It’s been stressful. Everything around us has been for the last year and even more. How can we take better care of ourselves, especially when we know that we can’t react to all the community members that at times really depend on us?
After reading this article by Ellyn Ruhlmann, I think I have developed and formed more structurally my “rules” on being more mindful and peaceful in a non peaceful environment.
“People typically think of libraries as low-key, stress-free places—but that image doesn’t reflect the “behind-the-scenes drama” that can, at its worst, include gossiping, bullying, backstabbing, favoritism, “punishing the creative,” and “promoting the incompetent.”” – Kathleen Clauson
While there are various factors that can contribute to mental exhaustion at work. Being mindful is an incredible tool to use to combat that stress. The American Psychological Association defines mindfulness as “moment-to-moment awareness of one’s experience without judgment.”
Having the time to be mindful really does help in my everyday work life. It’s understanding that everything that we do must do with extreme awareness of not only what is going on around us, but with our own body and mental health. We must be able to know and set our boundaries with not only our work that we do, but within ourselves.
One of the hardest things I had to do was to adjust to working from home, it felt like an invasion of my personal space during the first stages of adjusting. While in the past it was easy to leave work at “work.” I had to create a space, both physically and mentally to get myself ready to work for the day in the days where I had to telecommute.
As we continue to open more and be more social, it’s going to be a challenge to not overload emotionally. But if we are mindful, we can de-stress in a healthy way.
Ruhlmannm El. (2017, June 1). Mindful Librarianship: Awareness of each moment helps librarians stay serene under stress. American Libraries.
Local art and artists have suffered much during the pandemic, as we continue to gradually open, we must find avenues for artists to express themselves, but also allow the community to their stories and have a way to document them. Libraries had regularly supported artists and expression, we must find avenues for story creation, sharing, and keeping. An Open Mic event has usually been a great avenue to artists to express themselves in front of their peers and the rest of the community. A Virtual Open Mic program will enable the community to share their stories to a wider audience. Not only as a solution to COVID but as a solution to increase participation throughout the county.
One of the articles that caught me off guard was Library Emojis. When I started to read it, I thought it was written maybe one or two years ago. I didn’t realize that it was from five years ago. I have started to see more emojis appear in emails, posters, and even our covid safety signs. As Libraries push forwards and create more online presences on youtube, instagram, facebook, tiktok, and other social medias, use of emojis will become more and more relevant in how we participate with our community. I know that I talk a lot about discord but it’s more due to the fact that people can create their own emojis. I don’t see a future where Facebook or Instagram will allow people to make their own emojis, but there is a certain amount of creativity and freedom in using available images, emojis, gifs, music in order to express oneself. A kind of freedom that I didn’t see that many years ago.
I talked about how there is a need for technology classes after the library can resume programming. While I believe that children and teens are more naturally open to new technologies, it’s important to teach adults and seniors not only how to be learn and use new technologies, but how to find connections in their daily lives.
“More than one-third of professional learners with lots of tech assets say they did all or most of their learning online, while about one-fifth with fewer options for online access say this.” (John B. Horrigan)
Traditional learning, such as book learning and classroom learning, has somewhat taken a backseat to independent and hybrid learning. When I did Tech Help back in “the day”, I tried to best explain to my many users that everything tech in a weird way connects back to itself. Those skills that you learn are applicable in other applications and websites. I often get the feedback that these new websites make it so difficult to navigate and understand. I try to explain that usually these companies and websites will try to make everything similar. I will go into a completely different website and ask patrons to navigate it after explaining some key terms and they usually will be surprised by how much they know already.
“Basic digital skills are not just something to be done in addition to teaching academic skills.” Instead, she said, “They are the gateway to all kinds of learning.” (Andrea Saenz, CPL’s First Deputy Commissioner)
If people are not used to technology in their everyday lives, it does become difficult to retrain all new information being taught. We can guide people to use our website, applications, and online resources. We have to learn what the community needs. If somebody is having issues with their bus schedule, maybe they have an app that they have access to. It’s the idea of being open to listening to your community, and learning. By teaching our patrons our resources, they develop skills that can translate to almost anything digital. There are many websites, communities, tools available online, it’s only a matter of time in helping a person their place. By expanding exposure to new technologies, such as 3D printers or virtual reality, we expand options. Even having passive tech, such as tablets that people can use can make all the difference. It opens up a world of thinking and exploring. Connections are made and new technologies can be seen as new tools ready to be used.
Digital Promise. (2016). Chicago Public Library: The Library as a Gateway to 21st Century Skills
Pew Internet & American Life (2016). Adults with tech-access tools are more likely to be lifelong learners and rely on the internet to pursue knowledge.
The Get to Know Your Neighbor video made me reflect on the impact of connecting with the rest of your community outside and inside the library. I have been learning about surveys and conducting surveys in my evaluating programs class and the importance of body language. One of the ideas that constantly comes up when planning my library’s reopening (which will happen sometime this month) is the idea of how we will serve our community with social distance and safety guidelines. How will we provide our community with the proper resources that they need despite all the challenges and rules. I think what is going to make it more difficult is the ability to again feel like a community.
After watching various videos on how to handle difficult situations with users that do not want to wear a mask, it can feel a little defeating trying to really be the best you can be. Of course, everybody has a different comfort level and administration decides what guidelines to follow. How can we learn to be human again in a pandemic world as we slowly (very slowly) get back to “normal.” How can we make it easier for users to use our resources?
Since library doors were closed as soon as the pandemic hit, people still needed to get access to library resources if they were new users. Following a similar example from the Berkeley Public Library, my library, Sonoma County Library, decided to let electronic library cards have full access to all of its resources without needing any proof of address or photo ID (2018, Rees). I hope that in the future we can continue to remove these barriers from having people use our libraries. It makes me think of many other countries that do not have access to these resources. Much like sister cities, sister libraries would be amazing to have across the world to share their resources.
People during the pandemic needed to start using technology that they would not have otherwise used in the past. At the library, we saw a huge rise in electronic library cards and usage of electronic resources. Once we open to the public, I believe it is the best time for people to be introduced to technology that they would not have otherwise used before. Even before the pandemic, we were using 3D Printing and Virtual Reality in our programs, for not only teens, but adults and seniors as well. One of my favorite things that I used to do with my virtual reality program is showing patrons their home countries or childhood homes. It was magical at times. While this Forbes article focuses on places that cannot be explored easily, I think that even the smallest places can make a difference in a person’s life. Even mixing 3D designs can virtual reality can happen. If a user creates a 3D space and they want to explore it, they can. Imagine if you decide a house, and then you can take a tour of it in virtual reality. But of course, if we are successful in having people experience new technologies, we must also not forget people that need more guidance on basic technology training.
McShane, M. (2018). Is Virtual Reality the Future of Field Trips? Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/mikemcshane/2018/06/13/is-virtual-reality-the-future-of-field-trips/?sh=5ca02701809f
Rees, M. (2018). No Permanent address? No Problem. Berkeley Library makes it easier for those without homes to get library cards. Retrieved from https://www.berkeleyside.com/2018/12/03/no-permanent-address-no-problem-berkeley-library-makes-it-easier-for-those-without-homes-to-get-library-cards
Discord’s popularity exploded due to the pandemic, being a place that most young people feel comfortable using other than Facebook. From 2019 to 2020, monthly active users jumped from 56 million to 100 million. (2021, Business of Apps) Discord’s policy states that in order to use the service teens must be at least 13 years old to use the service. Since discord is free (there are also paid membership benefits), it tends to draw many teens due to the accessibility in their laptops or smart devices.
Four billion minutes of conversation happen on Discord each day (The Verge).
Discord is a platform, desktop or mobile, that allows members to create their own public or private room. Within that room, the creator, administrator, and moderator can create individual channels based on interest or topic. These channels can just be purely text conversations or have the ability to have voice/video chat. All the text channels allow for searching for gifs or emojis for their members to use. One unique feature that discord has is the ability for members to upload their own emojis, ones found on the internet or if they have their own creations. This allows for more personalization then just having a general group chat. Many of its members use it to communicate with their friends, especially while gaming since it integrates well with PC gaming. The unique part about discord is that it allows libraries to create a safe environment for the staff and its teen users with its many security settings.
Discord allows its moderators to create verification channels that members must agree to the server’s rules. The Public Library of Tippecanoe County states that members must have an active library account in order to register and use the discord. This allows for more security than other public channels. (https://tcpl.lib.in.us/learn/teens/discord/). Teens have started to associate zoom calls with meeting and schoolwork. While having zoom programs might be beneficial and at times great to have them, it is important to meet our users where they are most comfortable. How can we make this happen? The action brief statement allows us to see the bigger picture.
Action Brief Statement
Convince: Young adults and teens that are spending more of their time online due to the pandemic and remote learning
that by creating, evolving, participating, and evaluating the Library’s Discord server
they will gain new skills and create relationships with fellow teens and library staff
which will give teens new tools to express themselves, be creative, play, interact and create
because the library is not only a place for books but it extends to virtual spaces. Discord is not only a platform for gaming but it creates an open and welcoming space for learning, fun, and discovery.
As pointed out by Dunbar-Rodney, “Discord can be an effective tool for professional communication or communication within a library. You can set up servers for staff on certain projects or in certain departments, or use it for inter-departmental communication.” Sonoma County has already established its own teen discord, but are not allowed to conduct any type of programming there since they see a lack of security. I believe that with any new technology the aspect of the unknown can be seen as dangerous and unpredictable. With proper training, library staff can really make this tool the most effective way to reach teens, especially those from rural areas all around Sonoma County.
“The term, participatory culture, is intended to contrast with older notions of media spectatorship. In this emerging media system, what might traditionally be understood as media producers and consumers are transformed into participants. – Henry Jenkins
The quote above not only does a great job in describing the culture that the library’s young adults participate in, but ultimately what they can help to create as well. Not only are teens the main audience for this new program, but it is crucial that they participate in the planning and implementation of the new service. This is a similar case where the San Francisco Public Library had young advisers help design the physical space, as well as implement what kind of programming they would like to see. This is incredibly important as the article points out that, “Having input into those aspects of the design process was important, the teens said, to give them ownership of the space.”
Another great example is from Library 2.0 is that branches in the Gwinnett County Public Library in Lawrenceville, Georgia, formed a Teen Advisory Board “to provide input and suggestions for ways to improve service to teens and get more young adults into the library.” This is very similar to what San Francisco Library did with their teen spaces many years afterwards. Without the input from the users that you want to reach, you will only assume and guess what their needs are. Ultimately, it is creating spaces for members of the community.
Personal Identity and Discord
Teens are more freely able to create online identities that they are more comfortable with. Having options to display and decide what to showcase on your personality, allows them to be more open and have a level of security as well. Users are able to “create” online personalities that enable them to be themselves in different ways they can be more comfortable.
The authors of the App Generation: How Today’s Youth Navigate Identity, Intimacy, and Imagination in a Digital World emphasizes the importance of transformative over transactional relationships. The librarians will need to create a space that is not just transactional, but a space that allows relationship growth between its teen users and librarians. Teens can be constantly connected and develop more relationships virtually, this can involve less risk, but it can also get in the way of deep communication, these can be labeled as transactional. The author also illustrates ways in which teens’ lives can be seen as a collection of “apps.” If so, developing a discord that has information that teens look for is even more beneficial. It cannot just be a bare room; it needs room for individual spaces such as gaming, books, arts, television, movies, just almost about everything.
Discord enables its administrators to have its users read and agree to their rules and policies. Sonoma County Library does not have to reinvent the wheel and it can use its standard of behavior in an online environment. Using the standards below and the regulations found in this LINK, we could establish that this environment is safe for all its users. Since it is also just a dedicated teen space, only people ages 13-17 can participate in the events or the channel. Sonoma County Library is partnered with many school systems around Sonoma County and many students already have electronic library cards and can be looked up in the system to verify their age.
Standards of Behavior
The Sonoma County Library welcomes everyone.
Everyone who visits the Library has a right to quality library service in an atmosphere that is calm, safe, and free of disturbances from others.
All Library visitors are expected to be considerate of others.
Failure to comply with these standards may result in loss of Library privileges.
The Library retains the right to take any action necessary to ensure a safe and appropriate environment for everyone.
Action Steps & Timeline
WEEK 1: Establish connection between the IT department and the Young Adult Team. Strategize who will be lead in the project, one or two people from the YA team and an IT member. I would give staff two weeks to learn and explore what other libraries have been doing with their programming and implementation of the server.
WEEK 3: Promote that a new discord will be launched and have teen volunteers register to participate in the planning and implementation of the project. Two weeks to search for volunteers. This can be promoted to various teen virtual programs already happening.
WEEK 5: Meeting with YA, IT leads, and teen volunteers to plan what they would like the discord server to look like, what policies should be implemented, plan what bots to use, and what a week of programming looks like. Discuss if teen programs happening in zoom would benefit or be a burden if moved to a new platform. Start to plan how to market this new service.
WEEK 6: Have YA and IT leads start to create and personalize the discord channel. Have a verification option in place and how to register to use it. Have the marketing department create graphics for the discord logo and promotional materials.
WEEK 8: Launch Discord Channel and programs. Send information about programs through social media pages as well as the weekly electronic newsletter. After libraries open to the public, flyers and bookmarks.
WEEK 12: Evaluate with the team and volunteers a month after launch. Afterwards, every four months.
Adult and teens librarians and potential volunteers would staff the Discord channel. Since the channel is open 24 hours a day, (there are options for limited communication during after-hours), it would be good to have volunteers just to make sure that no policies or rules are broken. Having a computer and/or smart devices and a good internet connection is all that is needed. While staffing is not an issue, I believe that training will be the most crucial part to making sure that this program is well executed and maintained.
Training and Technology
After IT has had the chance to learn the ins and outs of Discord, they will install the desktop application version on the librarians’ computers and/or work laptops. From there, they will create the server and allow the librarians to create their own individual profiles. There will be workshops that discuss what options are available and how to run a server.
Keeping up with new trends and technology is extremely important to keep people coming to your library (31, Library 2.0).
While there are many online tutorials on how to set up a discord server and how to run it, The Indiana State Library created a presentation on Discord for Libraries back in July 2020. To dig a little deeper into setting a discord server, Teen Services Underground created a fantastic beginner’s guide and have created policies and rules that can be added that are more appropriate in a virtual setting. In other words, multiple online resources are available for staff. (https://www.teenservicesunderground.com/how-to-set-up-discord-for-teen-programming/)
This kind of training is not necessarily just for librarians, but it’s also important to host programs that give teens the chance to learn all the tips and tricks that are related to discord. This could also lead to activities such as creating your own emojis and uploading them. There is room for overlap.
Many programs can happen in a virtual setting. How Libraries Can Use Discord and Twitch, gives many great ideas on what kinds of programs best fit the discord atmosphere. Most of the programs can revolve around games and gaming-related programs such as Dungeons and Dragons. One example they give is, “show(ing) cheesy old B-films, and she has a Discord server set up to allow people to heckle the movie while they’re watching it.” As described, streaming movies can be an easy program to do and it’s easy to send reminders for these activities since discord allows you to tag all the members when an event is happening. There should have to be a librarian to check if the copyright allows for that.
“Streaming is a new aspect of digital literacy,” Flores says. “Programming on how to use these platforms can focus on vocational outcomes” (2020, American Libraries)
Ask a Teen Librarian is another great program that works well in a discord environment. This allows members to post their questions on a channel, or send a private message to the librarian to get the answer to their questions. One of the positive aspects of discord is that it allows it to select their level of how they appear and how they send messages. This allows for a more open and welcoming environment.
There can be dedicated times that the YA librarian can facilitate or hang around the discord to see if its users have questions or just want to hangout. Various bots can allow for a more “study hall” environment that allows its users to hear music together and hang out and do homework.
York County Library provides great examples of how programs and events can be hosted and scheduled.
Promotion & Marketing
After all the pieces are set and the server is set up, there can be various ways to promote this new service and space. Marketing can create various social media posts displaying the various different ways that teens can use the server (for example, studying and listening to music, playing games, chatting with friends). Afterwards, have the different branches post these images on their social media pages and ask members to send them a message to see how they can join.
The main goal of this program is to create a space. A space where transformation, evolution, creativity, and construction happens. Where librarians are more connected to their users and the users are more connected to themselves. We hope to achieve this with the timeline included above and the various points made throughout.
How can we determine if this new program was successful or not? How do we measure success?
We can measure how many members joined and participated in the activities that were hosted via discord. We can also determine how many people click on the social media posts and see if they were higher than other posts. We can survey the teens towards the beginning of the creation of the server to see what they would like their server to be. We can also survey afterwards. I would create surveys using survey bot to make it more interactive to the users. All programs hosted here can have a survey or have the librarian ask the members if they enjoyed the program and if they feel different about the certain topic presented.
Maintaining and using this service is only beneficial to the rest of YA programming. This will build a network of new users that may have not tried library services before. Relationships between users and librarians will grow and eventually events will start to happen. Keeping this format alive allows members from various cities to participate. Once the library opens up, public laptops or computers can be used for teens that don’t have access to a computer or smartphone. Having library staff and its new teen volunteers would make a great presentation to stakeholders as well as the library commission to showcase that collaboration can exist freely with library staff and its users.
American Libraries (2020, June 26). How Libraries Can Use Discord and Twitch: Livestreaming leaps from gaming to the library. Retrieved from https://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/blogs/the-scoop/libraries-can-use-discord-twitch/
Business of Apps (2021, May 2021). Discord Revenue and Usage Statistics (2021). Retrieved from https://www.businessofapps.com/data/discord-statistics/
Casey, M. E., & Savastinuk, L. C. (2007). Library 2.0: A guide to participatory library service. Medford, N.J: Information Today.
Dietrich, B. (2020, September 10). How to set-up discord for teen programming. Teen Services Underground. Retrieved from https://www.teenservicesunderground.com/how-to-set-up-discord-for-teen-programming/
Gardner, H., & Davis, K. (2014). The app generation: How today’s youth navigate identity, intimacy, and imagination in a digital world. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Tippecanoe County Public Library (2021). Teen Discord Server. Retrieved from https://tcpl.lib.in.us/learn/teens/discord/
YouMedia Learning Labs Network (2015, August 28). In San Francisco, Teens Design a Living Room for High-Tech Learning at the Public Library. Retrieved from https://youmedia.org/news/in-san-francisco-teens-design-a-living-room-for-high-tech-learning-at-the-public-library/
Some libraries quickly adapted to the covid world by watching how retail services were also changing. Many libraries started to offer curbside services and doing online reference while many other factors remain uncertain. As one library system points out:
“Our success with curbside pickup has me thinking how can we continue to offer such personalized service when we are able to fully open our buildings. Should we be shifting more resources to sustain curbside pickup? Should our current service—or at least elements of it—survive past the pandemic?”
My current library system, Sonoma County Library, expects that we will continue to provide curbside service to our patrons even after we open up completely. Brainstorming the success of curbside, it makes me wonder if libraries could further adapt this into a service that we all end up doing. Similarly to fast food, banks, or other services that have drive thru options. Most of the news about the library’s new services were first published online and through social media. This brings up the question, how many library users did we miss or are continued to be burdened by the lack of services in some areas of the library.
Providing access to computers and assistance in their use goes to the heart of today’s public library service. Online tech help has already appeared to be popular in many library systems including my own. More instructional information sessions can appear in the near future since we have seen the digital divide be prevented in our lower income and marginalized communities. Hot spots and laptop leading can help many users access their resources and even can be their only way to access their resources.
“As the traditional divide between work and home becomes more permeable, and video conferencing offers us a glimpse into each other’s living spaces, pets and casual clothes, there’s a sense that some barriers are coming down. But in other ways, the barriers remain more stark and obvious than ever.”
We have also seen an increase in the number of people using electronic resources, especially electronic audiobooks and ebooks. “The popularity of digital content, especially e-books, is also on my mind. For years, we’ve marketed our e-books, digital audio, and streaming media services to decent results.” While this is great news as we are always trying to push our electronic materials to our patrons. There are also some other factors that damage libraries and the way that we purchase, as one library points out, “Paying $65 for two years of one copy/one user access to an e-book was not sustainable before the pandemic, when digital demand was rising but still small. What if demand continues to grow at current levels?” As our numbers continue to grow we must advocate for our electronic materials to be more affordable to our libraries. Of course, it doesn’t help that Amazon is in charge of many of what libraries use.
“Of course, while we typically think of libraries in terms of books, that’s not all that they do: They’re also a de-facto community center for access to services, which are now increasingly hard to deliver” (NPR).
For the meantime, libraries will have any challenges that will occur once they open in a limited capacity. In person programs and spaces will change as more libraries begin to open. While it’s possible for people to gather without a mask if they have a vaccine, it still affects rural and other hard to reach communities. Libraries of the “future” need to think about how they use their spaces. Thinking about movable furniture and providing small spaces for people to use. The article about having a safe space to work really brought to light the need for this all around our libraries. Some library systems already have private rooms in place that could reserve as a space for an individual during this time. Spaces that allow privacy to a certain extent, for example for job interviews or meeting that they don’t have the resources.
Kenney, B. (2020). The Library Is Open (Sort Of…)
Malik, S. (2020). In a pandemic, the library is our great social leveller
Wilburn, T. (2020). Libraries Are Dealing With New Demand For Books And Services During The Pandemic
Communities have and continue to become more hyperlinked, locally and globally. News, daily happenings, and ways to express oneself have only continued to expand. While many libraries have focused on community conversations that provide an opportunity to discuss current political or social issues, Fesemyer notes that this is not the only way. “Engaging your community is not inherently political” (Dixon). While it may be easy to plan for various programs throughout the year, it’s important to be flexible and have the community guide us. Not only is their input very important, but they become a part of the library and the program themselves through community dialogue.
When speaking of hot topics, it’s important to have facilitators or have strategies in how to guide conversations. As pointed out by Dixon, “Ensuring that facilitators are equipped to manage community conversations also means looking out for their well-being.” It can be incredibly draining at times for staff and librarians to guide these conversations. Having a guest speaker come in and facilitate the conversation is a great first step in starting the conversation in general for the community. There could be an event afterwards about how the event went or later in the week to discuss the ideas presented. Ultimately, it’s about how the community can relate to each other, start a dialogue, learn from each other, and create a sense of belonging.
In the past, my home branch of Healdsburg would host community coffee every Thursday morning. We would bring pastries and make coffee (or tea) and would sit down around a big table and just chat amongst ourselves. It really did give our users the change to sit down in a casual manner and get to know each other. We would also display the calendar for our next events if they have any questions or were curious about them.
Danah Boyd explores her relationship with technology and how technology started to become more prominent as she grew up. The most interesting aspect of her article was her interview with a teenager back in 2007. The teen explained that her friends made a switch to facebook because “black people use MySpace and white people use Facebook.” As she continues to explain, “Teenagers weren’t creating the racialized dynamics of social media. They were reproducing what they saw everywhere else and projecting onto their tools. And they weren’t alone. Journalists, parents, politicians, and pundits gave them the racist language they reiterated.”
Social media and technology generally are tools and reflection of society as a whole. Within that society, it is the high privileged and the most technological that guide it and structure this online environment. It reminds me of the book, Algotherims of Oppression by Safiya Noble. How search engines are not racisms, but the algotherims created by those humans led towards racisms and sexist results. Boyd shares similar stories like those in Algotherims, “Consider the work done by computer scientist Latanya Sweeney. One day she was searching for herself on Google when she noticed that the ads displayed were for companies offering criminal record background checks with titles like “Latanya Sweeney, Arrested?” which implied that she might have a criminal record.” She later added that, “In other words, because racist viewers were more likely to click on these ads when searching for black names, Google’s algorithm quickly learned to serve up these ads for names that are understood as black. Google was trained to be “racist” by its racist users.” Algotherims of Oppression share more of these stories and provides insight into why Google’s algotherims do this…hint hint…it’s because of ads and profits.
As the article finishes, this is the key quote that I wanted to point out. While it may be easy to dismiss new technologies and platforms as they are created. We should still hold companies and users accountable for setting up those platforms and creating equity online spaces. Discord has quickly become the best platform for communities to grow and evolve. I recommend reading this article: How Discord (somewhat accidentally) invented the future of the internet.
“Technology plays a central role — more and more — in every sector, every community, every interaction. It’s easy to screech in fear or dream of a world in which every problem magically gets solved. To make the world a better place, we need to start paying attention to the different tools that are emerging and learn to frame hard questions about how they should be put to use to improve the lives of everyday people” (Boyd).
Ultimately, both articles represented ideas on how to culminate and create spaces for our local and global communities to engage in productive and reflective conversations. But in order to create those physical and digital spaces, there is still so much more work to be done, “every community has a story” that can provide a powerful lens and guide discussions, making library events “not just another community conversation” of patrons commenting on the news. In this way, the library collection informs the dialog” (Boyd).
Boyd, D. (2016). What World Are We Building?
Dixon, J. (2017) Convening community conversation | Programming.
Noble, S. U. (2018). Algorithms of oppression: How search engines reinforce racism. New York University Press.
Pierce, D. (2020, October 29). How Discord (somewhat accidentally) invented the future of the internet. Retrieved from https://www.protocol.com/discord
At first glance, The App Generation: How Today’s Youth Navigate Identity, Intimacy, and Imagination in a Digital World by Howard Gardner and Katie Davis may be examining many aspects of how youth use technology in order to navigate various aspects of their social life. At a closer glance, we can see that not only does this affect their own use of public services, such as the library, but it also reflects on how many young adults are being guided by the same beliefs and experiences. The authors interviewed and survey over 2000 young people, including 7 focus groups with 58 educators, and 40 veteran teachers.
The App Generation
As Katie Davis explains in a talk, “Young people are not just emerged in apps, but they see their world as a collection of apps” (2016, Davis). Many young people identity themselves with the invention of the smartphone as a way to pinpoint their generation, even more than the 9/11 attacks. Young people connect their daily life’s activity with applications. That all questions can be answered by an app. If that answer doesn’t exist, it should. If the application doesn’t exist, does filling that desire really matter? An app should have all these features and qualities: Discrete Tasks, Quick, ‘on demand’, Shortcuts, Wide Variety, Constraints , Brand-like icons. We have seen apps develop more and more during these last couple of years. While constraints may not be as many now, the other qualities have intensified.
The authors emphasize that apps can have a great impact on a young person’s personal identity, intimate relationships to others, and imaginative powers. All have positive effects and negative effects. They break it down into two different categories: app-enabling and app- dependent.
App-Enabling & App-Dependent. Developing Identity, Personal Relationships, and Creativity. The authors describe app-enabling as a positive characteristic of being connected and using apps. It serves as an entry point for new experiences. It can serve as a way to explore many new identities, such as fan cultures, music, gaming, etc. Using these media means that youth are more accepting of these identities. Meanwhile, app-dependent means being overly dependent on using apps for social connectedness, not giving yourself enough time to self reflect or experience outside of apps. These actions are connected to how youth develop their identity, personal relationships, and their creative process. Youth can develop their identity using social media as they create their own “brands.”
Affect on Intimate relationships. Transformative or Transactional?
The author Katie Davis gave a presentation for Microsoft shortly after her book was published. In the talk, she uses the movie Her (2013). She states that the relationship between the main character and his IOS may hint at a possible future of relationships and connectivity in general. Much like app-enabling and app-dependency, the authors find that there could be a balance of both in the future depending on the users. Users now are able to “create” online personalities that enable them to be themselves in different ways they can be more comfortable. It’s the delicate balance to allow yourself time to grow as a person and have personal reflection time that is key. Interesting enough, the book found that youth are more connected to their parents or guardians than before. It could be seen as a positive connection. It could also be seen as the kids not having enough space to create their own identities.
Apps enable other types of relationships to grow as well. They could be intimate relationships or friendships that develop over time. These two types of connections can be transformative or transactional, depending on the users way of using it. With regards to their friends, they can be constantly connected, it can involve less risk, it may get in the way of deep communication, these can be labeled as transactional.
Let your imagination run wild? Visual and Writing Expressions.
Authors also examined the ways in which creativity output had changed over time in some youth. They analyses how visual arts and creativity writing had changes. The biggest change was seen in visual art where teens had increased in complexity, and less use of pen and paper art. Meanwhile, writing became more informal, mundane, less experimental, but saw an increase in slang, made up words, and more personal experiences. As technologies and apps become less constrained, we can start to see digital art develop even further.
So Teens Are Glued To Their Phones?
Libraries have historically been at times at the edge of technology, sometimes not so much. The pandemic has really shown that libraries have the ability to shift their focus online in order to keep relevant. Libraries are closed and/or only offering curbside services. Where does the library fit it? This book and its observations were conducted in 2013, yet much of the topics that they cover are still very relevant. Libraries had to adapt and create more programs online, such as videos in YouTube and Facebook. Many added features to their mobile apps, such as click and collect to make curbside service easier.
“We have to meet our users where they are with tools they can [use] and are comfortable using.” —Anonymous (73, Casey & Savastinuk)
“It is our responsibility to educate our customers, staff, governing board, local community leaders, and politicians about social networks and their role in library service. Be prepared to demonstrate the uses of social networks and point out their positive contribution to our communities and to our ability to provide customer-driven services.” (101, Casey & Savastinuk).
Sonoma County Library (my place of work) recently pushed out their new discord serve this week of 2/15/2021. While the young adult librarians were pushing for this new serve to be launched early in the pandemic, there was great pushback from administrations. The understanding was that there was too much going on with the new programs and they didn’t want to learn a new technology that they didn’t understand clearly. It’s important to create these spaces where youth are already comfortable using and allow teens to be app-enabled in order to try various library programs and services, make friends, and be more connected to their librarians.
Casey, M. E., & Savastinuk, L. C. (2007). Library 2.0 : a Guide to Participatory Library Service. Information Today, Inc.
“Don’t just copy & paste from other libraries: invent!”
Although Facing the Future was a relative short reading, it made me emphasis my understanding on the importance of the constant need for libraries to adapt and change depending on the needs of their communities. Many times in my current library system, Sonoma County Library, I feel like we look outward towards libraries around the Bay Area for inspiration and creativity. While this does make it easier for just to copy and paste programs and ideas, they ultimately are not our or our communities many times. We must give ourselves enough time to reflect on our work and allow our co-workers voices and opinions to grow. This can happen when the staff of the library reflect the community itself. Having space for a more diverse workforce allows the library to start reflecting on their community members.
As the article states, “Give new ideas…a place to incubate…enough time to blossom…a way to get funded…” The last part being the most important. Without the support from administration and funding, all new ideas will be lost and forgotten in the brainstorm. I am excited that the library is redoing their strategic plan research, which usually consisted of community talks and surveys. They are now focusing on having conversations with community partners and leaders in other to see what the communities’ wants and needs are. The pandemic does not make it easier to have community conversations due to many members of the community being affected by the digital divide. Innovation does not come from waiting around for the pandemic to end and start implementing ideas. We must be able to adapt.