While watching the lecture on “Reflective Practice”, I myself began to think back to the time in which I realized being a librarian was the career path I wanted to take. If I am completely honest, I never planned to go into the library profession. All throughout my undergraduate career, I focused on taking pre-law courses and studied feverishly for the LSATs in the last year of my undergrad. I recall being accepted into law school and attending orientation thinking that I have accomplished all that I have ever wanted and was ready to complete my life’s work as an attorney. However, after spending two years in law school, I soon realized that this path was not as fulfilling as I had always imagined and soon learned that the law is not always about justice for all. I contemplated my life’s decisions and took a leave of absence from law school while I figured out what exactly I wanted to do with my life.
I took a part-time position as an Extra Help librarian at my local public library as a way to make ends meet. What began as a job soon became a passion for me. Within the library, I felt as though I was able to make a direct impact on the communities that are often marginalized in society. The librarians I spoke with were compassionate and empathetic when they discussed their career and I so wanted to have this sort of love for what I do as well. After a year, I applied for my current job as a solo Library Associate and have grown into my position as a branch lead, supervisor of multiple pages, and overall reference guide to all patrons. I cannot express the joy I have gotten from working within a small rural community and seeing the impact the library makes in their lives. I am blessed to wake up in the morning and feel a sense of joy and excitement when I come to work. From planning Teen Nights to leading English Conversation Groups, I have met people from all walks of life and can connect with each individual on some level.
As Dr. Stephens mentions in his book, Wholehearted Librarianship, “We are the heart of our communities, and that only works because of what the people who run libraries give of themselves” (p.41). This statement truly resonates with me as I reflect on my role as a solo Library Associate and as one of the few Spanish-speaking employees within Yolo County Library system. I take pride in representing the agricultural community and all the farmworkers who are indeed essential workers. I have seen some of my previous classmates from law school graduate and work as corporate attorneys, however I do not despise or envy them because I know what I have is invaluable. The career of librarianship takes heart and I am willing to give my heart to my community as long as they need my help.
Stephens, M. (2019). “Talk About Compassion”. Wholehearted Librarianship. Retrieved from: https://287.hyperlib.sjsu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/StephensWholeheartedDozer.pdf
Many public libraries today are expanding beyond a space to find and read books. Libraries are now becoming place where community members can come and interact with information in a new way and actually participate in a new experience (Hood, 2014). By incorporating technology and supporting interactive experiences, public libraries are providing opportunities for participatory learning experiences for many within the community. These kinds of unique interactions allow the library, community, and the world to connect through this integrated system of learning (Hamilton,2012). In my Director’s Brief, I propose the introduction of the Lookmobile, an interactive mobile library designed to activate outdoor spaces and increase hands-on learning opportunities, to the patrons and staff of the Yolo County Library system. Click on “Director’s Brief” below to view my assignment as a PDF.
At the Central Library of the Los Angeles Public Library, there is a unique type of learning space where Los Angeles’ diverse community members can create, explore, and learn at their new do-it-yourself maker space and audiovisual studio. This new unique maker space is 3,000 square feet of space for patrons to experience virtual reality (VR) systems, create 3D objects with the multiple 3D printers, or simply learn how to use a sewing machine. Use of all the items within the Octavia Lab are free to use and can be reserved for anyone. This space is truly an equitable space where patrons who may not have access to such technology can learn and grow as individuals.
As times are changing and technology is expanding at fast rates, it is important for public spaces such as the library to offer digital services such as these services. No longer is the library a place to simply find a quiet space and choose a book to read, it has become a space where patrons can create a video, develop an app using lines of code, or digitize old photographs and movies (Lippincott, 2015). The Los Angeles Public Library (LAPL) has taken note of these changes and have spent over three years developing the Octavia Lab and ensuring that it be built in a centralized area such as downtown Los Angeles, so that many diverse populations can easily access this space.
The Octavia lab offers course for certain age groups, such as afternoon classes for the elderly patrons to try out these new technologies and become more familiar with the digital technologies available. Children in the LA area are a prime target for the Octavia Lab and many library staff hope to inspire tomorrow’s engineers or scientists through these courses offered within the lab. Now more than ever, it is crucial for children today to take advantage of the digital technologies available to them so that they can learn about their digital intelligence. By utilizing digital intelligence, children will learn a vast set of social, emotional and cognitive abilities that enable individuals to face the challenges and adapt to the demands of digital life (Park, 2016). In the future, as libraries shift and adapt to the changes of the digital age, it is important to remain an equitable space where grown and curiosity are fostered and emphasized for everyone.
Lippincott, J. (2015). The future of Teaching and Learning. American Libraries Magazine. https://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/2015/02/26/the-future-for-teaching-and-learning/
Park, Y. (2016). 8 digital skills we must teach our children. World Economic Forum. https://medium.com/world-economic-forum/8-digital-skills-we-must-teach-our-children-f37853d7221e#.789qtaw64
Storytelling has been a way of human communication and human connection since the beginning of time. Through storytelling, narratives have been passed along from generation to generation and classics and folktales have survived throughout time. Now in the 21st century, the arise of digital storytelling has now combined multimedia forms such as audio and visual elements along with people’s narratives.
Digital storytelling integrates reflection for deep learning, student engagement, technology integration, and project-based learning. By combining these ways of learning into digital storytelling, the process has now become a way for people to creatively tell their own stories with the use of technology. Libraries have recognized the power of digital storytelling and have even used digital storytelling within their own ALA, “Libraries Transform” Campaign (Boekesteijn, 2010).
Marginalized communities have also greatly benefited from the use of digital storytelling. Histories of underrepresented people have come to light and community involvement has been able to recognize the shortcomings such as social and racial inequities. For example, Faculty at the University of Colorado Denver partnered with community group Project VOYCE to facilitate youth engagement through digital storytelling. The high school students who participated created videos that reflect on their personal experience (Czarina, 2009).
In one example, a high school student shared her own digital storytelling experience by creating a multimedia video that shared her experiences of gentrification and community action. This impacting story fully represents the essence of digital storytelling and the potential it has to humanize social issues. It is through community engagement and the sharing of oral histories that these stories can be heard throughout the digital and global community.
I currently work as a solo Library Associate for the Knights Landing Library, as a part of Yolo County Library. While spending time in the Knights Landing community, I have become aware of various barriers community members face due to the isolated location of this rural community. One primary barrier is a lack of internet access for many households within Knights Landing. As a way to combat this obstacle, would be to introduce a Techmobile. A Techmobile will help narrow the digital divide that is affecting small rural communities and families living below the poverty line. This particular Techmobile will offer classes such as Basic Computer Skills, Social Media Basics, Internet Basics, Basic MS Office Applications, Basic Email, Basic Electronics, Intro to 3D Printing, Open Lab (PC or Mac), Coding for Kids, LEGO Robotics, and Library eResources. By introducing the new Techmobile to the Knights Landing community, I hope to see an increase in digital literacy among all community members as well as an increased presence at the actual Knights Landing Library once the public understands the types of assets that the public library can provide them.
Goals/Objectives for Technology or Service:
Increase digital literacy in the Knights Landing community, where tech inequality is present.
Interest community members in visiting the Knights Landing Library after seeing all of the resources available at the Techmobile.
Bring awareness of the lack of technology available in rural communities.
Promote expanding Techmobiles throughout Yolo County Library.
Description of Community you wish to engage: I wish to engage with the Knights Landing community members and other rural community members throughout Yolo County so they are aware of the Techmobile and all that Yolo County Library offers.
Action Brief Statement: Convince Knights Landing community members that by utilizing the Techmobile and attending tech-ed classes they will become more knowledgeable of technology and technological resources which will allow community members to become more familiar with technology and enhance their digital literacy skills because they will feel confident when using the newest technology and reduce the digital divide impacting rural communities.
Evidence and Resources to support Technology or Service:
Mission, Guidelines, and Policy related to Technology or Service: The East Yolo Library manager, East Yolo Library supervisor, and Yolo County Library Director will be involved in setting policies for the Techmobile and approve staff time when working on the Techmobile. Guidelines for the Techmobile will be determined by the Yolo County Library Policy Team. Example policies may be found by contacting the San Francisco Public Library and requesting the policies they implement on their Techmobile. The mission of the Techmobile will be to learn, explore, and engage with all community members. This mission will help ensure equitable access to technology for rural communities in Yolo County.
Funding Considerations for this Technology or Service: The Techmobile will be open Monday-Friday from 1-6pm and will have two Knights Landing Library staff members present on the Techmobile when it is open for public use. Bilingual staff members will be given priority when scheduling the Techmobile hours because the Knights Landing community are primarily Spanish-speakers. Salary will remain the same when library staff are working at the Knights Landing Library branch or working on the Techmobile. Funding for the Techmobile will be given by various state and local grants.
Action Steps & Timeline:
Week 1 – Bring the Techmobile to the Knights Landing Library and begin a two-week course for all Knights Landing Library staff members and any administrative staff who is interested in learning more about the Techmobile.
Week 2 – The second week of training for Knights Landing Library staff will allow staff members to role play and run mock tech-ed classes and ask any questions relating to the Techmobile.
Week 3 and on – Promotion of the Techmobile location as well as the tech-ed classes offered will be posted online and flyers will be printed and distributed throughout the Knights Landing community. A Techmobile open house will be held in front of the Knights Landing Library for all community members to come and visit. The Techmobile will be officially opened to the public on the scheduled dates and times.
Staffing Considerations for this Technology or Service: Two Knights Landing Library staff members will be scheduled to work on the Techmobile once it is open to the public and will run tech-ed courses as co-leaders for every course. Yolo County IT staff will also be available to answer any tech questions and support library staff working in the Techmobile. Knights Landing Library staff will work on flyers with information about Techmobile future locations and tech-ed course times. Flyers will be posted online and will be printed monthly for community members to be aware of upcoming tech-ed courses.
Training for this Technology or Service: One-day training for the Techmobile will be offered periodically throughout the year for staff members not working at the Knights Landing Library, but are interested in learning more about the technology offered in the Techmobile. All staff members working at the Knights Landing Library will receive a two week training within the Techmobile and will learn how to supervise and run each tech-ed course offered in the Techmobile. Training on how to successfully run the Techmobile will be given by San Francisco Public Library staff who already have a Techmobile available for their patrons.
Promotion & Marketing for this Technology or Service: Information about the Techmobile as well as a schedule of the location sites and tech-ed courses offered inside the Techmobile will be promoted on the Yolo County Library website, all Yolo County Library social media accounts, and paper flyers will be posted throughout the Knights Landing community for community members to be aware the Techmobile.
Evaluation: The Techmobile’s success or failure will depend on the number of Knights Landing community members visiting and signing up for free tech-ed courses offered within the Techmobile. Additionally, the increased number of patrons visiting the Knights Landing Library and opening library accounts after introducing the Techmobile will serve as evidence of success of the plan.
Throughout the various readings in Module 6, there were quite a few articles that emphasized the importance of public libraries in today’s communities. Within one particular article, it stated that, “deeper connections with public libraries are often associated with key life moments such as having a child” (Pew Research Center, 2014). As families with children begin taking advantage of public libraries, it is our duty as librarians to engage with these particular patrons, ensure that all feel welcomed into the library, and advocate for children’s programming within the library.
This push to provide free services and resources to families with children is of utmost importance to those in the field of librarianship. Programs such as, “Mother Goose on the Loose” or “Tales for Tails” offer children and parents an opportunity to interact with other families while reading, singing, playing, and dancing. The underlying effect of such programs allow children and parents to understand how important early literacy is to every child.
The general public has shared interests with public libraries when it comes to early literacy and children’s centers in libraries. A recent Pew Research Center statistic showed that, “85% of Americans say libraries ‘should definitely’ coordinate more closely with local schools. And 82% believe libraries should provide free literacy programs to young children, which may include traditional reading, writing and comprehension as well as technology and new media literacies” (2014). Today, many public libraries have taken these concerns into consideration and often times coordinate scheduled library visits from local schools as well as partnering together to promote Summer Reading Programs too.
As the global pandemic has currently halted many children’s programs offered by public libraries, librarians and library staff have made it their mission to continue servicing families and children via distance learning. Many have used social media such as Facebook Live or YouTube Live to provide children’s programs to all and promote their events. Although the issue of the digital divide has uncovered the lack of internet access for some families, public libraries have stepped up and have offered hot spots as well as laptops to subside this issue for now.
The importance of public libraries can truly shape a child’s love of reading and learning. It is important that despite whatever obstacles may ensue, we as library professionals keep our communities in mind and advocate for children’s programming, whether it be in-person or online. Our impact as librarians can enact change within the children we interact with through singing, reading, and playing. We as librarians must continue remember that libraries change lives, both big and small.
Pew Research Center. (2014, March 18). A new way of looking at public library engagement in America. Retrieved March 15, 2021, from https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2014/03/18/a-new-way-of-looking-at-public-library-engagement-in-america/
Pew Research Center. (2014, January 24). 10 facts about Americans and public libraries. Retrieved March 15, 2021, from https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/01/24/10-facts-about-americans-and-public-libraries/
While reflecting on Module #5: Hyperlinked Communities, I began to think crucially about one particular section within an article in our readings. The article, “Do you want to dance? Inclusion and belonging in libraries and beyond” by Christian Laurensen discusses the importance of diversity in the library profession in order to bring about inclusion within all libraries. Laurensen states that ” a uniform white library workforce is most likely not to create diverse and inclusive libraries to serve their communities because we think alike”.
This profound statement truly resonated with me as I thought back to the beginning of my career within the field of librarianship and the lack of diversity there is among my fellow staff members. Other research has been done on the issue of diversity within the field of librarianship, and the results show that White (non-Hispanic) people are overwhelmingly represented in the field of librarianship.
The only way to make changes within the communities are to in fact invest in diverse employees and implement policies that actively work towards a more inclusive library that provides equitable access of information to marginalized communities. Also, libraries must strive to place people of color in leadership roles so all voices of the community are heard all the way up to administration, where change can truly occur within the library system. Only by devoting the time, energy, and staff involvement, will these actions for inclusion and diversity become a reality.
While thinking back to my own personal experiences as a solo Library Associate, I quickly became aware of the marginalized communities within the town of Knights Landing. Prior to my employment, I became aware that all programs and activities were only offered in English because the previous staff members did not speak Spanish. By not making accommodations for those who are not English speakers, this reflected how noninclusive the Yolo County Library was. I knew there were changes that needed to be made. The first change needed to a more inclusive programming method.
I began making all library programs and activities bilingual and created all program flyers in both English and Spanish. I did not want to divide the community simply because of linguistic differences, but wanted to merge community members together. As Dr. Michael Stephens states, “Hyperlinked communities are people”. I myself believe this statement as well.
I soon offered bilingual programs such as “Loteria” (a popular Latin American game similar to Bingo) and welcomed non-Spanish speakers as well as non-English speakers to these events. By focusing on the game of Loteria and sharing the similar experience at one table, community members who were afraid to practice their English speaking skills with native English speakers began to muster up the courage to talk to their neighbor at the table and conversations began occurring in both English and Spanish. I knew that by bringing two communities together, this was the way to enact change and inclusion within my library.
After seeing the success of my Loteria nights at the library, I began to try new programs that may be of interest to the community, such as “Cafecito y Crafts” (Coffee and Crafts). The library provided all materials and I would facilitate the program. I always made sure to emphasize that every program would be in English and Spanish. This became of relief to families who were Spanish speaking, but still wanted to learn the English language. I also believe this trust within the library grew because I was the second bilingual Latina librarian to work in this particular branch. This allowed me to relate to the community on numerous levels and understand their needs. Below, I have added a photo from on of the “Cafecito y Crafts” nights where the women made paper flowers, a common craft within the Mexican culture.
As a woman of color passionate about the field of librarianship, I have been able to see how important diversity is within this profession. It is much more than being able to communicate with various community members in a particular language, it is about having their needs heard and actively finding ways to reduce barriers. Hyperlinked communities can only be successful if we as librarians work towards making the library an inclusive space for all.
Laurensen, C. (2018, June 7). Do you want to dance? Inclusion and belonging in libraries and beyond. Christian Laurensen.net. https://christianlauersen.net/2018/06/07/inclusion-and-belonging-in-libraries-and-beyond/
Boyd, D. (2014.) It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Is internet addiction an issue among teens today? Within the book, It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens, written by Dana Boyd, she delves into the question of whether teens are obsessed with online communication and social media platforms. As many adults are quick to answer “Yes, teens are glued to their phones and computers.”, Boyd takes a look at the modern teenager and how teens today crave social interaction. Before the days of cell phones and Twitter, many teens physically met up at malls or had sleepovers and socialized face-to-face. Today, parents are swamped with busy work schedules and teens are involved in multiple afterschool activities, so it becomes hard to make time for teens to physically join together and socialize.
Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have now made it easier for teens to connect online and have established multiple ways for teens to connect. This new element of social media platforms has made teens question how they would like to be perceived online through the pictures they post, the comments they make, etc. This online identity has allowed teens to express themselves in a whole new way and get out into “the real world” online. When discussing online identities Boyd expresses that, “They (teens) are struggling to carve out an identity that is not defined solely by family ties.” (2014, p.29). This craving to be seen and heard in the world along with the overwhelming amount of social media presence from celebrities, has in turn made teens eager to be seen. Therefore, causing an obsession with how many “Likes” they receive or how many “Views” they get on their posted materials.
The emphasis on “fostering social connectedness” is one key element that Boyd has used to write this book and explain the social behaviors of teens online. This urge to be connected to not only their friends, but the entire world has given teens the opportunity to explore the virtual world without leaving their homes. With information only a click or tap away, it is clear to see how many teens are using social media to find their place in the world, whether it be with a community in-person or solely online.
Some schools have even taken notice of the power social media and mobile devices have on today’s youth and have incorporated the social web and multimedia tools into their students’ educational experiences (Tomlin, 2010). Academic libraries are also shifting their materials to be more accessible on mobile devices after taking notice of the role technology plays in students’ lives and realigning themselves with the digital world (Mathews, 2012). These changes are only a few ways technology has impacted the way teens interact and access information.
Although parents of teenagers worry that their teens are spending too much time with friends online, have yet to reflect on the fact that technology is merely a “fad” and being with friends online is “the cool place” rather than being in person with their friends due to the appeal of unlimited access to information and connection. Parental “moral panics” about who their children are talking to as well as cyberbullying should be subsided according to Boyd (2014, p. 61). Due to the fact that so many teens have access to social media, Boyd believes that cyberbullying can be seen by a wider audience and therefore can be stopped faster rather than gossip whispered in the school hallways (2014, p. 77). And in regards to parents’ fear of sexual predators, Boyd states that, “Internet-initiated sexual assaults are rare. The overall number of sex crimes against minors has been steadily declining since 1992, which also suggests that the internet is not creating a new plague.” (2014, p.111). Although online bullying and sexual predators in chat rooms can indeed happen to teens, there is no evidence showing that these crimes have dramatically increased due to the use of various social media platforms. Therefore, parents should not fear the internet and believe the distorted information exaggerated by the news media, but rather educate teens on how to interact with each other on social networks safely.
Boyd then examines teens’ view of privacy and is surprised to learn that despite the amount of information teens are posting on their social media accounts, they do in fact want privacy. Teens use agency, or power, to regulate the amount of information that is shared about themselves to their audience. Boyd states, “Social media has become an outlet for many youth, an opportunity to reclaim some sense of agency and have some semblance of power.”(2014, p.134). Teens decide how much interactivity they want so they can separate the online identity from their offline identity. Also, teens yearn for connectivity with their peers through the use of social networks and begin to demonstrate their own identity through sharing and creating information. Finally, teens allow access to others via their social network platforms by giving someone permission to “follow” them on Twitter or accepting a “Friend Request” on Facebook and therefore sharing and accessing new information from various perspectives.
Overall, Boyd does an excellent job in explaining how teens interact with the use of technology in today’s society. As teens begin forming their own opinions and identities, the internet has given teens a platform to express themselves freely. This use of social media allows teens to find their place in their world by connecting with others, increasing their knowledge, and developing who they are through the information they choose to share. It is crucial that regardless of age, we as a community and consumers of the digital age work together and learn to increase our digital literacy and become accustomed to social networks and technology.
Boyd, D. (2014.) It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Common Sense Ratings & Reviews. (2018, September 10). Social Media, Social Life: TeensReveal Their Experiences [Video]. YouTube.
While reflecting on the Module 3 lecture, I was particularly interested in Dr. Stephen’s discussion of staff and faculty within a library being unwilling to accept change. This fear of change is something that I have overcome within my role as solo Library Associate. Prior to accepting this position, I learned that I was the second bilingual Library Associate in the Knights Landing Library although the community of Knights Landing is over 80% Latinx. I was distraught to learn that previous solo librarians who worked in the Knights Landing Library not only were middle class older Caucasian women, but they themselves never sought to accommodate the Spanish speaking community that utilizes the services of the library the most.
It also bothered me that although there were many children within the community, the previous librarians did not want the children in the library because all they would do was “play”. This notion of not allowing children to play in the library seemed archaic to me. As noted by Stephens (2010) in the article, The hyperlinked school library: engage, explore, celebrate, he states, that play is equivalent to learning and that it is crucial to, “Make space and allow time for ‘play’ in your library”. I firmly believe that play is important as well and was prepared to make a change within the library as the new solo Library Associate.
My first action as the new solo Library Associate was to promote family and children’s programs more frequently. I also offered all programs in both English and Spanish so that those who were not comfortable speaking English, knew that the library is now a welcoming environment for them.
For example, I was able to bring a mobile video game truck to the Knights Landing Library for the children to play and become more familiar with different video games. The need for digital literacy is crucial in areas such as Knights Landing, where internet access is seen as luxury in the community and that hot spots are always checked out from the library. These programs may seem to be unimportant and not library-related, however I firmly believe that technology and STEM programs need to be emphasized in rural communities in order for the children to receive equitable resources from the library.
I also promoted a weekly STEM activity during the summer for children to come and play. I often chose activities that were more hands-on for the children and gave them an opportunity to have fun. In the picture below, I had children perform an “Elephant toothpaste experiment” that allowed the children to have their own experiment and see the reaction hydrogen peroxide has when mixed with warm water. As you can see, the children were inside the library and were laughing and smiling during this program. Although some staff may view this as chaotic, I fully embraced this moment and was happy to have the children playing and learning in the library.