Hyperlinked Loria

December 2, 2020

A Work of Heart

Filed under: Uncategorized — by @ 2:13 am

The Reflective Practice module really hit home with a lot of emotional points for me, which I suppose has truly been the underlying premise of the Hyperlinked Library course. As many others will confess, 2020 has been particularly grueling. For much of the year, I felt that rather than coming together (in a socially-distanced manner) and overcoming the challenges, many felt pitted against one another. There was anger and frustration, and I believe a lot of that was (and continues to be) fueled by fear. We don’t know what tomorrow will bring, let alone the next hour, but the risks scare us and so we act defensively- it seems only natural. Listening and reading about soft skills reminded me just how important these skills are in simply being a good human being, but also how they can and should be applied to being a good leader.

In Livia Gershon’s article, “The Future is Emotional,” she writes, “A growing real-world demand for workers with empathy and talent for making other people feel at ease requires a serious shift in perspective. It means moving away from our singular focus on academic performance as to the road to success. It means giving more respect, and better pay, to workers too often generically dismissed as ‘unskilled labor.” Working with the public comes with all sorts of uncharted territory. As we have said several times before, libraries are safe havens for all, including people who may have specific emotional needs. Being compassionate and understanding how to approach people is key to maintaining that safe haven environment. It’s not something we can learn from a textbook- the soft skills are something that go much deeper than a text can. It comes from experience, it comes from patience, but most importantly, it comes from the heart. 

What shook me to my core in reading this article is Gershon’s point about police training. She writes, “Police officers, for example, spend 80 percent of their time on ‘service-related functions,’ according to George T. Patterson, a social work scholar in New York who consults with police departments. Every day, officers arrive at families’ footsteps to mediate disputes and respond to mental-health crises. Yet training at US police departments focuses almost exclusively on weapons use, defence tactics, and criminal law. Predictably, there are regular reports of people calling the police for help with a confused family member who’s wandering in traffic, only to see their loved one shot down in front of them.” It’s painful to note that this article was written three years before the horrible events that have taken place in just the last few months.

Tapping into our emotional skills and connecting with people in that way is a way to remind them that we are so much more than a title or a job. We’re people who go through similar things, feel similar feelings, and think similar thoughts. Approaching difficult situations with a level head, understanding, and compassion could quite literally save lives. In the midst of this pandemic, I think remembering that this is something everyone is going through is important. Everyone deserves some patience, a listening ear, and maybe even a headnod to show you understand. The simplest things go such a long way.

I will not be walking away from the Hyperlinked Library course empty-handed. I truly feel like I needed this course at this point in my life. I found that exploring the modules were moments in my week that I looked forward to. The articles (and all of my classmates’ thoughtful discussion posts!) reminded me why I’m working so hard to be in this field. It’s easy to get frustrated with work and bogged down by depressing news, but it’s important to immerse yourself in positivity, and that’s truly what this course offered. I guess this is just my way of saying thank you 🙂

I also wanted to include a very quick note about librarians being dog-people and just how true a statement that is. Making sure a pet is happy, loved, and taken care of so they can live their best life- is that not the perfect way to approach a service-oriented job? (I also can never resist an opportunity to mention my sweet pups- pictured below with my husband and me, in what was a rough attempt at a timer-set family portrait this Thanksgiving. Note Beesly’s tongue!).

References:

“The Future is Emotional” by Livia Gershon: https://aeon.co/essays/the-key-to-jobs-in-the-future-is-not-college-but-compassion

“Talk About Compassion” by Michael Stephens: https://287.hyperlib.sjsu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/StephensWholeheartedDozer.pdf

December 1, 2020

Symposium Submission: Five in Five (or Nine) Takeaways from Hyperlinked Libraries

Filed under: Uncategorized — by @ 4:03 am

Please ignore the choppy editing- it was my first time using Canva to edit a video!

November 29, 2020

The Humans of the Library Project

Filed under: Uncategorized — by @ 9:34 pm

Below is my Director’s Brief that I would submit to my own library’s director for consideration. My proposal is to bring the Human Library concept to the virtual world by creating a series of programs under the Humans of the Library umbrella. This series would first include a strong, social media presence that highlights library staff, and then evolves to include public submissions. From this social media project, library staff will then offer one-to-one Zoom sessions for people to “check out humans” and engage in a virtual conversation using the teleconferencing platform. Finally, recordings of interviews and conversations can be edited and uploaded to the library’s website as a “Voices from the Library” podcast. I focused primarily on the Power of Stories module, but from a pandemic lens. I wanted to offer something that allows people to connect during a time when connecting is a challenge, in a way that utilizes the technology available to us today.

November 20, 2020

:)

Filed under: Uncategorized — by @ 7:17 pm

When I first began my job at my library, I was warned often by my colleagues not to use exclamation points in any of my writing, whether it was an email, flyer, poster- you name it. I found this a bit odd but I listened to their warnings nonetheless. It wasn’t until I included the dreaded exclamation point in one of my emails that I began to understand why the punctuation mark was to be avoided- I was sent an email from my director that simply said “You’re now down to two exclamation points that can be used for your career at this library” (or something along those lines). I asked my colleagues if she was kidding, and to my surprise, she was not. My director believes that a librarian should only be allotted a total of three exclamation points that can be used throughout their career at the library and should be used very sparingly. Though a bit extreme, I believe her point (no pun intended) is that we need to be concise in our writing and let any emotion or tone come through with the choice of our words and not our choice of punctuation. I must say, especially when I often communicate with children, adhering to the three exclamation point rule has been challenging (and I’ll admit to having broken that rule quite a bit) but I think the moral of this story stands true- communication is vital and we need to think before we speak (or type). I was reminded of this situation when I read Professor Stephens article “Library Emoji” that shows how language has evolved and blended with the digital age.

Stephens refers to a Wired article written by Clive Thompson. He notes that emojis add “an emotional tenor to hard copy,” and I feel that’s what might be missing from emails that read too harshly or come off cold (I wonder if my director would deem emojis a suitable substitute for exclamation points). Throughout the current COVID-19 pandemic, new challenges have certainly arised (in more ways than one), but particularly with communication. My colleague, who used to just pop over to my side of the office to ask a question was now texting or calling me throughout the day. Emails developed a “tone” that often upset me which I now realize is a tone my own brain implied. I found that an email with a gif or an emoji was reassurance that the person sending it was in good spirits and not to read too much into something that simply wasn’t there. As emojis have become their own language, we have adopted some programming that interprets this new version of the Wingdings font. We’ve run “Guess the Book Title” with emojis on our Instagram account with enthusiastic responses from our patrons. Though on the surface an emoji is just a symbol that represents a feeling, I think it shows how communication and reading is transforming- just as libraries are.

Sample of Emoji Book Titles

In Cory Doctorow’s article, “Libraries and Makerspaces: a Match made in heaven,” he writes, “Public libraries have always been places where skilled information professionals assisted the general public with the eternal quest to understand the world.” Understanding the world is a tremendous task, especially when the world changes at the drop of a hat (let the use of emojis in written communication stand as proof of that). As the world changes, libraries run right alongside those changes. For example, in Luba Vangelova’s article, “What does the next generation school library look like?” she writes about how her library was no longer a place of silent study, that it was abuzz with the sounds of learning and collaboration. I remember a few years ago, a patron emailed me to tell me that “the children’s department staff needed to implement a shushing policy,” and complained that the room was always too loud to get quiet work done. I apologized to her, referred her to our quiet study areas, but I explained that the children’s department has always been and will continue to be a “shush-free” zone. We welcome the sounds of collaboration (although we will remind teens that there are young ears listening and to keep the topics clean).

So how does a noisy children’s department link back to the use of emojis? Looking at it through the COVID-19 lens, I think emojis are the visual equivalent of a noisy room- conveying tone, emotion, thought, and expression during a time when communication is challenged. I’m glad to see that libraries are embracing this form of communication as it contributes to keeping our library world buzzing.

References:

“Libraries and Makerspaces: a match made in heaven” by Cory Doctorow: https://boingboing.net/2013/02/25/libraries-and-makerspaces-a-m.html?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

“What Does a Next Generation School Library Look Like?” by Luba Vangelova: https://www.kqed.org/mindshift/36326/what-does-the-next-generation-school-library-look-like

“LibraryEmoji” by Michael Stephens: Stephens, M. (2016). LibraryEmoji. Library Journal.

October 27, 2020

The People-Person Program-People*

Filed under: Uncategorized — by @ 5:20 pm

*Sorry everyone, I can never resist an opportunity to throw in an Office reference 🙂

I first decided that I wanted to be a journalist during my sophomore year of high school. I loved wandering the halls with feature story ideas churning around my restless head. Each kid that I passed had some kind of story to tell; some wanted to shout it from the rooftops, others wanted to quietly jot it down in their notebooks on a blank page behind their history notes. The challenge for me, as the journalist, was to get to know them well enough that they trusted me to tell their story. Albeit challenging, it was a thrill to lose myself for a moment and get wrapped up in my subject’s world. It was that challenge that carried me through college when I declared my major to be journalism. 

As time went on, my articles strayed away from the fascinating people that drew me into the field, and went the way of politics, budgets, and town hall minutes. I learned early on that the career I yearned meant first writing the dry articles people read out of necessity rather than pleasure. I found the stories that enticed me and led me to journalism in the first place were starting to draw me someplace else- to books. I tacked Literature on as another major in college and found solace from the boring articles I was writing within the pages of the books I read. After I graduated, my love of books brought me to the library, and I’ve been there ever since. That’s just a small sample from my own little story, but the crux of what I’m trying to convey is that stories transport us; mentally, of course, but sometimes physically, too.

I find the concept of a Human Library to be utterly fascinating. Though on the surface the idea of “checking out a person instead of a book” seems a bit bizarre, when put into practice it’s an ingenious way for people to get to know one another, network, and connect. Or, as the Human Library in Denmark aptly puts it, “The goal is to get beyond assumptions and stereotypes, to ‘unjudge someone.’” I think something magical happens when worlds collide. I think we can finally see one another when we take a moment to consider a different perspective. Mark Ray’s article “Courageous Conversations at the Human Library” features interviews with volunteers and coordinators of the Human Library in Denmark. Ray quotes the Library’s website, “Before the first reader could take out a book, the talks were already going on extensively and the feeling of something very special was in the air. The policeman sitting there speaking with the graffiti writer. The politician in discussions with the youth activists and the football fan in a deep chat with the feminist. It was a win-win situation and has been ever since.” Erasing our dividing lines is so important, especially in today’s totally polarized political climate.

So other than embracing the power of stories and the people who create them, why might a library implement a Human Library program? What makes libraries the key place to host such a program? As Erin Wentz writes in her article “The Human Library: Sharing the Community With Itself,” “The public library serves as public forum and as a place for the exchange of ideas. Most public libraries also define themselves in part as places for people to find information and as places where people learn. The human library provides a place for people, both readers and books, to frankly explore ideas through one-on-one dialogues.” The library is a place where all are welcome; a place where people are encouraged to listen, learn, and connect with others. What better way to achieve those goals than with conversation?

Particularly in our current quarantined lives, the concept of the human library has even more value. People crave contact and human interaction, even if the interaction is virtual. We all have a story to tell, and I believe the library is the perfect place to tell them.

References:

https://www.nextavenue.org/courageous-conversations-human-library/

October 21, 2020

Augmenting Reality at Ridgewood Public Library

Filed under: Uncategorized — by @ 3:43 am

Introduction/ Goals/ Objectives for Technology
On July 6, 2016 the world grabbed their smartphones and hit the streets and wandered to parks, stores, libraries, and post offices in search of something that seemed to defy reality- they were searching for Pokemon. Pokemon Go was enormously popular, albeit a little dangerous at times. The mobile app was a wildly successful introduction for some to the world of augmented reality. Augmented Reality is “the use of technology which allows the perception of the physical world to be enhanced or modified by computer-generated stimuli perceived with the aid of special equipment.” For example, some companies, like the eyeglass company Warby Parker, allows its customers to virtually try on a pair of glasses by using their smartphones to project their chosen frames on their face through their camera’s selfie mode. Even sports broadcasters will use AR projections to draw lines on the field to analyze plays. AR is not necessarily a new concept, but its use and popularity is certainly beginning to grow, especially in schools and libraries.

I would like to introduce augmented reality and virtual reality technologies at the Ridgewood Public Library. Back in 2016 when Pokemon Go was first introduced, we noticed many kids visiting the library in search of Pokemon hidden in the stacks. In response, we created a library display that had pictures of Pokemon in front of books about the animals that inspired the Pokemon design. It was our way of showing our patrons that we understood the Pokemon Go phenomenon, and wanted to participate in some way, even if just in the way of a book display. I believe that implementing more AR technology in the library will expand on the patron’s use of the library and permit them the opportunity to experience new locations and gather information without having to go any further than their local library.

If the library was able to acquire necessary equipment, like tablets that could be circulated, I believe the library’s services could expand to bring books to life with animated characters, help patrons learn about their surroundings, translate languages, and more. By implementing AR technology at Ridgewood Public Library, I believe patrons will get more out of their library visit and will define the library as a place to learn and possibly find hidden treasures.

Description of Community to Engage
Although I believe that AR technology can benefit library users of every age, my project plan will target children and teens from PreK through grade 12. Particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual learning has become taxing for parents and children alike. By reinventing and reintroducing the concept of virtual learning, I believe that AR technology can bring their lessons to life and allow them to interact with their lessons in a way that a Zoom session with their teacher simply can’t. I also believe that, like with Pokemon Go, if the library can be a rich source for a virtual scavenger hunt, it will entice kids to visit the library in their search. The Ridgewood community is a small, diverse, and affluent community just thirty minutes away from Manhattan. Most library patrons, even as young as third grade, have their own or access to a smartphone or tablet, however my intention is for the library to be able to provide and circulate tablets for those who do not have access to the necessary equipment. 

Action Brief Statement
I plan to convince Ridgewood students of all ages and their parents/caregivers that by using augmented reality they will interact with their environment and materials which will enhance their understanding of subjects because of the hands-on opportunity that AR technology offers.

Evidence & Resources to Support Technology/ Service

Harvard Business Review “A Manager’s Guide to Augmented Reality:” https://hbr.org/2017/11/a-managers-guide-to-augmented-reality

The Franklin Institute “What is Augmented Reality?:” https://www.fi.edu/what-is-augmented-reality

Association of College & Research Libraries “Keeping up with Augmented Reality:” http://www.ala.org/acrl/publications/keeping_up_with/ar

Lucidea “Augmented Reality in Libraries: Technology Trends that Aren’t ‘Out-There’ Anymore:” https://lucidea.com/blog/augmented-reality-in-libraries-technology-trends-that-arent-out-there-anymore/

Web Junction “How Maryland Libraries are Using Virtual and Augmented Reality (And How Your Library Can Too):” https://www.webjunction.org/news/webjunction/virtual-and-augmented-reality.html

American Libraries “Virtual and Augmented Reality: Creating Special Places within the Library:” https://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/2018/09/04/virtual-augmented-reality-library/

Digital Trends “The Best Augmented Reality Apps for Android and iOS:” https://www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/best-augmented-reality-apps/

Mission, Guidelines, & Policy Related to Technology/ Service
To be consistent with all library policies, Ridgewood Library administration and Library Board will be involved in developing policies related to AR technologies implemented in the library. As this technology is being targeted to school-age patrons, the youth services department staff will also have a hand in developing policies and user guidelines, as well as our IT department head. The new AR-focused policy should also adhere to the policies set forth for e-reader circulation as well as rules of conduct policies that cover the overall library. For example, although the Ridgewood Public Library does not permit filming or photography in the library without the director’s permission, adjustments should be considered to make use of the AR technology.

Use of AR technology at Ridgewood Public Library certainly supports the library’s overall mission statement as cited below:

The Ridgewood Public Library is dedicated to providing information, education, culture and inspiration. We encourage our community to pursue lifelong learning and the enjoyment of books, programs and resources in a variety of formats. We strive to offer the best possible library materials, staff, technology and facility, with ready and equal access to residents of all ages. 

I believe that AR technology offers patrons the opportunity to enjoy traditional library offerings, like books, in a new, immersive format. It’s also a leading, emerging technology that patrons can learn to use to enhance their library experience.

Fundraising Considerations for this Technology/ Service
Because so much of AR technology relies on patrons having access to smartphones or tablets, it may not require much in the way of funding. However, if successful marketing takes place, there may be a higher demand for tablets available from the library and therefore funding would go toward developing the library’s tech lending collection. I may consider applying for statewide grants, like the Baker and Taylor Summer Reading Club grant that could provide upwards of $3,000 for future summer reading club programming. If Ridgewood Library were to implement AR technology throughout the library, we could rethink our Summer Reading Club plans to include this new, immersive technology in the way of a virtual scavenger hunt or a means to explore the world by simply visiting the library and using one of our tablets. 

I will also consider presenting this plan to our Ridgewood Library Foundation who generously fundraises and donates to the library annually with the intent to fund emerging technology incentives.

Library staff with smartphones or tablets should also look to download appropriate apps as suggested from reputable reviews to better understand how AR works so they can help promote the services to library patrons with confidence.

Action Steps & Timeline 
If AR technology is approved by the library director and library board, the following timeline can be followed to ensure that successful AR implementation in library programming and services can be offered by the summer of 2021. 

  • November 2020: Project proposal is introduced to library director and library board. Consideration and approval time: 4-6 weeks
  • Researching apps and acquiring necessary equipment: 6-8 weeks
  • Staff training: ongoing, but staff should begin feeling confident using AR technology and supporting patrons with 8-10 weeks of training. This could also include offering tech classes to patrons as a means to highlight the impending AR equipment and capabilities that the library will be offering in the near future.
  • Marketing and Setup: 4-6 weeks. This will include townwide newsletters, social media posts, and word of mouth.

In the event that the library director and/or board does not approve the proposed AR technology services plan, library staff should still receive training and the library should still seek to acquire additional tablets as a means to serve and assist the public, even if the library doesn’t use AR technology in its own services.

Staffing Considerations for this Technology/ Service
Using AR technology in the library will run as a self-run, passive program for patrons to experiment with either their own devices or a borrowed device from the library. Library staff should be made aware of how the AR technology functions as a means to assist patrons with their questions, however the programming will be self-led by the patrons who use the technology. Library staff can certainly use AR technology to help promote library services and materials as an additional approach to their marketing tactics.

Training for this Technology/ Service
As is true with all new technology, there will be questions that will come flooding in from patrons. Is my phone compatible? Where can I borrow a tablet? How does AR work? What are the privacy ramifications of using AR? Before a new technology can be successfully implemented in the library, it’s important to explore these questions, have a clear and concise usage policy, and a strong understanding of how to use the technology. Staff, primarily in the youth services department, should feel confident in recommending and using AR technology and in addition to the IT staff, will be the go-to people to answer AR-related questions.

Promotion & Marketing for this Technology/ Service
I don’t think that a successful marketing tactic would be traditional flyers strewn about town. Instead, I think it’s important to match higher technology with a more technological approach to marketing. I think instructional/ introductory videos on the library’s YouTube channel would be effective, as well as utilizing social media platforms like Facebook/ Instagram Live. If patrons are encouraged to use their smartphones and tablets for AR technology, it makes sense to reach them on those devices. Of course, signage throughout the library as well as generated QR codes throughout the library that lead to the YouTube videos will also be effective in spreading the word. Partnering with local vendors and businesses may also be a fun way to bring the community together with a virtual scavenger hunt using AR technology.

Evaluation
General traffic into the library will be a good indication that AR technology is enticing patrons to come in and experiment. I am also hopeful that there will be an increase in circulation for our tablets as well as reading materials if patrons are able to interact with the text by way of AR technology. I believe introducing AR technology will also boost interest in ESL programming at the library, as Google translate will make translating text a little easier and will help break communication barriers among library patrons. I believe that by successfully implementing AR technology at Ridgewood Library, patrons will be more excited about what they can find at the library beyond the books on the shelves. I also think that it will make learning more interactive and accessible beyond the library’s walls. By offering AR and VR technologies, patrons are able to explore other countries, museums, and even their own public library from the comforts of home, which is especially convenient during quarantine scenarios as is being experienced with the COVID-19 pandemic.

References
American Libraries “Virtual and Augmented Reality: Creating Special Places within the Library:” https://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/2018/09/04/virtual-augmented-reality-library/

Association of College & Research Libraries “Keeping up with Augmented Reality:” http://www.ala.org/acrl/publications/keeping_up_with/ar

Digital Trends “The Best Augmented Reality Apps for Android and iOS:” https://www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/best-augmented-reality-apps/

Fast Company “The biggest tech trends of 2019:”
https://www.fastcompany.com/90283458/the-biggest-tech-trends-of-2019-according-to-top-experts

The Franklin Institute “What is Augmented Reality?:” https://www.fi.edu/what-is-augmented-reality

Harvard Business Review “A Manager’s Guide to Augmented Reality:” https://hbr.org/2017/11/a-managers-guide-to-augmented-reality

Lucidea “Augmented Reality in Libraries: Technology Trends that Aren’t ‘Out-There’ Anymore:” https://lucidea.com/blog/augmented-reality-in-libraries-technology-trends-that-arent-out-there-anymore/

Web Junction “How Maryland Libraries are Using Virtual and Augmented Reality (And How Your Library Can Too):” https://www.webjunction.org/news/webjunction/virtual-and-augmented-reality.html

October 8, 2020

Renovating Renovation Plans

Filed under: Uncategorized — by @ 3:39 am

I have been working at the Ridgewood Public Library for six years, and for all six of those years the administrative offices have been abuzz with the intent to fund a tremendous library renovation. Ridgewood Library has a very interesting history- it started as a very small, volunteer-run library with just a couple thousand donated books. In the mid-sixties, the community’s demand for a substantial library brought it to its current larger location. The last renovation was in 1998, and although my brain likes to think that this was just five or six years ago, it shocks (and saddens me a bit) that that was over twenty years ago, and therefore another renovation is not out of the question. I’m also not alone in ignoring the passage of time- many community members feel that the library “just had” a renovation and are resistant to the proposal.When it comes to the approach of introducing renovation plans to the public, the situation was handled by reflecting first on what people get out of the library. Next, they rethought the space to reflect the people’s needs, then they went back to the drawing board after receiving feedback from the public. The plans are still far from being brought to life, especially with the world at a current stand-still due to the pandemic, but the process of developing, listening, and redeveloping library renovation plans is very reflective of what librarians do on a day to day basis- we make plans, we see how those plans work out, and then we adapt those plans. (If anyone is interested in taking a look at RPL’s renovation plans, here they are: https://www.reimaginerpl.org)

I found Jakob Guillois Laerkes’s article “The four spaces of the public library” to be a fascinating explanation of how to approach a library renovation and rethinking the space. He explains that there is a four-space model to consider when discussing the values of the public library. The spaces include the inspiration space, the learning space, the meeting space, and the performative space; each support the goals of public libraries which includes experience, involvement, empowerment, and innovation. I’m going to take a second to highlight another article, but I’m going to come back to this four-space model.

In a survey conducted in 2014, Americans showed that they appreciate libraries and the role they play in communities (about 90% said if the local library closed, it would impact their community). They also expressed that access to books, media, and quiet, safe reading places top the list of their favorite library services. In an article produced by the Pew Research Center also in 2014, 95% of Americans felt it was important for public libraries to provide free access to computers and the internet to the community. One librarian noted that libraries should move away from being ‘houses of knowledge,’ and move toward being ‘houses of access.’

My momentary digression from the four-space model is to demonstrate just how the needs and interests of the library patron can attribute to the implementation of these spaces. People need computers and internet access. It’s also important that libraries have a useful website, as many library users have begun taking note that library websites have what they’re looking for. As an inspirational space, utilizing the online platform is a way for people to feel empowered to find information, learn something new, and expand beyond familiar choices.

People want access to books, and many feel that the library is crucial for children’s literacy- and here we find the learning space. Designing a space that’s conducive to learning means of course having a space where people can collect and use materials, including books which we have learned is one of the primary services people look for from their libraries.

Libraries have become community centers where people can meet, learn, and grow together- and here we have the meeting space. And lastly, the survey suggests that most people believe that libraries are crucial to the well-being of the communities in which they live. Therefore, a library needs a performative space where communities can have access to the tools necessary to support their creative activities that also reflects how libraries are adapting to meet every need of their patrons. Activities like musical performances, movie-watching, or acting can be supported, as well as simply providing a space to display artwork all contribute to the performative space.

Although Ridgewood Library’s primary focus was bringing the library up to date, I believe the four space model will be reflected in their plan as they have made a conscious effort to reach out to the community to confirm what they are looking for from their library.

References:

https://blogs.ifla.org/public-libraries/2016/03/29/the-four-spaces-of-the-public-library

http://libraries.pewinternet.org/2014/07/09/public-libraries-and-technology-from-houses-of-knowledge-to-houses-of-access/

September 24, 2020

From Brick & Mortar to URLs- Finding A Safe Space

Filed under: Uncategorized — by @ 8:34 pm

I was not unlike so many other college graduates back in 2013. With a freshly printed diploma and four years of higher education under my belt, it was exciting (albeit intimidating) to look into the great beyond and find a job that might suit the skills I had spent the last four years honing. With no desire to continue working at the matrimonial law firm I was withering away in, I set my sights on any and all the possibilities that were out there- from nannying, to interning at colleges- even a very brief stint at David’s Bridal- nothing seemed to suit me until a friend of mine suggested I check library job boards. I applied to the first job I found that was within a reasonable commuting distance, and I am happy to say that I have been at that job for six and a half years now. About one month into my new job, it became clear to me that I had begun to work somewhere that was more than just a building with books organized within. It was a community gathering space- a space where people of all ages, backgrounds, and interests could come together and learn. Reading Amy Stoll’s short article “The Healing Power of Libraries,” I was struck by how beautiful her perception of libraries is. She writes about how her library, located in Ferguson, Missouri, became an oasis with “Wifi, water, rest, and knowledge,” during the protests that followed the fatal police-shooting of Michael Brown. Stolls’s library offered “healing kits” for kids, complete with books about dealing with traumatic events. The library was a safe space where people could take pause. The response from the community was profound as donations of signed books as well as monetary donations began to come in to support the library and their ongoing mission to heal a hurting town.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, librarians have been forced to think of the library outside of its physical space. Among other reasons, public libraries are unique in that they offer a free space where patrons can sit for hours on end, uninterrupted, free of charge, and no questions asked. The current pandemic unfortunately stripped library users of that access for the time being, and yet still- I’m reminded frequently from patrons just how valuable they find the library outside of its physical space. Patrons seem to appreciate the librarians and the people that make the library resources accessible, whether it’s virtual ESL classes, virtual Read to a Dog (in fact, below is my dog Beesly sitting *somewhat* patiently while a couple readers sit in on Zoom for a reading appointment), or story time content- what we produce is consumed with appreciation from not just frequent library-users, but people who had never stepped foot in our library in the past.

That being said, I truly appreciated the Bryan Kenney article titled, “The User is (Still) Not Broken,” which is a response piece to the 2007 Schneider piece, “The User is Not Broken.” Just as libraries are physically safe havens for patrons, it’s our responsibility now to still be a safe haven in a remote, virtual capacity. What comes to mind first and foremost is having a strong, user-friendly online presence. Considering the fact that most librarians spend the majority of their days on the computer doing research- library websites tend to be abysmally designed. Kenney writes, “But if libraries’ websites really are their ambassadors, then many of us librarians need to pay more attention to them. Some sites still have poor usability (five clicks to get to popular resources?) and are full of strange library jargon.” At my current library, we suffered with a horrendous website- pages upon pages that were outdated, multiple designs all thrown together into a digital scrapbook of chaos, and an impossibility to navigate (even by staff!) truly plagued our website. When staff first began working from home, the first task that was assigned to our technical team was to redesign the website into one clear, cohesive and comprehensive site. Although it’s still being tinkered with, it has been a huge improvement from where we started, and our patrons have taken notice. Our statistics have improved and there’s more traffic to the overall site. If we couldn’t be there for our patrons in a physical sense, then we had to adapt and be there in a virtual sense.

“Last time I checked, Dunder Mifflin already has a website. I’m not really sure what’s wrong with it.” – Jim Halpert
I have come across library website that might not be quite this bad, but are darn close.

To put it in my beloved Harry Potter terms, I believe that libraries are Rooms of Requirement- providing precisely what its user needs upon entering. Whether it’s a quiet place to sit with their thoughts, a bustling community center to make new connections, the library can offer it. When faced with the challenge of a global pandemic, libraries have been able to shift to still fulfill the “Room of Requirement” needs- from a virtual platform. Although the internet has been around for years, I think libraries are still grappling with how best to use this resource by creating their own presence on it. COVID-19 has thrust us into a position to truly embrace the online world and take the time to focus on building the virtual space as we have spent years perfecting the physical space.

References:

https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/libraries/article/60780-the-user-is-still-not-broken.html
https://www.arts.gov/article/healing-power-libraries
https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/w9Q4y62HyHNaAaMLRJGpkdbs2T7Up6kXoKxOgFL2zamsr3puqxLUMaJVzm88lY76L_MplcI7HuuJNirHP_Fi4DTsEtN_X6Z5b6il_f2Nj2sYl_O7Q69Ch7_2-JSSokDId5ocyTvW

September 14, 2020

Catching On

Filed under: Uncategorized — by @ 3:18 am

Trends come and go, and in the fast-paced technological world we live in, those trends seem to come and go quite rapidly. “Going viral” may be the fast-track to fifteen minutes (or even seconds) of fame, but it fades quickly when the next buzzworthy topic makes headlines. In Jonah Berger’s book Contagious: Why Things Catch On, he explains the elements of successful marketing and how focusing on those elements can create lasting appeal among targeted audiences. Berger breaks down the concept of contagiousness into five key elements: social currency, triggers, emotion, practical value, and stories. Each of these elements can be used to shape contagious content and bring great ideas to fruition (25). 

Social Currency
Particularly in the last ten to fifteen years, social media has largely become the primary marketing tool and communication platform for people and businesses alike. As Berger notes, people like to share, and by sharing, we feel that it gives insight into our individuality. We seek “social wealth,” or to be perceived positively by others. Berger writes, “Just as others use money to buy products or services, they use social currency to achieve desired positive impressions among their families, friends, and colleagues” (36) He further breaks down how to achieve social currency with three main parts including finding inner remarkability, leveraging the game mechanics, and making people feel like insiders. I was particularly drawn to the second point of game mechanics as this is exactly how we market our summer reading club. Kids are attracted to friendly competition, and though the topic is somewhat controversial, they also seek rewards and prizes for their accomplishments. This past summer, children who read for thirty minutes a day for five days were asked to fill out a form and their name was entered into a raffle for that week. The more they read, the more chances they had to win a prize. This game platform gives an additional challenge and encourages kids to set goals. As Berger mentions, “game mechanics motivate us on an interpersonal level by encouraging social comparison.” (47).

Triggers
Sights, sounds, smells- they all trigger our minds. How can we embrace that fact to have it work for our own promotional purposes? Berger provides the example of the color red and a soda- most people will think of Coca-Cola (70). People draw associations based on these triggers, and it’s important to consider the psychology behind that while marketing programs for the library. For example, at the library where I work, (pre-Covid) we host trivia night at a local restaurant. It became very popular and we drew in new patrons who may not have been library users before. We’ve been told that they ask about trivia every time they come to the restaurant. The restaurant atmosphere triggers their memories of a good time they had that was associated with the library.

Emotion
Berger simply states, “when we care, we share, (96)” and I believe that hitting people’s emotions is essential in getting them to initially pay attention. If we respond emotionally to something, it’s stored in our memories and prompts us to action. For example, The Dodo is an organization with a particularly strong Instagram account that truly plays on the users’ emotions. Stories of neglected animals finding homes, or sick critters getting well again- it’s the tear-jerking response that leads viewers to want to help, or to find ways that they can be a part in the happy ending to the shared stories. Connecting with people’s emotions simply shows that we’re all human.

Public
Have you ever wondered why the apple on a Mac laptop faces outward? Berger explains, “[Steve] Jobs realized that seeing others do something makes people more likely to do it themselves (127).” With the Apple logo facing outward, it’s the easiest form of advertising. People often imitate those around them and by observing abundant usage, it earns our approval and therefore encourages us to do the same and buy an Apple product. To provide an example that hits a little closer to home, at the library where I work, we partnered with DC comics to design superhero library cards. The library cards served the same purpose as our traditional cards, but the kids loved them. They began to see their peers with fun new designs and inquired how to get their own. Once we had a handful of families interested in using the new cards, it drew wide appeal and more people asked for their own new card. The more visible the library is in marketing their programs and materials, the wider the audience we can reach.

Practical Value
A few years ago, my husband and I were having an issue with our boiler. There was a red light that turned on that said we needed to have maintenance take a look at it (which we knew meant a hefty bill). We had just had the boiler serviced so we felt it was a waste of money to ask someone to come and inspect it again. So, we turned to YouTube to see if anyone else had had dealt with this issue. We found dozens of videos and tutorials that showed how to flush the line and ultimately turn the pesky light off. We followed one and not ten minutes later, our boiler was just fine (now- if you’re having issues with yourboiler, I would recommend getting it checked by a professional- we didn’t solely because someone had just taken a look!). The practical value of that YouTube video was tremendous for my husband and me- it saved us a scheduling hassle anda hefty price tag of having a professional take a look. In terms of the library, patrons are drawn to convenience. In light of our current pandemic, people love the practicality and convenience of curbside pickup. It keeps them safe if they feel uncomfortable browsing inside the building, and it’s a fast way to get what they need from the library. The practical value of curbside pickup is so substantial, we have discussed keeping it around forever.

Stories
Berger equates blending advertising with storytelling as building a Trojan horse. He writes, “Make sure your desired information is so embedded into the plot that people can’t tell the story without it (201).” Although this feels a bit like subliminal messaging, providing a story does allow people to relate back to the other tenets of contagiousness, namely triggers and emotion. Stories are memorable and can be helpful vehicles to help deliver the information that we want to convey. For example, the children’s department staff led a birthday party for a patron a few years ago. It was Harry Potter themed, and at the end of the party, the mother came up to us and told us that this will be a story her daughter will talk about for years to come. By offering a memorable program, we became part of that patron’s life story, and (hopefully) they will always relate that story back to how the library gave back to her and helped form a happy memory.

Conclusion

Jonah Berger’s book Contagious: Why Things Catch Onwas a truly fascinating look into the human psyche to discover what works in the way of marketing. Beyond providing useful tips in advertising and marketing practices, it enlightened me to my own behaviors and how I can be triggered by successful marketing tactics. At times, I will admit to feeling a bit exposed in the way we process information, but to understand people means to understand what people are looking for. As librarians, we must do more than just provide programs and materials- we must understand how to draw patrons in. By understanding the patron better, we can provide better resources for them.

Reference:

Berger, J. (2013). Contagious: Why Things Catch On. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.

September 5, 2020

Electronic Media in the Time of COVID-19

Filed under: Uncategorized — by @ 2:48 am

I could physically feel my eyebrows furrow when I began reading “Redesigning Library Services: A Manifesto,” because I thought “so much of what Buckland is saying is so painfully obvious.” And then, referring back to the beginning of the article, I realize it was originally published in 1992! It’s incredible to see how well-defined the future was for Buckland who predicted much of what proves to be true today. He writes, “The concept of the Electronic Library is important because library materials will increasingly be available in machine-readable form, users will need access to them, and access will, therefore, have to be provided.” He continues, “it is possible to make electronic media available so that they can be used from a distance, can be used by more than one person at a time, and can be used in more different ways.” I reread these few passages with fresh eyes, understanding that this was written almost thirty years ago, and what I originally thought was obvious I found to be an astute observation of library trends and understanding how libraries grow and adapt. The introduction of the hyperlinked library redefined the very role of a librarian- from guiding patrons to a specific book to help with their inquiry, the information available is overwhelmingly vast, and therefore a librarian serves as a filter to narrow down this broad, virtual landscape well beyond the bookshelf.

During the summer semester, I took the History of U.S. Libraries course (and I highly recommend it!) and my final research paper focused on public library responses to health crises in the past, and how libraries are currently handling the COVID-19 pandemic. Though I will not downplay the significant and often detrimental impact that the pandemic has had on libraries, I will say that because of the decision to embrace the technological age, libraries have been able to thrive with digital content, online resources, and virtual communication. Technologies like Zoom, Google Hangout, and even Facebook Live have allowed us to connect during a time of national lockdown. Speaking personally, the children’s department where I work has had a spike in program attendance because of the virtual platform. I don’t get through my day without a Zoom conference call- and I can’t wrap my head around how we could have navigated our current challenge in 1992 when the world wide web had only just been introduced for public use the year before.

I respect that Michael Buckland was so forward-thinking, and I was reminded of his article while reading the Forbes article, “Do We Need Libraries?” by Steve Denning. He writes, “For several decades, libraries have made significant efforts to make themselves relevant to the computer age with elaborate efforts to computerize services and develop new technology… We need to recognize that the computer age is not fundamentally about computerization. The computer age is about the change in management mindset enables by computerization.” Not unlike what Buckland was referring to, Denning explains that librarians need to embrace and rethink the way we approach the job- librarians and libraries aren’t being replaced, rather, they’re given a tool to help them do their job better, or to provide additional, cutting-edge resources to their patrons. Denning includes several right questions that librarians should consider when brainstorming innovative ways to keep their patrons satisfied. The point that stood out to me the most is “What will make things better, faster, cheaper, more mobile, more convenient or more personalized for our users? The most important words in this question are the last three: ‘for our users.’ Changes that make things better for the library, but make things worse for users, are not the answer.” Both Buckland and Denning make it very clear where the focus should be- on the library user. How does information get to them quickly and easily? How are we, as librarians, able to assist in that information search effectively? Again, I think back on all of the online content and requests for virtual resources since my library’s COVID-19 closing in March and I truly believe that this has been a test to see how far we have come, and how successfully we have embraced the digital age.

References:

“Redesigning Library Services: A Manifesto” by Michael Buckland: https://digitalassets.lib.berkeley.edu/sunsite/Redesigning%20Library%20Services_%20A%20Manifesto%20(HTML).pdf

“Do We Need Libraries?” by Steve Denning of Forbes: https://www.forbes.com/sites/stevedenning/2015/04/28/do-we-need-libraries/?utm_campaign=ForbesTech&utm_source=TWITTER&utm_medium=social&utm_channel=Technology&linkId=13831539#66199ae26cd7

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