Virtual Learning Symposium: CYOA

Welcome to my offering for the virtual learning symposium- a choose your own adventure story inspired by our CYOA modules! HOW TO PLAY: It’s simple! Just read to the end of a page and once you’re finished, you will be presented with a set of options for what to do next. You’ll click on your action, which will take you to a separate page, and so on. The whole playthrough experience won’t take longer than 10 minutes tops, and that’s if you take the time to explore the whole thing. Enjoy your adventure!

man floating while reading a book
Image Credit: Mark Williams, Unsplash

As the year 2020 draws to a close and so with it the coursework for yet another SJSU semester, you can’t help but find yourself swept up in the rush: of life, of final assignments, of dealing with the holidays. It’s a lot, and like most endings, this one has caught you unawares.

person writing on brown wooden table near white ceramic mug
Image Credit: Green Chameleon, Unsplash

You’ve got one more assignment left for INFO 287: the virtual symposium. Your professor, Dr. Michael Stephens, has asked you to consider one deceptively simply question: What are you taking away from the Hyperlinked Library course? You crack your knuckles and sit down at your computer. Time to get to work.

You hear a commotion outside your window as you begin typing your planning notes, and you know you’ve come to a crossroads. You can either put on some headphones, listen to music and power through your assignment, or let distraction guide you like it’s done a million times before. Maybe your mind could use the break before you really start to focus.

To ignore the noise and keep working on the virtual symposium, click here.

To follow your distracted brain and open your front door, click here.

Choosing My Own Misadventure: Hyperlinked Environments Reflection

“Choose your own adventure,” we’d been instructed for our Hyperlinked Environments module. I was struck by this whimsical directive that recalled the series I grew up with, accompanied with a burst of nostalgia and excitement to dive into all the different modules for the week.

The Power of Choice

“Choose” and “adventure” are also two words that have not recently found their way into my personal vernacular. But this week, as we were ushered into a space that invited us to explore, the joys of choosing and learning took me by surprise.

A children's library display with cobwebs and caution tape, books wrapped in newspaper, and a sign that reads "the Society of Hidden History" (acronym S.H.H.).
An example of staff having fun at the children’s library I supervised! This program was designed to give non-circulating books some love as well as engage reluctant readers.

When libraries thrive, they function similarly to a Choose Your Own Adventure book: empowering their communities, incorporating their wants and needs, and giving them a safe space to explore. The gift of choice is a powerful one. Using “Responding! Public Libraries and Refugees” as a launching point, I found an excellent article on the public library’s role in Athens refugee camps, “Libraries as a space for self-actualization in the refugee context.” The author reminds us that “the case for the library is not only a sentimental impulse but research suggests that access to safe spaces offered by libraries not only support learning and literacy but also builds trust, self-reliance and social capital.” The library is not the hero of the story, as so much vocational awe might lead one to believe. The user should be. And the choices libraries make should be made with users in mind.

“No choice”? Roll with it!

Of course, sometimes the choice is wrested from us, or one we begrudgingly make for the greater good of the community. As part of the CYOA adventure for this module, I visited the Denver Public Library’s page for Cultural Inclusivity services (formerly services for refugees and immigrants specifically) to see their current offerings, and they are robust! Conversation groups, social hours, tutoring, an audio archive of stories from home, citizenship classes. They’ve simply pivoted to virtual offerings. At the very top of their page they have a pandemic-related update, pictured below:

A screencap from Denver Public Library's site that reads:
"Cultural Inclusivity Services
Formerly called Services to Immigrants and Refugees
UPDATE - To ensure the health and safety of our community, all Denver Public Library locations and Plaza programs are currently closed. 

Please contact the New Americans Project with any questions or to get more information about citizenship, English language learning, legal help, computer help and more. Call 720-865-2362, text 720-610-2310 or email "

While letting users know of a choice that cannot be made at this time, this update also provides three options for contact: email, phone, and text. With welcome guides for 13 languages and multiple methods of contact, this web page conveys a safe (albeit virtual) space.

In the midst of the chaos of today, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and like a passive observer, helpless in face of the onslaught. Sometimes all it takes is someone offering you the power and perspective of choice- whether that’s a professor’s module, a library’s services, or which fast food to eat for dinner- that us to put one foot in front of the other and make it through.