Remote + Connected

Reflection #2: Storytelling, Open Offices and Lefties

For this reflection, I thought I would share about a few podcasts that I stumbled across this week that matched up with some of the ideas we are learning and sharing about participatory service and libraries.

Erica Williams Simon

I really enjoyed a podcast that featured Erica Williams Simon, a young writer and social critic who recently published the book, You Deserve the Truth: Change the Stories That Shape Your World and Build A World-Changing Life. In the interview, she talked about the idea of “narrative intelligence” and encourages everyone to get “story smart” about their lives. Her interview reminded me of the slogan “Keep Stories. Share Stories. Make Stories. I love the concept of “narrative intelligence”. What stories are we communicating to patrons and the community about who we are? Are the stories we tell authentic? Do they inspire connectivity and creativity?

I really enjoy the Freakonomics podcast, so I listened to a new one about open offices (versus cubicles) entitled “Yes-the Open Office is Terrible But It Doesn’t Have to Be”. It felt relevant to our discussions about the Hyperlinked Library because many new libraries have a very “open” design (like Dok in the Netherlands), which is really different from the “stacks” where people could literally hide and not be found. It reminded me of a section in Christine’s context book review of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.

While DOK sounds like such an amazing place, even to an introvert like me, I can’t help but wonder if I would hang out there. I think as we examine participation in libraries, we as librarians need to stay aware that participation may mean different things to different people. We must ask ourselves how we will meet those needs.

The Freakonomics podcast also found that when things got “too” open people craved more privacy. So rather than stimulate more conversation, it actually caused many to turn more inward (and it goes into various reasons for this). It made me think that libraries may want to offer both open and enclosed spaces in new designs in order to achieve the types of conversations that Peter Block imagines are possible. So “participatory” doesn’t have to equal extroversion.

Photo Credit: Radiolab

Another fun podcast was Radiolab’s episode “What’s Right When You’re Left”, which was an amazingly informative podcast about everything left-handed–especially why humans evolved to be left-handed (the Faurie-Raymond hypothesis). Later in the week, I was shutting down our AWE early literacy computer in the children’s area, and I noticed that the mouse was on the left side of the keyboard (a young leftie had moved it there!). I felt bad because it never occurred to me to put a mousepad on the left side! So when I get back on Monday, I am going to order a matching mousepad to put on the left. But if I hadn’t heard that podcast I might not have “got” it. Score one for inclusivity!

So those are some ways that I have participated in Hyperlinked communities this week…Enjoy!

6 thoughts on “Reflection #2: Storytelling, Open Offices and Lefties

  1. Liz Olson

    I absolutely love your last little comment about putting a mouse-pad on the left hand side of the computer for the lefties. It’s such a little detail but imagine how happily surprised a left handed kid might be when they see that. They will know that somebody was thinking of them and had their comfort in mind. Very sweet.

  2. Jeff Gibson

    Hi Cristin, thank you for introducing Simon’s concept of “narrative intelligence”. I think librarians tell great stories, but they mostly tell these stories to other librarians. I hope we can take her advice to heart and try to change the library narrative.

  3. Michael Stephens

    @desertrabbit Such an interesting synthesis of the module. I agree about having spaces for introverts as well in newer, “open” library settings. Dokk1, for example, still had quiet spots and nice seating facing out to the water that offered that level of privacy that soothes the introvert’s brain (like mine). 🙂

    Fascinated by Narrative Intelligence. Need to find out more!

  4. Tiffany Song

    Hi Cristin,

    I’m a podcast newbie so I wanted to look into any recommendations. Thanks for the recommendations!

    It’s been an old age ‘horror’ of sorts when people think of cubicles so you would think a more open office would be better. I do like the consideration into making both open and private spaces for everyone to enjoy in a library.

    I quite liked the way Dokk1 is incredibly serene and lets people enjoy a good read while seeing the tranquility of the water around it. It allows people to feel like they can reflect somewhere while also offering an open space. I know it can seem hard to provide a space that provides a good balance between open and private spaces but it can be done!

    I also love the idea of the mousepad on the left side. I walk around my library near closing time and I’m always seeing the mousepad situated to the right. As a sibling to someone who is the only left-handed person in the house, I know full well that there are lefties out there. It’s great that you provided a matching one for the left handed.

  5. Nikki

    Hi @desertrabbit,

    I recently returned to my childhood library and found that many of the stacks had been removed and replaced with armchairs and large tables. I had gone there to study and was thrilled to find that there were still some private cubicles tucked away in the back corners of the library space.

    What an excellent observation about the mouse on the left!

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