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Final reflection

I am so glad that this ended up being my last class at the iSchool. My emphases through my studies have been archives and digital asset management, so very much not focused on direct engagement with the community. I am thankful for a strong outward focus to balance out my perspective.

I have been able to enjoy a few of the symposium entries in the last couple days and I look forward to seeing the rest and responding. I love how this assignment is allowing each of us to express ourselves more individually and present content that connected with us in unique ways.

So thank you @michael and classmates for a wonderful way to finish my program at the iSchool. I know that I am a better librarian/archivist/asset manager because of this experience.

Please stay in touch – chuck.koontz@biola.edu

And, as a tribute to the heart of this class, this photo of kindness:

On Chaos

One of my great loves in life is backpacking, especially in the backcountry areas where fewer people go and the terrain is much less “groomed.” From a distance, some backcountry hiking areas can look uncharted, wild, even dangerous. This has become a helpful metaphor for me regarding chaos. Heading into that terrain with no map, no trail to follow, and without the proper gear can indeed be dangerous. But with proper preparation and guidance, the payoff can be amazing.

Aug. 2019, Eastern Sierras – the lake that my son & I had all to ourselves after a TOUGH hike.

I find the special ‘physics’ definition of chaos very helpful : “behavior so unpredictable as to appear random, owing to great sensitivity to small changes in conditions” (New Oxford American Dictionary). This specific definition appeals to me because it assumes that the variables aren’t random, but that they’re responding to “small changes in conditions.”

This strikes me as very human. Each person comes with a unique story, and that story influences their response to conditions. This means that each person is going to be an unpredictable variable. And with an increasing number of variables comes an increasing potential for chaos.

In the last couple of years, I have spent a good deal of my podcast time listening to Jordan Peterson. One idea he returns to frequently is the struggle between chaos and order. His research indicates that humans experience the greatest sense of meaning when they are engaged in that struggle; straddling that line with one foot in chaos and the other foot in order, working to maintain that balance.

If Peterson is right, that the greatest sense of meaning is found in balancing chaos vs order, then being open to chaos is the only path to experiencing a sense of meaning.

Not eliminating chaos, but balancing chaos against order.

To pull these concepts together:
If people are variables, and variables create chaos, then people create chaos.
If being open to chaos is the only path to meaning, and people create chaos, then being open to people is the only path to meaning.

As @michael shared in his Chaos & Caring article, “I’ve urged librarians to embrace as ‘much chaos as they can stand,’ an approach suggested by Clay Shirky in Cognitive Surplus.”

Or… ’embrace as many people as you can stand.’

Idea Hub at the Biola Library

[Lots and LOTS of credit goes to the creators of the
Idea Box at the Oak Park Public Library]

Overview

This is a proposal that the Biola Library dedicate the currently unused space at the circle desk on the Middle Level as a collaborative, interactive space managed by our users. The Library would act as a support-level partner with Student Government and Academic Departments to plan one participatory exhibit per semester (Fall, Spring, Summer). Participatory exhibits are proven to inspire learning, increase attendance, and create a stronger sense of community.

Goals

1. Demonstrate that we are a user-centered institution: This would literally put our users at the center of what we do. Anyone walking in the front door will see something that communicates clearly, “This library is yours.”

2. Increase synergy between the library and the community: We dedicate space and resources; they provide creativity, word of mouth, and the unique appeal of something that has been created by peers.

Concept

The Library will provide “prime real estate” so that each user entering the library sees an exhibit/activity designed by the community in which they themselves can participate. The Library also provides staff time with a pre-defined scope. For example, a departmental liaison librarian can facilitate discussion about library resources available, and digitization services might also be offered to provide community members with high quality image files (but not physical prints) of items in the Library collections. If technological equipment is required, Tech Commons could be consulted about the possibility of the loan of equipment for the duration of the exhibit.

Some examples of possible participatory exhibits include: Coloring pages made from digitized comic art out of Special Collections; PCs set up as gaming stations so students can test video game projects made by students in our B.A. in Game Design program; Puzzles made from historic photos out of Archives; Post-Its for students to write phrases that they can combine with other students’ phrases to make stories, then post a photo of the story to the library’s social media.

The exhibits don’t need to be expensive or complicated. They simply need to provide an opportunity for users to invite their peers to participate. The library functions primarily as a venue and support to the users themselves.

The proposed space is currently being used only minimally, and it is the ideal space for this kind of program. It will clearly and prominently demonstrate to our users that the library is focused on them, and they will have ample opportunity to participate.

Theoretical Foundations

In his Atlas of New Librarianship, David Lankes asserts, “The mission of librarians is to improve society through facilitating knowledge creation in their communities. Knowledge is created through conversation. Libraries are in the knowledge business, therefore the conversation business” (2011, p.63).

Nina Simon (Director of Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History), in her talk Opening Up the Museum: Nina Simon @ TEDxSantaCruz, describes the “Community as co-creator” (2014). When community members are invited to be creative, the artifacts they create become “social objects, [providing] opportunities to mediate conversations between strangers.” The outcomes for Simon’s Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History speak for themselves. In the first year after implementing these ‘co-creator’ programs, attendance doubled and cashflow increased by more than ten times (Simon, 2014).

Sally Pewhairangi, in describing the library’s role within our communities, quotes David Lankes, “This platform is our infrastructure, but it is also the infrastructure of the community – co-owned” (2014). If it is co-owned, then the community must have the opportunity to exercise its ownership. Not in such a way that it impedes the necessary functions of the library, but an invitation to expressive participation nonetheless. Michael Stephens, in his book Heart of Librarianship, reflects on a thought from Serhan Ada, “’Participation occurs when someone welcomed as a guest feels as though they have become a host…’ That’s an important consideration in our evolution as cultural institutions: how will we open the door and invite everyone inside to participate?” (2016, p.81).

This creative participation can take a variety of forms. Erinn Batykefer (co-founder of The Library as Incubator Project) argues that creativity is universal, and that it is important to see creativity as more than making things or being artistic. “Creativity is literally being able to imagine something that wasn’t there before. It makes something new… it could also be something ‘uncreative’ like your business model, or a work process, or a budget… That’s creativity. It’s problem solving” (Christopher, 2019). As an application in this case, the participatory programs don’t need to be artistic per se, but any kind of creative activity can facilitate connectedness, conversation, and knowledge.

Examples from Libraries

Madison Library Takeover
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. “The events represented a diverse cross section of local interests: an inclusive dance party and panel discussion of accessibility issues in nightlife spaces, a gathering of local writers and poets…, and a celebration of local Indian-American culture that attracted more than 400 people” (Smith, 2017).

“Share the Word” at Madison Public Library

Idea Box
At the Oak Park Public Library outside of Chicago, Illinois, “just inside the Main Library entrance, the Idea Box is a dedicated 19-by-13-foot space that is always changing…[with] collaborative community installations, library-led initiatives, and more… all designed to connect our community and inspire learning.” Exhibits have included magnet wall poetry, “Kindness notes,” and a “community tree” where users could reflect on restorative justice (n.d.).

Idea Box – Oak Park Public Library

Conclusion

David Weinberger, in 2014, wrote “The future of libraries won’t be created by libraries. That’s a good thing. The future is too big and too integral to the infrastructure of knowledge for any one group to invent it” (2014). He was looking at the state of information technology and seeing that libraries were not keeping up with the increasing ease of access to useful content. Fortunately, library discovery tools have improved in the last five years. But, this serves as a case-in-point that we in libraries will never be at the forefront of developing technology. Nor should we be. Our focus is to understand the information needs of our users and connect them with the best resources and learning experiences available.

With this user focus, we should remain aware of developments in technology so we can be open to developments that will enhance learning. When, through participatory exhibits, our users see us as attentive partners in their learning, and the library as a place for creative exploration, we will continue to have a vital place in our community. Learning through participatory experience is a proven method for establishing a strong sense of community while enhancing learning for our users.

References

Christopher, R. (2019). Incubating creativity: an interview with Erinn Batykefer and Laura Damon-Moore. Retrieved from https://www.alastore.ala.org/content/incubating-creativity-interview-erinn-batykefer-and-laura-damon-moore?_zs=pbaiW1&_zl=K7WF6

Idea Box – Oak Park Public Library. Retrieved from https://oppl.org/use-your-library/idea-box/

Lankes, R. (2011). The atlas of new librarianship. The MIT Press, Association of College & Research Libraries. Cambridge.

Pewhairangi, S. (2014). A beautiful obsession. In WEVE (May 2014). Retrieved from http://heroesmingle.wordpress.com

Salmeron, L. (2017). “Share the word” fills library air with poetry. Retrieved from https://madison365.com/share-word-fills-library-air-poetry/

Simon, N. (2014). Opening up the museum: Nina Simon @ TEDxSantaCruz. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/aIcwIH1vZ9w

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

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

Weinberger, D. (2014). Let the future go. Retrieved from http://www.thedigitalshift.com/2014/09/digital-libraries/let-the-future-go

Global Content

With thinking through the implications of learning everywhere, along with the work in Mod 10 on mobile device use, it’s clear that we must be thinking of ourselves as information professionals to the world.

Full disclosure – I am white, male, Protestant, and I haven’t left the country since I was 10. I live in Southern California, which I will willingly admit is an extremely self-centered place. I work at a private, majority white, Christian college. I’m not the ideal candidate for a “global citizen” campaign.

BUT! the digital collections that I work with, the content that I am in charge of getting online, is traveling the world. The image shows the last 12 downloads from our repository, and only 3 of them are from North America.

I take two primary things from this:
1. The internet is awesome
2. If I am doing a user community assessment, I really REALLY have to think about a global audience.

What does this “global audience” mean practically?
– I can’t assume everyone has reliable high speed internet. (so a repository that creates highly compressed images for slower connections is very important, as is efficient, broadly compliant web design)
– I MUST keep mobile-only users in mind
– My metadata must meet international standards and avoid jargon
– I must ask questions about discovery tools and metadata exposure that keep the global audience in mind.

Barbara Ford contributed to The Portable MLIS with a chapter titled “LIS Professionals in a Global Society.” She makes two penetrating observations, firstly “Ubiquitous, open, free access to information is a key prerequisite for a peaceful, equitable world in the twenty-first century” (2008). My primary reaction to this observation is actually a concern about Big Deal content distributors. With pricing & ownership concerns like with University of California vs Elsevier, similar concerns about academic ranking publications buddying up with Big Deal providers, I’m worried. The problem I see is that the content that is supposed to educate and enrich the global community will be tailored and leveraged by the powerful to further their own agendas. [I’m aware of the irony that my own institutional example, and the presentation linked in this paragraph, are both available because of an Elsevier product. Sigh…]

Ford’s second observation is this, “Expanding people’s access to relevant information about their global futures, so that they can act upon social and environmental issues, is one likely result, once information is a totally free good” (2008). This is simply another angle on the concerns shared above. The best tools for distributing content are already being steered by powerful groups with a documented record of self-service and unfair play. I wish I had a solution, and that my institution had another option. I will continue to keep my users’ needs at the forefront, which means making sure that they have access to as much as I can offer. At the same time, I’ll keep making sure that we retain ownership of our content so as soon as I see a better boat, I’ll jump ship and start swimming.

REFERENCES
Ford, B. (2008). LIS professionals in a global society. In The Portable MLIS: insights from the experts. Ed. Haycock. Libraries Unlimited.   

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.

Reference:
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

Plan

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)

https://www.lib.ncsu.edu/projects/my-huntlibrary

https://github.com/NCSU-Libraries/lentil

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.

Evaluation:

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.

References

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/

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