Melissa Kauth

  • The Power of Stories Stories are powerful. There is no doubt about it. I haveRead More »The Power of Stories

    • @kauthmeister Oh! My ❤️! Those examples you shared resonated deeply for many reasons – especially the last one. How wonderful to remember such a life changing person from 3rd grade.

    • Hi Melissa,
      Thank you for sharing your ideas about combining restaurants/bars with a library or bookstore. I remember walking past a cozy bar, that had bookshelves filled with books (I wish I remembered where I saw this, but it may have be somewhere in SF). It was the kind of place where you could enjoy reading a book while sipping on a glass of your favorite wine or cocktail. I loved the idea! As far as food goes, I see so much potential for libraries. As a foodie, I would love to see libraries pair cultural celebrations with food from that culture (maybe using food trucks or having existing restaurants provide the food). It would be such a great way to create community.

    • @kauthmeister Really appreciate the ideas you share regarding culinary literacy and libraries. Our area had similar during the pandemic where people could not wait out the return of many of the restaurants. Your idea about focusing on young people really resonates as well. I think Traverse City library and all the folks working in hospitality here might benefit from this type of a partnership.

    • Hi Melissa,

      I love the idea of having an oral history at the community library! Personal stories can be such a powerful community building tool. I had a similar idea for my innovation road map where I proposed the bringing together of seniors and youth in an intergeneration multimedia storytelling initiative.

  • Mobile Information EnviromentsBefore this course,  I had never referred to any sort of smart technology as aRead More »

    • @kauthmeister so many good ideas here. I will hone in on your point about Google glass and your father. I recall sitting across from a library colleague at a conference many years ago and he had glasses on and I thought it was the most off-putting thing.

      My hope is that any mobile application we create or any online web-based application we create will still be human centered and focused.

  • Melissa Kauth wrote a new post on the site The Hyperlink's Tale 2 months ago

    How Libraries Can Bear Witness to History Through Participatory Service Participatory service is a foundational model that libraries have and must continue to utilize while designing services for their patrons. I was really drawn to the quote from Erik Boekesteijn used during our lecture: Keep Stories, Share Stories, Make Stories (Stephens, 2019). It really stuck with me because how libraries can preserve and share stories has been on my mind for some time now. I very much want it to inform my future practice as a librarian. The first idea that arose for me regarding how to share stories was oral histories. While oral histories are commonly used in documentaries, podcasts, and social media posts, I want to merge oral histories with libraries in a more personal and nuanced way. One study in New York in 2016 looked at what they called “Human Libraries” (Dobreski & Huang, 2016). Four different branches had human library events, where patrons could sign up to share their personal stories with a group of people in real time. Some patrons also just wanted to share their skills, such as knitting or their favorite subject from school. They even named the participants “Human Books.” The benefits from these types of programs were felt by both the human books and the readers themselves (Dobreski & Huang, 2016). I loved this idea, but I wanted something long-lasting. I wanted something libraries could keep in a collection that would be managed long-term. I wanted the human books to have a place in the library that other humans could access later. Participatory service requires the program or service to be malleable and reflective while creating a bridge between the patrons and the library. The program has to be able to evolve with time and possibly technology. It also requires long-term thinking, or the “long tail” (Casey & Savastinuk, 2007).  The service idea I have been mulling over has all these components. Simply put, the service that the library would provide is the ability for patrons to record oral histories at no cost to them. The librarian would be the guide when creating the oral story. The ultimate goal would be for the library to become an active participant in documenting history while being a part of a communal process of sharing and passing on stories with the community. Inspiration: I want to share some of my inspirations for this idea to give a bit of context as to why I feel that this is something that libraries can and need to accomplish. My ultimate inspiration: death. As you are reading this, I’m sure you’re like, “Wow, we are really going to talk about this?” And my answer is, “Yes, yes, we are.” Death is a part of life. How we as humans handle and process death varies greatly amongst different cultures. In the United States, I feel like we are constantly bombarded with images of mass death. At the same time, we simultaneously do everything we can to avoid the topic altogether in our inner communities. In the last few years alone, we have witnessed mass death at an unprecedented rate. It’s been live-streamed in front of our faces. From the pandemic, to the genocide taking place in Gaza, mass death has been our constant companion. @Crutches_and_Spice, a creator in TikTok, posted a video about a week after the October 7th Hamas attack. She stated that she was saving hard copies of all the stories that have been posted on social media from Palestinians attempting to escape the conflict being perpetrated by Israel. As I watched this clip, I was in awe at how quickly someone wanted to preserve Palestinian stories. A quote that she said stuck with me: “History is not made by the winners or the losers, but by those who bear witness and keep a record.” (TikTok – Make Your Day, 2023). On a more personal note, I have also dealt with end-of-life realities myself in the last few years. My mother’s passing in 2020 opened up the floodgates of questions that I had about my mother’s life. My mother kept many secrets, and while I knew this before she died, I didn’t realize how much was kept from me until after she was gone. I found photographs of my mother’s early life that I had never seen. I found pictures of old lovers that she refused to speak about. I found pictures of my deceased grandmother, who was also extremely secretive about her life experiences. I was taken aback by all the different versions of the matriarchs in my life that I will never get to know or learn from. While I was excited to see these photographs, I was equally devastated.   While this inspiration seems dark and bleak, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, it can bring new life to our libraries. In pre-colonial times, losing a community member was considered sacred and felt throughout the entire community. Colonization has attempted to take that away from us. So why can’t libraries help bring it back and be a part of the healing process for our patrons? Service Model: The goal of the service is simple. Preserve and document oral histories for patrons and their loved ones. While death may have been the inspiration for this idea, a patron does not have to be near death or dying to participate. Anyone is allowed to record an oral history, and they can talk about anything that their heart desires. The service reminds us that life is ephemeral and that we shouldn’t take our loved ones’ experiences for granted.  These services can be implemented into the structure of a library organization. This service can provide instant and long-term feedback from its participants, one of the requirements stated in Library 2.0 (Casey & Savastinuk, 2007). The service would have a setup similar to a small passport office (we have one at the branch I currently work at). The setup would be a plain film backdrop with chairs, stools, or couches. The film setup can be a simple tripod and smartphone capable of holding a large file that would eventually be transferred to the larger database within the library system. The library would maintain the oral histories much like we maintain the stacks for our book collections. Of course, there are many privacy and legal issues to consider and write policy about. That’s actually a part of the process. Before filming could begin, a consultation has to occur with the librarian conducting the oral history interview and the patron. The librarian would be a guide throughout the process, and I would equate this role to something shamanic in nature. Options would be discussed about who the oral history is for and what the patron’s goals are. Proper arrangements can be made if a patron only wants to record an oral history for themselves and their family members. If the patron feels like they have to get their story out into the wider world, consent and privacy agreements can be signed for the patron to decide where they would like their history shared. Social media and the library’s website can be options for the patron to choose from. If a patron witnessed a significant historical event, they can dictate that researchers can utilize their oral history. Live events like the Human Libraries mentioned above can also take place. And, of course, the oral history can always be removed from the collection at the patron’s discretion. The library will never own the history because it was always meant for the patrons and community members. Even with the removal of an oral history from a collection, the librarian will have had the honor to hear the stories firsthand while providing a safe space for our patrons to showcase their history. References: Casey, M. E., & Savastinuk, L. C. (2007). Library 2.0 : a guide to participatory library service. Information Today. Dobreski, B., & Huang, Y. (2016). The joy of being a book: Benefits of participation in the human library. Proceedings of the ASIST Annual Meeting, 53(1), 1–3. Stephens, M. (2019). Wholehearted librarianship: Finding Hope, Inspiration, and Balance (pp. 91-95). ALA Editions. ‌TikTok – Make Your Day. (2023). Retrieved February 18, 2024, from https://www.tiktoRead More »How Libraries Can Bear Witness to History Through Participatory Service

    • This is powerful post. I am sure this resonates with anyone who has lost someone and has still has questions, questions that will never be answered. You are offering us a concrete solution. I would give almost anything to hear my grandmother’s voice again. I can almost conjure it up now. . .but not quite.
      I also appreciate how well-thought out your plan is.
      Amazing job.

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