Reflection Blog #3: Hyperlinked Environments

Humboldt State University Library, third floor.

THE HYPERLINKED ACADEMIC LIBRARY: Whether it be a highly-funded research university in an urban city, or a small community college in rural town which has primarily low-income students, there’s one thing that’s certain across the board for all academic libraries: everything’s changing and it’s our responsibility as LIS professionals to meet the ever-changing, information-related needs of our patrons for them to succeed both academically and professionally. From providing a range of makerspaces, to ensuring that patrons are having their basic, everyday living needs met, it’s our duty as LIS professionals to help the academic library become more than just a place for those who seek scholarly-related assistance.

In Barbara Fister’s “The Boundaries of ‘Information’ in Information Literacy,” she discloses the growing importance of ensuring that students are able to successfully navigate our ever-changing information landscape by stating that, “[s]tudents need to learn how to use academic libraries to do academic work. But not all information is academic, and students will need to know something about the wider landscape of information to function in a world that’s highly driven by networked and powerful information systems” (2017). By understanding that our goals as academic librarians shouldn’t be solely based on developing the most up-to-date collections of scholarly materials, but–more importantly–to provide students with the necessary makerspaces and help them learn how to utilize technologies required for academic and professional success.

Likewise, Keith Webster notes the shift in academic library environments in, “Reimagining the Role of the Library in the Digital Age: Changing the Use of Space and Navigating Information Landscape,” where he asserts that: “[w]e see two fundamental differences, though: firstly, the majority of today’s students are not using libraries in a traditional sense. They pass by our collections and rarely interact with librarians. Secondly, the form of student work today is very different from the past. It often requires collaboration with other students, the creation of tangible objects using technology housed in the library, the pursuit of interdisciplinary debate, and all of that has to be accommodated alongside a continued demand for quiet study environments,” both of which further supports the other trends in LIS literature for additional makerspaces in all sizes of academic libraries (2017). We, as modern-day LIS professionals need to advocate for services and the changes of current library spatial configurations to support our patrons is the most effective ways possible.

And while there’s much that can be solved through the implementation of makerspaces, we, as LIS professionals, shouldn’t limit place any restrictions on how we can further support our patrons beyond the standard, quinessetnial library services. Joe Hardenbrook’s blog, “Starting a Food Pantry in an Academic Library,” sheds light on a less-than-talked-about matter—which LIS professionals can play a part in combating—that plagues many modern-day university students: food insecurities (2019). Between finals, the stressors of living in foreign environments, the balance of school-work life, and maintaining one’s sanity, the very last thing students should be concerned about is where their next meal is coming from—yet that’s, sadly, not the case for a growing number of students. My beloved alma mater, Humboldt State University, has had an ongoing issue with food insecurities within its student population (and the surrounding community). Thankfully, Hardenbrook introduces an unconventional approach to the issue: an open-access, non-judgmental, “take what you need, give when you can” pantry (2019). And while the most predictable items (e.g. granola bars, dried fruits/nuts, ramen, etc.) may be found in the pantry, other high-demand everyday essential items (e.g. tampons, toothpaste/toothbrushes, soap, etc.) are also accepted (Hardenbrook, 2019). The philosophy held by Hardenbrook and his colleagues has wholeheartedly inspired me to work towards implementing a similar program at whichever academic library I end up serving. Regardless of whether or not a campus is known for its students suffering from food insecurities, the implementation of a “take what you need, give when you can” style of pantry will surely support patrons in more profound ways than many might be able to imagine.


References

Fister, B. (2017). The boundaries of ‘information’ in information literacy. Retrieved from https://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/library-babel-fish/boundaries-information-information-literacy

Hardenbrook, J. (2019). Starting a food pantry in an academic library. Retrieved from https://mrlibrarydude.wordpress.com/2019/09/13/starting-a-food-pantry-in-an-academic-library/

Webster, K. (2017). Reimagining the role of the library in the digital age: Changing the use of space and navigating the information landscape. Retrieved from https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/2017/02/15/reimagining-the-role-of-the-library-in-the-digital-age-changing-the-use-of-space-and-navigating-the-information-landscape/?platform=hootsuite

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9 thoughts on “Reflection Blog #3: Hyperlinked Environments

  1. Thank you for writing about expanding academic library services (we read a lot about public library service expansion), and especially about student food needs. Student food insecurity apparently has always existed and not just for lower-income families. For instance, my deceased husband went to Cornell in the 50s and came from an upper middle class family who paid his tuition and housing costs. But parents often forget about daily expenses, or are tapped out, or think the student can or should handle that one small part of their expenses. In order to eat well, he bought sandwiches everyday downtown and sold them on campus to feed himself and to make money. My current partner went to Indiana State in the 60s–again, his parents covered tuition and room and board–but the cafeteria was not open enough hours for him to get 3 meals a day between classes, so he worked in food service starting at 4:30 a.m., just to have enough (and free) food in his day. Both were athletes, swim team and basketball team, so maybe they needed more food than other students, I don’t know. But this is a untold story, then and now. Thank you for bringing it to our attention.

    • Hi, Kathleen!

      I’m sorry for the horribly late response, but thank you so much for your thoughtful comment! And I’m happy to write about expanding academic library services to help address the ongoing issue of food insecurity. Thank you for sharing the experiences of your partners–it’s unfortunate to hear that this a long-standing issue among university students, but I’m thankful that LIS professionals (and MLIS students like us!) are working towards implementing effective solutions for future generations of students.

      Thanks again for sharing, and I hope you and your loved ones are safe from COVID-19.

      All the best,
      Eleanor

  2. I went to Chico State and they had a similar pantry, but it was in a more remote part of the campus and many people didn’t know where it was. Placing a pantry like that in the library, which is often at the heart of campus, seems much more suitable and falls under the library’s role as a community place. It also shows people how libraries have changed into somewhere they can snack as long as they’re not at a computer, where they can keep warm and comfortable and find/eat food.

    • Hi Lain,

      I’m sorry for the late comment, but thanks for your response! Very cool to hear that Chico has a pantry. Bummer that it’s not located more centrally, but a remote pantry is better than no pantry 🙂 I also agree with you that it reflects the ever-changing nature of academic libraries.

      Thanks again for sharing, and I hope you’re hanging in there with all of the COVID-19 madness.

      All the best,
      Eleanor

  3. This was a fun read, I love the concept of a food pantry at the library. As a patron and employee – there has been times when I needed an energy “pick me up.” Visiting the food pantry would have been amazing!

    I also agree there’s alot to learn from visiting a makerspace, and it’s a fun way to stimulate mental and creative growth from a tactile vantage point. Great post Eleanor!

    • Hi, David!

      I’m sorry for the insanely late response, but thank you for commenting on my post! I’m thrilled to hear that, as both a patron and employee, you appreciate the concept of the in-library pantry. Likewise, I’ve had similar instances where a “pick me up” snack would’ve felt like a lifesaver. And there truly is so much to gain from makerspace visits–if only I recognized their value as an undergraduate! Thanks again for commenting!

      Wishing health and safety to you and your loved ones throughout all of the COVID-19 madness.

      All the best,
      Eleanor

  4. I think food insecurity is a big deal and if we are in the service business – to help students succeed – then helping with food is logical. I was happy to find that blog post and I am glad you wrote about it.

    • Hi, @michael!

      I’m so sorry for the wildly late response, but thank you very much for commenting! As someone who grew up in a less-than-affluent area, I was truly inspired by the concept of introducing a food pantry in an academic library setting. Thank you for finding the blog post and shedding light on such a life-changing library service.

      Wishing you and your loved ones health and safety during the COVID-19 chaos.

      All the best,
      Eleanor

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