Infinite Learning: PLEs & Learning Everywhere

For modules 11 and 12, I decided to look at the subcategories “Professional Learning Experiences” and “Learning Everywhere.”

Taking a dive into professional learning was interesting to me, because thus far in my MLIS career I haven’t discussed professional development at all. I particularly liked the chapter in The Heart of Librarianship about staff days. I attended my first staff day in September at the library system I work for. While I enjoyed the day and the energy everyone brought to it, it did feel as though everything we learned was quickly forgotten, and that the day was more of a meet and greet than a training day. This is was Professor Stephens mentioned in the chapter “Learning to Learn.” He mentioned that “many staff days get folks energized, but then the excitement dies down the following week” (Stephens 2012 pp 140). He goes on to mention that while staff days are worthwhile, libraries should encourage staff learning opportunities all year long, and administration should remind staff of key points learned at Staff Day and create spaces in which staff can share insights and how to implement said points at work. “If libraries call themselves learning organizations, setting aside time for staff to explore and reflect is mandatory,” explains Stephens, and I agree (2016 pp 142). What is the use of all of the time and expense that goes into Staff Day if everything goes exactly back to how it was right afterward?

Another thing I found interesting from module 11 is that despite the availability of modern technology like webinars and MOOCs, most library staff still prefer professional learning opportunities that are in person. I count myself among them, as in-person training feels more immersive and personal, and allows for better connections among the other people who attend. I had never heard of a staff retreat in the library world, but something like that would really appeal to me because again, it would be an immersive experience (Stephens 2018 pg 9).

For module 12, I went back and explored the “learning everywhere” module. It can be frustrating how solidified the notion of “book warehouses” is when people think of libraries. While we librarians and library staff know so much about the learning that takes place outside of the book form in the library, so many people seem not to realize all the ways in which libraries are education centers and have largely kept up with technology trends. Module 12 had some great examples of libraries that have used modern technology to create better learning spaces for their users. For example, in Professor Stephens’ lecture that accompanied the “learning everywhere” module, he noted a library that used “podcast pairings” to point patrons to books they might be interested in if they like certain podcasts (My Favorite Murder and This American Life were some of the podcasts used in the display.

Another example came up in the “Library Emoji” Office Hours article. In it, Stephens notes that the library at GVSU was using five different emojis (angry, meh, ok, good and heart eyes) to let customers rate their experience (Stephens 2016 pp 22).

The Idea Box at the OPPL is another (and I think the best) example of libraries taking initiative to get users inside the library and interacting with new technology. The Idea Box is a dynamic space that changes from month to month and which encourages patrons to gather and be creative. Whether it’s using camera equipment and a green screen or creating constellations on the walls with LED lights, the space is always interesting and always focused on the user (Greenwalt 2013).

Libraries need to focus on using technology in order to meet the learning needs of the user. The Idea Box is one way to accomplish this, but smaller steps can be taken as well, from creating a Library of Things to creating an interactive library app ( as long as it’s something that patrons express interest in). Learning needs to be something accessible from anywhere, and must be able to take place outside the pages of a book (although book-learning is still valid and great!). Whether that’s on a phone on the bus, a laptop in a cafe, or on a sewing machine checked out from the library and used at the patron’s computer, learning really is everywhere and libraries need to be the bridge.

Resources:

Greenwalt, T. 2013. Embracing the Long Game. Public Libraries Online, retrieved from http://publiclibrariesonline.org/2013/02/embracing/

Stephens, M. 2018. The Heart of Librarianship. Chicago, IL: ALA editions. Retrieved from https://web-b-ebscohost-com.libaccess.sjlibrary.org/ehost/ebookviewer/ebook/bmxlYmtfXzEzNTAzNTZfX0FO0?sid=ed2910bf-b1fd-4514-9361-cf86b07bba25@pdc-v-sessmgr03&vid=0&format=EB&rid=1

Stephens, M. 2018. PLEs @ ALA. Library Journal, retrieved from https://www.libraryjournal.com/?detailStory=ljx181002newsOfficeHours

Stephens, M. 2016. Office Hours. Library Journal, retrieved from https://287.hyperlib.sjsu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/LibraryEmoji.pdf

The library goes mobile

Before this module, I honestly hadn’t thought about the how mobile devices have an effect on library service. In fact, I hadn’t really thought about mobile devices and how much we rely on them at all. Yet, we really do rely on them on a daily (if not hourly or even half-hourly) basis. My phone is the last thing I see when I go to bed (setting my alarm) and the first thing I see when I wake up (turning off my alarm, and then checking the news and my various social media accounts before I force myself to get up). I use my phone to play music while I get ready for the day. It’s my map whenever I need to go somewhere. It’s my camera. It’s my pocket calculator, my computer, and of course my phone. If I discover I’ve left my cell behind, I’m mildly anxious, because my phone is my connection to the world around me.

That’s what really resonated with me this module. In the lecture, Professor Stephens mentioned that people often complain that technology is creating distance between us, and there is some truth to that—some studies show that social media has caused us to become more politically polarized than we were before, fore example—but he describes that actually, for the most part, we are more connected than ever (Stephens n.d.). We can find people with similar interests to us on platforms like Reddit, we can send emails or IMs or photographs to anyone in the world in a matter of seconds from virtually anywhere, and second-screen sharing allows us to comment instantly on other digital media or news as it occurs or unfolds. The world has become smaller because we have instant access to it in our pockets.

Therefore, it makes total sense for libraries to get in on the action. Already, there are apps like Libby which allow patrons to check out digital items that the library subscribes to. At my library, these downloadable e-books and audio-books are very popular, and are likely to surpass print items in circulation numbers in the not-too-distant future. However, since everyone’s phones are on them pretty much at all times, the library ought to be there to enhance service and to advertise the library.

Image result for cell phones in the library
One way in which a public library is utilizing cell phones to reach patrons

The article “’Beacon’ Technology Deployed by Two Library App Makers” really interested me because it showed some concrete examples of how libraries could get in on the mobile game. The idea that the library could send messages to people telling them of upcoming programs or events as they near the library sounds like such a cool tool, because, as mentioned in the article, libraries “have high volume, high quality programming all the time, yet we get constant feedback from patrons saying, ‘I didn’t know about that.’ Or, ‘I didn’t hear about that,’ despite the library’s outreach efforts via newsletters, social media, its website, and other means” (Enis 2014 pg 2). The article goes on to describe how if a patron is not actively following a library’s social media accounts, they are unlikely to see those events, meaning that it’s mostly library regulars who are interacting with those pages. That’s not a bad thing necessarily, but it does mean that there’s not as much outreach going on as libraries would like. Beacons would allow people to opt in to letting the library send them personalized messages about their account as well, such as whether they have something on hold and upcoming due dates (Enis 2014).

While I think libraries may have a way to go in this regard, mostly because of privacy concerns, I think mobile devices are here to stay, and we are going to become ever more connected. Therefore, ideas like beacons ought to be continuously explored and tried out, and I can’t wait to see how mobile devices are used to connect patrons to information through the library in the digital age. Michael Stephens said it best in this week’s lecture: we need to put information in the palm of people’s hands.

Sources:

Enis, M. (18 Nov. 2014). “Beacon” Technology Deployed by Two Library App Makers. Library Journal, retrieved from https://www.libraryjournal.com/?detailStory=beacon-technology-deployed-by-two-library-app-makers

Mosley, T. (5 Nov. 2018). How Social Media Echo Chambers Drown Out the Voices in the Middle. KQED News, retrieved from https://www.kqed.org/news/11703717/how-social-media-echo-chambers-drown-out-the-voices-in-the-middle

Stephens, M. (n.d.). Mobile Devices and Connections Lecture. [Panapto Recorded Lecture]. Retrieved from https://sjsu-ischool.hosted.panopto.com/Panopto/Pages/Viewer.aspx?id=3b3faeae-3347-4f6f-8bba-aaec01569f55

Emerging Technology Planning: Bringing Technology and Tech Literacy to Older Patrons via the Hyperlinked Library Bus

Introduction 

It is clear through the assigned readings we’ve gone over this semester that libraries must adapt, at least in part, to a hyperlinked and participatory model if they are to remain relevant in the age of Google. Sometimes called Library 2.0, the participatory model “empowers library users through participatory, user-driven services” (Casey & Savastinuk 2007 pp 5). In other words, the library continues to be a place of discovery and learning, but is user-centric, meaning that the patron can have a more hands-on experience in the library using new technology, and librarians are there in a more direct way to foster this learning. However, it is important to note that libraries cannot install the latest and greatest technology and just hope for the best. The key in hyperlinked libraries is not the technology itself, but the patrons who will be using it. For instance, in the blog post “Revisiting Participatory Service in Trying Times,” Michael Casey notes that “The participatory library engages and queries its entire community and seeks to integrate them into the structure of change. The community should be involved in the brainstorming for new ideas and services, they should play a role in planning for those services, and they should definitely be involved in the evaluation and review process” (Casey 2011). 

I currently work in the circulation department of a mid-sized public branch library in a county that is largely a retirement community. Our print collection circulates well, although the digital collection will certainly outpace it soon if it hasn’t already. One thing I have noticed is that our large print collection and collection of print magazines are very popular, but these collections are quite small compared to the larger print collection, and some of the magazines are reference-only. If some of our elderly patrons could learn how to use e-readers, they could have access to many more titles, because the print on e-readers can be enlarged to the user’s preferences, allowing them access to a much larger collection of titles. Also, if they could learn to use services like Flipster, our digital magazine service, they wouldn’t have to wait so long on the holds list for certain issues. However, many patrons do not have access to these services, and some find it hard to make it to the library in the first place. Others are hesitant to try new technology because they aren’t used to it or comfortable around it.  My solution to this is a mobile “TechBus,” inspired by the Marin County Free Library’s Learning Bus, to be driven around Jackson County, Oregon, to provide digital literacy skills to patrons of Jackson County Library Services. The TechBus would enhance participatory culture by allowing patrons to try technology in a hands-on environment with trained staff ready to teach patrons how to use the tech to download digital services the library already offers for free. 

Image result for marin county learning bus

Description of Community


The intended audience of the TechBus would be elderly patrons, but anyone from the public in Jackson County would be welcome to come to a TechBus stop to learn about the digital resources the library has to offer. 

Goals/Process

The TechBus would be like a bookmobile, but the emphasis would be on teaching the public (mostly older adults, but also anyone who may need help) how to use the library’s digital services and emerging technologies. It would roam the county on a rotating schedule, visiting retirement homes, community centers, and perhaps the more remote areas of the county where people may not visit their library regularly. It would be outfitted with a wifi hotspot, computers, e-readers, and tablets to be used to teach small classes on how to use each device, or how to use library services like Mango, Library2Go, and databases like LearningExpress and Flipster. Patrons could also practice downloading and reading items, navigating the library website, and using services while on the bus.

The intended goals of the service are as follows: 

  1. To meet the mission of the library: “to connect everyone to information, ideas, and each other
  2. To improve library service and the range through which patrons can access that service through direct connection with library staff and emerging technologies 
  3. To instill community awareness about the digital offerings of the library 
  4. To instill confidence in community members about using that technology, resulting in their continued desire to learn 
  5. To make bring library workers outside the library to meet community members who may not be regulars 
  6. To create a participatory culture within the community and through the library 

Benefits 

The benefits of participatory service are many, as discussed by several experts in the field of librarianship. For instance, participatory service breaks down barriers, according to Professor Michael Stevens. (Stevens 2016 pp 80). It also inevitably fosters and encourages learning. Lastly, active participation in the library “requires participants who feel welcome, comfortable, and valued” (Stevens 2016 pp 81). If people are able to directly feel a part of the library through active, hands-on learning, they will be more likely to view the library favorably and come again. 

Image result for elderly ipad program

Action Brief Statement 

For Users: To convince the public of Jackson County, Oregon, but especially those with low digital literacy skills, that by using the TechBus they will learn alternative methods to checking out print materials at the library, which will both allow them more access to information and increase their confidence about their ability to utilize digital materials because the small-group setting will make it easy for patrons to engage with the services, which fits in with the library’s vision of creating a place of free lifelong learning.  

For Staff: Convince staff that through teaching tech literacy on the TechBus, they will be helping to fulfil the library’s mission, creating a safe place for patrons not comfortable with technology to ask questions without fear of judgement, and increase awareness of the multitude of digital services provided by the library, many of which go unnoticed by library patrons. Better awareness will create better visibility, and therefore the potential for better funding, for the library. 

Image result for libby
Libby is Overdrive’s mobile app, which allows patrons to download ebooks and audiobooks onto their phone, tablet, or Kindle.

Evidence and Resources to Support Technology/Service (URLs)

Examples of Library Buses: 

Examples of Participatory Service and importance of teaching digital literacy: 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3650931/

https://journals-sagepub-com.libaccess.sjlibrary.org/doi/full/10.1177/0733464815609440

https://er.educause.edu/articles/2018/5/empowerment-experimentation-engagement-embracing-partnership-models-in-libraries

Mission, Guidelines, & Policy

The mission of the TechBus will be to meet the needs of more patrons by teaching them how to access the library’s services remotely. There of course will have to be guidelines and a policy established in order to make the bus accessible and usable for the whole community. Some guidelines and things to consider when creating the policy include accessibility, cost, and library card membership, for example. 

The bus will have to be accessible, especially by the standards of the ALA. For instance, the ALA notes that all patrons should have access to library materials “regardless of origin, age, background, or views,” and “regardless of sex, gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation” “possess a right to privacy and confidentiality in their library use. Libraries should advocate for, educate about, and protect people’s privacy, safeguarding all library use data, including personally identifiable information” (“ALA” n.d.). The bus should also allow for physical accessibility by following ADA standards and being equipped with wheelchair access. 

The expense of the technology will have to be considered, as well as guidelines for what should happen in the event that a computer, e-reader or tablet be damaged during one of the classes or on the bus by a patron. It would probably have to be decided by the manager of the TechBus team, but will probably be on a case by case basis. 

Patrons will need a library account in order to have access to the library’s subscription to Overdrive and Libby; at the very least, a computer card with access to digital items, though getting patrons to have full-service cards will be considered a mission by staff. 

Funding Considerations 

Obviously, neither the upkeep of a bus nor the inclusion of various tech devices are inexpensive, and the combination of both will be quite pricey. Included in the consideration of cost is the salary for either two full-time staff or several (4-5) part-time staff. Since the TechBus is based off of the Marin County Free Library’s Learning Bus, and that bus cost $300,000 dollars (similarly, MCFC’s bus is equipped with high end tech equipment like computers and has internet access, so the costs should be about equivalent). The library system already has extensive access to various databases and of course Overdrive, so luckily there will not be an additional cost there. The cost of staff salaries is a consideration though, so one might put the estimated total cost of the plan at $500,000 to be safe. 

Action Steps and Timeline: 

The timeline for the bus would be one calendar year, starting when the idea has been met with approval. Before the bus could actually be built, the plan would need to be finalized. That means that it would need approval by the Director, and funding would need to be secured. A plan for the number of staff to run the bus as well as their hours and schedules would need to be finalized as well. Perhaps a consultant would be needed to help design the bus for maximum usability.

Once the plan has been approved and funding secured, the building of the bus should be underway. A thirty-foot bus would need to be purchased and customized to meet the needs of the TechBus’s mission. 

By the following quarter, a training plan for staff and a route and schedule for county visitations would need to be formed. By the final quarter, any last-minute details would need to be arranged, and a few weeks of trial runs might need to be initiated. 

Staffing Considerations 

Staff members would ideally have some background in either IT, adult services, or outreach. They would need also to be certified to drive the bus safely around the county, so would need a valid Oregon licence. There would either need to be several part-time staff, or at least two full-time staff for the bus to be able to run on a weekly basis. 

Training for the Service 

Besides being trained to drive the TechBus (they would need to be well-trained in order to maneuver the bus and to keep the people and the tech inside safe), staff would need to be intimately familiar with the various digital offerings and how to navigate those on different devices (the Hoopla, Mango, and Libby apps, databases, downloading ebooks and audiobooks, etc). They would also need to be trained on how to best teach those services to patrons, especially elderly ones whose digital literacy may be low and who may need special accommodations (perhaps they are hard of hearing, for example). They would also need to have a knack for delivering good customer service and being patient teachers.

Image result for learning bus marin

Promotion and Marketing 

The bus could be heavily promoted on the library’s social media pages, and there could be a launch party held at the main library in Medford where community members could take turns seeing inside the bus and getting a tour of the various technology offered inside. There could be a “paint the bus” event, in which children could help paint the outside of the bus. The library system’s marketing department would be put in charge of getting the bus as much community hype as possible, and perhaps it could be driven in various parades around the valley (the Pear Blossom parade in Medford in May; the 4th of July parade in Butte Falls, and the Halloween Parade in Ashland). Flyers would be posted in each branch of the library as well as posted on the rotating event screens at the branches equipped with those, and the outreach department could connect with community centers and retirement homes to advertise the service there and get residents and visitors on the schedule and excited for the service. 

Image result for ashland oregon parade

Evaluation

In order to understand the effectiveness of the TechBus at meeting its intended mission and the mission of the library, the service would need to be evaluated. First, surveys could be given at the end of each class, asking patrons to give feedback and comments about what was helpful or not. Another way to evaluate the service would be to monitor the circulation statistics of downloadable ebooks and audiobooks, and whether there was a significant jump after the launch of the service. It may also be helpful to look at the circ stats of those items at branches in more remote locations in the county that the Tech Bus visits. A quiz could be given to patrons to determine their level of digital literacy at the beginning of the program and again a few weeks in to see whether there was improvement in the patrons’ confidence in using the technology offered. Lastly, it would be wise to count the number of patrons at each TechBus stop and the number of returning patrons, as well as the number of full-service library cards generated as a result of the service. 

In summary 

The TechBus would provide patrons of Jackson County Library Services direct, small-group contact with the various digital services offered by the library through a hands-on, participatory setting. The bus would stop at various locations around the county, targeting those who may have low technological literacy skills, such as at community centers and retirement homes, as well as rural areas where people may have a harder time getting to the library, or where their branch may have very limited hours. The bus would fulfil the mission of the library (connecting people to information and each other) by allowing patrons to engage with technology in a safe and non-judgemental environment. 

Resource List 

ALA Standards and Guidelines (n.d.). American Library Association, retrieved from http://www.ala.org/tools/guidelines/standardsguidelines

Casey, M. (2011). Revisiting participatory service in trying times. Tame the Web, retrieved from https://tametheweb.com/2011/10/20/revisiting-participatory-service-in-trying-times-a-ttw-guest-post-by-michael-casey/

Casey, M. E., & Savastinuk, L. C. (2007). Library 2.0: A guide to participatory library service. Medford, N.J: Information Today. Retrieved from https://287.hyperlib.sjsu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Library2.0Text.pdf

County of Marin—News Releases—Learning Bus (3 Oct. 2019). County of Marin, retrieved from https://www.marincounty.org/main/county-press-releases/press-releases/2019/lib-learningbus-100319

Jackson County Library Services (n.d.). JCLS, retrieved from https://jcls.org/home

Learning Bus (n.d.). Marin County Free Library, retrieved from https://marinlibrary.org/learningbus/

Library Bill of Rights (n.d.). American Library Association, retrieved from http://www.ala.org/advocacy/intfreedom/librarybill

Stevens, M. (2016). In the Heart of Librarianship: Attentive, Positive, and Purposeful Change. Retrieved from https://sjsu-primo.hosted.exlibrisgroup.com/primo-explore/fulldisplay?docid=01CALS_ALMA71382387500002901&context=L&vid=01CALS_SJO&lang=en_US&search_scope=EVERYTHING&adaptor=Local%20Search%20Engine&tab=everything&query=any,contains,in%20the%20heart%20of%20librarianship&offset=0

The Hyperlinked Public Library

Public libraries are beacons of their communities, and it is important that they adapt and change based on the needs (and wants) of their communities. When making my way through the Hyperlinked Public Library mini-module, one thing that really stood out was the focus on people and technology. This makes sense; tons of research presented in the module showed how e-reader use and computer and internet use are up among Americans in general and library users. According to the article “Public Libraries and Technology,” the most popular feature of many public libraries are the public computer terminals and the free wifi provided. The article also mentions the startling statistic that 3 out of every 4 adults who live in households earning less than 30,000 dollars per year use the internet, but only half have access at home. That means that the local library may be the only place available to them where they can access the internet without the expectation of purchasing something (“Public” 2014). This shows the vast importance not only of libraries in general, but of the non-book services that libraries provide.

Anonymous Contributor. (28 May 2018). Sharon McIntosh enjoys using the new computers at Lakeport Library [photograph]. Lakeport, CA: Lake County Record Bee. Retrieved from https://www.record-bee.com/2018/05/28/libraries-receive-new-public-computers/

Another point that really struck me from the reading was the fact that for many people, libraries are associated with major life events ( “New” 2014). This doesn’t mean just childhood nostalgia of libraries, but of current major events: becoming a student, having a child, etc. When these events happen, it often brings people who were not regular library users before the event back into the library. I think that this makes a big case for why Americans in general are library supporters and why (among other reasons) libraries will continue to stick around in the “hyperlinked” age.

Lastly, I found the “Four Spaces” model intriguing, as this is the first I’ve heard of it. While I like how the model is organized, it doesn’t seem entirely groundbreaking—many of the public libraries I’ve visited have at least some of these spaces, or parts of all four. But I do like that this is (hopefully) where libraries are heading, because it combines the different aspects of library missions: community, education, and inspiration, and lays them out in an easy format. I really do think that libraries that aren’t focusing on aspects of the 4 space model need to catch up to it, because libraries are not supposed to be about books necessarily (although of course books and readership are still a driving force of libraries and will continue to be so). They are about people. As Stevens said in the article “Dream. Explore. Experiment,” “If you build for the people, the people will come” (Stevens 2016). All in all, the four model space seems to be a good balance of education and community, which I feel is what libraries ought to be.

Sources:

A new way of looking at public library engagement in America. (18 March 2014). Pew Research Center, retrieved from https://www.pewinternet.org/2014/03/18/a-new-way-of-looking-at-public-library-engagement-in-america/

Public libraries and technology: From “houses of knowledge” to “houses of access.” (9 July 2014). Pew Research Center. Retrieved from https://www.pewinternet.org/2014/07/09/public-libraries-and-technology-from-houses-of-knowledge-to-houses-of-access/

Stevens, M. (24 May 2016). Dream. Explore. Experiment. Library Journal, retrieved from https://www.libraryjournal.com/?detailStory=dream-explore-experiment-office-hours

Module 5: Hyperlinked Communities

This module was interesting because while it obviously focused on technology and what this means for libraries and publishers, there was a human element that can sometimes get ignored when speaking about advancements in technology.

Obviously, the very purpose of libraries revolves around communities. Libraries are touted as community centers where anyone from any walk of life or background can sit and read, or visit with other members of the community whom they may not come into contact with otherwise. In the article “Serving with Love,” ALA president Loida Garcia-Febo points out that community, diversity, and openness should continue to be what we strive for in our library careers (Garcia-Febo 2018). The danger, I think, is when we are so obsessed with technology and being the most connected library we can be that we could become actually less aware of what the people need and want. Will cardholders actually use the app you’re developing? Is it addressing a need? Did the idea originally come from patron complaints? These are questions that the reading addresses.

Michael Stevens adds more questions that librarians ought to be thinking about. For instance, in the “Reaching all Users” section of In the Heart of Librarianship, Stevens asks, “whom do you reach well? Who uses your library passionately? Take care of them and keep them. Who doesn’t use the library? Who in your community could benefit from access, services, assistance? Find them. Go to them, ask them what they want and need” (Stevens 2016 pp 42). Having a successful hyperlinked community means having these questions in the back of one’s mind. How can we make building community in the library easier using technology and the ever-growing means of reaching people virtually?

The article “Convening Community Conversations” I think had the best examples of what a well-oiled hyperlinked community can look like. The article described how a number of libraries across the country are using their spaces as meeting grounds where people from across the political spectrum can convene and engage in a civilized discussion with people whom they disagree with. In the current day and age, algorithms on platforms like Facebook and Twitter make it so that we live in echo chambers where the only opinions we see are those of our friends and opinions with which we already agree. This can make us more hostile when we come across people and opinions we don’t agree with. Meeting people in person for a civil discussion fosters community and understanding in a world of hostility towards outsiders.

All this is to say that we shouldn’t be using technology necessarily as a way to form communities, but simply as a way to enhance their connections. We can use emerging technologies to do outreach and to keep our already loyal patrons, but it’s our patrons who come first. The “hyperlinked” part is secondary.

Sources:

Garcia-Febo, L. (2018). Serving with Love: Embedding Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion in All that We Do. Retrieved from https://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/2018/11/01/serving-with-love/

Stephens, M. T. (2016). The Heart of Librarianship : Attentive, Positive, and Purposeful Change. Chicago: ALA Editions. Retrieved from https://search-ebscohost-com.libaccess.sjlibrary.org/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=1350356&site=ehost-live&scope=site


Palaces for the People: How we can take Carnegie’s vision into the digital age

For this assignment, I chose to read Eric Klinenberg’s book Palaces for the People. The title refers to the term used by Andrew Carnegie when describing his epic philanthropic mission to build libraries across America and even internationally. Klinenberg pays tribute to Carnegie in the book, mentioning that “entrepreneurs have amassed vast fortunes in the new information economy, and yet no one has come close to doing what Carnegie did between 1883 and 1929, when he funded construction of 2,800 lending libraries, 1679 of which are in the United States” (Klinenberg 2018 pp 218). 

Prechtel, B. (2016). Ashland. [Photograph]. Retrieved from http://www.seradesign.com/projects/ashland-public-library/

This is a photo of the library I currently work at. The original Carnegie (shown above) now houses the children’s department. The rest of the library was built on behind it as an addition.

The reason Klinenberg chose the title is because the book carefully underlines the link between social infrastructure and the quality of human life, civic life, and even environmental health. He coined “social infrastructure” to describe “the physical places and organizations that shape the way people interact” (Klinenberg 2018 pp. 5).  Throughout the book, he basically states that towns or places that have excellent public spaces where people can gather, socialize, and simply be with other people—both like themselves and foreign to their usual circles—consequently have less crime, better health, and all around better civic engagement. He uses a variety of examples based both on personal experiences and on sociological studies to make his point. 

For example, the book begins with an overview of the Chicago Heat Wave of 1995. Temperatures reached 126 degrees and people began to die—mostly those who were elderly and isolated, without social connections or places to go to stay cool. He then gives an example of a library in New York City which hosts various programs for the elderly which are very popular, because the programs provide a safe space for people who would otherwise be stuck isolated in their homes can socialize with others who share their lifestyles. Public spaces also lower crime, because they create communities, and communities tend to look out for each other better, according to Klinenberg (Klinenberg 2018). 

Although heavily referenced in the book, libraries are not the only sources of social infrastructure that Klienenburg advocates for. He also cites sports parks, regular city parks, churches, and even spaces meant to ward off climate change like Benthemplein in the Netherlands as spaces that, which by their very existence, can create vibrant, and therefore safer, communities all around (Klinenberg 2018). 

The sports park in my hometown was once an empty field. It now features several soccer fields and baseball diamonds and hosts many school teams, sports leagues, and tournaments.

This book aligns with the course content in a number of ways, even though the book isn’t strictly about libraries the whole way through. The book is really about how public spaces act as places that create community. And the readings have again and again pointed to how important community is. In fact, the main mission of libraries tends to be connecting the community to information. In his book, Kleinenberg mentions how libraries and churches act as the refuge for people seeking shelter or information during natural disasters, such as hurricanes Harvey and Sandy. Similarly, the course readings so far have delved into how libraries can foster communities even outside the walls of the building. 

Professor Stevens’ chapter “The Hyperlinked Librarian” in the book In the Heart of Librarianship summed it up best when he said “the library is everywhere—it is not just the building or [even its] virtual spaces” (Stevens 2018 pp 2). The idea of “the hyperlinked librarian” is that we must understand that fewer people are using print materials, so if we want to reach a bigger selection of the community than the regulars who come through the doors, we have to leave the library. We have to create virtual social infrastructure. In the same vein, the article “People and UTS Library” has a subsection called “Community & Connections: People Count.” I think “people count” is an understatement; people are the  only reason that libraries exist, as well as the heart and purpose of libraries. It goes on to mention that we have to engage with the community, often through a better use of blogs, social media, and other e-content. “Some of us are still too slack in getting out and establishing genuine links,” the article notes (Booth 2013 pp 9). I think Klinenberg would agree that a library that isn’t establishing a strong community presence is failing at the enormously important task of proving community infrastructure.

So what does this mean for libraries? Clearly we are more than the “book warehouses” that come to so many people’s minds when the picture a public library. We are the anchors in communities. We’re the town living room. We’re the place where people can gather to learn, play, and make connections they may not otherwise be exposed to. It’s crucial that we market ourselves as such.

Sources: 

Klienenberg, E. (2018). Palaces for the People: How Social Infrastructure Can Help Fight Inequity, Polarization, and the Decline of Civic Life. New York, NY: Crown Publishing Group. 

Stevens, M. (2016). The Hyperlinked Librarian. In In the Heart of Librarianship: Attentive, Positive, and Purposeful Change. Retrieved from https://web-b-ebscohost-com.libaccess.sjlibrary.org/ehost/ebookviewer/ebook/bmxlYmtfXzEzNTAzNTZfX0FO0?sid=c1444992-484f-44e7-bddf-ed470073cacb@pdc-v-sessmgr01&vid=0&format=EB&rid=1

Booth, M. (2013). People and UTS Library. Retrieved from https://287.hyperlib.sjsu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Booth_PeopleUTSLibrary.pdf

Reflection on Foundational Readings

I found the readings for weeks two and three to be for the most part really engaging and inspiring. It is so neat to see what libraries are doing to break the mold of librarianship and reach out to patrons and community members in creative ways using the web and emerging technologies. 

I think there was a single resounding message that tied each of the readings together. Basically, that the purpose of libraries is to connect people with information in the easiest way to the people. In other words, if the easiest way to link patrons with the information they seek is through a hyperlinked model, then it’s the job of librarians to adapt and learn how to use emerging technologies, not hold on to outdated systems for tradition’s sake. 

For instance, the Redesigning Library Services reading mentioned that one should ponder where library service would be without the online catalog. By embracing computerization, libraries were able to expedite greatly service to patrons who are looking for information, even if the initial change must have seemed like an impossible task to some librarians at the time. This is just one of myriad examples provided in the reading of how embracing emerging technologies can end up greatly improving the ways in which librarianship is done, which can in turn help to ensure the continuing usefulness and existence of libraries.

Another example was in the Electronic Library reading. This reading was great because again, it shows the power of libraries in the digital age. For instance, when documents are online, many people can be using the document as a source at the same time, and can often access these sources remotely, something that would have been unheard of just a few decades ago. Other advantages include basically limitless storage, and that they can be very easily copied and distributed (although there are of course copyright laws that may make distribution a bit of a headache). The article also mentioned the power of the online catalog, and how specifically in electronic libraries you can search for a document and have it nearly instantly. Since the mission of libraries is connecting information to patrons, this instant service is invaluable. Despite this though, I liked that the article mentioned the merits of paper materials as well, stating that “paper documents are unlikely to disappear and it is undesirable that they should.”

In the article “Do We Need Libraries?” the need for a change of management mindset in the computer age was outlined. If upper management is stuck in the past, then fresh ideas that start closer to the bottom of the hierarchy will be squelched, change will stagnate, and libraries will be at risk of losing touch with the community. The article mentioned that managers must stop being “controllers” and start being “enablers” (Denning 2015).

Again, while each of the foundational readings made slightly different points about the future of libraries, a consistent thread seems to be that change must constantly be embraced, new technologies tried and implemented, and the user experience be put first and foremost.

Introduction Post

Hi everyone! I’m still trying to figure out how to navigate around our class site. I’m stoked to be learning to do it though; my lack of tech savvy is partially why I took this class!

I am currently living in Southern Oregon, which is where I was raised. I went to college at Oregon State University in Corvallis from 2013-2017, where I graduated with my BA in English. From June ’17 to October ’18 I lived in Marin County, CA, and then moved to Corpus Christi for a few months before coming full circle and settling back in Southern Oregon. I work at the circulation desk in a public branch library, which I really enjoy, and also just started a part-time gig as the morning librarian at a small private high school, which I’m excited about! As far as long-term goals go, I’m hoping to get to work with teenagers, either as a YA librarian at a public library or as a school librarian.

In my spare time I like to hike the many trails Oregon has to offer, hang out in the rivers in the summer, ski in the winter, paint watercolors and of course read.

I’m excited to meet everyone as we progress in the class! Good luck and see you soon!