This project really was transformative for me. The subject felt powerful but also incredibly sad. I think like many, I’m feeling incredibly vulnerable and unsettled these days, but reading these stories and seeing how marginalized societies and traumatized countries are working to find empowerment through their sorrows really expanded my perspective.
So often in my public library setting my perspective can be so micro-focused. I happen to work in a very different library compared to the rest of the district and the rest of Denver. My library caters to a niche population of Russian-Americans and new immigrants. A lot of my work focuses specifically on serving the needs of such a specific community. I tend to filter everything I learn, both in school and work, through the lens of “will that apply to the needs of my community?”. This project allowed me to think more globally, recognizing that while a lot of the trendy local ideas don’t always make sense for the needs of my community, it’s worthwhile to look further and see what’s on the horizon internationally.
Specifically, participatory archiving feels like a new wave we should all be considering. So much of 2020 has been focused on systems that do not work for everyone and that are fundamentally flawed. It was really powerful to think through a complete realignment of a system and how it could lead to not only a better outcome but have tangible effects on the community in the process.
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.
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?
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.
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.