Learning Everywhere

I was inspired by all of these possibilities – ways that users can engage with libraries in previously impossible ways; spaces where learners of all kinds can be served according to their unique needs; workshops where learners can even build computers that they can then use for any number of things. The possibilities seem endless, and people keep coming up with new things!

I had a desire to get in on this, and even to bring this concept full-circle. I prepared a brief tutorial so that anyone using the things sitting around their home can make a custom book. This way someone can learn online how to make a unique information object that they can then share with someone face-to-face. We all know that books have changed the world and will continue to do so. We can also distribute information online in a way that books simply can’t. This way, people have the opportunity to do both.

Library as Beloved and Underfunded ‘Third Space’

I found Lisa Peet’s interview with Eric Klinenberg helpful in clarifying some concepts. Others may have made this observation, but this was the first time I remember reading the distinction that the POPULAR opinion of libraries differs from the opinion of INFLUENCERS.

I think there’s a world of very influential people—affluent people, heads of major philanthropies and political power brokers—who don’t use the library in the way that typical Americans do and who believe that the library is an obsolete institution…. I don’t think that reflects popular opinion.

Peet, L. (2018). Eric Klinenberg: Libraries and Social Infrastructure. In Library Journal, Oct. 2018. Retrieved from https://www.libraryjournal.com/?detailStory=181003-Eric-Klinenberg-QA

When I thought about this, it definitely aligns with my experience at Biola: Our study space gets more crowded and our circulation numbers stay strong, but members of our administration question our funding and use of space.

I so greatly appreciate the focus of this class, that it is embracing the new options presented by advances in technology, and using them to keep connections with our communities fresh and vibrant. I think this is vital to keep our communities engaged, to keep them connected to library services, and continue to demonstrate our value to those in administration.

I mention the ‘Third Space’ concept, even though Klinenberg only said that he considers the library ‘a little bit’ of a third space as described by Robert Putnam. I still find it a helpful concept, and I love way the third space can lead to what Peet referred to as “collective effervescence… the spirited joy that you find when a group comes together and does something special” 2018).

Libraries are the perfect place to do that as a community. I will even dare to go so far as to say that when a person finds her book and a book its reader, that they also come together to do something special.

Peet, L. (2018). Eric Klinenberg: Libraries and Social Infrastructure. In Library Journal, Oct. 2018. Retrieved from https://www.libraryjournal.com/?detailStory=181003-Eric-Klinenberg-QA

Crowd-sourced Archival Photo Description


Currently the Biola Archives has a collection of 6000+ photos that were digitized by our marketing department for our Centennial. There was no metadata captured. We now have custody of these photos, and they are in desperate need of arrangement and description. We have jpgs of these photos on Google Photos, and volunteers have been coming in to add names, locations, dates.

My proposal is to open this process up to the community. Start with 20 photos shared per week, ask users to list names, dates, locations, any additional context they would like to add.

Google Photos has a “Takeout” feature that allows the photos and any metadata (as a sidecar file) to be downloaded in batches. This metadata would then be mapped and migrated into Lightroom, where we have the TIFs stored until we can get a DAM system.   

Goals/Objectives for Technology or Service:

  • Improve quality of the descriptive data on our archival photographs
  • archival holdings
  • Increase community awareness of our institutional heritage

Description of Community you wish to engage:

  • Biola University students, faculty, staff, friends

Action Brief Statement:

Convince library leadership, faculty, and staff
that by engaging the Biola community in describing our archival photographs
they will have archival holdings with better descriptions and a more highly engaged community
which will raise the quality of our archival holdings, deepen community connection with institutional history, and raise the public opinion of the library and archives
because we have great content that needs description and people get excited about old photos.

Evidence and Resources to support Technology or Service: (URLS, articles to help guide you)



Mission, Guidelines, and Policy related to Technology or Service:

Who might be involved in setting policies?

  • Public services librarians, archives team, technical services librarian (for possible metadata mapping)

Where might you look for example policies?

  • North Carolina State University, possibly nearby libraries contributing to DPLA, others with significant social media activity

What do you want to include in guidelines for use?

  • Contributors must be a verified member of the Biola community. This verification will happen through a controlled email authentication system; names/email addresses provided by Biola’s alumni office.  

Funding Considerations for this Technology or Service: 

  • Only requirement is buy-in from library leadership and a release of staff time. No additional personnel, subscriptions, hardware. 

Action Steps & Timeline:

Can your target Technology or Service be prototyped?

  • Yes definitely. Soft launch to a select number of people, followed by a test of the metadata migration.

What’s a reasonable timeline for this project?

  • Two weeks to draft a proposal, an additional two weeks to secure the approvals from necessary personnel. Two weeks to test/soft launch, then two weeks to review the results with stakeholders. Two more weeks padding for hiccups along the way. 10 weeks overall to launch.

 What are the project flow dependencies?

  • Users to get involved
  • Google Photos to not create hurdles
  • Clean exports of the metadata
  • Clean mapping of the metadata for migration into Lightroom

Who has to say “yes?”

  • Library Dean, Head of Public Services, Head of Technical Services, Archives Team

Staffing Considerations for this Technology or Service:

  • Public services time required would be to send the weekly link on our social media channels, and to help people connect if they have trouble.
  • Technical Services time would be weekly downloads of metadata and migration/verification of metadata.

Training for this Technology or Service:

Who gets trained?

  • Technical services/Archives staff are the only personnel needing special training.

Who designs the training?

  • Technical services staff on the Archives team (me)

When can training be effectively scheduled?

  • Per supervisor approval, during the 2 week soft launch/test phase.

Promotion & Marketing for this Technology or Service: 

How can the new technology or service be promoted? 

  • The hope is that this project promotes itself. If it doesn’t, it isn’t going as intended. A primary goal for this project is to use archival photos to catch the interest of community members.

Brainstorm some ideas to promote within your organization. Brainstorm more ideas to promote outside your organization.

Within the org:

  • Do you know this person?
  • On this date, 20 years ago…
  • This is what this event looked like 40 years ago

Outside the org: This isn’t in-scope for this project.


What benchmarks and performance metrics will you use to evaluate the technology or service. 

  • Is 20 photos per week a good number? Can we do more? Should we do less?
  • Are we getting quality descriptions for these photos?

What stories are you envisioning telling about it?

  • I expect to tell stories about connecting people to events that we wouldn’t have been able to otherwise
  • I expect to find pictures of notable people that we didn’t previously know existed. For example, we found pictures of our immediate past-President when he was playing volleyball in 1956 at the groundbreaking for our current campus (Biola started in downtown LA in 1908, then moved to the suburbs in La Mirada in the late 50s).

How might you expand the service in the future?

  • We could do more than 20 pictures per week
  • We could open the program to people outside the Biola community
  • We could enlist volunteers to transcribe handwritten archival documents
  • We could enlist volunteers, with training, to write abstracts for approved archival records
  • We could enlist volunteers to translate archival records that we have in Chinese.

Reflection – Privacy

Image credit – https://towardsdatascience.com/detecting-personal-data-within-api-communication-using-deep-learning-9e52a1ff09c6

I chose to read about privacy, in part because in Mooradian’s class on Ethics in Records & Information Management, I wrote a couple of papers on privacy. That was summer 2017, so I wanted to get back into to the topic. So I read about privacy a week ago, and I’ve been mulling it over ever since… as a concept it touches on so many areas I’ve been having a hard time knowing where to start on this blog.

Instead of starting with a definition, I want to go back to my ethics course and start with the ethical/philosophical grounding for privacy. It is an inherent right. If we believe that it is a universal good that we do no harm to others (non-maleficence), and that no one person should assert power over another (fairness), then the right to privacy logically follows.

For someone to experience a sense of autonomy, that person must be able to control information about him/herself. This control happens in two ways: control of access to your personal information, and control of flow of your personal information (Mooradian, 2018).

Now, if we are to discuss the business side of things, it seems we need to set the ethics aside. We are all aware of how much information we surrender on a regular basis, but let’s look at one example.

Cory Doctorow describes what is needed to use public transportation:

“You now must buy an Oyster Card if you wish to buy a monthly travelcard for London Underground, and you are required to complete a form giving your name, home address, phone number, email, and so on in order to do so. This means that Transport for London is amassing a radioactive mountain of data plutonium, personal information whose limited value is far outstripped by the potential risks from retaining it” (2011).

That is for a service that the user is paying for. Also think about how often you provide personal information in exchange for “free” content online.

“If you’re not paying for the product, you’re the product.” Yes, this line is often quoted, and its source is dubious. It isn’t precisely true, but there is enough truth to it that it can sometimes be helpful. I see it as a lens to look through when considering what I’m offering in exchange for the content I’m receiving.

Pew Internet reports, “The majority of Americans [hold] views [that] are especially pronounced when it comes to knowing what information about them is being collected and who is doing the collecting” (2015).

Going back to the ethical argument, we as users should be able to control access to our info, and the flow of our info. We keep hearing about how big companies are being hacked and the user info for millions of customers has been compromised. Of course because of the Terms of Service statements we have all agreed to (without reading? guilty), we have no recourse.

I’m still not sure how to practically apply this to the hyperlinked library. I keep coming back to informing our users about these problems, and encouraging them to use our subscriptions to quality content so their personal info is with us, and the big deal providers only know that they belong to our community. Though some of the providers authenticate the institution for access and still require the users to have individual accounts.

Still pondering…

Doctorow, C. (2011). Personal data is as hot as nuclear waste. From his book Context. Retrieved from https://craphound.com/context/Cory_Doctorow_-_Context.xhtml#personaldatahot

Mooradian, N. (2018). Ethics for records and information management. ALA Neal-Schuman. https://www.alastore.ala.org/content/ethics-records-and-information-management

Pew Internet. (2015). Americans’ attitudes about security and surveillance. Retrieved from: https://www.pewinternet.org/2015/05/20/americans-attitudes-about-privacy-security-and-surveillance/

Flipping community needs assessment on its head

Photo credit: https://www.insightsassociation.org/article/changing-way-we-view-sample

Aaron Schmidt made this enlightening observation: Asking patrons “what they want from the library” is like asking me (tuba player-turned-librarian/archivist) to “invent a new way to do banking.” He “agrees with the motivating sentiment,” but clarifies that it falls short. “After all, asking the question checks the ‘get input from users’ box, and as the responses are rarely shocking, the library can feel like it is doing an okay job” (Schmidt, 2016).

This pairs almost exactly with Pewhairangi’s “A Beautiful Obsession” article about establishing “customer intimacy” with the “Most Valuable Library Members” in your community; as well as the differences between being “customer-focused” and “customer-driven” demonstrated in the article “Design, Deliver, and Decisions” (2014).

A wonderfully illustrative case of this concept is shared in “Madison’s Library Takeover,” in which library staff invited proposals for self-managed programs from community members, selected three, then stepped into supporting roles while these community members ran the programs (Smith, 2017).

Having been at a university library for 18 years, where most of our collection and program development has been driven by accreditation and faculty request, this approach required some significant mental adjustment for me. It’s no actual surprise, given the community-focus of several classes at SJSU, but the tangible nature of these concepts and this illustration pushed me into a different level of thinking. It feels like a very healthy kind of mental growth for me. Though I’m having a harder time seeing how this might be encouraged at my own institution. I’ll be having conversations with our Public Services librarians, so hopefully I’ll be able to follow up.

On a totally different note… how have I not read danah boyd before?! I looked at some of her other writing and, unsurprisingly, Cory Doctorow has referred people to her work. I want to share one quote from her talk, “the diversity of people who are building and using these tools to imagine our future is extraordinarily narrow” (2015). When it comes to collection and program development, this should be a huge reminder that we can’t just rely on the data shared by the “Big Deal” package publishers. We need to, as the above authors all shared, know our communities personally, closely, sharing life with them and using our own expertise to discover the ways that we can uniquely meet their needs.


boyd, danah. 2015. “What World Are We Building?” Everett C Parker Lecture. Washington, DC, October 20.

Pewhairangi, S. (2014). A beautiful obsession. Retrieved from https://heroesmingle.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/weve-may-2014.pdf

Schmidt, A. (2016). Asking the right questions. Retrieved from https://www.libraryjournal.com/?detailStory=asking-the-right-questions-the-user-experience

Smith, C. (2017). Madison’s library takeover. Retrieved from https://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/blogs/the-scoop/madisons-library-takeover/

Surprise! You don’t own your stuff. (Review of CONTENT by Cory Doctorow)

CONTENT: Selected Essays on Technology, Creativity, Copyright and the Future of the Future. By Cory Doctorow, doctorow@craphound.com 

It’s 2004, and sci-fi author Cory Doctorow has been invited to present to Microsoft’s Research Group about Digital Rights Management (DRM). This is this outline: “1. DRM systems don’t work; 2. DRM systems are bad for society; 3. DRM systems are bad for business; 4. DRM systems are bad for artists; 5. DRM is a bad business-move for Microsoft” (Doctorow, 2008). 

Included in this talk are various illustrations demonstrating that when content is purchased, the owner should never be locked to a proprietary player/viewer. This creates a situation in which perpetual access to purchased content is entirely dependent on the vendor’s ongoing support of the platform. Doctorow goes on to make the case that it is in the best interest of everyone – the artists, the users, and Microsoft – for Microsoft to move away from distributing content and players supporting DRM.  

Fast-forward 15 years to April 2, 2019.  

Announcement from Microsoft!  

“Starting April 2, 2019, the books category in Microsoft Store will be closing. Unfortunately, this means that starting July 2019 your ebooks will no longer be available to read, but you’ll get a full refund for all book purchases” (Microsoft, 2019). 

Granted, I don’t know anyone who was personally affected by this decision, but it is a case-in-point that DRM works against users, even if you choose to purchase from a company as well-established as Microsoft.  

Doctorow’s response to this announcement puts it best, “Microsoft once had an ebook store filled with ‘buy now’ buttons—today, Microsoft tells us that we never bought anything, that we merely conditionally licensed it” (quoted by Restar, 2019).  

Content is a collection of 28 essays that examine copyright, the Internet, and DRM from a variety of different angles. All of these essays come together as a very strong defense against DRM, which he contends was created by distributors – in the name of copyright – to give these distributors a way to retain ownership and control of the content that they were “selling.”   

Copyright was conceived as an incentive for creators, researchers, and visionaries to share their ideas and thus spur on the work of other like-minded people. All the while, this expression of their ideas was protected such that they would be able to benefit professionally and monetarily.  

This was relatively simple… BEFORE the Internet. But now, we have the capacity to distribute content in a way that was unimaginable to those who designed copyright law. Doctorow pinpoints the core issue. “Here are the two most important things to know about computers and the Internet: 1. A computer is a machine for rearranging bits; 2. The Internet is a machine for moving bits from one place to another very cheaply and quickly” (2008). 

Some observations specifically related to hyperlinked libraries and librarians:  

  • The DRM issue is core to librarianship. We are increasingly being pushed into situations where we are renting our content, and even “perpetual licenses” have strings attached.  
  • We should be informing our users about DRM, purchase agreements, and licensing agreements. Basically, if there is DRM, a purchase isn’t really a purchase. It is a perpetual license to be enjoyed so long as the vendor chooses. 
  • The argument that DRM is the modern solution to copyright (and the protection of creators’ rights) doesn’t hold up. There is increasing evidence that authors (like Doctorow) who make their works available online for free have INCREASED sales of the same works in print. 
  • Pay attention to Cory Doctorow! He continues to stay engaged in this discussion, and I have found him to be uniquely thoughtful, knowledgeable, and articulate. And funny. His books are available (many for free download) at craphound.com, and he blogs at boingboing.net.  

An additional observation related to our core reading. @michael wrote,  

OCLC’s study, ‘Perceptions of Libraries, 2010,’ reports that the number of people who associate the word library with books has risen to 75 percent—up from 69 percent in 2005. As Borders stores have closed around the country and e-reader popularity soars, we need to focus on what comes next in the evolution of our services. (Stephens, 2016) 

As we consider the “evolution of our services,” I’d like to share Doctorow’s comments about new media vs old media.  

“New media don’t succeed because they’re like the old media, only better: they succeed because they’re worse than the old media at the stuff the old media is good at, and better at the stuff the old media are bad at” (Doctorow, 2008).   

To boil it down: there are strengths and weaknesses to print books, e-books on e-readers, e-books read in-browser, and audiobooks. There are also strengths to print journals, e-journals, indexed microform, DVDs, VHS (maybe?), CDs, LPs, audiocassettes… ok I’ll stop. Therefore, when considering what comes next, we have to look at the needs of our users, the strengths and weaknesses of new media/old media (including access/DRM) and determine what can be implemented to best serve our communities. 


Doctorow, Cory. (2008). Content: selected essays on technology, creativity, copyright, and the future of the future. Retrieved from https://craphound.com/content/download/ 

Microsoft. (2019). Books in Microsoft store FAQ. Retrieved from: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/4497396/books-in-microsoft-store-faq 

Restar, Al. (2019). You will no longer be able to read ‘Ebooks’ you bought from ‘Microsoft.’ Retrieved from https://z6mag.com/2019/07/02/you-will-no-longer-be-able-to-read-ebooks-you-bought-from-microsoft/ 

Stephens, Michael. (2016). The heart of librarianship. ALA Editions. Chicago. 

Reflection on Hyperlinked Library Model

I’d like to try and pull some seemingly disparate ideas together:

“The hyperlinked librarian understands… integrating the new built on a foundation of core ethics and values. … To fight growth, to rebuke learning, is the same as not updating that annual edition reference, book, or not inserting the revised legal codes into the law book” (Stephens, 2016).

“The ancient Library of Alexandria was a prototypical think tank” (Mattern, 2014).

“When evaluating new initiatives, we should consider the library less and our communities more. Without this sort of thinking, we’d have never realized libraries with popular materials, web access, and instructional classes, let alone cafés, gaming nights, and public health nurses” (Schmidt, 2014).

“The most powerful information services to date are probably found in the palm of everyone’s hand” (Stephens, 2016).

The common idea running through all of these is a focus on the community of users and the library, as a space, facilitating the things they need. The “core ethics and values” (Stephens, 2016) at issue are those of knowing and serving the community such that their information-related needs are met. If serving the community most effectively includes a sauna, as Schmidt mentions, figure it out.

As I consider the wide variety of ideas shared in these readings, I repeatedly go back to the reading in Library 2.0 and the description of the three teams – Investigation, Planning, and Review (Casey & Savastinuk, 2007). Imagining the interplay involved between these three teams when trying to launch new programs and services seems kinda awful to me. I prefer the model proposed in Think like a STARTUP “distill the concept into a raw form and then go with it.” and “build ‘failure’ or adjustment into the process. Seek to validate… and revise them along the way” (Mathews, 2012).

Libraries have always been a place to collect information and facilitate ideological exploration. We need to continue to follow this same principle, even as our information sources become increasingly varied. This variety requires flexibility from staff, facilities, and infrastructure. It’s complicated, but our communities need us more than ever.

Stephens, M. (2016). Chapter 1 “Hyperlinked Librarianship” in The Heart of Librarianship

Mattern, S. (2014). Library as Infrastructure

Schmidt, A. (2014). Exploring context. (PDF Here: UX Exploring_context)

Casey, M. E., & Savastinuk, L. C. (2007). Library 2.0 : a Guide to Participatory Library Service.

Mathews, B. (2012, April). Think like a startup [White paper].

…at what cost?

Library 2.0, as a consequence or outgrowth of Web 2.0, has been a necessary move. The principles put forth in Casey & Savastinuk’s book are solid. They recognized that the information world had changed and, if the library didn’t change with it, it would be left behind. This idea is also strongly defended in Buckland’s manifesto regarding electronic resources. 

I have a nagging concern, and much of it comes from seeing my kids’ relationships with information sources. We have instant access to practically unlimited information. We no longer have to exercise so many mental muscles – those of patience, lingering curiosity, persistence in hunting down an information source, and others. 

I know our job isn’t to complicate the research process just to make the patron work, but I think it’s necessary to try and really see what it is we are losing as we further automate access to high-quality, life-changing content. We’ve outsourced that mental effort, the same way I outsourced my physical effort when I bought a car even though I could bike the 7 miles to work. Yes, I save lots of time, but I’d be in better health without my car.

Again, I’m not suggesting that we avoid change because reading and/or research should be hard. I do think we should seek to somehow quantify the kinds of things that are lost when patrons (myself included) have instant access to content via their cell phones. Can digital content on mobile devices have the same transformative effect as physical items? Does instant access cheapen the experience for the patron?

I don’t have the answers to those questions, but I think those answers may be related to the problems we’re seeing with the public struggling with fake news (“well I read it online and it looked like a real website”).

Even more concerning, I suspect the absence of struggle in the process might be related to calls for censorship against controversial ideas. When answers to questions are one “hey Siri” away, we don’t encounter opposing viewpoints as frequently and conclusions aren’t… earned? I’m not sure that’s the right term. But when there has been no investment of time or energy into “knowing” something, and then you’re faced with an opposing view, you have no resilience. Without that resilience, this opposing view feels threatening, so something must be wrong. If, then, this idea is a threat, someone needs to shut it down.

I don’t know if these things are all connected, but I do think it’s worth looking into.

Maybe I’ll ask Siri…


Hello Dr. Stephens and 287 classmates! I’m Chuck, and I am in the final semester of my MLIS. I’ve been married to Faith for 18 years, and we have three boys, ages 15, 13, and 10. I have worked at the Biola University Library & Archives since 2001, and I was recently appointed the Technical Services Manager. I love preservation of books, manuscripts, and other archival items. I also love to find ways to utilize technology to give users the best access and use of content possible.

Unusual things about me – I find Sudoku extremely fun. I play the tuba, I can juggle, and I can ride a unicycle. But not at the same time (disappointing, right? I agree).

My family and I live in La Habra, CA, which is 10 miles north of Disneyland. We have a dog (a “Chug,” Chihuahua-Pug mix), and a cat (Flame-Point Siamese). My mother-in-law lives in an apartment above our house, and she has a Basset Hound. The three pets have a grand ol’ time together.

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