Giving Thanks

Wow, the semester is already coming to a close. Where did the time go? I know for me the time has gone both fast and slow. The semester started with my heavy grief due to losing my grandma before Christmas, then I got a house with my husband and hadn’t finished moving when COVID-19 hit. Now its Mother’s Day and I’ve been struggling to focus wrapping up the semester because all I can think about is the pain my mom is feeling, missing her mother as well as the sadness my aunts and uncles feel. 

But despite the world seemingly caving into chaos I have learned some important things this semester. I have learned that libraries are way more than a building, they are a staple to the community and a lot of people depend on them for various things and yet I know there are still people out there that don’t know what the library can offer even if it’s just free air conditioning during hot summer days or head during winter. I learned that I am stronger than I think and that crying or asking for help isn’t weakness, because it requires strength to show someone your vulnerability. I learned that being a librarian requires more than just a knowledge of books or systems, it requires heart, compassion, empathy and mercy. 

So thank you Professor Stephens and all of my fellow classmates for helping me learn these important lessons this semester. I am truly grateful.

Soft Skills are Not a Weakness

The subject of soft skills really hit home for because I have always been considered “too sensitive,” by others. I tend to care about people’s opinions, but I also try to understand people’s reactions, whether they are negative or positive. I make it a habit to remember not only birthday’s but also favorite colors or foods or needs or anything that I think could be put to good use later when someone is feeling down or celebrating something. I also love helping people even if it happens to be “out of my way,” and I don’t feel comfortable with people paying me for making things like earrings or cards or anything I craft. I love to give; I know that I can always make more and I am happy to put in the time.

So needless to say, I have soft skills and people have called me weak because of it but researching this module has shown me that soft skills are needed and appreciated. When Gill Corkindale mentioned how she had to transition from grieving to coming back to work after losing a loved one so suddenly I knew could relate (Corkindale, 2011). I lost my grandma in December on the cusp of winter break and have been struggling emotionally since her passing, but I knew that she would not want me to drop out of school and it felt like quitting. However, thanks to the kindness I have received from my professors and fellow colleagues I have been able to push on. And although I love this class and had so many ideas for my Virtual Symposium assignment I changed it because I was not in a place where I could execute my assignment in a way that truly showcased my learning so I decided to “take a breath,” as professor Stephens mentioned and be kind to myself. I am still grieving, and it is not a fast process, especially during these times where I cannot see my other family members and with Mother’s Day just around the corner. This is something very important that I have learned because if I am not in the right mindset, I can become a crappy coworker, an upset wife, and an nonparticipating student. So remember, be kind to yourself so that you can pass that kindness to others instead of taking out jumbled feelings out on others. And know that if others don’t know what you are going through then they cannot help you. This was hard for me at first, I didn’t not want my professors to think I was lazy or weak because I had to ask for more time to finish things because I’d be typing one minute and crying the next but once I reached out it made things a little better and not so alone.

I also enjoyed the article that mentioned the flight attendant that tried to understand what a “nasty passenger,” might be going through instead of assuming that he was a bad person she thought, maybe he’s a nice person going through a rough time (Gershon, 2017). This of course led me to remember some quotes I collected on Pinterest which I refer to during tough times which I will now share with you all.

I started the MLIS program because I wanted to become a librarian to help people and to be closer to books and the only thing that has changed is that I know the library itself could use a little love too. I wish you all the best. Thank you all for making this class a great one.

References

Corkindale, G. (2011, April 18). The Importance of Kindness at Work. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2011/04/the-importance-of-kindness-at

Gershon, L. (2017, June 22). The key to jobs in the future is not college but compassion – Livia Gershon: Aeon Essays. Retrieved from https://aeon.co/essays/the-key-to-jobs-in-the-future-is-not-college-but-compassion

Virtual Symposium

I have learned so much from this class and to contain it in any form was a difficult task. I tried several different things but then the Albert Einstein quote popped into my head, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough,” and I know I understand this class well enough. So I decided to pare down the things that I learned into 5 points and let it be.

Director’s Brief

Introduction

Most people are familiar with VR, but they might not know it. Below is a scene from the popular movie Iron Man which contains VR tech and the way he interacts with it is similar to some of the programs that are out there today.

The Company Oculus has programs such as Human Anatomy VR which allows for virtual interaction that can be helpful to those studying the human body. There are programs that allow patrons to tour the Anne Frank House, space, Venice, patrons can meet Rembrandt or visit with dinosaurs (Education Experiences). The possibilities are only limited to the imagination. Some programs are free, and most are significantly less than today’s video games.

The Library, not just for Books Anymore

As I was reading about this topic, learning is everywhere I thought that it meant more mobile learning as opposed to looking anywhere in a library and learning is there even if it only seemed “fun.” This is definitely a concept I support. There are many ways that people learn, not everyone can learn from reading a book and not all things can be thought from a book. There are many things that need to be more hands on or need special equipment that most patrons do not have access too. I think looking at libraries as institutions of learning as well as information is the way to go because the two work side by side. If well versed in something you can then start to fully understand it and become immersed. Seeing the Studio 300 that the Fountaindale Public Library is doing completely blew my mind. https://youtu.be/_q-Leo4VtKQ I mean the first thing I thought while the video played was that people’s dreams were becoming a reality. I mean being able to use a recording studio at your library, for free, using a green screen, even just using better technology can really pump up one’s resume and self-esteem and confidence. This library is bettering communities! I am so proud and hopeful for the future of libraries.

And the DOKK1 library in Denmark is changing the idea of librarians. People can now realize their coding or gaming dreams but teach it to others. https://youtu.be/G-lCxenhWSk This concept is becoming more relevant right now with COVID-19, games like Minecraft are integrating actual educational topics but learning about how people create these games is a learning process in itself and can help others want to create games that are not only fun but can teach important topics to those who learn differently or find the traditional concept of learning “boring.”

And of course, there are “maker spaces,” http://www.thedigitalshift.com/2012/10/public-services/the-makings-of-maker-spaces-part-1-space-for-creation-not-just-consumption/ where patrons can use library provided tools and programs to enhance their learning and create things in the fields of math, science and engineering. My husband is a mechanical engineer so I know how pricey it can be to fuel anyone’s dream in that field from child to adult but these libraries are making now only dreams and careers more accessible but the world more accessible and it is amazing.

Technology is a Resource

While reading through all the articles I found that the common theme was meeting people/users where they were instead of having users come to the service.  There were several new technologies that I had never heard of or did not know the capabilities of at least in a library setting. However, like anything else, creativity is key. In the article, “Serving the User When and Where They Are: Hyperlinked Libraries,” by Michael Stephens, he mentions six different mobile services. Cloud librarians were the first, I thought it would be wonderful to have librarians to help users navigate through all that. Second was professional development on demand to help staffs integrate emerging technologies into libraries. Today there are so many new things coming out of the tech world that it is hard to keep up, incorporating a service like this into libraries would definitely help keep libraries relevant to their patrons. Hyper-local is something I was semi-familiar with because I’ve heard of it but rarely use it because of the privacy aspect. I was always taught not to tell people where I was, to upload pictures of a trip after I was already back home and to not interact with strangers, two of which the hyper-local service goes against. However, I have always wanted to utilize the local knowledge more and I tend to be more trusting of people and lean towards the hope that people are good. Next is gamification, which I am all about integrating learning, fun and technology together. Most people in my family tend to see libraries or books as boring, outdated and only for the intelligent (why thank you, I try!), but they are so much more than that. The whole reason I want to be a librarian is because I believe libraries are capable of so much more and can help so many people. Second screen sharing is something I am very familiar with because I try to juice up my online, virtual contact and utilize the tool of the internet and technology I have been so graciously given. I would love nothing more than to have educational, yet fun conversations with those who share my likes and dislikes. I thought the idea of embedded experts was exciting and innovative. I would love to be able to use technology to enhance my exploring, especially since places like national parks are so understaffed that personal tours are mostly out of the question. Overall, professor Stephens highlights a lot of great services that have the ability to make libraries an even better, more relevant resource.

But there was another piece of technology that really got my attention. And although even after reading the article I am still a little fuzzy on how it works, beacons seem like a really helpful thing. I for one am always getting notifications for emails of places I only signed up for to get discounts but are not worth the hassle or text alerts for specials for places I rarely eat at because they are so expensive or news topics unrelated to my fields of interest, however if the library could send me reminders of things while I was in the building without me having to do more than say yes I want in then I would be interested in trying out said technology. For one I would not be bothered about the same thing all the time or bothered anywhere I go and I could be more aware of the events going on at the library especially if they could be customized to alert me about events based on my interests, age group or relevance. Beacons seem affordable and handy for libraries and patrons alike. They are not to intrusive but allow for some personalization which would help with building a relationship with one’s local library.

Either way I am very excited for the future, especially since technology is always advancing but people are now looking to it as the resource that it is rather than a luxury.

Resources

https://tametheweb.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Stephens_ServingtheUser_HyperlinkedLibraries.pdf

https://www.libraryjournal.com/?detailStory=beacon-technology-deployed-by-two-library-app-makers

Mobile Showers: A Library Service

Goals/Objectives for Technology or Service:

  1. Provide moments of privacy to those who lack stable homes
  2. Create social interactions between librarians, community and those experiencing homelessness
  3. Restore dignity
  4. Provide healing hygiene
  5. Spread awareness throughout the community about those who don’t have access to basic hygiene

Description of Community you wish to engage:

The community I wish to engage are those experiencing homelessness or hard times and lack access to basic hygiene.

Action Brief Statement:

For Community

Convince those experiencing homelessness that by using the mobile shower service they will feel better about themselves which will allow them to become more involved with the library and the community because they will have their dignity restored.

For Staff

Convince the librarians of the FCPL that by providing mobile shower services once a week they will help patrons feel better about themselves which will make them feel more comfortable with engaging in future library services and events because they will have made impactful social interactions.

Evidence and Resources to support Technology or Service:

https://www.therighttoshower.com/get-involved#start-a-mobile-shower

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/nov/06/cleaning-up-mobile-laundry-for-the-homeless-goes-international

https://www.oregonlive.com/homeless/2016/01/our_homeless_crisis_the_woman.html

Class Reading inspiration:

There were so many ideas going on in my mind that were inspired by the readings below. I basically saw how bold and how inclusive these programs were and thought about my local library, the Fresno County Public Library (FCPL) and where they were in terms of being modern. Spoiler: they are behind the times but I figured mobile showers is a step in the right direction, it meets the needs of a large community that uses the FCPL and it is not to big so it has a higher chance of being accepted as a real service. Basically I have high hopes for the future of the FCPL and I wanted a plan that could turn those hopes into action.

https://youmedia.org/news/in-san-francisco-teens-design-a-living-room-for-high-tech-learning-at-the-public-library/

https://mrlibrarydude.wordpress.com/2019/09/13/starting-a-food-pantry-in-an-academic-library/

https://tametheweb.com/2008/05/15/embracing-service-to-teens/

https://tametheweb.com/2011/02/15/dok-delft-takes-user-generated-content-to-the-next-level-a-ttw-guest-post-by-erik-boekesteijn/

Mission, Guidelines, and Policy related to Technology or Service:

Found on FCPL’s (Fresno County Public Library) website.

Mission: We enrich lives and build community.

Values— Service: Making our customers top priority and offering resources for and to everyone.

  • Example policies Fresno EOC (Economic Opportunities Commission) they have provided health fairs which brought some dentists out for cleanings as well as food and information on resources for the community. 
  • Research LAVA MAE website, the original creator of the mobile shower service.
  • Library management to work with city to create policies for weekly service.

Guidelines: Use a numbered ticket system, have a check in table where participants get their tickets. Have hygiene kits together to make it easier to pass out. Create a flow staring with check in table to hygiene kit area to waiting/ social area, then mobile showers and another hang out area/ info resource area.

 Funding Considerations for this Technology or Service:

  • At least two librarians to oversee the service project.
  • Apply for ALA Library Census Equity Fund (2,000 grant).
  • Get bus donated from city, if wanting to flip into a mobile shower service.
  • OR use Commercial shower trailers and get truck donated from car company so anyone with a license can drive the showers.
  • Use revitalization funds from Fresno’s downtown revitalization project. 
  • Utilize volunteer power. Ask fraternities and sororities first, approach high school and discuss community service hour opportunities, possibly have high schoolers team up with college student volunteers.
  • 2 people to run service at all times, a truck driver, a storing area for shower and truck. Volunteers to pass out products, speak with patrons and to help clean facilities in between uses.
  • Fundraiser for Hygiene products such as shampoo, conditioner, body wash, soap, deodorant, razors, nail clippers, nail files, socks etc.

Action Steps & Timeline:

  • 3 to 4 months in the spring time would be a reasonable time frame especially since money needs to be raised or applied for and donation letters need to be written and fulfilled.
  • The library management has to approve the service and probably someone from the city as well since the service would take place on property that is separate from the library. The property would probably be the park area in front of the library or the empty lot about half a mile from the library or possibly both (changing locations monthly or 2x a month). Eventually provide laundry, haircut, dental and eye services.
  • If plan for providing mobile shower for those experiencing homelessness is not approved, then the backup plan would be to start a little smaller and ask the library to provide hygiene kits to those who ask which would be covered with the grant.

Staffing Considerations for this Technology or Service:

  • As mentioned above, at least two librarians to oversee the service project. And outsource for volunteers from schools and those needing community service hours.
  • Librarians would have to be trained on how the showers work and the process for efficiently providing as many people with showers as possible as well as proper equipment cleaning.

Training for this Technology or Service:

 The librarians who are spearheading the project would be trained. Management would probably come up with the training design since they would have to approve the project, perhaps a social worker could get involved with the training, so participants are treated with respect. Unfortunately, the FCPL lacks librarians so the library would have to take a half day to train and go over all questions and concerns. The downtown library is located right by the police station so they could be notified of the service times and possibly send someone to the training to help field questions alongside the social worker.

Promotion & Marketing for this Technology or Service:

  • Local News Channel, Great Day for fundraising awareness and participation since they are very involved with the community.
  • Hang up fliers with information at library, make sure to have pictures just in case some homeless cannot read. Hang in different languages. Post signs in nearby parks or homeless shelters or hangouts.

Evaluation:

  • Measure success by using the Costco tallying technique and speaking with users and asking for feedback.
  • Look at the quality of feedback, see the increase of usage over time.

Expansion: get fast food companies to provide food, get spa services donated for a more relaxation or pampering day. Eventually have service provided 2 to 4 times a week.

**Notes**

  • I tried to work with the Fresno County Public Library to get a better idea with my planning timeline and more detail on who needs to be involved, however they were not very helpful at all.
  • I found out that the organization “The Right to Shower,” who made mobile showers a reality sell body wash and bar soap at Whole Foods and on Amazon with 100% of the proceeds going to providing others with showers https://www.therighttoshower.com/product-category/products

Branching Out

As a student who has spent many hours and sometimes days researching something just to find out I cannot come up with enough references to support my thesis in a paper I believe it is better when professors help students “learning about” a topic instead of “finding sources,” (Deitering & Rempel). I understand research is important, however if librarians have to study several years at school to be able to weed out fake news then it is unfair to believe students can do the same without any guidance. I think this is a great opportunity for professors and librarians to team up. Professors can have a list of topics and some of their resources or resources a librarian has found and have the students look into the topics and choose from there. Or perhaps have a small class/program that teaches students how to research with a librarian and then they can volunteer for the program and teach others to do the same and market the class/program heavily to new students. Or perhaps librarians can team up with professors to tailor curriculums together that teach the students what the teacher wants them to learn but also helps them navigate through the new and vast world of researching.

I know in high school and the beginning of my freshman year teachers would always tell their student not to use Wikipedia because it was not reliable since people could change it, however they neglected to state that it was not easy to change information and that the more popular subjects were constantly monitored and debated. Wikipedia also names their resources which can be a great jumping point for students who are delving into a new topic and don’t know where to begin. Also, as an MLIS student I have heard much about the CRAAP (currency, relevance, authority, accuracy, and purpose) test which was never mentioned to me before. But it is a great way to find reliable resources and quickly spot the bad ones. If tools like that are introduced to students earlier then they can become better researchers earlier on.

Thoughts sparked by http://www.inthelibrarywiththeleadpipe.org/2017/sparking-curiosity/

Library?

“People do not think of the library first when they need information,” (Stephens, pg. 56, 2016).


Why?
Because most people do not know what a library is or its possibilities. Most believe libraries are for books and those who like to read.


Professor Stephens mentions a staff member from the DOK Library who emphasized, “libraries for people, not books.” I have learned that libraries are more specially for getting information to people, for storing it, for providing access to it, for translating it, for showing how to best use it for content creation.

But Stephens points out that, “participation requires engaged participants who feel welcomed, comforted and valued,” (2016) in turn my local library (Fresno County Public Library) cannot firmly announce, “We stand with you. You are safe here,” as the Marin County Free Library does because those who most frequent the library are those experiencing homelessness and some librarians working there as well as fellow patrons see them as a problem, not as patrons needed help and resources. I also know that FCPL wants to bring in more teens, which shouldn’t be a problem since there are plenty of schools around the area, but I think that focus is the problem. Instead of thinking, “kids need interesting and safe things to do,” only the safe part is focused on which in turn gets translated into boring (Casey, 2008).
Overall, each library has its areas where it struggles, and it succeeds regarding its database and services but if the public doesn’t know what it can offer then it is not considered a resource for them and they will not participate.

Whereas there are some people who want to participate but do not feel comfortable doing so. Therefore, most libraries will benefit from marketing themselves in a way the generates interest and allows people to understand what libraries can do and also make sure they cater to ALL.

P.S. Is it just me or do these readings call for a more considerable amount of thinking that needs to span well over 200 words?


References
Casey, M., & Stephens, M. (2008, May 15). Embracing Service to Teens. Retrieved from https://tametheweb.com/2008/05/15/embracing-service-to-teens/
Stephens, M. T. (2016). The heart of librarianship: attentive, positive, and purposeful change. Chicago: ala editions, an imprint of the American Library Association.

Video Games, more than meets the eye

The Book

I chose to read the book, “What video games have to teach us about learning and literacy,” by James Paul Gee. I chose this book because I enjoy playing video games and it’s quite tiring to hear people mindlessly say that they are a waste of time or that “real” adults don’t play video games. This of course is a whole different blog post discussing the idea of child rearing and how people are raising children to be adults, and shouldn’t they learn the balance between work and play…but I digress.

Gee wanted to know why his four-year-old child was willing to put so much time and effort into something so challenging and even enjoyed it (Gee, 2008). Which is a great question given all the things that can happen. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=scMvXB0BEmY

Connectivity

Good video games teach a gamer to leverage knowledge of others [through walk-throughs, chat rooms, cheat codes and RL (real life) discussions] and to utilize various tools and technologies, to empower the self as well as the community (Gee, 2008). This is where I see people, technology and information coming together and forming something greater or what I hope it to be, a library.

Unfortunately, technological progress has many barriers especially in the field of education. For some reason many people believe the two cannot co-exist and that learning shouldn’t be something you do. As in learning shouldn’t be a verb. But Gee shares that video games require a player to learn [his focus is on role playing video games (RPGs)]. “Good” video games teach an active way of learning through encouraging “reflective metatalk and thinking,” which crosses over into the real world (Gee, 2008, pg. 46). When video games are designed well they not only walk the player through how to play the game correctly but also encourage exploration and adaptation. In the web post “The hyperlinked school library: engage, explore, celebrate,” Michael Stephens highlights key components of the report, “Listening to Student Voices,” which includes, “Technology is not extra, and computers and the internet are communication tools first,” (Stephens, 2010). The article goes on to develop the idea of expanding creativity which mentions how the “gaming generation” has impacted the mindset with teaching that it is okay to fail. I would also argue that playing video games also teaches the gamer to not be afraid of change. Gamers also come across obstacles where a technique doesn’t work which signals to the gamer that they should try something else. It also teaches persistence, this technique didn’t work so see what does, don’t be afraid to explore. “A good video game is often good learning,” (Gee, 2008, pg. 199).  And a good video game will teach a gamer how to succeed, reward persistence, but also keep the gamer on their toes and changes things up so that the game stays entertaining and the learning gets more advanced. And some game creators learn from their teaching mistakes.

“Learning should be both frustrating and life enhancing,” but in the right ways (Gee, 2008, pg. 6).

Possibilities

But video games are not something that Gee believes should be replacing the learning that comes from books or even movies, he states that, “stories in books and movies…are different. They offer different pleasures and frustrations,” (Gee, 2008, pg. 83). The following video illustrates that there are different ways to do so with RPGs as well.

https://youtu.be/rhL3I-IOFvo

I believe video games should be a part of the answer to the question Brian Mathews poses in, “Think like a start up.” What do “people need it (libraries) to become?” (Mathews, 2010, pg. 2). Mathews speaks of considering, “bigger bolder possibilities…transformative ideas…new processes,” and incorporating 21st century learners into the evolution of the library (Mathews, 2010, pg. 1). I love that the potential of what a library can be is demonstrated in the article, “Unquiet library has high schoolers geeked.” Where Mathews showcases a library that has changed students’ “social devices into instruments of learning,” by embracing technology that students are familiar with, their smart phones, and connecting it to a smart board in the library (Mathews, 2010). The library has merged with technology and teachers creating a media center with “distinct zones,” and librarians that are “full members of the teaching team, (Mathews, 2010. Now that is a thing of beauty.

Conclusion

All this has boiled down to one thought in my mind. The library can be so much more than I have ever imagined. This assignment has opened my eyes to just how behind or underutilized my local library currently is, although I look forward to helping to better it. Overall I believe Gee is on the right track, “video games are powerful learning devices for shaping identities… and learning content,” and libraries as well as schools would benefit from implementing active learning (Gee, 2008, pg. 199).

Resources

Gee, J. P. (2008). What video games have to teach us about learning and literacy. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Mathews, B. (2010, June 21). Unquiet Library Has High-Schoolers Geeked. Retrieved from https://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/2010/06/21/unquiet-library-has-high-schoolers-geeked/

Mathews, B. (2012, April 3). Think Like A Startup: a white paper to inspire library entrepreneurialism. Retrieved from http://vtechworks.lib.vt.edu/handle/10919/18649

Stephens, M. (2010, March 2). The hyperlinked school library: engage, explore, celebrate. Retrieved from https://tametheweb.com/2010/03/02/the-hyperlinked-school-library-engage-explore-celebrate/