Emrys H MLIS ’21

Reflection Post 9: Infinite Learning

Posted on: April 28, 2021

In the Choose Your Own Adventure modules, I chose to focus on the Library as Classroom area primarily, but also read a number of the Professional Learning Experiences articles because I am so curious about what the possibilities are going to be for me to do professional development and education once I actually start my library career.

Firstly, the library as classroom. This semester I am also taking Issues in Public Libraries, and the main text we’ve been discussing for that class is Transforming our Image, Building our Brand by Valerie Gross, which is all about how reframing the way we talk about libraries to present a more education-focused image to the public increases perceived value among potential users and with those who have funding power over library budgets. I’ll admit, when I started the semester and the book I was more than a little skeptical of what she was saying, since it felt like a bunch of corporate buzzwords wrapped in the guise of offering new education opportunities and outlets. And while to an extent I still think that is part of what she was doing, between that class and this one I am now fully on board with the idea of marketing libraries as educational spaces for everyone. Presenting libraries as an accessible, non-threatening place for everyone to learn regardless of where they are in life and what they want to learn can prove our value to people with a narrow, old-school view of what libraries provide, and even more that that, I think that perception can actually make visiting the library more fun for people. Especially with the growing prevalence of makerspaces and more technical (and technological) events and classes in libraries, bringing in people who want educational spaces and experiences without being forced to read or process information in a non-hands-on way should be easier than ever. Beyond just providing expanded literacy experiences through play for children or different kinds of literacy initiatives for immigrants or seniors, I have several friends who didn’t finish high school or had trouble in high school because book-based learning wasn’t for them but would have thrived in more hands-on events or other kinds of literacy events for teenagers and young adults in libraries. There are so many things to teach and so many different ways to teach them, and honestly there are even more now since the pandemic began, that it should be easy and standard at this point for libraries to work on providing all sorts of extra educational experiences to as many people as they can.

On the side of librarians being the ones in need of continued education though, what can we do to create these sorts of opportunities for ourselves? I like the idea of regular, small regional or state-wide librarian events designed to get librarians from all sectors talking to each other and sharing ideas on what interest them and what their communities are asking for, but there always runs the risk of things getting stale or no one getting what they really need out of the event due to insufficient communication, planning, or leadership, so I think there should always be some sort of theme or goal clearly communicated beforehand for every one of these events. As you may know if you’ve read…really any of my other posts here, I am a huge fan of game design and of gameful design, as Elizabeth Lawley puts it, so I think a really interesting concept for mini-conferences or professional development events like this would be to have different groups create different themes or curated sets of activities and discussions each time so there’s a clear goal and different groups get valuable experience conceptualizing and running programs like those. Now the difficult part of course is the buy-in from library heads and boards of directors, but hopefully with the way things have been progressing leading up to 2021 and the fact that gamification and augmented reality apps and devices have been around for so long now and only getting more popular, more people with planning power will see the value in professional development events and initiatives like these and support their staff that want to participate. Especially if the techniques and knowledge gained from these events lead to greater participation in events held by the library, there’s sure to be a positive correlation there. At least, one can only hope. Fun and education are both necessary constants, and there should be no reason the two can’t be combined on a regular basis, especially at the library.

1 Response to "Reflection Post 9: Infinite Learning"

I like this:

“… a really interesting concept for mini-conferences or professional development events like this would be to have different groups create different themes or curated sets of activities and discussions each time so there‚Äôs a clear goal and different groups get valuable experience conceptualizing and running programs like those.”

What a cool idea for a program – and think of all the learning that would go on creating the various modules.

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