Archive for February, 2020


It is time for libraries to think like a start up. Brian Matthews (2012, April) provides ten major points to begin thinking like a start up, and many of the suggestions line up well with the concept of the Hyperlinked Library. In Matthews’ third point, he describes startups as being ready for constant change, ready to put things to the test, and to act as a platform to meet various kinds of information needs of the library’s community.

Hayes and Storey (2013, May) give various examples of how the Hyperlinked Library meets its community’s needs in various ways. The Columbus Metropolitan Library, for example, saw a need for early literacy development in its community, and it responded by sending an Early Reader van to areas in need and provided free books and learning toys to help their community be kindergarten ready. That is thinking like a startup, as per Matthews’ (2012, April) methodology. The Music Library and Sound Recordings Archives at Bowling Green State University thought like a startup too and managed to connect with their local community and a broader audience through their usage of the Internet and social media. Using Pinterest, the staff shared the visual side of their audio archives and created a social media trend known as “sleevefacing,” an artistic pose making clever use of album covers.

Connecting through sleevefacing
Havens, A., & Storey, T. (2013, May). “From community to technology…and back again: The networked library.” NextSpace: the OCLC newsletter, 21. 4-10. Retrieved from https://library.oclc.org/digital/collection/p15003coll11/id/20

Amy Stolls (n.d.) writes about “The Healing Power of Libraries” in a so-named article, and brings back the idea of simply being surrounded by books. She talks of libraries being places of refuge, and that the books themselves have so much to offer a community. This too is part of the Hyperlinked Library because the stacks themselves are reaching patrons every day. A library can’t abandon its current patrons for those yet to be reached—the library is a place for all, and physical books will continue to be an important part of meeting a community’s information needs.

Being a successful library today takes creative thinking and a willingness to take risks. It involves thinking like a startup while also maintaining the services that currently work. It’s a special balance, like Matthews (2012, April) says, of learning from past endeavors while looking to new opportunities to be able to reach as much of the community as possible.

References

Havens, A., & Storey, T. (2013, May). “From community to technology…and back again: The networked library.” NextSpace: the OCLC newsletter, 21. 4-10. Retrieved from https://library.oclc.org/digital/collection/p15003coll11/id/20

Matthews, B. (2012, April). Think like a startup. Ubiquitous Librarian. Chronical of Higher Education. Retrieved from https://vtechworks.lib.vt.edu/bitstream/handle/10919/18649/Think%20like%20a%20STARTUP.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

Stolls, A. (n.d.). The healing power of libraries. National Endowment for the Arts. https://www.arts.gov/article/healing-power-libraries

Well, I am late on my first reflection post. I misread due dates and conflated participation posts with reflection posts. Oh well. Now that that is out of the way, I have some major takeaways from our foundational texts, and I will be focusing here on Michael Casey and Laura Savastinuk’s Library 2.0.

For some background, I currently work in a library, one that would probably be described as medium-sized. It has one main branch that is open 6 days out of the week, and two smaller branches open for limited hours 4 days per week. It serves a diverse community, and it previously had major budget cuts that it has never fully recovered from. But we keep on keeping on!

The idea behind Library 2.0 is exciting to me because it focuses so much on the things that I have found lacking in my library experience, namely embracing current rends and increasing services in a mindful and focused way. One of the most important parts of Library 2.0 is communication, and I fully believe in its power as discussed in Casey and Savastinuk’s text. Libraries need to communicate with the patrons served in order to know what services they want and need. Beyond that, libraries need to communicate with the patrons that aren’t being served because the library undoubtedly has things to offer them. The idea of using a blog as a means to communicate with the public appeals greatly to me, and embracing a social media presence is an alternative or parallel means of accomplishing the same.

But communication with staff is just as if not more important. Casey and Savastinuk state over and over about the importance of gaining feedback from staff, of including staff in decision-making, and in keeping staff in-the-know about coming changes–both information about the changes themselves as well as the rationale behind changes. One of the most important parts of this communication to me is tying all decision-making back to the library’s mission statement. I never thought of just how important the mission statement or statement of purpose is to a library until I finished this book. It really should be the guiding light that influences setting goals, implementing goals, and the need to always be finding the next important set of goals.

Related to determining, setting, and implementing goals is the method to do so. Project management is something of a field of study unto itself, but Casey and Savastinuk provide a great methodology with their concept of the I-, P-, and R-team strategy of vertical teams. Everyone gets included, everyone participates, everyone gets a voice, and everyone is thus part of the buy-in. Brainstorming, planning, and evaluating are all repeatedly visited throughout the text, and the vertical team strategy is such a great way to actually getting things done–or so I hope! I say hope because I have not seen it in action. But reading about it has made me very excited to see it play out, to participate in it, and to be able to evaluate its effectiveness.

One thing I had heard while working for the literacy department of my library was that everything is a prototype. Everything is open to change, and a whole project can be discarded if, in evaluating it, it is found to not accomplish the thing it was meant to do. This is exactly the mindset Casey and Savastinuk employ with Library 2.0, and it is a mindset I carry myself. I fully believe in the power of prototype, and if a library is going to change with purpose, there is really nothing (except budgets, staff, and the other inescapable limits–but even these limits have limits!) that can stop it from doing so.

Phil Gilbert, master designer, talks of how everything is a prototype.

Now I am going to run to my administrators and ask them to start a director’s blog, get us on facebook, start a podcast, get our staff communicating via IM, set up a staff wiki, and revamp our website! Well, maybe I should listen to Casey and Savastinuk and pick one or two ideas as suggestions and see where it leads. I guess I am volunteering for the Investigative Team already.

References

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

SAP TV. (2016, April 26). Today is a prototype for tomorrow: Phil Gilbert, IBM [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8OQLpO_IJzw

The world is more connected than ever before. The world is also better than it ever was before in many varied and important ways. In Enlightenment Now, Steven Pinker (2018) shows how things have drastically improved for humans in myriad ways. The whole world is living longer, with 2015 bringing a global average life expectancy of 71.4 years (p. 53), 83 percent of the world is literate (p. 236), and people living in the United States have more leisure time than ever (p. 255) despite how we might feel otherwise. One of the more revolutionary outcomes of our modern age, though, is the advent and rapid growth of the Internet. According to Pinker, nearly half of the world has Internet access (p. 257). If one considers the combined facts of Internet access, leisure time, and literacy, we must be living in the greatest era of librarianship.

Steven Pinker gives a brief overview of the enlightenment ideals he thinks important to humanity’s future.

                Pinker (2018) makes the case that technological advancements have historically been linked to increases in global knowledge, and he points to studies that show the more knowledge a person has, the “less racist, sexist, xenophobic, homophobic, and authoritarian” (p. 235) they are. Pinker specifically mentions the democratization of knowledge, claiming that “most of the world’s knowledge is now online rather than locked in libraries” (p. 238), but I think he is too quick to dismiss libraries and the role they play in helping people gain access to online knowledge. In his book Redefining Library Services, Michael Buckland (1992) lays out the important role libraries play in making online resources accessible, not just by having digital objects stored on the web, but by contributing to the work that makes those objects locatable. He states that “there is much greater opportunity to bring service to wherever potential users of library service happen to be” (p. 65), and, given the interconnectedness brought about by the Internet, those users are everywhere—and they are ready to access those services.

                By utilizing the Internet to bring far greater amounts of resources to far greater amounts of people, libraries play a unique and crucial role in helping with Pinker’s (2018) wish of bringing enlightenment ideals to a world that often feels rudderless despite such important improvements to general well-being. Casey and Savastinuk (2007) are right when they describe the problem of the “long tail” and how it relates to an outmoded way of thinking: libraries cannot constrain themselves, their collection, and their services to what can be physically held inside their physical walls. More importantly, Casey and Savastinuk are right to suggest harnessing the power of the Internet “as a tool that you can use to reach your users” (p. 34). Part of reaching users, though, is not simply having them use a library to access resources but to feel like they are participating in the exchange.

                Michael Stephens (2016) tells of a library in Colombia that helps its community store local history in the form of documents and photographs by digitizing them. This is the democratization of knowledge that Pinker (2018) says encapsulates “our ceaseless creativity and our fantastically cumulative cultural memory” (p. 261). But it is the exchange of knowledge that is most important. Pinker talks of how modern technology allows for a complete transformation of global education, and Stephens echoes this when he states that “understanding and empathy among cross-cultural partners in a technological environment is the key . . . to making change and promoting progress” (p. 81).

                Pinker (2018) states that “there is no limit to the betterments we can attain if we continue to apply knowledge to enhance human flourishing” (p. 453), and there should be no better role for libraries to play than in helping people gain access to that ever important knowledge. Pinker hopes for a return to enlightenment ideals, of reason, science, and humanism, and he argues well for the benefits they have gifted humanity. Casey and Savastinuk (2007) show how libraries can better harness the Internet via blogs, social media, and other Web 2.0 inventions, and Stephens sums it up nicely by pointing out the need “to imagine these service models based on community enrichment and building connections” (p. 56). And I am excited to be here, now, in this MLIS program because I too want to change people’s lives.

Stephen Fry and Steven Pinker discuss the progress made, the challenges to come, and the importance of enlightenment ideals as we move deeper into the 21st century.

References

Agatan Foundation. (2018, September 21). Enlightenment explained by Stephen Pinker [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8sMtw9mKHX0

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

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

How to Academy. (2018, February 24). Stephen Fry & Steven Pinker on the enlightenment today [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8aT61w3Q6vI

Pinker, S. (2018). Enlightenment now: The case for reason, science, humanism, and progress. New York: Penguin Books.

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

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