Focused Professional Development

For my CYOA I opted for Professional Development.  Since I joined the library world and started my MLIS I have been overwhelmed by the amount of PD available.  Every day my email fills with new information on classes, webinars, articles, etc.  I cannot be the only one that on most days just clears it all out like junk mail.  It is not junk mail though, there is a gem in there somewhere for me, the time-consuming part is finding it.  With this in mind, I really appreciated the 23 Things Challenge.  Who doesn’t love a good numbered challenge, honestly?  But practically this approach made sense.  It laid out a clear plan for developing your technological skills.  To me it felt like “license to play”, an opportunity or challenge to go and explore a technology you haven’t had the chance to work with yet but that could open up new ideas once you explore it.

This challenge was clearly successful in the early 2000s (Stephens & Cheetham 2012).  Stephens and Cheetham (2012) find that this PD experience for the Australian public libraries translated to a transformative learning experience because it had the effect of changing habitual expectations in the students.  This was clearly seen in how the library staff felt more comfortable with emerging technologies, both the ones they were presented within the Challenge but also in other ones that arose through work or patron experiences.

Here we are in 2020, and PD has been completely upended this year (I am really getting tired of the trite statement, but it’s true).  No conferences, an abundance of webinars from all over the place popping up, and more time than ever to fill them.  My library just closed to the public again and many of us will need to fill 10-15 hours a week with some form of PD.  This can be daunting.  When time used to be such a crunch to fit in an hour webinar during a shift, now we are faced we ongoing hours of webinars that too often feel unrelated to the situations we are in.

I was not in the library world in 2009 when this trend of the 23 Things Challenge was popular, but I think now would be a great time to revise and relaunch it.  A guided practice would help make the weeks go by and relieve us from hours upon hours of webinars.  At the end of this experience of quarantining and social distancing, I think many of us want something to be proud of for how we spent that extra time.  A challenge would do just that for us.  I intend to submit this to our idea bank in hopes that we can organize something as a district, but if nothing more, I am happy to have had the opportunity to review this work as I plan for how to spend my 7-week winter break at home.

References

Stephens, M., & Cheetham, W. (2012). The impact and effect of Learning 2.0 programs in Australian public libraries. Evidence Based Library and Information Practice7(1), 53-64. https://doi.org/10.18438/B8QS4Q

Power of Storytelling in a Future We Can’t Predict

I have had the “power of stories” rolling around in my head all week.  I’ve also been thinking about how disconnected I’ve been feeling from my community. I don’t go to Narrators anymore, I don’t attend library events and I haven’t made time for many virtual events this year.  The most interaction I’ve had with new people this year has been through school group work and the hyperlib chats this semester.

With all that said, of course, storytelling is powerful.  It connects us with other human experiences and allows us to imagine a different set of scenarios and events.  The point I want to make here though is that storytelling programming, as presented in the readings, is going to be even more important in the future.

I’m going to make a big leap here and attempt to connect the power of storytelling to the issues emerging surrounding deep fakes.  Deep fakes are popping up as a concern all over the place.  Images and videos can be manipulated by AI to perfectly (almost) imitate real people and events.  In this polarized climate, both sides are bound to see something and accept it as real without further research, leading to an even deeper polarized climate through continued technologically enhanced misinformation.  In general, I think this is the next wave for LIS education.  As information professionals, it will land on our table to help combat this problem in the next generation.  Information literacy is already vital and will need to adapt quickly to all the changes coming.  Digital preservation is going to have to be even more careful to articulate authenticity through metadata and ensure the items preserved have not been altered with malintent. In other words, there are going to be so many aspects that we face in the next two decades that we are not able to prepare for adequately during our time in school.  Classes like this that teach us to step out of the box and focus on creative solutions and community engagement are key.

Ok, so to link all this to the power of storytelling.  Stephens writes “Story-based experiences of all kinds can increase listeners’ understanding of diverse groups, demonstrate the value of everyone’s experience, and remind listeners of their shared humanity”.  It is clear that storytelling experiences could have an effect on the views and understanding within an individual. Hearing something you know you basically can trust and feeling the connection of emotion with another individual through that shared experience opens up trust, understanding, and possibly critical thoughts in other aspects of their life.   If we are heading into a world where we are unable to trust video and images, I believe a strong return to individual connection through interaction and storytelling could be part of the solution for this societal problem.  Just as librarians are going to have to work to help assert authority into information that is valuable and well-vetted, we also have the opportunity to provide space for individuals to interact with others in real-time.  Sure, a storyteller can lie or stretch the truth.  That has been true throughout the ages, and humans have adapted to pick up on or expect these elaborations.  The difference is that a person has a chance to sit in a room and look into the eyes of another human and experience the reality that the storyteller puts forth in her/his own words.  The words out of the mouth of the storyteller can be trusted as far as knowing that those are truly the words he/she spoke. Whereas a deep fake video produces an experience that wholeheartedly cannot be trusted.  We are adept at recognizing that videos and images can be taken out of context, and we expect memory to play a part in aberrations of the truth from a storyteller, but with a deep fake all trust is lost.  If we are to continue down this path, and we will be since this technology is powerful, cheap, and “fun” for the entertainment industry, then we as information professionals need to hone in on programs and services that meet the new needs of a community where deep fakes proliferate.  While teaching literacy skills can be part of that wouldn’t it also be well worth it to promote activities that pull people into real-world interactions where another person’s story can be experienced without any of the concerns of AI impacts?

References:

Stephens, M. (2020). Office hours: The power of stories (part 2)

Reflections on Participatory Services in the Academic Library

Quick Personal Reflection:

When I reflect on my undergrad experience at Georgia State I have so many memories of the library.  As an English Lit student, I relied heavily on every aspect of the library: print, electronic, space.  What I have no memory of is any one-on-one interaction with a librarian during the entire four years.  I was the type of student to pop in to see professors during office hours 2-3 times a semester, but I never reached out to a librarian.  I had general plans for grad school either as an LIS student or English major and still it never occurred to me to see a librarian for any reason.

Academic Library Participatory Services

With that personal anecdote as a pin point in my reflection of what kind of academic librarian I would like to be, I have to consider that more can be done to interact and reach out to the student body individually and via group.  Embedded librarianship is key solution to this and from what I can tell, the concept is still getting off the ground.  Including a librarian in specific courses and programs on the forefront instead of an after thought could have provide the bridge students need to approach a librarian.  As Laurersen (2016) puts it: “Libraries are not closed circuits, they are – or should – be well integrated value-adding units in the academic community”.  I would expand on this and say that Librarian’s are not closed circuit, we need to well-integrated into the community and on the forefront for students to approach either virtually or in person.

Three Takeaways!

Since this is was a CYOA module and I know we did not all read the same set of links, I wanted to share some highlights for me from the reading.

  • Get into the passenger seat!  This truck metaphor struck me as so profoundly on point.   What a clear depiction of my perception of academic librarianship.  I now have a clear metaphor for the issue at hand- how do we as academic librarians get into the passenger seat, available and ready for student interactions?
https://www.libraryjournal.com/?detailStory=participatory-design-action-user-experience#_
  • Destination experience In Hayden Library at Arizona State Library they are taking cues from the retail model and creating thematic experiences at the entrances to the library.  They are highlighting the special collections prominently for the students to experience as they make their way to their desired space in the library.  With libraries being used so often (pre-covid) as study and communal spaces, it is important to highlight the largely unknown layers of the collection.  This adds to the experience of the library, increasing the desirability of the destination space, but it also creates a shared experience for the campus community. 
https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2017/03/24/arizona-state-u-library-reorganization-plan-moves-ahead
  • International student interactions:  This part of the reading really struck me as new and important.  International students are on the rise and the libraries can play a huge part in the success of the student’s experience if there are opportunities to connect.  A major “ah-ha” moment for me was that students from other countries have different expectations of what a library can offer.  It is vitally important that there is a well-formed partnership between the library and the international student affairs office.  By offering services, resources, social opportunities to these students right away the library can make the experience of transitioning to a new learning environment that much more successful.
https://sr.ithaka.org/publications/rethinking-research-libraries-in-the-era-of-global-universities/

Reflections On Foundational Readings in Our Current Times

Continuous improvement and reflection on the library service model were a core understanding I pulled from the foundational reading this week.  As mentioned, living in Denver, this library model is in full swing among public libraries due to the innovative Anythink Libraries in Adams county.  The history of public libraries in the Denver metro area is one for the textbooks.  We have seen the loss of significant funding causing multiple branches and whole library districts to collapse and from those ashes, we have watched a robust public library culture emerge.  I landed my first paid library position six months before entering this program. My learning curve for an innovative library model has been steep and I think it’s sufficient to say that sometimes my memory fails me on whether I learned something through a work training or via an SJSU class.  What really struck me about the foundational readings was that they added incredible context to my workplace ethos and expectations I work inside of.  I appreciated learning the impetus for creating the technology guild, inclusivity guild, and feedback ticket option.  These guilds seem to be directly inspired by Casey & Savastinuk’s (2007) three branches of the change model laid out in the Library 2.0: A guide to participatory library service.  In my district, it is just as easy to put in a ticket for maintenance issues as it is to submit an idea for a service or improvement.  I have watched in amazement at how fast an idea from either a patron or coworker can go from a sentence or two on a screen to an actuality. This is the embodiment of the Creative marketplace model: “values are enablement, self-organization and continuous improvement to add value to the user or customer (Denning, 2015)

So here we are in this time of Covid.  I feel that this semester as we discuss the hyperlinked library and a model for ongoing change and improvement we should not and could not operate in a vacuum.  This is a time when innovation is kicked into high gear.  As pointed out in the Heart of Librarianship “Our students need grounding in concepts like decision-making, advocacy, human resources, administration, and management of nonprofits.” (Stephens, p.4, 2016).  This statement is even more powerful now.  Being a good leader is vital right now and the decision skills required are put to the test as we weigh out the safety of the public and staff along with our need to be advocates for our relevance during a time of economic strife and extensive change to the public school model.  A noticeable theme in the readings that I saw emerge was the importance of seeing tech as an opportunity to answer new questions.

 “The initial question may be: How could library services be advantageously automated? This is a matter of doing the same things better. The longer term, more interesting question is: How could library service be re-designed with a change in technology? This is a matter of how to do better, different things.” (Buckland, 1992, p.64).  

This concept is reiterated in stating technology “is not a primary element” in the Library 2.0 model, but instead an “excellent tool” (Casey & Savastinuk, p.6, 2007).  I think this is a hard-learned lesson that we are in the thick of right now.  We are now in the process of answering new questions we had not predicted, and technology is being used in new ways.  With each week that passes during the reopening phases and I am watching as we try out new things to see what works.  A big issue we are having is providing computer assistance to our patrons on the other side of the digital divide.  Patrons who are already tech hesitant are not interested in a tech chatbox as a replacement to the one on one in-person assistance they leaned on in the past.  The working solution we have found is an iPad on a stand that immediately can dial into a remote tech specialist using Facetime.  It feels so much like the below clip for the Big Bang Theory. 

This innovation still has issues as the patron navigates flipping the camera and talking to a perceived stranger, but I know this will not be the last iteration as we search to meet needs and keep individuals safe.

The point is, we are already set up for ongoing change thanks to the Library 2.0 Model that focuses on innovation and serving the needs of the user and not just on lending books. As we navigate a crisis we are not confronting a completely new terrain, but instead an accelerated one.

References

Buckland, M. K. (1992). Redesigning library services: a manifesto. Chicago: American Library Association.

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

Denning, S. (n.d.). Do We Need Libraries? Forbes. Retrieved August 26, 2020, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/stevedenning/2015/04/28/do-we-need-libraries/

Stephens, M. (2016). The heart of librarianship: attentive, positive, and purposeful change. American Library Association.