:

Approval for the project will need to come from the Director of Library Services and from the Director of Public Works. Funding will completely come from the grant so Public Works will not need to contribute money from their budget to the project. Once approval is reached from both departments the project will begin. 

The anticipated timeline for the Your History Board is 6 months. The Your History Board touch screen table comes assembled and ready for use in the library. Power to the table will need to be wired by public works and contracted electricians to ensure Your History Board has constant power and access to the internet. Electrical will be the biggest time constraint because the city will need to receive multiple estimates for the job and work with other departments to make it happen.

Staffing Considerations for this Technology or Service:

Besides installation, staff will need to create the home screen and layout for Your History Board. Adult services Librarians who oversee the library history room and the San Leandro museum will collaborate to make the home screen structure. Initially, it will be time-consuming because of the need to pull digitized photos from our catalog to integrate into the Your History Board as a starting point. There is no way to track how often our digitized images are viewed by the public. The System that runs the Your History Board can track usage, how many clicks a folder receives, and how many likes an image receives. This will be an incentive to show the public interest in having digitized documents and images for future grant opportunities. Staff will work on this project over the estimated 6-month period before Your History Board is rolled out.

When Your History Board is live, the five staff members responsible for reviewing submissions and monitoring comments will do this in 3-hour shifts throughout their workday. This will be the starting point, but library leadership will check in with the Your History Board team to ensure they are not overwhelmed. If there is a large influx of submissions, we will utilize our trained History Room Volunteers to review photo and document submissions. This is an excellent opportunity for local history students to become involved with local history and archival work under library staff supervision.

Training for this Technology or Service:

The History Room and San Leandro Museum Librarians will be the Your History Board team leaders who will train the five librarians responsible for reviewing submissions and monitoring comments. The History Room librarian and five adult librarians reviewing the submissions will be responsible for training all staff and volunteers. The training will take a maximum of 30 minutes which will be conducted whenever library staff is on-site. The staff running the training will check in with supervisors and staff to find the best training time. A list will be maintained of everyone who has been trained on the use, benefits, and functionality of Your History Board. All staff will be told to email the History Room librarian if they have any questions or suggestions about the service after the training.

Promotion & Marketing for this Technology or Service:

This is a new service that will encourage user participation from all age groups. We want to market this service to all users and bring in new members of the community who want to experience and share their stories. We will first promote this service on all social media platforms to get the word out about this new service. We will also create flyers and include the service in our monthly newsletters to library cardholders. Librarians running programs will also be encouraged to promote the service during their programs to encourage frequent users to check out the Your history Board. History groups and local Museums will also be invaluable partners for this service. Those interested in local histories will be especially drawn to participating and using the service. Outreach to history groups will benefit the library and drive up users.


The Your History Board technology can track usage by monitoring how many times a folder or image is clicked and how many times an image is liked. These metrics will track use and allow library staff to evaluate the usage and impact Your History Board has on the community. After three months of Your History Board being live, the team will assess the usage and find the baseline usage average, which the library will work to grow over time.

In the future, this service could expand to include more touchscreens around the library. Touchscreens are user-friendly and easy to navigate at all ages (Vaisman, 2011). This could be an opportunity to install touchscreen catalog kiosks where patrons can search the catalog with a touchscreen. This service could also grow to become a changing display that allows users to view virtual displays put together by librarians.

Vaisman, A. (2011). Touchscreen technology helps local library become digital information center.

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The Power of Social Media

March 15, 2021 · 3 Comments

Social media is a beast in and of itself. Instagram, in particular, allows for patrons to participate and interact with library staff through direct messages and polls on Instagram stories. Linktree will enable patrons to register for online events directly from their phones. It is so easy! The biggest obstacle, in my opinion, is outreach and time. Public libraries especially need to invest in hiring full-time social media librarians. These librarians will be able to curate a social media page for the community. I like to think of Instagram as a participatory archive for the community of followers.

Librarians also need to be active on social media. This means tagging local businesses and artists, sharing cool library events from other public libraries, and reposting images and videos your followers tag you in. Doing this creates an online community where you can build ties with local libraries and community groups. You can also connect your followers with local artists and businesses they may have never heard of. Look at your favorite Instagram influencer or business and see how they interact with their contemporaries.

Here is an example of promoting local artists and business owners on Instagram. Be sure to tag them! They usually repost to show love for the recognition.

Another opportunity for libraries is to use social media to give a behind-the-scenes view of the library. At my library, we have found that patrons comment like and respond really well to behind-the-scenes videos of how we process new books, planning for events, or just the daily tasks we do. This is a great way to help patrons better understand what we do and feel a deeper connection with library staff.

Libraries hold so much power and can connect people with new online events or with local creatives. There is a whole virtual community waiting for us.

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Bringing the Library to the People

March 15, 2021 · 1 Comment

I choose to take an adventure into the world of mobile devices and libraries. Like a lot of people in the U.S., my phone is like another limb. I take it everywhere I go to help with directions, play music, stay connected, and generally have continuous access to information. Some of the exciting technologies I learned about this week were the Bluetooth beacons used to promote library events and services (Dempsey, 2016). I think this is a fantastic idea to connect with users who may not feel comfortable asking staff or who may not know all of the library’s services. The only fallout with this idea is the app-based approach. I think apps are fantastic and do so many amazing things that make our lives so much easier. But they also take up storage space and can be quickly deleted if they are unused. With books like How to Break up with your Phone by Catherine Price and Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport, it is easy to understand how apps we rarely use often get deleted. 

Example of Bluetooth Beacon Layout. This site has a great short and recent introduction on what Bluetooth Beacon are:

I think libraries need to create services and catalogs that are more accessible and searchable when we are away from the library. Completing my Master’s program has really taught me the beauty of having full access to the library collection without ever setting foot in the building. Public libraries should invest more time into curating a robust online catalog for students and patrons to bring the library to them. Weinberger (2014) discussed linked data and how libraries should integrate into today’s current systems. For example, I tried to search for a book online, and the first result was Amazon. If I searched for the title and then the library name I work for, nothing came up. Public libraries can work to make their ebook collections easier to access when searching online. I really don’t know how this can be done, but I want to look more into it. Google is now the standard. Everyone is familiar with Google. I hope to find tangible solutions to making library events and collections more accessible.


Dempsey, Kathy. (2016)  Bluetooth beacons are starting to shine in libraries: when a beacon recognizes an equipped smartphone, it pings out its message.

Weinberger, D. (2014). Let the Future Go.

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Earning Trust: Hyperlinked Communities

February 26, 2021 · 1 Comment

While working from home I have spent plenty of time pondering what my (our) library means to my (our) community and the possibilities of what it could mean after the pandemic. 

My job title is a Library Assistant in Technical services, so I do not have much influence on the programming and policy side of the library. But during this period I have thought a lot about what the library meant, now means, and will mean once patrons are allowed into the library again. The library I work at just proposed to our City Council about removing library membership fees for non-residents and this will impact the make-up of our library community immensely once it is formally passed next month. I have been thinking a lot about how this will transform our library and now, how we can transform it to become a hyperlinked community. 

The problem is, our library has turned non-residents away since the 1940s. How will this impact trust between users and the library? How can we transform our very small community into a hyperlinked community that has far wider reaches? 

An article that spoke to me was Conveying Community Conversations by Dixon (2017). This article discussed how to facilitate community conversations about difficult and sometimes polarizing topics to create trust in a community. I think that is precisely what my library needs, healing and earning trust from new users. Dixon (2017) gave excellent examples from Nashville Public Library and the strategies they used from image prompts to documentaries to start conversations. My library has a small staff, but we are dedicated. We were the ones who used collective action to push our administration to allow us to put in the work to make this change after decades of barring access to surrounding neighborhoods. With training in facilitation and openness from staff to acknowledge our past we would be able to remind the community of our past and show the future by starting a dialog. 

I think there are multiple ways to earn trust through outreach and simply by providing access. But Dixon (2017) proved that having tough conversations can be extremely beneficial to the community by creating a safe space for open dialog. 

Watch this interview with the the Program Designer for the Civil Rights room at NPL. This room was designed to inform and start a dialog about Nashville’s role in the Civil Rights movement.

Dixon, J. (2017) Convening community conversation | Programming

Nashville Public Library Civil Rights Room.

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Palaces for the People: Context Book Assignment

February 22, 2021 · Leave a Comment

The recently renovated Hayward Public Library:

What do you think of when you hear the word Palaces? The wealthy? Royalty? The richest people in the world? 

Eric Klinenberg in Palaces for the People explains the importance of social infrastructure and the role it plays in creating communities that keep us safe and healthy. Palaces do not just belong to the rich, the people deserve to have well built, and well thought out spaces to foster social capital in communities. 

Klinenberg starts his book with the devastating Chicago Heatwave in July 1995 which killed 739 people. Klinenberg then uses this tragedy to jump-start the conversation on why social infrastructure matters during the apparent current decline in civic life. Throughout the book, Klinenberg argues that we need social infrastructure to help get us through the worst of the worst. The main themes Klinenberg touches on is sustainability and then the need for hard infrastructure to blend seamlessly with social infrastructure, community beautification in high crime areas to create an environment that fosters social infrastructure, and the importance of community groups and the roles they play in our lives to help us relate and understand each other during this period of new extreme polarization. There is a lot to unpack in Klinenberg’s book, but I will focus on his ideas of libraries as social infrastructure. 

Floating library/school with solar panels in Bangladesh led by the non-profit Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha, creating community and fostering the needs of their students and users:

Social Infrastructure is “the places and organizations that shape the way people interact” (Klinenberg, 2018). In other words, they are places and spaces where communities are fostered. It is no secret that libraries have been the target of budget cuts in cities across the United States. With communities less willing to vote for tax measures to support the library and city budgets looking to cut costs libraries are usually the first to suffer budget cuts (Casey, 2011). While lower budgets make libraries innovative in their cost savings, this is not a sustainable way for libraries to thrive as a site for social infrastructure. Programs, storytimes, and space give communities the ability to meet, built community ties, and gain knowledge not just from books, but from each other (Klinenberg, 2018). Libraries across the country must look to users and allow them to participate in the library to create the space they want. Allowing user participation in planning, designing, and contributing to the library will allow users to take ownership of their space and foster the life-saving social infrastructure Klieneberg (2018) argued (Casey & Savastinuk, 2007).

Libraries need to adjust their thinking in how they serve their communities. They can not longer function solely as a repository of books and things. We need to question ourselves and think about how we serve our communities. Librarians need to ask themselves, who we are serving and how we can best meet their needs? (Mack, 2013). 

Since March 2020 libraries in the United States have had to adjust their services due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Libraries have been forced to adapt to restrictions and still provide the community and services our users need. How do Klinenberg’s ideas translate during this time where many libraries are closed and only open for virtual and curbside services? The fact still remains that libraries need to adapt and become places that centralize planning and services around users.

Libraries still are the prime places for social infrastructure that allows people to meet and build community. This community, for the time being, is virtual through Zoom programs and virtual reference service, but that community is still there. Librarians need to really think about who they are serving and the needs of their users. Where are the gaps in service? What do patrons need from us as they navigate this time of social isolation? How can we create a more inclusive library that is welcoming and has space for everyone to learn, build community, and just be? 

This is the ideal time to think about how we can transform our libraries. How we can reinvent them to be the sites created by and for the people? (Mathews, 2012) There are obvious challenges like pushback from fellow librarians, library administrators, and the inevitable budget cuts. There are libraries out there that have listened to community feedback and have created beautiful places and services that allow users to create and participate in the library.

Librarians can take the lessons Klinenberg (2018) laid out about building social infrastructure and actively thinking about how our jobs as librarians impact the formation of social ties in our community.

Reference List:

Casey, M. (2011). Revisiting participatory service in trying times.

Casey, M. E., & Savastinuk, L. C. (2007). Library 2.0: A guide to participatory library service. Medford, N.J: Information Today.

Klinenberg, E. (2018) Palaces for the people: How social infrastructure can help fight inequality, polarization, and the decline of civic life. New York: Broadway

Mack, C. (2013). Crowdsourced design: Why Los Angeles is asking the public to create the library of the future.

Mathews, B. (2012). Think Like A Start-Up.

A local library in the Bay Area which created a library that fosters Klinenberg’s ideas of social infrastructure that included user feedback throughout the design process.

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