Reflective practice is something I thought I understood well as a lifelong poet. However, I think my tendency to get wrapped up in “getting it done” has left me with little time to reflect. I have been excited to be able to see the reflective practice in this course and my other courses this semester pay off in my ability to relate what I am learning to my daily life and vis versa. In a distanced program, it has made everything feel much closer to home.
I wish for myself this semester that I had had more time to read and reflect. I took three classes this semester, and that ended up being too many to have the time to really relish what I have been learning. I have learned that two is the magic number! The ability to learn is such a privilege, but when I overload myself it can feel more like work. I hope to be able to reference this class page in future semesters to come back to topics that meant a lot to me and review the material.
This course has taught me a lot about community connection through library services, and how library services are so much bigger than I originally imagined. I have re-directed my career towards library services because of a want to be a part of the last institution that feels like it is for the people in this capitalist world I come away from this class re-inspired to move forward with compassion and empathy, traits I have been told most of my life are weakness. This has helped me to know that I am truly headed in the right direction! I am excited to apply what I have learned in this class in my everyday life, and to my future career.
The College of the Redwoods is an isolated campus, and our dormitory students suffer the most from being cut off from their communities. Creating a makerspace at the College of the Redwoods Library will encourage community connection, creativity, and give students a creative and productive way to spend their time outside of class. A makerspace can be a classroom for local creatives to impart their knowledge onto our students and encourage connection with the greater Humboldt County community. A makerspace can be made with cheap materials like fabric scraps and thread or magazines and glue, but with some financial investment we can help our students learn to use tools that will allow them to explore new fields and become more self sufficient.
Digging into the professional development module right now in my life was very interesting. I have had the chance to experience a lot of professional development opportunities through my job lately, and hearing the lecture and the mention of professional development “with teeth” made me want to review those opportunities and how they did or did not benefit me.
To start, my workplace is, in my experience, on a pretty good path in terms of continuing learning. I am actually able to take a few hours each week to work on my classes on work time because it falls within the realm of professional development (yay!). I work at a community college with a large student population of older adults continuing their education, so there is a huge focus on learning at all ages and stages.
The first learning opportunity I will talk about is the CSEA (California School Employee’s Association) statewide union meeting/conference I went to last year. I had just been elected as a union officer, and I was pitched this conference as an opportunity to learn more about the union and how to support my local chapter, as well as a chance to be a part of the larger state conversation about how to move forward. When I got there though, it mostly consisted of empty motivational speeches, standing to applaud, and even people in positions of power leading the whole room of hundreds in prayer (yikes). The fact that it was in person really made the difference in terms of my ability to learn from my peers. I was able to bond with other local union folks about about similar grievances and how we handled them, as well as learn new things from each other. I learned about how others were negotiating with uncooperative district heads, and I taught others about gender neutral language. Over all this experience was made by the people around me, not so much the convention its self.
In doing this the college has made a huge statement that queerness is welcome on our campus, but it is important that they can back that statement up, hence the training. This training was in person and was led by one of the organizers supporting the drag show. They opened up the room for conversation and questions and created a safe environment for group learning and sharing. This experience was a very good one, and I appreciated the genuine approach to learning and teaching.
I also was able to attend a training on how to be an ally to undocumented students. This was a hybrid training in which the presenter was online, as well as most participants. I was in person, but it was mostly a dark room with a screen. There was a lot of detailed information to go over about different forms and financial aid programs, but we also talked a bit about empathy and how to be present. The online format was somewhat limiting in terms of conversation, so the connection was limited. However, it was evident that all of those who were present were very invested in teaching and learning about the topic, so the experience overall was a good one!
I think that the difference is always made in the atmosphere and the people. My workplace supports continued learning, so I feel comfortable and able to spend work time learning how to be a better employee and community support. In situations where the want to learn and grow is palpable, those involved can learn and grow together.
I studied film and theater in undergrad, and storytelling was a huge part where I originally saw my career and life path headed. In my classes we talked a lot about the art of storytelling (at varying levels of pomposity), and the projects that I got to take part in reflected that. A favorite memory of mine was directing a short film about the life of an 8 year old. It was my spin on the biographical storytelling assignment I was asked to do.
The idea to interview a child came from reflecting on the fact that if you had asked me to tell my story at any age, I would have had a complete tale to tell you with a beginning, middle, and end. At 8 years old, I was a big sister, I was a girl scout, I had recently completed my swimming lessons, and I was working on my yellow belt in aikido. I had my own version of my story to tell! At 27 things that were important to me at 8, 12, 16, 20 have only a small part to play in what I see as the beginning, middle, and end of what makes me me, but that does not make them less true or real or important.
I wanted to reflect on the largeness of the experiences that a child has, and how their experience is just as valid and even as whole as an adult’s.
The child that I interviewed for the documentary was a twin. They had a new baby sister. They were growing up on a small family farm and taking care of the animals. They loved bright colors and loved to dress in all sorts of colors and patterns. They loved collecting rocks and going to gem shows. They had been bullied at their previous school, and they were just starting at a new school away from their twin sister. They were flamboyant and excited, and they expressed themselves loudly and without holding back. They were an artist, and they were displaying their art at a local business.
Their story was moving and interesting and whole.
Helping others tell their stories, and see themselves represented in stories is a big part of how I wanted to proceed in my film career when I wanted one, and it is a big part of how I want to proceed as a librarian.
Making the little moments into stories helps us remember how important the everyday is, even if the memory will fade. Telling the stories of those who have been silenced or stifled creates a truer story of our society as a whole. Sharing stories helps fight bigotry and ignorance.
Thank you for reading!
If you want to, please share a little story of the last time you felt happy. Not big happy, but little happy.
The incredulity in this question is very familiar. It is the same incredulity I get when I tell people I am studying library sciences.
Reading about the incredible Memphis public library was both encouraging and curious. I found myself sharing in the outrage of the librarians at the library director being put in place without looking at other options, and without a degree in library sciences. But where is the anger coming from? In me, it comes from fear. It is the fear that someone who does not know libraries, who does not love libraries, will turn them into something that they are not. It is the fear that the “a manager is a manager” attitude will lead libraries away from their altruistic mission and towards mundanity or worse, towards greed and exclusion.
From the depth of community outreach and curiosity that the Memphis library managers display, it seems that they at least share in that love of libraries and their mission.
I have heard murmurings on the internet that amount to “if the idea of the public library was proposed today, it would be labeled as radical/communist/anti-american/liberal hogwash/handouts/etc. And it would be squashed before it could begin.”
We are, of course, seeing that backlash today, but because public libraries are established parts of our communities and governments, they can hold their ground.
I think that sentiment speaks to the same incredulity that the youth in Memphis expressed when approaching their public library. It is hard to believe that a bastion of altruistism and free information can still exist in our current socio- economic climate.
Just like the Memphis library, I think that one of public libraries’ greatest challenges is convincing the public that they are there for them. That there is no catch.
Up until recently, late fees were that catch. A late library book, for me at least, was one of the first experiences I had with capitalistic bureaucracy. For me, an anxious child who was also clumsy, messy, and forgetful, there was a lot of fear attached to library books and, by extension, librarians. More than anything else, I think late fees created this image of librarians as authoritarian figures, especially for children, especially in poor families. Doing away with late fees is such a huge gesture of welcome that will make libraries feel safe for so many more people. It answers the question loud and clear.
I have always loved to sing. My parents have told me that before I could form complete sentences, I was singing. Children’s choirs in our area were very expensive, but the Presbyterian church had one that I could join for free. So we went to Saint Andrew’s Presbyterian church.
From the age of six to sixteen I was at church three days out of the week. I sang, played music, worked in the nursery, and went to service. My church community was made up of talented musicians and diverse church leaders with many perspectives to share. These people were my mentors and my friends. I was a curious child with parents who encouraged me to question authority, so I asked a lot of hard questions. In other communities I likely would have been shut down or even punished. This community, though, largely encouraged my curiosity and helped me to grow.
Even from a young age, I knew that I was not a Christian, but in my mind, that hardly mattered. Church was a space where there was music, where no one went hungry, and where people cared for each other. I was there as a part of a community. As I grew into adulthood, I was able to contribute to that community and support others the way I had been supported.
As I got older, however, the people in the church started to change. Some passed away, some were pulled away by illness, and some simply moved on. With the people, the living hyperlinks, that tied me to that community no longer present, it stopped being the home it had once been.
I often reflect on wishing there was a version of “church” that had nothing to do with religion. An intentional community that would exist to support the health and growth of its members with no expectation of faith, money, or power in return. Seeing the idea of what a library is move in that direction is very promising to me. I hope to help create altruistic community I have been looking for at my local library, and beyond.
While watching the lecture for module four and learning about participatory service, I was struck by the image of ABBA’s avatars performing on stage. I was not thinking about how amazing this tech was, however, I was thinking about Hatsune Miku. More specifically, I was thinking about this video.
This is going to be a bit of an internet culture deep dive, so hold on to your socks. I promise, I will tie this back to libraries in the end.
If you are not familiar with Hatsune Miku, she was created in 2007 as the anthropomorphic mascot of the Japanese media company, Crypton Future Media. Her name means “the first sound of the future”. Miku is a Vocaloid, a voice synthesizing software that can be made to sing any tune and lyrics that a user puts in. She is a virtual idol that performs live concerts and has fans all over the world. She has no “real world” counterpart. How did she get to be so popular?
The answer lies in participation.
We are now going to talk about onions and polka music. Why? Because of a meme from 2006.
A flash animation of this gif was set to the Finnish song “levan polkka”, and the internet thought it was great. So great in fact, that the band Loituma who recorded the song in 1995 saw a sudden uptick in popularity.
Next, Hatsune Miku the vocaloid was released. One video in particular, had Miku holding a spring onion and singing the now viral polka song. Much like the original meme, this took off.
Users have since composed thousands of songs, covers and originals, and communities were formed around this software. New software came out to make Miku dance. Folks collaborated on creating original content and grew to love Hatsune Miku, as she was something that was as much theirs as the media company’s. Hatsune Miku became a global phenomenon.
Can you imagine a world in which Crypton Media had restricted access to Miku? Maybe we would have gotten a few covers, maybe some promotional material, but it would have been nothing next to the creativity of the internet hivemind.
This participatory culture of content creation lead to the previously unimaginable success of a Finnish polka song from the 90s, a anthropomorphized software system, and a vegetable. It is fun to dive into strange internet phenomenon, but how can we as library professionals create a culture of creation and connection?
In “Age of Participation” in The Heart of Librarianship, Michael Stevens talks about the ultimate participatory culture happening when the guest becomes the host. When we are creating the library as a community space, we are giving that space to its users. If it is their space, then they get to help create it. This will mean letting go of a lot of rules.
I am taken back to the user experience lecture from INFO 200 in which Aaron Scmitt wrote “Every touchpoint, or place that someone can come into contact with your library or its services, is fair game for evaluating how it fits into the experience you’re giving your users.”
If we notice that folks are eating in the library, maybe instead of posting a “no food in the library” sign, we create a cafe space with tables and chairs. Another example from INFO 200 (though I can’t seem to find the link), if teens are drawing all over the furniture, why not give them furniture that is meant to be drawn on? If visitors are often sleeping in library chairs, perhaps there should be a quiet space with reclining furniture for folks to nap.
Some may be afraid of letting patrons run the library, but if we practice radical trust, we have to at least give the idea a try. In a world where a spring onion could lead to a world wide pop phenomenon, any idea could be the next big thing.
Thanks for reading! @brynnoleda
Stephens, Michael. The Heart of Librarianship: Attentive, Positive, and Purposeful Change. American Library Association, 2016.
While reading about the hyperlinked library model, I can’t help but reflect on the experiences I have had as a library patron.
Public libraries have provided me with a place to be safe and warm with internet access and books to read. However, when I went to the reference desk to ask about becoming a librarian, the librarian directed me to an encyclopedia entry with a definition of librarianship. This answers the literal question, but anyone who was listening could have heard that I was looking for a human connection. This librarian did not care to hear.
I revisited my (notoriously out of touch) undergrad university’s library and found it to be unrecognizable. In the time I had been away, they invented so many more rules. Community folks could not use computers, internet access on computers had a time limit, there were even less chairs and tables than there had been. The transactional energy of the space was palpable.
In contrast to these experiences, were my experiences at small, often volunteer run spaces that are created out of passion.
The zine library in the art and music collective space had art and poetry zines, but also zines with information about things like rights when interacting with the police. They also had resources like narcan on hand.
The Women’s Resource Center’s library had past poetry magazines, past protest signs, and so many resource books. As a staff member there, I was also trained on what to do if someone came in looking for shelter from an abusive partner.
I could name other spaces, but the thing that made these libraries feel safe was the same. These were spaces that were made and run by people who also participated in these communities and used the resources they were curating. There was a direct connection to a need, to a “why”. There was real care and drive to make the community a better place.
The idea of people being hyperlinks has really stuck with me. I think that literal hyperlinks are a good comparison for this as well, because if you don’t check your links, they might be broken. They might link to a site that no longer exists. If we don’t check ourselves, we can become complacent. We can operate by rote and lose our connection to the “why”.