Wow, it has been a whirlwind of a week, y’all. We got our first sticky snow, which was pretty awesome because this is the first time I’ve lived somewhere it snows! I also started a new job at the public library here. I am beyond excited to get to know my coworkers and community!
For my adventure, I chose to walk the paths of Learning Everywhere and Library as Classroom. The two modules show the different ways libraries can help the community, one through reaching outside to give access to the community and one from the inside by bringing the community in to learn. Both are equally important moving into the future.
I am part of the demographic that expects to learn anywhere. If I forget my phone, I am sorely disappointed when I want to look something up. It is natural to me to have the entirety of the Internet at my fingertips, to answer questions or curiosities within minutes of searching. It is the same for many of us. I can muse aloud “I wonder what the etymology of that word is…” and a friend will immediately take out their phone to look it up. Our phones have become an extension of us, of our learning, and we can create our own on-the-fly curricula at any time, anywhere, and learn anything we want. These are usually small pockets of learning, although I have used YouTube, blogs, and MOOCs to learn a variety of skills from my home computer. Oftentimes, I have learned while chatting online with friends because learning anywhere can be isolating and lonely, as many of us may feel in an online program. This is one of the reasons I started an MLIS Discord server for group projects, but still chat with some of my classmates long after the class has ended. Which brings me to the second half of the adventure I chose:
Library as Classroom
Because learning anywhere can be isolating (even if some of us don’t have a choice), the library can bring a group together to learn. The library I work at has 3D printer classes, programming classes, yoga classes, among many other programs that bring people together and complement learning on your own. Not only might these classes spark a curiosity that can drive a person to learn that subject from anywhere, but it can build relationships and community ties and keep people coming back for more learning.
Learning Anywhere and Together!
Learning Anywhere and Library as Classroom go hand in hand,
and I believe one can feed into the other. Personally, I have learned yoga on
my own, and now want to try learning it in a library classroom (once another
session is posted!). Conversely, I have seen 3D printing in action in my
library and have found myself learning more about it online! Because information
is so pervasive with cell phones, tablets, computers, social media, and games,
the library can harness that curiosity and access to information by providing
ways for learners of all ages, skill levels, and backgrounds to come together,
both online (through databases, online catalogs, and apps) and in the library
classroom to spark a greater sense of wonder and love for learning.
I was immensely inspired after reading about the Listening Station’s concept of archiving stories told by many different types of people and allowing others to interview them and ask questions about a life different from their own (Storycenter, n.d.). I began tying this idea with Anythink Library’s get to know your neighbor program, where people picked questions from a bowl and had conversations with people from the community and coupled it with Westmount Public Library’s postcard archive for their community (Baicco, 2016) where community members donated postcards to their library which were digitally archived and put into a software for the community to explore. Tie this together with Eric Klinenberg’s (2018) concept of bridging generational divides and bringing a community together through shared experiences, and I wanted to introduce a program that uses a media center room to hold storytelling interviews. The interviews could either be edited by the project creators or by a library staff and kept as a local community artifact. Specifically, I want to introduce a program that incorporates Erie County’s love for genealogical research with new media technologies and introduce a service where grandkids, family members, or other participants could interview seniors within the community about their family history, life experiences, how they came to the area, or even their recollection of other large events in history. Historical interviews could be posted to the library’s website and archived as part of the area’s cultural history. They could also be viewed within the library or media center for others to listen to or watch.
Erie County Public Library, Blasco Branch contains an Idea Lab with a media center room with three microphones, a computer with Adobe audio and video editing software, an audio mixer, a camera, two lights, and a green screen. The Blasco branch also has a very in-depth Genealogy- Heritage Room with microfiche, yearbooks, and other historical books and documents meant specifically for genealogical research. Because genealogy is so important to the community, I wanted to introduce a program that could teach patrons to create archives of their own.
Description of Community I wish to Engage
I wish to engage cross-generational patrons of Erie County to bring the community together doing an activity that will be fun for young and older generations.
Purpose and benefits
This program would benefit the community of Erie County in multiple ways. It is meant to be a multi-faceted program that can be easily adaptable to different themes. The major historical and cultural theme would bridge the generational gap present within the community. It would create a space where the younger and older members of the community could work together on a project. Generations could learn new technology alongside one another while learning about their family or cultural history. In this way, the program creates a learning opportunity for new technologies, as well as an opportunity to bring the community together and listen to stories. It has an added benefit of archiving histories and providing cultural resources for future generations to listen to in the genealogy department.
Goals and Objectives for Service
Promote diversity by engaging multi-generational residents of the community.
Incorporate Erie County’s love for genealogical research by documenting and creating cultural and community artifacts for Erie County.
Support digital literacy by teaching the community how to use audio and video recording hardware and software, as well as editing techniques.
Support critical thinking and interviewing skills by engaging the community in live interviews where members must listen and respond thoughtfully to others.
Create a sense of community identity by having stories be told, listened to, and played within the library or on the library’s website, mirroring traditional storytelling and oral history methods and marrying that with new technologies.
Create a service that ignites excitement and curiosity within the community and engages them on multiple levels both online and offline.
Help the community of Erie County continue to mold the library into a community center and space they want by involving residents in the program evaluation and conversation.
Action Brief Statement
I want to convince the residents and community of Erie County that by using the media center to interview members of the community they will create new cultural artifacts for Erie County and new skills which will support digital literacy and bring the community together because they are using new technologies to create living artifacts and record their own histories while getting to know members of the community.
Evidence and Resources to support Technology or Service:
Hill, T. (2010). The ‘library café’: Distributing and archiving local culture through a podcast library interview. Art Libraries Journal, 35(3), 40-44. doi 10.1017/S0307472200016539
Rhinesmith, C. & Urbano Stanton, C. (2018). Developing Media Literacy in public libraries: Learning from community media centers. Public Library Quarterly, 37(4), 420-440. doi 10.1080/01616846.2018.1525527
Mission, Guidelines, and Policy related to Technology or Service:
The Erie County Public Library’s policies for its Idea Lab will need to be adhered to. Patrons will need a library card in good standing and a signed Idea Lab Agreement in order to use the media lab and new interviewing stations. Currently, policies are in place for the media lab to be reserved for up to two hours at a time and it must be scheduled. With the hopes of creating one more media station for multiple interviews, times could be booked simultaneously. The patrons will need to check in with a library staff member to help set up the interview room and staff will need to be available for help with tools.
Currently, the media lab is set up for personal projects only, but the community service I am proposing will include a day of open community interviewing in which those who wish to participate can do so in addition to solo interview projects. The community interviewing day will begin with an orientation of equipment use and signing of the Idea Lab Agreement and an agreement to allow the videos to be put on the library website. A staff member will need to oversee the service for the day to help users with tools and to facilitate interviews.
On a much larger scale, the service will adhere to the Erie County Public Library’s Mission to “build a culture of curiosity and creativity by connecting people to information and interactions that ignite ideas, excite passions, and inspire action to improve our collective quality of life” (ECPL, 2016). The service being offered will help the library reach its goals of connecting the community and engaging people in learning new skills and coming up with new ideas. Both the service and the interactions made with the community online and offline will help spark ideas and help the community refine the service to meet their needs and excite their curiosity.
Funding Considerations for this Technology or Service:
This service will require funding for one more audio
recording station which would include a desk, computer, software, and two new
microphones with stands and pop filters. Thankfully, the Blasco Branch Library
has media editing computers in the makerspace, so once an interview is
recorded, it can be edited in the makerspace and others can record new
interviews. There will, however, be a need for a library SoundCloud or
podcasting platform channel to post interviews that have been agreed to be
posted and a staff member will need to run the channel. A staff member will
also need to run the open community interviews.
The Public Library Association (2016) offered ideas for funding a digital media lab through budget add-on requests, putting aside funds from the budget, grants, or other sources, such as The Friends of the Library. It does recommend, however, that “Instead of a single funding source, look to blend a variety of ideas as mentioned along with those that may be unique to your location” (p. 16). Because the community is heavily involved in local history, grants or funding could be procured from benefactors or foundations, such as the Erie Community Foundation or the ECGRA Community Assets grant, wanting to help create cultural artifacts. A donation box could be set up on the days the service was being offered in the library or links to donation pages could be put in the podcasts descriptions on social media if the library was set to expand its media lab for community interviews.
Action Steps & Timeline:
The staff training will serve as a prototyped interview to help bolster the marketing for the project. The service flow will depend on community engagement, staff training schedules, and volunteer sign-ups, however, a reasonable timeline might look something like the following:
Week 1: Order new equipment.
Week 2-3: Training staff on software and hardware: 3 sessions within two weeks. Begin marketing for volunteer positions in schools and through social media.
Week 4-5: Promotion and marketing of service, continuation of procuring and training volunteers.
After promotion, the open-themed interviews would happen once or twice a week for four weeks, depending on other programs that are happening. Ideally, the media lab would be open for community interviews all day and patrons could come and go as they please, however, that may not be feasible and the media lab could be open for four hours during the day for community interviews and podcast editing. The media lab is shared with those wanting to work on personal projects, so the schedule must be mindful of those patrons, as well. The podcasting and interview program would be ongoing, like other library services, and could have different themes throughout the year. It would be under continuous iteration and channeling feedback into program refinement.
Staffing Considerations for this Technology or Service:
A librarian or senior staff member will need to oversee the open interview days, however, there are other considerations for finding people to assist the librarian in: working with the technology, signing people in, and performing short orientations.
Offer experience for those enrolled in an MLIS, history, archival, media, or communications program. This program will meet multiple educational goals.
Ask for volunteers who wish to be involved in a heritage and culture documentation project.
Ask local media professionals, communications, or audio editors if they would like to be a part of the program.
Ask if those who wish to be a part of new library programming want extra hours helping with the community interviews.
Interns or clerks working at the library can help with a special project that deals with programming, media, and cultural studies.
During the program, there may be a need for people to help interview others if there are more interviewees than interviewers. Some ideas for extra interviewing help include:
A sign up sheet for interviewers or a call for volunteers to help with interviewing
Work with local schools or the local college news team to help them with interview and podcast skills
Try and invite some of the interviewees to interview others if a staff member who is helping with the interviews could show them the ropes
Interview Questions Help:
While library staff can help come up with interviewing questions to help facilitate the podcasts, it would be interesting to crowdsource through social media. As part of the marketing, ask community for interview question ideas and types of stories they’d like to hear about.
Training for this Technology or Service:
All library staff who are using the media center would need to be thoroughly trained on how to use the software and hardware. It would only need to be a short 3-hour training on how to properly set up and use the microphones and the editing software. Classes could be conducted by the librarian in charge of the media center and program. After the first hour in which staff learns to properly handle hardware and software, they could engage in an exploration project where they interview a volunteer and edit the interview to gain practice and confidence with the editing software. At the end of the training, they could share the prototyped mini-project with other staff. The training would need to be done two or three times to accommodate schedules and have different volunteers, preferably family members or friends of the staff who wish to participate. Additionally, the library could reach out to media specialists who could come in as guest speakers during training and answer questions. As the podcasting program would be ongoing, learning will consistently be done during the program.
To train volunteers, certain senior staff members or the librarian in charge could give a quick rundown of the software and hardware. This training would need to be done at the discretion of the librarian in charge of the project. Discretion would also need to be used to put certain volunteers to work in certain aspects of the program.
Promotion & Marketing for this Technology or Service:
The library would make use of all social media (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, the library’s website, and Instagram) for promotion and marketing, as well as in-library flyers. The library could tag organizations who have helped with the program, as well. Casey (2011) posited that “The participatory library engages and queries its entire community and seeks to integrate them into the structure of change” (para. 8) which is what this service plans to do. As stated previously, interview questions and ideas could be crowd sourced through social media as a way to get the community involved and hyped about the program before it begins. The program is about the community and it means to engage them in every way. By filming or recording an interview and posting it on the library’s website, YouTube, or SoundCloud then disseminating it through social media could be an excellent way to promote the program, as well. A steady stream or clips of interviews shared through social media once the program begins could help get more people involved.
For those who do not have access to social media, the library could post flyers in all the branches. A station for watching or listening to interviews could also be presented in the library to show patrons what the program is all about. Canvassing or posting flyers in local shops, restaurants, museums, senior living communities, schools, and heritage centers could also help promote the program and get people of all ages involved.
The program will need to be evaluated in iterations to make
sure it is serving the community. Success would be measured by community
engagement with the program and use of the media lab for podcasts and
interviews. Social media interaction, likes, shares, and comments could be
monitored to see how the community is reacting to the program. Google analytics
data of the library website, SoundCloud, and YouTube channel could also be
monitored. In addition to passive monitoring, surveys could be distributed in
the library with regards to the program. Meetings with library staff would also
need to be done to gather any insights staff members may have into how the
program is working and focus groups could be conducted to help refine the
Moving forward, the service could include a mobile interviewing station with a field recorder that could potentially be shared among the different branches of the library. This would allow different communities to share their stories and help reach all communities within Erie County. The service could also be expanded to have different themed interview sessions surrounding different aspects of life in Erie County. As Mack (2013) proposed with the LA Library, the Erie County Public Library could ask the community for feedback on what types of interviews they’d like to participate in and how to make the program better suited to their needs. There could be a college life series, a maritime series, or a State Parks series where members of the community could come and help interview volunteers, students, park rangers, or artists within the community.
This service will hopefully integrate the community at every step both on an organizational and individual level. By involving the community in the creation of the service, engaging them in interviews and creating artifacts, posting those podcasts online and archiving them in the library, and having discussions about the service online and in-person, the community will feel like they are a part of the library and are helping to mold it into a community space for everyone all the while learning new skills and about one-another.
I tried on a few different hats in choosing my own adventure for the Hyperlinked Environments module and finally landed on The Hyperlinked Public Library. As I read through the articles and watched the videos, I found that many of them had a similar thread running through them: the library needs to be what its community needs and wants. This sentiment, however, is not one that is present in just public libraries, but public libraries do serve a great variety of demographics. They must cater to the needs of young and old, wealthy and poor, high school, college, and elementary school education levels, as well as a myriad of interests and skill levels in these interests. As Marie Østergård so succinctly worded it, “Libraries need to be different all over the world and all over the cities” (Public Libraries 2030).
I was inspired by the many different activities and needs the different libraries worked toward for their community. The Westmount Public Library in Quebec, Canada, has created stores and digital archives from 40,000 postcards donated to them by their community (Baicco, 2016). This shows a need rooted deeply in history and understanding the background of the place’s identity. The innovation of spaces like this around the world drove me to look into different and unique library programs in other cities.
As one of my own personal interests lies in video gaming, I was impressed by Cleveland Public Library’s eSports initiative. It brings gaming, which is oftentimes thought of as an isolated hobby, into the community space by providing gamers with a way to meet each other and play together. Not only does the program allow users to meet one another and build community ties, but it also teachers them new skills like the strategy and collaboration skills through gaming itself, streaming software, how to work with gaming hardware (laptops, desktops, and consoles), and digital literacy. In addition to the skills users learn from gaming, this program also helps to bridge the digital divide, providing a space for users who may not have access to expensive gaming computers, consoles, and games, to enjoy the online world of gaming and competition.
In a strange and unexpected, although totally in alignment with library values, program the Newcastle libraries created a Crypto Party for their users. You might be thinking: how is crypto related to library values? The program itself intends on teaching safe browsing, Tor, and encryption (Clark, 2016; Haydock, 2016). As advocates for the free flow of information, digital literacy, and confidentiality, user privacy is extremely important to library values, and the seventh right in the ALA’s Library Bill of Rights (American Library Association, 2019). This program teaches new technology, a new trend, financing, and protecting one’s privacy in an age where private companies often monetize personal data.
These types of programs show the library’s advocacy for all users, even those with hobbies that are socially stigmatized. It shows a want to bring digital literacy to the forefront, that these public libraries are listening to their communities and attempting to bridge the digital divide and bring equality to their spaces. It is thinking outside just book clubs and children’s story times in an attempt to reach people who may otherwise not use library facilities. While traditional programs are very useful and continue to bring joy and engagement to particular groups, programs like these public libraries are creating inspire me to create and brainstorm ways I might reach those on the margins of the community together in the library.