Director’s Brief – “FiDi Mobile”

San Francisco is a tech-heavy city with abundant delivery services for essentials like groceries, take-out, dog walking, laundry, house cleaning, car rental, and beyond. The San Francisco Public Library (SFPL), as an essential public service, is constantly working to adapt to the changing needs of the community including fast, instant services and deliverable material. The Financial District and surrounding neighborhoods hold the ​city’s largest concentration of tech companies, corporate headquarters, law firms, and banks, and there is a clear gap in library service for both commuters and residents of this area.

Reflection Blogging #5: Infinite Learning: Learning Everywhere

The Library Techmobile: “This is not just a bus. It’s a movement” – Estella Pyfrom

San Francisco Public Library’s TechMobile

Infinite learning is about bringing new and continuing education, creating instead of consuming, and community engagement for patrons. It’s about making learning available everywhere. This made me think of ways in which libraries are reaching communities on their doorsteps and mobilizing these opportunities. Much like library makerspaces whose main initiatives are to provide functional open spaces for creative learning and collaboration, library techmobiles are doing very much the same. As outlined in “The Digital Shift”, there are parallels between makerspace and roving techmobile goals:

  • Foster play and exploration
  • Facilitate informal learning opportunities
  • Nurture peer-to-peer training
  • Work with community members as true partners, not as users or patrons
  • Develop a culture of creating as opposed to consuming (Britton, 2012).

These book-turned-techmobiles are reaching out to “technology deserts” often lower-income neighborhoods with more minority and immigrant residents (Mayor’s Press Office, 2015). These roving computer labs come to city parks, churches, youth groups, and communities with services ranging from beaming wifi hotspots, opportunities for young students to play with technology, coding lessons, computer access for the homeless, and workshops (Pyatetsky, 2015). 

Techmobile, San Francisco Public Library (SFPL)’s roaming computer lab is a book-free bus bringing instructors to various San Francisco communities including 35 childcare facilities per month, the SF Zoo, four city parks, and community organizations like Homeless Prenatal to offer lessons in basic computer applications, coding, Lego robotics, and 3-D printing as well as general computer access (Witteveen, 2017 & Berdick, 2015). 

San Francisco Public Library’s Techmobile

In addition to Techmobile, SFPL also has a bus called The Library on Wheels dedicated to offering services to seniors, and making monthly visits to approximately 30 senior homes and centers (SFPL). The Library on Wheels brings digital literacy to seniors by providing “Learning & Tech Programs” for basic computer assistance and a “Genealogy 101” class that teaches computer research skills. In a study about senior tech programming, it was found that digital literacy opportunities for seniors greatly impacted their lives from bridging intergenerational gaps, access to long-distance communication with family, and the skills to access more library materials online such as e-books (Meyer, 2015).

Estella Pyfrom’s Brilliant Bus

One of the most famous buses is 78-year-old Estella Pyfrom’s Brilliant Bus which takes technology education to underserved communities in Florida; a roving computer lab that offers computer access to young students (Berdick, 2015). A former teacher, Pyfrom noticed how many students were in danger of being left behind in an age when having a computer at home or reliable transportation to a computer was a necessity for completing homework, but was not a reality for many. She bought a bus with her own savings in 2011, filled it with computers, and hit the road to reach kids ( She says of her initiative, “This is not just a bus. It’s a movement” (Berdick, 2015).

Estella Pyfrom’s Brilliant Bus

Even just offering wifi hotspots in underserved communities is making progress for those who don’t have the means to set up a connection. Library buses in Kokomo, Indiana, Providence, Rhode Island, and Connect.DC in Washington D.C. beam out or loan out wifi hotspots in various neighborhoods and outside their branches (Pyatetsky, 2015). Although these projects can be costly and not necessarily green long-term, cities and libraries nationwide agree that “it’s a hole for public libraries to fill before hopefully access to the Internet becomes more of a utility like water or gas for all Americans” (Pyatetsky, 2015).

Some buses are partnering with local government and big companies like Destination: Chicago (CCOL) which works with the mayor’s office and BestBuy to bring wifi hotspots, computer equipment, and trained mentors to summer camps, libraries, and churches to teach kids block-based coding, video game design, and basic computer skills (Berdick, 2015). CCOL’s mission is to offer opportunities for “young people in a way that allows them to think about, pursue, and develop their interests…and lead them on a pathway to career success” through collaboration, creating and sharing (Mayor’s Press Office, 2015). There is even an option to request the bus and it’s been known to set up hotspots and workstations at festivals and parks. 

Destination: Chicago

These techmobiles are promoting what Professor Stephens coins “life literacies”. Referencing the Institute of Museum and Library Services’ report “Building Digital Communications”, he points out that without access to digital and life literacies, the economic and educational success of American communities are compromised (Stephens, 2016). Filling gaps in services like basic internet access and the opportunity to have meaningful and creative experiences with technology for any age or economic status is necessary in making sure technology deserts have the tools to become flourishing and successful. 


Berdick, C. (2015, October 22). The magic school bus. Future Tense.

Britton, L. (2012, October 1). The makings of maker spaces, part 1: Space for creation, not just consumption. The Digital Shift.

Berger, D. (2013, November 1) “Brilliant Bus” is shrinking digital divide. CNN. (picture)

Estella’s Brilliant Bus (n.d.) (picture)

Mayor’s Press Office. (2015, July 13). Mayor Emanuel launches destination: Chicago mobile van to bring computers and computer learning to underserved neighborhoods this summer. Office of the Mayor.–chicago-mobile-van-to-bring-.html

Meyer, A. (2015, July, 23). Technology classes for senior citizens: Creating an environment where senior citizens can develop technology skills to actively participate in a strong society. Capetown IFLA WLIC 2015.

Pyatetsky, J. (2015, December 29). From Bookmobile to Techmobile. Public Libraries Online.

San Francisco Public Library, (n.d.) Library on wheels program.

Sherman, S. (2017) The techmobile is open. E L Kurdyla Publishing. LLC.

Stephens, M.T. (2016). Heart of librarianship. ALA Editions, pp. 120-123.

Stephens, M. (n.d.) Infinite learning: Learning everywhere.

Witteveen, A. (2017, April 6). Bookmobiles and beyond: New library services on wheels serve newborns through teens. School Library Journal.

Reflection Blogging #4: Do Touch! How Museums are Changing the Way the Vision Impaired Interact with Information

Blind visitors touch a sculpture of the Louvre’s Tactile Gallery collection at the National Museum in Bogota, Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2008.

In thinking about this week’s lecture on new horizons for information organizations and how emerging technologies impact information spaces, I was drawn to the idea of absorbing information through other senses besides sight which is, for sighted people, the first sense we rely on when gathering information. Vision impaired people have unique needs when it comes to accessing information in the library and in other contexts. I have a personal interest in working with disabled people and wrote my INFO 200 research paper last semester on blind technology in the library space. E-readers for books, screen readers (software that uses a keyboard and audio for computer and internet use), braille collections, and adapted physical space in the library are sometimes necessities for the vision impaired community. 

This week, I was drawn to an article by Open Culture on tactile museum spaces, which like libraries, are often public spaces for the community to learn and interact with information like historical artifacts, artwork, or educational events. We often think of museums as sterile, quiet spaces filled with “Do not touch” signs and security guards warning you when you’re too close to a painting. Is this really providing the richest, most inclusive experience for museumgoers? The article made me start thinking of alternative ways to service patrons in information centers as we have explored throughout this class. In 2015, Madrid’s Museo del Prado’s temporary exhibit Hoy toca el Prado used 3D printing to reproduce paintings with special textures to help blind individuals experience art in a new way (Open Culture, 2015). The exhibit also included free audio guides and braille text for each piece. 

Museo del Prado exhibit

Museo del Prado’s exhibit pushed me to further research other ways museums are incorporating tactile pieces in their regular collections to enhance the vision impaired community’s experience with art. New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met) hosts regular events to educate visitors who are blind or partially sighted called “Seeing Through Drawing” and “Picture This!” which teaches drawing techniques through workshops and allows attendees to experiment with materials, audio description, respond to artworks and incorporate tactile activities for further learning (, n.d.). 

In 2014, Multimedia designer Ezgi Ucar worked with the Met to create “Multisensory Met” which provided sensory features to museum pieces such as the wooden sculpture Power Figure where she added essential oil and a buzzing sound on contact (Urist, 2016). Tactile galleries pose a unique dilemma for museum educators. When reproducing 2D pieces to 3D sensory experiences, the aim is to create richer experiences for visitors without losing touch with the artist’s intent. For Power Figure it was to keep the large sculpture spiritually intimidating without the benefit of being able to experience its size (Urist, 2016). At the Guggenheim in New York, art historian and museum educator Georgia Krantz says of her similar series “Mind’s Eye”, “[w]e see through our brains, not our eyes…The eye is just one of the channels through which sensory information is passed to the brain for processing” (Urist, 2016).

Clay replica of Ezgi Ucar’s Power Figure

In Paris, the famous Musée du Louvre has an ongoing Touch Gallery of sculpture cast reproductions of art from their permanent collection where patrons can interact with pieces to learn the techniques, materials, and volume of the works (Louvre, n.d.). The permanent collection is a reflection on the forms, material, and dimension of the artworks as well as how the piece relates to the original as far as design. The museum also offers free access to all vision impaired patrons and their companions. The Louvre’s Touch Gallery is a great example of how museums and other information organizations can create inclusivity in public spaces and also enhance experiences for all.

The Louvre’s Touch Gallery

Incorporating pieces with sound, smell, and texture for the vision impaired has implications for how experiences with art can be enriched for sighted museumgoers too and museums are catching on. One example is artist Andrea Fraser’s Down the River at the Whitney Museum of American Art where the museum’s fifth floor is filled with pre-recorded noise from a maximum-security prison (Urist, 2016). In Santiago, Chile, the Hands on the Wall project makes public street art accessible to low vision and blind individuals (Andersen, 2019). Six murals in the Barrio Lastarria neighborhood have touch panels, braille, and audio guides to provide full engagement with the works. 

Javier Barriga Ganza mural as part of Santiago’s Hands on the Wall project

The world of enhanced museum exhibits, sensory experiences, and tactile galleries is something I had no knowledge of until now and it could be a catalyst for thinking how other museums and information organizations can reflect on how to provide richer experiences for all visitors, even those without disabilities. We often use our eyes to absorb the world, but in understanding how people with vision, hearing, and physical disabilities interact with information, perhaps we can start thinking about how our community libraries should be creating similar experiences with information. 

This post barely scratches the surface of enhanced museum experiences so for more information, the article linked here has a large list of galleries around the world creating experiences for vision impaired individuals with adapted spaces that incorporate sound, smell, and touch. 

Andersen, C.S. (2019, November 26). 10 Accessible art and museum experiences for people who are blind or have low vision. Be My Eyes.

Ezdi Ucar Design (n.d.) Multisensory Met Museum. Retrieved on March 18, 2020, from

Louvre. (n.d.) The Touch Gallery. Retrieved on March 18, 2020, from (n.d.) For visitors who are blind or partially sighted. Retrieved on March 18, 2020, from

Open Culture. (2015, March 9) The Prado Museum creates the first art exhibition for the visually impaired, using 3D Printing. Art, Life, Museums, Technology.

Rogers, SA (n.d.) Hands to the wall: Chile unveils tactile street art for the visually impaired. Retrieved on March 18, 2020, from

Urist, J. (2016, June 8). A new way to see art: Museum programs for the blind challenge notions of how people connect with great works. The Atlantic.

Adulting 101: Professional, Academic, and Personal Care Programs at San Francisco Public Library


This following is an emerging technology plan outlining a new program of “Adulting 101” classes for young adults and students pertaining to life skills for entering adulthood. The program promotes lifelong skills for young adults who may not have had access to skill learning opportunities at school or at home. This plan will inspire greater use of the public library’s resources and engage community members and library staff with young adults in teaching important and necessary life skills. We will discuss goals of the program, marketing, funding, and outline the program’s initial offerings. 

Sample Flyer

Goals and Purpose

The purpose of this program is to teach young adults in San Francisco life skills for entering and managing adulthood. Many students and young adults are not always taught specific life skills at home or in school or are too busy with academics. It is often stressful for young people entering college or the workforce without basic skills to manage finances, budgeting, college-related issues, and professional or personal relationships and so attendees in this program will be taught skills to enhance their success in these areas. The benefit of these classes will also be to encourage adults to utilize the library for support academically and personally, further developing a community-oriented learning space. Teaching adult life skills to young adults now will have a major impact on the success of the community long term.

Sample Flyer

About the Library

San Francisco Public Library (SFPL) serves a population of approximately 884,000 people, 23.5% of which are young adults ages 25-34 (Cowen, 2019). Including people between the ages of 18-24 in San Francisco, that number jumps to about a 30% of the population (Census Reporter, 2018). Many SFPL branches have teen centers like The Mix and offer adult classes such as technology, wellness, and finance coaching, but there is currently no ongoing adult life skills programs, typically called “Adulting 101” in other libraries. San Francisco has four major universities within the city, San Francisco State University, City College of San Francisco, University of San Francisco, and The University of California, San Francisco. Given the demographics of San Francisco and with the percentage of young adults and students, adult life skill classes would have a positive impact on the community and promote the professional, personal, and academic success of individuals. 

Evidence and Resources to support Technology or Service 

Bernhard, B. (2019, June 7). Ferguson library’s teaching ‘adulting’ classes teach life skills. AP News.

Donvito, T. (2019, September 19). Yes, “adulting classes” are on the rise – Here’s what you need to know about them. Parade.

Ford, A. (2018, May 1). Adulting 101: When libraries teach basic life skills. American Libraries.

International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions. (2019, January 14). Adulting 101: Teaching Financial Literacy and More For Young Adults.

Lucas. T. Programming (2017, March 22). Program model: Adulting 101.

San Jose Public Library. (n.d.) Life skills academy. Retrieved on March 7, 2020, from

Description of Community

Many Millennials and part of Generation Z, today’s young adults, often have the stereotype as being “clueless and helpless”, living with parents longer than previous generations due to many factors including changes in the economy, parenting trends, and a focus on academics instead of life skills in school (Bernhard, 2019). Young adults are much more likely to live at home with their parents than previous generations which may perpetuate the lack of independence and skills to “adult”. In addition, the years following the Great Recession did little to help the job market for this generation (Pew Research Center, 2019). According to AP News, skills classes like home economics fell out of favor and a focus on standardized testing took over (Bernhard, 2019). 

Young adults have more student debt today than previous generations which affects their ability to have long term financial goals as well as become financially established and independent. Partly because of the Great Recession, Millennials in particular have been slower to establish households and those without a college education are twice as likely to live with their parents longer than those with a Bachelor’s Degree, roughly 10% versus 20% (Pew Research Center, n.d.). It is necessary for young adults to learn practical life skills such as cooking and basic sewing as well as soft skills like conflict-resolution and communication at home, work, and at school and the library space should provide the opportunity to do so. 

Sample Flyer

Action Brief Statements

For Patrons: I plan to convince young adults that by engaging in adult life skill classes they will learn necessary skills which will benefit them in school, work, and home life because they will be more prepared for the challenges of adulthood.

For Staff: I plan to convince library staff that by providing and teaching adult life skill classes they will improve usage and trust in the library as a community space which will demonstrate how relevant and necessary the library can be in preparing young adults for success which will increase college graduation, lifelong job success, and community improvement. 

Examples of libraries with established “Adulting 101” classes

  • San Jose Public Library, “Life Skills Academy”
  • North Bend Public Library, “Adulting 101”
  • New York Public Library, “Adulting 101”
  • Ferguson Municipal Public Library, “Adulting 101”
  • Woodland Public Library, “Adulting 101”
  • Austin Public Library, “Adulting 101”
  • Boise Public Library, “Adulting 101”

Mission, Guidelines, and Policy related to Adulting 101 Program 

The mission of the Adulting 101 program is to educate young adults about necessary skills for success in college, professional endeavors, and personal care. However, all programs will be accessible to anyone regardless of age, gender, and current or past educational background. The program will make any necessary accommodations for people with disabilities or special requirements to promote learning and engagement for all. Adulting 101 programs will adhere to the SFPL library policies and mission of providing “free and equal access to information, knowledge, independent learning…” (, 2020). The program and its affiliates will maintain the vision, values, and goals of the San Francisco Public Library. 

Sample Flyer

The program will have many different sections and additional individual miscellaneous classes where librarians see a need. Programs will most likely be held during the week in the afternoon and evenings. See below for current projected program classes.

  1. Finance
    1. Planning for retirement
    2. Budgeting living expenses
    3. Budgeting for college
    4. Student debt/loans
    5. How credit cards works
    6. Investing 
  2. Apartment Living
    1. Know your rights as a tenant (security deposits/rent control/evictions)
    2. Finding your first apartment
    3. Finding roommates
    4. How to spruce up your apartment on a budget
    5. Doing laundry
    6. Safety basics of living alone and with others
    7. Living with roommates – conflict-resolution and communication
  3. Professionalism
    1. Networking
    2. Resume and cover letters
    3. Job hunting
    4. How to tie a tie/wardrobe tips for professional jobs
    5. Email, phone, and social media etiquette
    6. Time management at work 
    7. First time college student basics
    8. Conflict-resolution in the workplace
    9. News literacy
  4. Sewing
    1. Mending/patching
    2. Ironing
    3. Buttons
    4. Hemming 
  5. Cooking
    1. Grocery shopping
    2. Cooking for one – healthy, simple, budget-friendly
    3. How to use a knife and other kitchen tools
    4. Kitchen safety and disease prevention
    5. Meal planning
  6. Travel
    1. Why travel
    2. College/living abroad how to
    3. Safety while traveling
    4. How to travel
  7. Personal Safety
    1. Self-Defense
    2. Emergency Preparedness
      1. Fire
      2. Earthquake
      3. Injury
Sample Flyer


Funding for this program will be possible with nonprofits such as Friends of the San Francisco Public Library and individual donations. Funding needs for this program are expected to be low as seen in current successful Adulting 101 programs. Classes such as sewing and cooking may require additional funding for supplies, but the budget is expected to be low. Volunteer experts, professionals, and experienced individuals will be asked to lecture on the various topics outlined above such as finance, travel, and tenant rights. 


Training for these programs is minimal as most program leaders will be either volunteer professionals in the field or librarians who are familiar with the topics. Librarians will seek out and screen qualified volunteers and staff to assist in building and teaching the programs offered. The only training involved will be sharing skills in teaching a group if the leader is unfamiliar with class and lecture structure. A librarian or staff member may seek out additional training for topics they’d like to teach such as sewing or cooking.

Promotion & Marketing

Getting the word out about the program will be mostly done through social media and through the library’s website to target both young adults and parents’ attention. Square visual flyers will be posted to the library’s website as well as the events calendar under the teen and adult sections. The online flyers will be connected to Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for easier sharing and marketing. The library may implement a monitored Twitter feed for any questions that people can write in about that may spur conversations and possible ideas for future programs. The flyers will be mostly Instagram friendly, 4X4 squares with popping colors and visuals to quickly engage the reader while scrolling through their feed. 

Small, colorful, and easy-to-pocket flyers will be displayed at local library branches and teen centers in San Francisco as well as the surrounding community college libraries at City College of San Francisco, San Francisco State University, and the University of San Francisco. Some of the programs will be offered at these libraries after a partnership has been established between the university’s librarian and the SFPL librarian hosting the events. Due to the fact that many students at SFSU and CCSF are commuter students (they do not live on campus), access to the programming will be available at their university library to better engage the students. 

Sample Flyer


After a period of time, the library will evaluate the level of attendance as well as age groups to determine if marketing, outreach, and program type was successful. The program’s schedule will be assessed to see if it meets the needs of the target audience regarding ideal time of day and days of the week for the group to see if weekends should be added or more staggered class times should be considered depending on the schedules of college students and young professionals. The budget for the program will be further evaluated to determine if there is need for additional fundraising, staff support, or volunteers. 


Bernhard, B. (2019, June 7). Ferguson library’s teaching ‘adulting’ classes teach life skills. AP News.

Census Reporter (2018). San Francisco, CA.

Cowen, J. (2019, March 27). Which cities in California have the most young people? The New York Times.

Donvito, T. (2019, September 19). Yes, “adulting classes” are on the rise – Here’s what you need to know about them. Parade.

Ford, A. (2018, May 1). Adulting 101: When libraries teach basic life skills. American Libraries.

International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions. (2019, January 14). Adulting 101: Teaching Financial Literacy and More For Young Adults.

Lucas. T. Programming (2017, March 22). Program model: Adulting 101.

Pew Research Center (n.d.) Millennial life: How young adulthood today compares with prior generations. Retrieved on March 7, 2020, from

San Francisco Public Library. (n.d.) Upcoming events. Retrieved on March 7, 2020, from!/filters?field_event_audience_target_id=25

San Jose Public Library. (n.d.) Life skills academy. Retrieved on March 7, 2020, from

Reflection Blogging #3 – The Museum Updated

Art and history museums have typically been spaces that don’t feel public or participatory, but things are changing. In Nina Simon’s TED Talk on participatory museums, she discusses how the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History has changed the dynamics between people and spaces (Simon, 2012). She recognized that people are interested in art and making so she wanted to build a connection between those people and the space of the museum where art is being protected. It is artwork and exhibit artifacts that uniquely open up and “expose the big conversations we have to be having about where we’ve been, where we are, and where we need to go” (Simon, 2012).

Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History

This reminded me of an artist named González-Torres who, until his death in 1996, created works that were participatory or “removable” in the museum space. Oftentimes the pieces would be on the floor, in the middle of the room, or in a space that was unavoidable like gold beads in a doorway. One of his most famous pieces, was a pile of candy that people could pick up and enjoy called “Untitled” (Portrait of Ross in L.A.) The piece was finished when all the candy was gone. Another of his famous pieces is a poster of a bird that can be taken from a pile on the floor of the museum as a souvenir. Similarly, museums are looking at ways to engage the public and encourage them to be involved in changing space and contributing to it.

Untitled” (Portrait of Ross in L.A.) by González-Torres

In 2016, the MET in New York was working to connect smartphone users to the museum’s offerings to enhance visitor engagement with their website and interactive app as well as spreading the word about the museum’s exhibits through social media (Titlow, 2016). Regarding sharing photos via Instagram, the museum noted, “every photo shared from the museum is a free advertisement for the Met” but that improving their website to work mobily is a priority since it was recorded that 91% of users who entered the museum in 2015 had a mobile device and that number has probably increased or maintained itself in recent years. Sree Sreenivasan, now formerly the Met’s chief digital officer, says that it isn’t the MoMa or the Guggenheim that are its biggest competition, it’s other entertainment facets like Netflix and Candy Crush. The mobile app and website will offer a map of the museum with high resolution photos of the artwork. The aim is to enhance the pleasure of art, not take away from it.

Former MET chief digital officer Sree Sreenivasan

Similarly, in my own city of San Francisco, The MoMa began a mobile initiative after it reopened in 2016 with a bigger, updated design and reconstructed indoor and outdoor spaces. Their free app includes audio tours and produced stories narrated by dancers, musicians, poets, and TV personalities about artworks and curated exhibits to give a unique take on the current works. Users can also access the audio tours via the museum’s website (, 2020).

Museums, like libraries, should be on the forefront of hyperlinked space in order to engage and encourage collaboration, contribution, and creativity with patrons in order to stay relevant and educate in the current tech climate. 


SFMOMA (2020). The SFMOMA audio app. Retrieved on March 6, 2020, from

Simon, N. (2012, November 6). Opening up the museum [Video]. TEDxSantaCruz.

Titlow, J.P. (2016, February, 29). How a 145-year-old art museum stays relevant in the smartphone age. FastCompany.

Weinberg, L. (2013, March 19). Art institute candy sculpture: What’s up with that? TimeOut.

Reflection Blogging #2 – The Library: An Oasis

Seattle Public Library (Rey, 2018)

This week’s module on Hyperlinked Communities made me think about groups of people libraries serve that may be underserved in other areas and I immediately thought of the homeless in San Francisco. Whatever your opinion is of the homeless population in the Bay Area or your personal theory on how to “fix” it, it’s undeniable that we’ve seen an influx in homeless people and encampments since the rise of gentrification. Although there are community services that try to help, libraries are often a place of refuge where one can find education, shelter, and access to computers. In Seattle, now the third largest homeless population in the United States, the Seattle Public Library is a huge resource for the homeless population there. The increase in homelessness in Seattle is partly due to the opioid crisis and recent westward homeless migration, but due mostly to the rise of the tech industry which drives housing prices up and once affordable neighborhoods are now lined with luxury condos (Rey, 2018). Four-fifths of the homeless population is made up of people who once had housing in Seattle and were evicted or lost their homes in recent years. The Seattle Public Library has resources including mental health counseling, job training, and medical help. 

Georgetown in Seattle (Rey, 2018)

One homeless man who assists nonprofits in the area, Andrew Constantino, says, “…homeless people in Seattle have more trust in the public library than they do for other providers of support such as shelters or charities” (Rey, 2018). Funded by the city and a grant from Google, the Seattle library has brought 50 WiFi hotspots to the community of tiny homes for the homeless called Georgetown making a huge difference in job searching, connecting with family and friends, and staying in touch with the world. Public Libraries can be highly functional organizations that bring real social change to the community inside and outside of its doors.

Similarly, Ciara Estell, in her TED talk on libraries, outlines why they aren’t just another arm of the government or a place to house books. Libraries are an oasis. She tells the story of Ferguson Municipal Public Library in Ferguson, Missouri during the aftermath of the Michael Brown shooting when most businesses, schools, and other government buildings closed due to civil unrest (Estell, 2013). A tense time for a grieving city, the head librarian decided to open and display a sign, “[d]uring difficult times the library is a quiet oasis” (Stoll, 2015). This example truly highlights why libraries are so important: they are places of connection for the community especially during times of turmoil and chaos. A library is the refuge that people need. Estell tells a story of a man grieving his wife who entered her library to find information on grief and asked her, “when will my grief end?” (Estell, 2013). She was at first taken aback and then humbled that this man chose the library as a safe and trusted place to work through his grief. 

As seen at the Ferguson Municipal Public Library (Stoll, 2015)

All of these examples highlight the many ways in which libraries can be places of sanctuary and rest in the chaos and unrest outside. “They’re free and welcoming and offer a safe, calming, communal space to any who enter…they remind us that others have insights worth paying attention to, that there is beauty in our shared language, that in our struggles we are often not alone. They help us heal” (Stolls, 2015).

Estell, C. (2013, June 3). How libraries change lives [Video]. TEDxExeter.

Rey, D. (2018, December 10). How Seattle’s public library is stepping up to deal with the city’s homelessness crisis. NewStatesmenAmerica.

Stoll, A. (2015) The healing power of libraries. National Endowment for the Arts.

Smarter Than You Think – Context Book Review

Slide 2 – Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better by Clive Thompson (2013) discusses whether society is improved by emerging technology or if it’s destructive to how we learn. He argues that technology will facilitate social change, improve information access, and supplement our personal knowledge – not replace or disrupt it. In the context of a library, emerging technology is important in meeting what authors Casey and Savastinuk explain as “Library 2.0 goals” (2007). With the help of emerging technology, libraries are able to more efficiently transfer information to patrons. Some examples of transfer include library websites, email distribution lists, and social media to market events and create easier access to library catalogs and research tools remotely.

One of Thompson’s questions throughout the text is whether or not emerging technology is making us more reliant on products of information or actually making us smarter. Technology thinker Melvin Kranzberg says neither, “‘[t]echnology is neither good nor bad; nor is it neutral’… each tool needs to be carefully scrutinized on its own merits” (Thompson, 2013, p. 225). Products of information help users to access the material more efficiently, but as far as making people smarter or not is a too all-or-nothing question. 

Slide 3 – Thompson asks, are we leaning too heavily on technology and thus lowering our intelligence, making ourselves lazier or is technology making us infinitely smarter and more productive? One example that addresses this question of leaning heavily on tech is the progress in e-book publishing which has become a huge part of meeting Library 2.0 goals (Casey & Savastinuk, 2007). In an e-book, users can scan the material, find keywords, highlight, and take notes right in the text. Are people made smarter by using this technology? Not necessarily, but it does allow easier access to the information which may allow for more time studying another text, absorbing information elsewhere, and better recall in memory from readable, non-handwritten notes. This is in line with Thompson’s argument that opportunities in technology actually do seem to increase productivity which in turn can increase knowledge. 

Slide 4 – It’s evident that emerging technology is changing the librarian career. The idea that tech in any institution may create automation isn’t new, but we’re seeing that tech in libraries is necessary in creating more efficiency and growth in learning for both librarian and library patron. In short, tech is not replacing librarians or libraries nor is it substituting knowledge, but changing the career field and the institution to provide better user experiences and supplementing knowledge as society forges ahead. 

Slide 5 – ARS
In my research of automated library systems and new technology i remember this tour I took at San Francisco State Library. I was in total awe at what looked like a gigantic computer system, very sci-fi looking and it was this retrieval system. This is a great example of how emerging technology is helping librarians, not replacing them. The Sonoma State Library boasts that between the time someone makes a request to the time the material is ready for pick up is 15 minutes. ARS not only makes a big difference in assisting librarians with pulling material but it works as an efficient way to organize and conserve the materials. 

Slide 6 – Thompson argues that people are always hesitant about emerging technology as culture changes, but urges that this kind of change is inevitable and will ultimately drive humankind forward (Thompson, 2013, p. 222). Professor Stephens mentions in Module 3 how some libraries have historically been “afraid” of emerging technology such as social media, but that libraries are on the other hand supposed to be centers for learning, creating, and encouraging social impact. Thompson argues that technology, such as social media among other outlets, can bring social change by connecting information communities together and making smaller communities known to the world (2013). 

Slide 7 – It’s critical for libraries to embrace emerging technology and the ever-changing information landscape to adapt to patrons’ information habits and thereby expand the learning process for the surrounding community. Libraries have a duty to keep up with technology in order to make sure the transfer of services and information is working to best suit patrons’ needs. 


Buckland, M. (1992). Redesigning library services: A manifesto. American Library Association.

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

Denning, S. (2015, April 28). Do we need libraries?. Forbes.

Matthews, B. (2012). Think like a startup: A white paper to inspire library entrepreneurialism

Sonoma State University (2020). Automated Retrieval System.

Stephens, M. (February, 2020). The hyperlinked library: Exploring the model. Panapto.
Thompson, C. (2013). Smarter than you think: How technology is changing our minds for the better. Penguin Books.

Do we really need libraries?

In Steve Denning’s “Do We Need Libraries?”, he addresses how several jobs and tools such as yellow pages and alarm clocks among other things have become obsolete and irrelevant (2015). He discusses the Traditional Economy of the 20th century vs. the Creative Economy where the marketplace is controlled by the consumer’s “delight” and whether or not a consumer is happy with the product drives the marketplace (Denning, 2015). In talking about why services and tools are becoming obsolete, he explains that “[t]he choices for the incumbants of the Traditional Economy are simple: change or die” (Denning, 2015). Similarly, libraries are among the group of institutions that need to adapt in order to keep up with the changing marketplace or become irrelevant in the Creative Economy where consumers have more control. 

Module 3 discusses the internal and external challenges facing libraries. One internal challenge is the hesitation to make changes to a system or an administrative institution that has always done things the same way. One example Professor Stephens gives in his lecture is the “no social networking” sign posted in a Michigan library in 2008 (Stephens, 2020). The fear these specific librarians had in adapting the library space to include what they deemed might be inappropriate or dangerous interfered with the needs of young patrons.

Professor Stephens discusses the stereotypes that society has about librarians’ jobs consisting mostly of shelving books and reading all day. In today’s age, the job of the librarian has evolved and continues to do so as emerging technology drives many other career paths. Libraries aren’t just “warehouse[s] for books”, they are information centers, environments fostering creativity, social outlets, and community spaces (Stephens, 2020). If librarians don’t embrace and work with emerging technology, then yes, libraries may become obsolete and society will outgrow them. 

So, do we need libraries if we can just access ebooks online and can Google book recommendations? Yes. Absolutely yes! Libraries, if moving towards the hyperlinked library model, can be and are centers of personal interactions, play, social impact and connection to information which play an integral part in the education and growth of our communities.


Denning, S. (2015, April 28). Do we need libraries?. Forbes.

Stephens, M. (2020). Hyperlinked Library Model, [PowerPoint Slides]. Panapto.

Hello, how are you?

Hi, My name is Ashley. I’m currently in my second semester at SJSU. I’ve lived in San Francisco, CA for about 9 years and still love it! I’m hoping to earn my degree so I can work in the public library system in the bay area. I’ve always been interested in reading and writing so I got my Bachelors degree in English in 2012 and ended up working in the legal field as an admin, paralegal, and now a legal secretary.

Outside of school and work I also own a small business where I create custom macrame wall hangings and plant holders occasionally attending maker fairs around the bay area. I like to travel and will be embarking on a 6-month long trek through South America and Europe this year while doing school. I also volunteer with seniors, mostly with a blind senior named Don who teaches me how important public services, volunteering, and giving back to our communities is.

I’m looking forward to learning more about the hyperlinked library and new and emerging technology in Professor Stephens’ class!

This is me over the summer in Cinque Terre, Italy hiking along the coast.
Skip to toolbar