Virtual Symposium

I decided to include a Wordle combining every piece of text from my blogs, director’s brief, and emerging technology plan. Below is an image of my wordle, shaped as a human. I was intrigued by the biggest words – more for me to reflect on in future blogs.

Director’s Brief

Telling stories is a universal human experience that has existed throughout human history. We tell stories to make sense of events or experiences that are difficult to understand, to share what we have learned with others, or simply to delight.

Providing an accessible tool in a place where the most vulnerable and marginalized populations feel safe is an exceptional opportunity to give voice to those who are seldom heard, and for the larger community to find common ground with strangers they never expected.

Learning is a messy process

In my work with students, one mantra that guides my pedagogical approaches is that “Writing is a social process.” Students often had a difficult time wrapping their heads around this because writing so often is done in isolation and when we think of writers, we think of people in remote cabins in the forest or similar environs. I would also add that in addition to it being a social process, it is also a messy one.

In my former position as writing tutor and instructional assistant at a community college, I understood my role in supporting student success. The students I worked with, often fresh out of high school or returning to college after a long absence, were in the first of the Basic Skills writing courses (formerly known as remedial courses). Students often lamented that they weren’t “good writers” and were often frustrated on the difficulties involved in the writing process.

I did not (and still don’t) believe that the essay is the standard for demonstrating mastery of learning. I wondered why other means were not considered equally valid evidence of mastery. This would have benefited many students I worked with.

In this week’s modules on Infinite Learning – I was drawn to the Library as a Classroom topic. I was pleased to find other significant educational organizations shared my belief. Lippincourt (2015) mentions the Degree Qualifications Profile, an educational organization that “illustrates the kinds of proficiencies that students need to develop as they complete their academic work” declare one proficiency is to “construct sustained, coherent arguments, narratives or explications of issues, problems or technical issues and processes, in writing and at least one other medium, to general and specific audiences.” To me this proves that while writing is one medium that can be used to demonstrate proficiency, it is not the only means.

In an innovative assignment that asked students to participate in creating “site specific dance pieces” in small groups, Joshua Block (2014) mentions that struggling is an integral part of the learning process.

If I don’t allow learning to be messy, I eliminate authentic experiences for students as thinkers and creators. I find it important to regularly remind myself that frustration leads to insights and that learning is not necessarily the equivalent of mastery.

Block, J., (07 Jan 2014). Embracing messy learning. Edutopia. Found at: https://www.edutopia.org/blog/embracing-messy-learning-joshua-block

Part of creating that authentic learning experience involves balancing structure and choice (Block, 2013). It involves knowing when to provide modeling and how much details you should reveal in the process and avoid quick fixes where you provide so much information that you remove the struggle from your students. It is important to remember that “too much structure can remove individual investment and creativity” (Block, 2013), and that is not something we want to take away from our students.

References

Block, J., (28 Oct 2013), Strategic modeling: Balancing structure with choice. Edutopia. Retrieved from: https://www.edutopia.org/blog/strategic-modeling-balancing-structure-choice-joshua-block

Block, J., (07 Jan 2014). Embracing messy learning. Edutopia. Retrieved from: https://www.edutopia.org/blog/embracing-messy-learning-joshua-block

Lippincourt, J. (26 Feb 2015). The future for teaching and learning: Librarians’ deepening involvement in pedagogy and curriculum. American Libraries. Retrieved from: https://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/2015/02/26/the-future-for-teaching-and-learning/

What is attention?

Nina Paley / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

I can’t recall ever having a critical discussion on what attention actually is, let alone actually defining its attributes or considering how it may evolve despite having pursued multiple degrees. It’s kind of assumed that we all have a general consensus about what it is.

But, If one were to ask me, what attention is, I would need to give it some serious thought. Grammatically, attention is a noun, a specific kind of noun called an abstract noun – an entity you cannot experience with your physical senses. However, when you include attention as part of an infinitive, “to pay attention” or  “to give attention,” then it takes a different meaning and becomes an intransitive verb. Intransitive verbs are action verbs that don’t have a direct object (e.g. The bird flew up. Flew is the intransitive verb).

Take for example, She pays attention in class. Pays attention is the intransitive verb. When you give attention or pay attention, you kind of are and kind of aren’t doing anything. Sometimes you can see someone paying attention, but other times someone might be paying attention and it doesn’t look like it.  

To give attention or to pay attention – most commonly that involves looking at the speaker, possibly taking notes, nodding head in agreement (or shaking head in disagreement), asking questions, or responding when a pause in the discussion invites participation. But in cases where a participant is not performing any of those actions, are they still paying attention? Some might say no, while others may say yes, or it depends. Did the participant retain some of the information? Or react to some of the information? Can they summarize some main ideas? Or make connections to their own experience? 

One can pay attention without looking like they are, similar to how one can listen and understand what advice you are giving without you (the speaker) ever feeling like they ever were. So it begs the question, what is attention? And why is it such a valuable commodity (that companies spend fortunes and assemble teams to capture it from us)? And is all attention created equal? 

Lee Rainie (2016), in her presentation “The Puzzles Librarians Need to Solve,” attempts to categorize attention by quantities. In addressing “What is the future of attention?” she explains that attention comes in streams, signals, and snacks (Rainie, 2016). Snacks, she says, are motivated by a need to defeat boredom and come in bite-sized amounts when a user has a very limited amount of available time. 

I found it really intriguing the way she defined attention in terms of quantities of attention and distinct attributes such as: motive, content, demographics, device, engagement, influentials and mindshare. It’s interesting to think of attention as such a complex entity – one that requires motivation and a means of engagement, and how those can be mapped along demographic and device lines. It seems kind of mathematical, which is not a term I associate with attention. It will be interesting to think of how attention will be redefined in the future.

References

Rainie, L. (9 Feb 2016). The puzzles librarians need to solve. VALA 2016 Conference proceedings. [ppt]. Retrieved from: https://www.slideshare.net/slideshow/embed_code/key/nn79i0jAIP2F1

Emerging Technology/Service Planning

Plan

Goals/Objectives for Technology or Service:

The objective is to create a library space that is dedicated to improving the employability of the patrons in the communities the library serves. This Job Center would have several computer stations available specifically for the purpose of searching for and applying to jobs electronically, writing cover letters and resumes, and accessing resources for improving interviewing skills or addressing other job related questions (e.g. What does it take to be an electrician?). In addition, this space would have at least one dedicated printer for printing up cover letters and resumes. While open to everyone, special efforts would be made to promote the resources to formerly incarcerated youth and adults.

Why is this space needed?

San Bernardino County has just over 2 million residents. Of that population, approximately 20% have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher (United States Census Bureau, 2010). A high school education today does not provide the same opportunities for job prospects that earn a living wage. Add into the equation that there are several correctional facilities, and a higher than average concentration of parolees in the county, and that makes employment services critical to reduce recidivism and promote safety in the community. The area of the county near where I live is home to the California Institution for Men, the California Institution for Women, and the California Rehabilitation Center (California Department of Corrections, 2020).

Description of Community you wish to engage:
  • Local business owners and employers
  • Formerly incarcerated youth and adults
  • Career Centers at Community Colleges (Citrus College) to promote CTE certificates and programs that make applicants more employable at their institutions
  • County of San Bernardino Reentry Collaborative: This organization already has a broad existing network of collaborative partners, that also include faith based and community organizations.
Action Brief Statement:

Convince our community library that by collaborating with regional county agencies they will expand access to employment services and opportunities to formerly incarcerated youth and adults and increase the employability of this severely under-served population which will reduce recidivism and make our community safer because we all want to live in a safe community.

Evidence and Resources to support Technology or Service:
Mission, Guidelines, and Policy related to Technology or Service:

Guidelines for usage regarding equipment in the Job Center would need to make clear that the equipment in the space is only to be used for: searching online for jobs, applying online to jobs, drafting/typing up/saving/emailing cover letters and resumes, using the internet to search for tips on how to write cover letters, resumes, search effectively for jobs, and tips on interviewing. Printing would only be for cover letters and resumes (or applications, if required to be printed). Users of the Job Center would be required to sign up for a library card and use their library card to log into the Job Center computers. Printing in the Job Center would be free, but would be limited to cover letters, resumes, or applications. Time limits on computer usage would be limited to 90 minutes at a time (to allow others to use the computers). If there were no patrons waiting, a user could sign out and sign back in for an additional 90 minutes.

Funding Considerations for this Technology or Service: 

The space for the Job Center has already been designated and is set up with several computers. Office furniture and a printer would need to be acquired, either through donations (perhaps through the Friends of the Library) or in-kind contributions from local businesses.

Invite local business owners and employers to do presentations on their business (like how to apply, what makes a good candidate, the kinds of skills desired).

Action Steps & Timeline: 

The library is already using electronic resources such as Ebsco LearningExpress Library and Calbright College to provide career preparation resources. 

One action step that can be taken to maximize users’ time within the Job Center is to host programs (at least twice a month) introducing Calbright College and Ebsco LearningExpress Library and to answer patron questions about what they are, how do they work, what kinds of skills can be learned.  If the library uses social media, they can share out the resources to all of their ‘friends’ and also include it on the library’s webpage and calendar. 

Staffing Considerations for this Technology or Service:

This is not a new service, but rather a collaboration to promote the awareness of the Job Center resource for formerly incarcerated youth and adults. The Job Center would have limited, but fixed hours at least twice a week, and would be staffed by a professional staff member. Volunteers could be used to complete some of the librarian’s tasks that do not require access to personal identifying information (tasks such as sorting, reshelving, gathering books or materials left on shelves, cleaning workstation) thus freeing up at least two hours of the librarian’s time to staff the Job Center.

Training for this Technology or Service: 

Any applicable training offered by the San Bernardino County Reentry Collaborative would be attended by the librarian charged with staffing the Job Center and would do a mini training of their colleagues at staff retreat days or lead a staff meeting focused only on what they learned in their training. This way, if that staff member leaves, other staff members have some idea of the work that was done in the Job Center. 

Promotion & Marketing for this Technology or Service: 

First, research and identify agencies who work with formerly incarcerated youth and adults (like County of San Bernardino Reentry Collaborative) and inquire about partnering with them to promote the Job Center resources at the library.

Also, I would outreach to the local community college and invite their Career Services staff to lead workshops or share resources they have gathered or created (and link to it on the library’s website). If they don’t have staff to share, I would see if they had interns that could lead workshops at the library (twice a month). I would also reach out to some of the local businesses and offer the library as a place to hold a recruitment fair and to also conduct interviews. The library can do much of the promotion allowing business owners to focus exclusively on recruitment and hiring. I would also consider inviting local business owners to lead workshops on what they are looking for in employees, how to apply, and what kinds of opportunities are available in their business. I would also invite trade union stewards or other members to come and speak as part of a panel. They can talk about internships, scholarships, and the different kinds of places/projects they work on. They can also speak to the educational and experiential qualifications required to obtain certain positions.

Evaluation: 

Usage Statistics: 

  • How many separate individual patrons have used the Job Center
  • How many hours logged in to Job Center computers

User Experience Data

  • Patron satisfaction surveys (How helpful was the staff, Were the resources helpful, Did you feel that your questions/concerns were addressed properly?
  • Anecdotal Success Stories: If a patron gets a job that he applied for at the Job Center, or got an interview after going a long time without getting an interview, or if a patron was able to help someone they know use the resources or apply for a job- those stories collected can make a strong case for the necessity of the Job Center.
References

United States Census Bureau. (2010). Quick Facts San Bernardino County. Retrieved from: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/sanbernardinocountycalifornia/POP010210

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. (2020). Facility Locator. Retrieved from: https://www.cdcr.ca.gov/facility-locator/

Where’s the line between privacy and information sharing?

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Privacy is a unique commodity. As individuals, we expect privacy in some aspects of our lives, while in other aspects we have no problem with sharing personal information. At what point is the line drawn about what information should be shared? And when should it be protected and private?

I am reminded of a writing lesson I developed with my students in a community college class. After reading brief articles about radio-frequency identification (RFID) and security cameras employed at public high schools, students were asked to evaluate the benefits and drawbacks of each technology. I assigned students different roles – administrators, parents, students, and staff/faculty members. I asked them to imagine themselves in these different roles and come up with reasons to support the installation or adoption of either RFID (badges for students) or security cameras in classrooms. What were some possible reasons to oppose one of the technologies? And support the other?At the center of this lesson was an examination of balancing privacy and safety, and students were able to think more deeply about the subject rather than reducing it to a broad generalization about the inevitability of omnipresent surveillance or a resistance to all attempts at surveillance.

The complex relationship between privacy, safety, and sharing was discussed in a way that allowed students to see perspectives that may have differed from their own, and they were able to see that there were positive and negative trade-offs in choosing one over another. Pew Research Center found that attitudes towards information sharing and technology were complex, just like the attitudes of my students, in their research report on Privacy and Information Sharing. In the report, authors Lee Rainie and Dana Page (2016), give six hypothetical scenarios and ask participants if the conditions for sharing information were acceptable, unacceptable, or if it depended on additional factors.

One scenario involved installing cameras with facial recognition technology to curb the occurrence of workplace thefts. Under the conditions outlined, 54% of participants found the installation of the cameras acceptable, while 24% found it unacceptable, and 21% said “it depends.” Read more about the office surveillance cameras scenario here. I found it surprising that so many people were willing to be recorded with facial recognition technology that was stored for an indefinite amount of time. I agreed with the minority who found it unacceptable. Among those who said yes, there was an attitude of resignation about being watched, as one participant noted, “My employer could choose to do this, but I might be unhappy about it. The boss is the boss.” Those who found it unacceptable perceived it as an intrusion into the workplace and that it had the potential to be misused, “This could very easily be abused and would hinder performance if every employee felt surveilled all the time.”

Clearly there is no simple answer to how individuals perceive sharing and protecting information, but as technology continues to advance and provide the ability to collect more information, the question that needs to follow is should we?

Participatory Service: What does it look like?

To me, participatory service involves connecting with the community. It should cast as wide a net as possible, not only to connect with loyal library users, but also to non-library users. When I think of casting a wide net, I think of inclusion – making the library a place, both virtually and physically, where all patrons feel safe, respected, and trusted. Aaron Schmidt (2013) affirms that “earning the trust of your library members is crucial to delivering a great user experience. Without trust, it is impossible to connect to library members in a meaningful way.”

For me, several components of building trust include listening, self-reflection, and inclusion. When performing outreach, there are certain questions I would consider that touch on each of the components of building trust. Here are some of the questions I would ask of my library:

  • Who are we including in these programming and services? Who are we excluding?
  • What programs and services do our patrons most often use? How much do they like those programs and services?
  • What other kinds of programs and services might they need or want to use or learn about that we don’t yet offer?
  • When our patrons have told us what they want, have we listened?
  • When our outreach was not well received, did we ask our patrons what we could have done differently?

I believe it is important to ask questions of ourselves and from our users because it reveals our own blindspots and biases and illustrates a more complete and accurate picture. It is always easier to see what others are doing wrong than it is for us to see our own individual mistakes. Librarians are not exempt from this reality, despite how hard they may try to minimize negative outcomes. Kenney (2014) explains:

“We’re all about meeting people where we think they may be. The trouble is, not all individuals fit into our elaborate schema. It’s difficult to genuinely meet people where they are. It’s far easier to set up a system that we think might help most users…”

Setting up a system requires making a lot of assumptions – about what our users know and what we think they already know. I’ve observed in my professional career within different roles of higher education that the assumptions made about where we think users are (and where they ought to be) and where they actually are can be very different, and can put up significant obstacles for access and inclusion.

For example, a learning center that requires students to make appointments with tutors before showing up might be assuming that students know there is a learning center on campus, where to find the learning center’s website, and how to make an appointment, or it assumes that most students would be accessing the appointment platform with a laptop computer. This can pose challenges for students who may not know that there is a learning center on the campus, don’t know where to find the website for the learning center, don’t know that they have to make an appointment first before receiving help, or are unable to access the appointment platform because they are using a mobile device and the platform wasn’t designed for access via a mobile device. Simple assumptions without any malicious intent can still harm potential users, which is why at each step of designing a new process or service, it’s important to ask about what assumptions are being made and how might those assumptions be excluding different users. When our assumptions make services more difficult to access, users will turn away from the library. Schneider (2006) warns that :

Information flows down the path of least resistance. If you block a tool the users want, users will go elsewhere to find it.

References

Kenney, B. (2014 Jan 27). The user is (still) not broken. Publishers Weekly. Retrieved from: https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/libraries/article/60780-the-user-is-still-not-broken.html

Schneider, K. G.( 2006 Jun 03). The user is not broken: A meme masquerading as a manifesto. Free Range Librarian [blog]. Retrieved from: http://freerangelibrarian.com/2006/06/03/the-user-is-not-broken-a-meme-masquerading-as-a-manifesto/

Scmidt, A. (2013 Nov 5). Earning trust – the user experience. Library Journal. Retrieved from: https://www.libraryjournal.com/?global_search=Earning+Trust+the+User+Experience

Context Book: The Social Life of Information

The Social Life of Information, written by John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid, was published in the year 2000. Set before the explosion of social media and participatory library service, this book describes how a focus on information and technology was mistakenly deemed a universal solution to most modern problems (with little to no regard for socialization and other forms of learning). Similar to today, where technology is seen as an equalizer of social disparities through faster internet connections, computers, and mobile devices with little attention paid to information acquired through social and physical relationships. However, Brown and Duguid firmly assert that infocentric futurists and technology enthusiasts are mistaken in their tunnel vision predictions and offer counter examples that show why such limited predictions and experiments fail.

One example that stood out to me what the Chiat/Day experiment in “hot desking.” Hot desking is “the strategy of abandoning fixed desks and providing laptops, cell phones, and internet connections so employees can work where they choose” (Brown and Duguid, 2000, p. 69). It seemed that the rationale for this move was to disrupt convention (and conventional thinking) by doing away with traditional office spaces in hopes that the disruption would spur creativity. The experiment failed and the company eventually returned to its conventional offices.

Example of Chiat Day hot desk environment. Retrieved from:
https://www.indesignlive.com/the-ideas/kitsch-please-danger-kitsch-workplace

Making such significant changes in the physical setting of a work environment is definitely disruptive, but disruption on its own doesn’t bring about creativity. An organization’s culture and how it works cannot be transformed with top down edicts (or other quick fixes) where staff are asked to adopt such changes without having any say in the decision-making process. Buy in is critical. Listening to those who are most impacted by a decision is a necessary component in feeling a sense of ownership and responsibility.

The lessons learned from the Chiat/Day experiment also apply to libraries. Librarians need to listen to the needs of their users. Chant (2016) describes involving teens in the design of the TeenHQ space at the jointly operated San Jose Public Library and San Jose State University and how their input dramatically changed what the space looked like from what librarians had envisioned for the space. Similarly, San Francisco Public Library included teens in the design process, and also in the advocacy of funding for the space (Costanza, 2015). The result was that teens felt a genuine sense of ownership of the space because they were making the decisions – they didn’t have to defer to adults (Costanza, 2015). Not all changes involve more technology. Leferink (2018) reminds us that a library’s physical space still matters. When asked about what they wanted in the redesigned library space, students of the Free University of Amsterdam said they wanted books around because of the comfort they provide (Leferink, 2018).

When librarians enlist the input of users in a change to a library’s design or available services, the users’ role shifts from that of a consumer to a participant; services expand and library users become more vested stakeholders of the library and its success (Stephens, 2019). Examples like the libraries above are examples of that participatory shift in service. What made each library so successful was that librarians meaningfully engaged with users throughout the process of redesigning space and services. They each demonstrate an important lesson that Schneider (2006) summarizes succinctly, “You cannot change the user, but you can transform the user experience to meet the user. ”

References

Brown, J. S. and Duguid, P. (2000). The social life of information. Harvard Business School Press.

Chant, I. (2016, Oct 26). User-designed libraries: Design for Impact. Library Journal. Retrieved from: https://www.libraryjournal.com/?detailStory=user-designed-libraries-design4impact

Costanza, K. (2015, Aug 8). In San Francisco, Teens Design a Living Room for High-Tech Learning at the Public Library. Youmedia Learning Labs Network. Retrieved from: https://youmedia.org/news/ in-san-francisco-teens-design-a-living-room-for-high-tech-learning-at-the-public-library/

Leferink, S. (2018, Jan 24). To keep people happy…keep some books. OCLC. Retrieved from: http://www.oclc.org/blog/main /to-keep-people-happy-keep-some-books/

Schneider, K. G. (2006 Jun 3). The user is not broken: A meme masquerading as a manifesto. Free range librarian [Blog]. Retrieved from: http://freerangelibrarian.com/2006/06/03/the-user-is-not-broken-a-meme- masquerading-as-a-manifesto/

Stephens, M. Participatory service [Panopto lecture].(2019). Retrieved from Module 4: Participatory service & transparency. Retrieved from: https://sjsu-ischool.hosted.panopto.com/Panopto/Pages/ Viewer.aspx?id=35b4e981-cd58-479a-96d3-aab3011b0f24




Centering Library Services

The long term, more interesting question is: How could library service be redesigned with a change in technology? This is a matter of how to do better, different things.

Michael Buckland (1992, p. 73) as quoted in Redesigning library services: A manifesto.
Students studying in a library with reference desk in the center of the space

I am not a librarian. Nor do I work in a library. When I have conversations with people about being in library school to possibly become a librarian, most (if not all) are surprised to hear that libraries still exist and are being used. I give this background to contextualize the conversation around what libraries will become in the future and what roles librarians should take up in navigating towards it.

As a library school student, I am becoming more immersed in the practices, foundational knowledge, and emerging technologies of librarianship. As I learn more, it becomes easy to think that “everyone knows this” or “everyone should know this” because we are often in circles of like-minded professionals. This makes it easy to make assumptions about what our users know and what they may need. We forget what it feels like to not know about a topic, to understand why others may be interested in a subject, or the different ways in which someone obtains information. Without critical evaluation, it can be easy to see new technology as a panacea – because of its ubiquitous presence in our daily lives.

But investing in new technology alone without being critical of our adoption of it can have significant consequences. In his discussion on the foundations of library service, Buckland (1992) reminds us that “We need to distinguish between means and ends. The purposes of and justification for library service should not be confused with the techniques and technologies adopted as means for providing service…” (1992, p. 4). In other words, we need to think about what outcomes we want for our users and why that outcome is necessary or desirable. Different technologies will allow us to meet those goals, but to go forward with new technology without having outcomes and rationale sets us up for failure.

Denning (2015) echoes this sentiment when he discusses how building apps without thinking about what the apps will allow users to do and if users will want to do those things will result in apps being unused. He reminds us that apps need to be grounded in users’ needs and improving the lives of users. Similarly with our library services, regardless of the technology need to be rooted in improving the lives of our users.

References

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

Denning, S. (2015, April 28). Do we need libraries?. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/stevedenning/2015/04/28/do-we-need-libraries/?utm_campaign=ForbesTech&utm_source=TWITTER&utm_medium=social&utm_channel=Technology&linkId=13831539#149215236cd7

How did I get here?

Greetings Everyone,

Just wanted to give a little introduction. I am in my 4th year of library school here at San Jose State University. I am on course to graduate in Fall 2020. I arrived at library school after many years of tutoring in various academic subjects and at different grade levels and institution types. Part of my original motivation for pursuing an MLIS degree was to enhance my classroom practice (teaching writing) by also embedding information literacy into my instruction and being able to integrate different technological tools and platforms to allow students to demonstrate their learning in ways beyond a test or lengthy research paper.

Since I’ve been in the program, I’m not exactly sure what I would like to do since my understanding of the professional possibilities keeps growing. I like higher education, especially community colleges, but I am also passionate about early childhood literacy and adult literacy. I’m hoping this class will push me out of my comfort zone and move me towards greater confidence in knowing and utilizing different platforms and technology to share and create content. I’m also hoping to have fun learning in an immersive environment.