Category Archives: Reflections

Learning Through Play

Learning through play is certainly not a new idea or term, but seeing places other than classrooms or field trips as learning through play experiences may be a much newer concept. The term “learning through play” makes me feel that we’re essentially tricking our minds into learning essential concepts or ideas while having fun and being creative.

I know some older people who like learning but would never consider “playing” and some younger people who would prefer to play and not think about the learning concept. I feel like both sides could be reached depending on how the particular program in question is being marketed. After all, nobody is really too old to play, and what you might learn is that you like to play! Maybe I just know too many grumpy people, haha.

Paper, Messy, Notes, Abstract, Paperwork, Documents
Photo from Pixabay

I really enjoyed reading about Sacramento Public Library’s yearly scavenger hunts where they worked together with local businesses to make the adventure and following the clues even more fun. In addition to highlighting those small businesses, which the parents might remember and think about in the future, the activity also encouraged the children to work together with cooperation, as well as sustainability and ecology.

I know we learned about this a couple of weeks ago, but all of this talk about libraries as learning spaces reminds me of The Mix at the San Francisco Public Libraries. I mean, their “Art and Design Wednesdays” have events such as creating lip balm and learning about the science behind it, and, of course, building robots. In addition to this, when the teens worked together to create the space, they had to have played around a lot with designing fun areas, and with the different types of technologies they were going to make available.

This made me curious about what kind of playing to learn activities were available at my local library. There is an ongoing “Stitching in the Stacks” meetup each week, where you can bring whatever you’re working on and talk to other people who knit, crochet, cross-stitch, or embroider. I’ve attended a few times, and I always end up learning something there because people are so happy and willing to share their knowledge and teach others.

Three dinosaurs play among prehistoric butterflies.
Image from Humboldt County Library

For kids, they’re having something called Dinovember where they have different activities involving dinosaurs. This week’s activity says: ” It’s Dinovember – what are the dinosaurs doing in the library? Reading books from the Author Festival? Stomp down to the library and find out! Measure your size against a dinosaur, play a dinosaur matching game, and help stage some dinosaur photos in the children’s room. Make some dinosaur stamp art and check out some dinosaur books. Bring your family to the library for a fun night of literacy play.” I really like that term, “literacy play”.

I feel that literacy play is available all over the place, without us even realizing it most of the time. That’s the best type of play, I think!


Posted by on November 6, 2019 in Reflections



Person Standing While Using Phone
Image royalty-free from Pexels

I was originally going to write this post about Libby, the Overdrive Library app that I use daily to browse what’s at my library and listen to audiobooks. Then, I read about beacons and immediately had to learn more. Since the article in our module was from 2014, I wanted to see if this technology had grown or disappeared in terms of library use. I was thrilled to see that an SJSU MLIS student, Kristen Rasczyk, had made a presentation about beacon tech in libraries in 2017! She highlighted a few libraries that were using beacons at the time she made the presentation.

The Orange County Library System in Florida uses beacons to alert patrons of new DVD releases and upcoming computer classes. The Mount Pleasant Public Library in New York uses them to send personalized messages to patrons regarding their account when they go near the circulation desk, such as when their holds are ready for pick up or due date reminders. The Delft University of Technology Library in the Netherlands uses the technology to create a self-paced, self-guided tour of their building and 61% of students downloaded the app during the first semester it was available.

Beacons in libraries
Image from the Beaconstac Blog

Beaconstac, a beacon marketing company, has an interesting blog post from 2017 which highlights some ways that libraries can use beacons. Some items include locating items from a patron’s favorite list when they walk into the library, giving digital access to a manuscript or other item that is under glass so that it can be zoomed into and read in more detail (I particularly like this idea), and alerting the patron to any events that are happening in the library that day.

Security Logo
royalty-free image from Pexels

However, as with any new technology that appears in our lives, privacy is a concern. The Association of College & Research Libraries has an article written by Emerging Technologies and Research Librarian at Harvard School Library, Carli Spini. The article, “Keeping up with… Beacons” notes that beacons have drawbacks because of privacy concerns. The beacons only transmit information and don’t collect any, but “they can trigger applications that do collect information.” She notes that the solution to this is being clear about what information is collected when asking people to download an app that makes use of beacons, and allowing people to opt-out of the service so that if they have concerns, they wouldn’t be using the beacons. Security is also an issue, as they can be spoofed by unauthorized people relatively easily, but since most uses of beacon tech don’t transmit private information, that shouldn’t be too much of an issue.

I feel like if I had heard about beacons back in 2014, I would have expected them to be a lot more integrated with places like libraries by now, five years later. I know beacons are definitely being used in retail spaces (My Joann app gives me a coupon when I walk in the door) but it seems like academic and library spaces could really utilize the technology effectively as well.


Posted by on October 23, 2019 in Reflections


NCSU Hunt Library: I want to live there

I skimmed through all of the links for this module’s “Choose your own Adventure” choices, and really quickly got stuck on one about Hunt Library’s bookBot. I found myself down a rabbit hole of videos and articles about the book delivery system, which led me to even more articles and videos about the expansiveness and usefulness of the Hunt Library itself. It’s absolutely mindblowing to me that someone could think of such a sophisticated system where books are stored not on shelves, but in climate-controlled bins where the bookBot will retrieve or deposit what’s needed. Within minutes of a request, a person can get the book they want to check out while watching the bookBot at work through a viewing wall!

Obviously, the bookBot is what drew me to learn more about the library, but I immediately began to wonder how the expanded study and learning spaces affected the library setting, and if the students felt much more likely to visit the library to study instead of their dorm or elsewhere. In order to encourage students to use the library, there are a number of different spaces and rooms that can be used in a variety of different ways. These include:

  • Creativity Studio—a flexible, “white box” space that can be reconfigured and transformed to support a variety of activities in many disciplines, with high-definition, 3D-capable projectors; movable and writable walls; a full theater lighting kit; and many interactive tools that can be configured for simulations and virtual environments.
  • Teaching and Visualization Lab—a “black box” for high-definition visualization and simulation, offering seamless 270-degree immersive projection on three walls for a total of 80 linear feet of display surface, 3D display, a professional zoned audio system, and cameras for real-time video capture, broadcast, and collaboration.
  • Game Lab—supports the scholarly study of games at the university, where students can also take a break and play for fun. With multiple video gaming stations and a large display, this is one of the Hunt Library’s liveliest spaces.
  • iPearl Immersion Theater—a 21 x 7-foot curved display wall that engages viewers in panoramic imagery and showcases the work of students and faculty.
  • Video Seminar Room—features a telepresence video collaboration suite to facilitate meeting with others anywhere in the world.
  • Fishbowl—a seminar room uniquely designed to promote the open exchange of ideas. It offers a multi-touch display and transparent walls that allow others to experience the activities taking place inside.
  • Faculty Research Commons—a comfortably furnished space for faculty to engage in both individual and collaborative work, and to connect with colleagues from other departments and disciplines.
  • Graduate Student Commons—designed specifically for graduate students, with lounge seating, open study spaces, group study rooms, computer workstations, and lockers.
  • Makerspace—create working prototypes, architectural models, and other objects with tools including 3D printers, a 3D scanner, and a laser cutter. “If you can draw it, you can make it!”
  • Skyline Reading Room and Terrace—the pinnacle of the Hunt Library, at the highest point on campus, with inspiring views and abundant natural light.
There are 75 different styles of chairs in over 100 colors in the library

One thing that seems to help students, in addition to the different spaces available, are the different chairs and seats available to sit in. Each person and whatever they’re working on can possibly be done even better in a specific posture, and so the library makes the space even more personalized by giving students so many options to choose from.

Okay, so what do all of these things have to do with the hyperlinked library? Of course, there are the obvious points: the many ways that technology is integrated into the library, including how the books are stored and retrieved. But there are so many things that other libraries can learn from the Hunt Library, from large to small in terms of changes made. Different styles of seating could be brought in, instead of every single chair being the exact same. Different table heights, each room having a different function that could be utilized in different ways. Not many libraries would be able to afford to incorporate the bookBot, but imagine if they could, and the amount of space they would have to fit their own personalized community’s needs even more!

Something that I wonder, though, is even with all of this technology and the innovativeness of the space — is the Hunt library going to continue to change every decade or so, or as needed, to stay on top of the technology game? Are they going to help lead libraries into the future? How long until the technology they utilize in rooms such as the Fishbowl is outdated? If technology continues to move as quickly as it has in the past few decades, who knows what could happen. What I do know, though, is there will always be libraries that continue to stay innovative, because librarians will refuse to let libraries become useless.


Posted by on October 2, 2019 in Reflections


The Library: always there when you need it, still there when you don’t

Amy Stoll’s article, “The Healing Power of Libraries” talks about how one particular library, Ferguson Municipal Public Library in Ferguson, Missouri served as a haven for the community after chaos and riots broke out after a grand jury decided not to indict police officer Darren Wilson for shooting and killing unarmed black teen, Michael Brown. Though many other public facilities and city services closed, the library stayed open to help the community through difficult times.

Volunteers at the Queens Library hand out coats to people affected by Hurricane Sandy

The Ferguson Municipal Public Library wasn’t the first to become such a haven for their community, however, and it certainly isn’t the last. Libraries in areas affected by Hurricane Sandy in 2012 were filled with people without anywhere else to go. They not only provided people with a clean, dry place to go that still had working water and electricity, but they also helped by showing people how to register online for FEMA like at the New Dorp branch of the New York Public Library, or hand out coats like at one of the Queens libraries, pictured above.

Of course, there doesn’t have to be an emergency for a library to be helpful to its community. The Humboldt County Library system has a new type of library card coming out for those people who don’t have a permanent local address, making it easy for not only visitors to the county to check out items, but also the large population of homeless people that the library serves. They allow those using an “Express Library Card” to check out up to two items as well as download library eBooks and audiobooks.

I think one of my favorite examples of ways a library goes above and beyond to help their communities is creating “healing kits” for children who experience loss or trauma. Each kit has a group of books on a specific topic such as loss of a loved one or coping with natural disasters, as well as some literature helping the parent guide the child through the kit, packed up neatly into a little suitcase. The entire thing can be checked out. The Napa Library is the library mentioned in the article, but they heard about the concept from The Healing Library. which “is a series of kits designed to make a family’s journey of healing following a trauma easier to navigate and personalize. “

I love that there are so many diverse ways libraries can help, and that simply being open is one of them.


Posted by on September 24, 2019 in Reflections


Context Book Report: Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out

Topic and focus of the book:

Though the study in this book was conducted over a decade ago at this point, and the technologies that the children and teens are using have evolved (and, in some cases, disappeared or were replaced), the core message and findings still stand.   Also, you could easily imagine the youth speaking about Facebook instead of Myspace (though there is a Facebook example from the early days of when it was only for college students).  

The study looks at the children and youth they worked with seriously and spoke to them as equals instead of as children in an effort to argue against trivializing children’s media culture.  Instead, they look at it this culture as “a site of child- and youth-driven creativity and social action.” (Ito, et al. 2009).  The study’s hypothesis is “that those immersed in new digital tools and networks are engaged in an unprecedented exploration of languages, games, social interaction, problem-solving, and self-directed activity that leads to diverse forms of learning. ” (Ito, et al. 2009).

How does it relate to libraries, information environments, technology, and focus of our course?

I feel that any librarian looking to work with kids or teens would benefit from reading this book and reviewing the findings of the study.  Not only does it show how the students all used technology in different ways to interact with friends, make social plans, learn, and be creative, but you also see from the student’s points of view how and why they use the technology.  It’s unique in the way that you are pulled to the same level of the particular student they’re talking to, and can kind of understand how their minds work and what it is about the technology they’re using that makes it important. 

One particular sentence in this book jumped out at me and made me immediately think of the article and video this week which spoke about The Mix, where teens designed a room just for them at the main public library in San Francisco: “Like friendship-driven networks, interest-driven networks are also sites of peer-based learning, but they represent a different genre of participation, in which specialized interests are what bring a social group together. ” (Ito, et al. 2009).

The Mix space turned into an interest-driven network made by participation of a group (which probably became a social group) of teens withs specialized interests. The Mix utilizes technology to help bring teens together in a space full of different specialized interests and helps to build different social groups. It also became a site of peer-based learning, as many of the events hosted at The Mix in various libraries are hosted by teens. The Mix Writer’s Club and Book Club both only have teens in the groups, and there are so many different ways that teens can collaborate and work together with making videos, music, dancing, art, sewing, and a number of other things.

While libraries were only mentioned a few times in Hanging Out, the times they were mentioned mostly talked about how the youth wanted to utilize the computers at their school and public libraries but the adults (librarians, teachers, parents) didn’t seem to trust them enough and were always looking over their shoulder to make sure they weren’t doing anything wrong — even though each person’s idea of “wrong” is very different. For most parents, Myspace seemed to be the thing they were worried about.

Image result for don't talk to strangers on internet meme

This made me think of radical trust and how different things are now than they were then in terms of meeting people on the Internet. Parents and adults were (rightfully) concerned about their children talking to people pretending to be other children and being preyed upon. However, completely banning talking to other people online absolutely did not keep kids from talking to other people online, it just made them hide it. Parents and other adults in a kid’s life would do better by teaching them the dangers of meeting people online and show them how to safely do it. Hopefully, the kid will then trust the parent and let them know of any person they’re going to meet or wanting to meet, and let the parent at least go with them for the first meeting. Especially today, where so many people meet new friends and significant others online — and with so many apps that make it even easier to do so — teaching the right type of trust is imperative.



Ito, Mizuko, et al. Hanging out, messing around, and geeking out: Kids living and learning with new media. MIT press, 2009.

Costanza, Kathleen. “In San Francisco, Teens Design a Living Room for High-Tech Learning at the Public Library | YOUmedia Learning Labs Network.” Youmedia.Org, 28 Aug. 2015,

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Posted by on September 12, 2019 in Reflections


You’ve got to be where the people are

Ariel People Are GIF - Ariel LittleMermaid IWannaBeWhereThePeopleAre GIFs

Ariel’s got the right idea, except librarians need to find out where the people are before they can go there. Finding them online is the most important part, since the only way to get people even thinking about their local library is to remind them that it exists, and is worth a visit.

Facebook is what generally first comes to mind, but it’s quite easy to start a Facebook page but another thing altogether to maintain it, find your audience, and keep them engaged. It’s important to keep up to date with what the latest and most popular social media sites are, without jumping on board to every single new one that’s created.

In “The Hyperlinked School Library: Engage, Explore, Celebrate” (Stephens, 2010), a sign was shown in a library that stated that the computers were for educational purposes only and games had been removed from them. The view of “what if people use things in a way we didn’t intend” is one that tends to be closed-minded and does more harm than good. Instead of putting that sign up, they could have had some of the computers with games and some without if distraction were the issue — instead of the library’s view of how they “should” be used.

Firstly, the wording is very strict and, personally, makes me not even want to use the computers because, when you tell a young student something is for educational purposes, it makes it much less fun. And shouldn’t the library be fun?

After all, the goal of the library is to encourage students to use it. If the students are on their own time (after school activities, free period, etc) then what they do in their own time doesn’t have to be educational. The school librarians could have seen if they could set up a club or after school program for games on the computers, or find some way to keep the computer use fun without alienating students with wording.

This mindset reminds me of Young Justice, a DC animated show that was taken off of the air in 2013 despite being critically acclaimed and loved by the audience because their core demographic was actually females when they were aiming for mostly males. From an interview with Paul Dini, who worked on the show:

Dini goes on to mention how the Young Justice stories were much more teenager-oriented but the trend is to hit younger audiences with the newer shows. He said, “They’re all for the boys, we do not want the girls! I mean, I’ve heard executives say this, you know, not where I am but at other places, saying like, ‘We do not want girls watching these shows.” When Smith pointed out that was a strange move because, well, women are 51% of the population, Dini said, “They don’t buy toys. The girls buy different toys.”

Pantozzi, Jill. “Warner Bros. Animation Takes Issue With Girls Watching Their Programs.” The Mary Sue, 20 Dec. 2013,

Thankfully, six years later (in 2019), Young Justice was brought back because:

The affection that fans have had for Young Justice, and their rallying cry for more episodes, has always resonated with us. We are excited to bring the show back for this loyal fanbase and to provide an opportunity for new viewers to discover this excellent series.

Cecchini, Mike. “Young Justice Season 3 Release Date, Trailers, Episodes, and News.” Den of Geek, 10 May 2019,

What does any of this even have to do with libraries? Well, I tend to learn and teach with real-world examples and stories, so that’s part of it. However, the underlying message is the same: instead of excluding people when they do something with a program that you didn’t intend for them to do (unless, of course, it’s destructive), then it’s best to stop and consider how the way that the people are using the program.

Is it expanding its original use? Is it helping reach more people? In what ways can we study our users and see if their needs expand far beyond what we have offered, and are they just using what tools they have to fit their needs? In the end, it’s important to assess why the patrons are using a tool in a different way, and how we can meet their ever-evolving needs in the best, most engaging way possible.



Stephens, Michael. “The Hyperlinked School Library: Engage, Explore, Celebrate.” Tame The Web, 2 March 2010, Accessed 5 Sept. 2019.


Posted by on September 6, 2019 in Reflections

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