Learning at the Library as a Community

Oak Park PL Idea Box

As we have waxed on in this course about how  technology has allowed for information retrieval to happen anytime and anywhere, this module really drives home the fact that learning now takes on any form. At the library, this is where we can shine.

We have to support learning and users curiosity, and it was great to see examples of how other libraries are doing so. From butchering demonstrations to “adulting 101” classes, learning is happening at the community level at places that were deemed and doomed as “book warehouses”. 

Greenwalt’s article on participatory learning at libraries, where services are vehicles for libraries and patrons that take us to larger endeavors for the community. His example is one library’s “Idea Box”. Oak Park Public Library’s Idea Box is designed to draw patrons into an interactive space where one day it serves a purpose, and another day it is full of post-it notes full of exchanges between patrons. This library took this opportunity of a small room that could have been used for collections, but instead it was utilized into a hyperlocal, hyperlinked community idea space. 

In this case, this idea succeeded, creating a new idea for what libraries can do. Some ideas take long periods to become successful, but Greenwalt showed how the Idea Box demonstrates the idea that both learning can happen anywhere, and that participatory service can be something as ingenious and simple as a blank room as community canvas.

Get Your Haircut at OPPL’s Idea Box

Greenwalt, R. T. (2013). Embracing the long game. Public Libraries Online. Retrieved from http://publiclibrariesonline.org/2013/02/embracing/

Mobile Devices and the HLL

What mobile devices mean for the Hyperlinked Library

For this question, I looked to “Serving the User When and Where They Are: Hyperlinked Libraries”  from Michael Stephens. With mobile devices transforming information, making it no longer bound to a form or space, libraries need to reshape their brick-and-mortar modes of information sharing, collaborating, and reflecting. How does the hyperlinked librarian do this?  Perhaps by sharing information about current library plans and soliciting feedback on social networks, publishing updates, calling for community input, and beta testing of new services delivered to the devices of users for transparent, anytime accessible information. I am not surprised that most non-white young Americans rely on their mobile devices as their primary device for accessing online content. Since that is the case, library collections need to be where the users are exploring… their smartphones! 

How does the HLL move forward in an anytime, anywhere information age? 

    David Weinberger’s “Let the Future Go” laments that libraries are barely visible on the web, with sites like Amazon or Google providing more accessible information in the “web knowledge ecosystem”. Weinberger believes that the HLL can move forward with the future by making libraries interoperable with the web. What does that entail? One example was making clouds of linked data available so people could pull together data from across domains. Another example was creating a library graph, so users could receive strong, connected information, like a giant web of related/linked information. Libraries must allow users to shape their place in the future, by being more participatory and accessible on the web, especially via mobile devices. 

Stephens, M. (2015).Serving users when and where they are: Hyperlinked Libraries.
Weinberger, D. (2014). Let the future go.The Digital Shift.

Emerging Technologies Planning Assignment: Introducing Abriendo Puertas/Opening Doors at a Medium-Sized Public Library

Goals/Objectives for Technology or Service:

I decided to explore how to assist parents in building strong foundations for their children in reading, math, technology, health and more.There continues to be a need in libraries, and in this case public libraries, to interface with our community and to promote family literacy. That is why I chose to explore Abriendo Puertas/ Open Doors, a program that promotes family literacy and health, which then allows for the community to come together to learn in a warm and casual setting. I want to explore how to create a personalized experience and foster “socially engaged learning” (Basgen & Testori, 2016). By participating in this family literacy program, the library would be expressing the ideal of “participatory service” that we have come to know so well in this course (Casey & Savastinuk, 2007).The idea of family literacy services through this particular program is a promising model.This program encourages patron engagement, and may also contribute to the library’s larger goals of outreach, community engagement, and literacy for all community members. 

 Description of Community you wish to engage:

I wish to engage patrons (specifically parents of young children who wish to practice their English) at a local middle-sized public library in a largely Spanish-speaking community. 

Action Brief Statement:

For Patrons (Parents): I plan to convince library users of the Monrovia Public library  that by building strong foundations for their children they will be their child’s first and most influential teacher, which will build strong foundations for their children in reading, math, technology, health and more; We would like to see an increase of participation by parents to effectively change their community and to best prepare their children for lifelong, independent learning. 

For Library Administrators: I plan to convince library administrators that by adopting Abriendo Puertas/Opening Doors, they will improve engagement between the library and community members, which will demonstrate the importance of the library to library administrators because it will showcase how essential library services (especially literacy services) are to community members’ literacy, health, and independence. 

Evidence and Resources to support the Service:

Previous Facilitators’ Experiences:

Supporting Articles:

  • López, M. L., Barrueco, S., & Miles, J. (2006). Latino infants and their families: A national perspective of protective and risk developmental factors. National Task Force on Early Childhood Education for Hispanics and the Foundation for Child Development.
  • Mather, M., & Foxen, P. (2010). America’s future: Latino child well-being in numbers and trends. Washington, DC: National Council of La Raza.
  • Nepomnyaschy, L. (2007). Socioeconomic gradients in birth outcomes across race, ethnicity, and nativity. National Institutes of Health and National Center for Education Statistics conference on ECLS-B studies, Bethesda, MD.
  • Reardon, S. F., & Galindo, C. (2009). The Hispanic-White achievement gap in math and reading in the elementary grades. American Educational Research Journal, 46, 853–891.

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

AP/OD will have to adhere to standing MPL policies in regards to conduct and must remain in line with the Library’s mission As for policies and guidelines that will be unique to this program, AP/OD is a “program-in-a-box” that helps public libraries create safe, welcoming learning opportunities nationwide. In that respect, we are fortunate to have an archive and resource to turn to when deciding how to approach recruitment, marketing, scope,and so on. AP/OD and it’s website are great tools for this, and we can also contact featured libraries that have held this program in the past. All new policies will be subject to our normal policy review via Monrovia Public Library and management, and escalated to the senior librarians and/or library board if needed.

Funding Considerations for this Technology or Service: 

The library may consider purchasing the 3-Day Program Acquisition Institute, where one librarian (for $2,000) will learn how to provide the curriculum directly to parents/families with children ages 0-5. The goal is for all participants in the AP/OD Training Institute to strengthen their skills to work with families and be prepared and motivated to implement the AP/OD program in their local communities. It would benefit not only this service, but the system as a whole. If the purchasing of Institute attendance fees isn’t feasible, the library may cooperate with other librarians who have attended the training. Other costs incurred would be the purchase of supplemental materials provided on AP/ODs website, such as polo shirts for facilitators, a custom picado banner to enliven drab library conference rooms, and healthy breakfast snacks and coffee for participants (healthy bodies/healthy minds is one of the basic tenets of the program). If the library considers partnerships with other non-profits and community organizations, donations of all required program materials would be very feasible through the successful Literacy Program fundraising events . 

Action Steps & Timeline: 

The library director and senior librarians will presumably need to approve this project. If AP/OD is not approved, then the proposal can be revised to train a fewer number of librarians literacy tutor volunteers (say one full-time librarian and two volunteer tutors) to provide instruction and facilitation for the three hours/week of the ten sessions. Another option is to first pilot AP/OD with a small group of patrons as participants to gather feedback about its success before moving on to the next steps and fuller participation with the community. Assuming the extended participation is approved in the near future, the timeline below would put the library on track to implement AP/OD once a librarian finishes the Institute training. This would leave about nine weeks for preparation and then an entire session with more patron participants from the community. 

Staffing Considerations for this Technology or Service: 

  •  Recruit literacy center volunteer tutors to volunteer 3 hours a week for the 8-week duration 
  • Promote it as a professional development opportunity for library clerks who may be enrolled in an MLIS program. (“Learning Hour”)
  • Ask any Spanish-speaking staff to come in for an hour of the session to help facilitate four hours a week, ideally.
  • This is a project that would involve shifting hours in a new direction, taking up an ideal of 4 hours per week. Staff involved would attend a weekly one-hour meeting in preparation for hosting AP/OD. The ideal for this program would be to involve one full-time literacy coordinator and two or three volunteer literacy tutors. This would allow for reduced staff hours and provides a great opportunity for volunteers.The full-time staff member would be facilitating for most of the program. Volunteer tutors could attend meetings and rotate which weekly session to actively participate in. 

Training for this Technology or Service:  

  The library associate/librarian can attend  a three-day AP/OD Institute and work with Master Trainers to learn the curriculum. Ideally, this training would be completed within a weeks time. Each of the literacy volunteers could learn popular education facilitation skills from the programs included materials at the weekly 1-hr meetings held before each of the ten sessions. The volunteer tutors would also be trained on how to properly and efficiently assess the sessions on what can be changed and improved for the particular session at hand. 

 Promotion & Marketing for this Technology or Service

Step one for promotion and marketing for AP/OD particiator/parents is through the Library’s social media (Facebook, Instagram, and the Literacy Center blog). It will also be important to post signage at and near the Youth Reference Desk, Circulation Desk, Adult Reference Desk, and at the Literacy Center entrance. Another way to promote and market is through word-of-mouth engagement with patrons before and after the weekly bilingual storytime, and during the mobile van school visits. In addition, it is very helpful to promote the program among faculty members (especially customer service clerks and Youth Librarians) so that they can direct more of their patrons to the reference desk for information on the program. One last suggestion, albeit a far-fetched one), is to promote the program to parents at the local Adult School who may be bilingual in Spanish and wish to practice their English in a safe and comfortable setting. 



The success of the AP/OD Family Literacy program will be measured by the number of attendants per week, number of returning attendants, and attendant feedback upon their “graduation” from the 10-session course. One could look at the response on the Library’s social media, such as comments, likes, and resharing of the post. 

If the initial implementation of AP/OD is successful, it is possible to expand by bringing on more volunteer tutors or library employees currently enrolled in an MLIS program for their own professional development. 

Additionally, many facilitators teach the curriculum for several cycles, some for years. AP/OD National offers technical support and ongoing learning opportunities, and AP/OD’s pre- and post-program impact tool allows facilitators to consistently report results to library administrators. 


Basgen, B. & Testori, P. (2016). Socially engaged learning. Educause Review. Retrieved from https://er.educause.edu/articles/2016/3/socially-engaged-learning

Casey, M. E., & Savastinuk, L. C. (2007). Library 2.0: A guide to participatory library service.Medford, N.J: Information Today

Gutierrez, S. (2018, October). Abriendo puertas/opening doors. Retrieved from https://ap-od.org/home/

Library Innovation On A Budget

For this module I wanted to reflect on how to plan for a participatory, 2.0 library. I started with Michael Stephen’s question of how to plan for this shiny new world. Stephens warns that new technologies will not save your library, advising to create timelines, to audit, to include user feedback, and to avoid overthinking any preparations when rolling out new technologies at your library.

A perfect example of what not to do according to Stephens is the Los Angeles Unified 2013 IPad fiasco; the plan was to quickly deliver iPads to every student and teacher in the nation’s second-largest district. This had cost the district about $1 billion! Was there a return on investment? No; students “were found to be far more likely to use their devices to listen to music, play games, or use social media (32 percent of observed classrooms) than write a paper (20 percent), conduct a math or science simulation (8 percent), read (7 percent) or analyze data and information (6 percent)”(Harold 2015).

           This is where Gary Green’s argument that “a large budget isn’t always needed to develop original ideas using technology” (Green 2012). A strong example of how innovation can be achieved on a limited budget comes from the University of Utrecht. Their Twitter library catalog search works like this; a Twitter bot runs a search on the library’s catalogue whenever anyone sends their Twitterbot’s account a tweet with #search. The twitter bot replies to the sender with an @ mention and a link to the catalogue search results (Green 2012).

So, future and current librarians; meaningful, practical innovation can be achieved on a budget!

Green, G. (2012). The innovative use of technology in libraries.

Herold, B. (2015). L.A. iPad program an ongoing mess, evaluators find.

Stephens, M. (2008). Taming technolust: Ten steps for planning in a 2.0 world.

Module 6 Hyperlinked Environments: Museums and Libraries as Participatory Spaces

This week, I wanted to explore the intersection of museums and libraries. As an anthropology undergraduate, I had assumed I would lead a career in the museum world. Here I am today, an associate librarian at a middle-sized public library. Things worked out differently than I had expected (as life does), but there is much overlap and commonality between museums and libraries- they are both cultural institutions that have access to knowledge as their mission. 

    That being said, I first took a look at museum director Nina Simon’s Participatory Museum. Simon discussed the “community as co-creator”, rethinking the museum from a place of ‘capital ‘C’ Culture” to a place where “people from different walks of life… are brought together through a cultural experience (Simon 2010). Simon drives three main points; 

  • the idea of the audience-centered institution that is as relevant, useful, and accessible as a shopping mall or train station
  • the idea that visitors construct their own meaning from cultural experiences, and 
  • the idea that users’ voices can inform and invigorate both project design and public-facing programs (Simon 2010). 

Simon asks us to rethink how museums’- and in our case libraries’, environments can better serve patrons. We need more participatory resources and spaces. 

  A perfect example today is the Delta Blues Museum in Clarksdale, Mississippi. What began as an exhibit at a local library has turned into a world famous cultural destination that primarily serves and educates musicians and blues enthusiasts while driving the local economy (Norton and Dowdall 2016). Museums and libraries are co-creators of positive change in their communities


Norton, M. H., & Dowdall, E. (2016). Strengthening Networks, Sparking Change: Museums and Libraries as Community Catalysts. Institute of Museum and Library Services.
Simon, N. (2010). The participatory museum. California: Museum 2.0.

Module 5- Engaging Hyperlinked Communities


This module reflects on how we can engage hyperlinked communities of all kinds. This is a big picture approach to library services, and has potentially huge impacts on where we will take libraries into the next century. 

What might change? First we have to discuss what has to change. Dana Boyd asks us what kind of a world have we already built, and where work needs to be done with these new internet tools, such as social media and online marketing. Boyd asks us to “start paying attention to the different tools that are emerging and learn to frame hard questions about how they should be put to use to improve the lives of everyday people.” Today, our technology serves as a mirror of our society rather than a utopian version we original developers had dreamed of, where “our cultural prejudices are deeply embedded in countless datasets, the very datasets that our systems are trained to learn on”. 

Boyd’s example of Facebook as a “digital white flight” serves as a perfect example of class differences within technology, where the decline of MySpace was deemed a “ghetto” website versus Facebook emerging as a more “cultured”  website. Boyd also warns us of the digital divide, where those with access to technologies have more means of attaining housing and jobs, as these modes of applications are online and assumes the person applying can navigate these online applications. Boyd warns us that if  “unchecked, new tools are almost always empowering to the privileged at the expense of those who are not”.

Michael Stephens’ Libraries in Balance takes this further, asking how to balance emerging technologies while meeting the basic needs of library users. The two are not in polarity- libraries can serve the vulnerable while embracing emerging technologies. In fact, a “majority of individuals believe that library services should include learning opportunities related to computers, smartphones, 3-D printers, and apps as well as the more general ‘help people upgrade their skills’” . They are necessities and act as in inclusionary way to adapt and respond to local communities. Libraries are a reflection of our societies, in miniature. 

It is time we engage our communities with these emerging technologies and engage with one another; whether that be a knitting club, acting as a beacon during snowstorms, or conducting small business development workshops. 

Works Cited

Boyd, D. (2016, October 21). What World Are We Building? Retrieved from 


Stephens, M. (2017, April 20). Libraries in Balance: Office Hours. Retrieved from 


Gleick’s “The Information” and Participatory Libraries

HG Wells, 1940.
Early form of telegraphy; invented in the 1790s by Frenchman Claude Chappe – a system of wooden shutters on a tower, which could show 63 different signals.

Gleick’s “The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood” (2012) covers five millennia of humanity’s engagement with information with portraits of key figures’ contribution to the development of a modern understanding of information. The author whisks us from European explorers’ fascination with African talking drums as communication forms to nineteenth century telegraphs to the digital nature of information we now know as bits.

How does Gleick align with the course content? Gleick argues that communities form around information and knowledge sharing and creation, where such information communities can emerge and function without geographical boundaries, such as cyberspace. What “makes cyberspace different from all previous information technologies is its intermixing of scales from the largest to the smallest without prejudice, broadcasting to the millions…” (Gleick 2011). Telegraphs crossed geographical boundaries, but they were still tied to specific physical lines which required a middle man to send information in order to share knowledge. The internet, however,  has a broader reach to anyone with access to it. 

Enter our course, where the “evolving Web and related emerging technologies are signifiers of a broader cultural shift: toward an open, collaborative and participatory society. This course examines emerging technologies within a framework of participatory, hyperlinked library service” (Stephens 2019). The Hyperlinked Library embodies Gleick’s argument that information gives birth to human engagement, despite physical boundaries. 

So what can librarians glean from Gleick’s “The Information”? And how might the focus of “The Information” impact library service? Gleick refers to a current “information glut”,  where he pictures humanity wandering the corridors of an imaginary library which has in store every possible book in every language, searching its’ shelves for “lines of meaning among the leagues of cacophony and incoherence” (Gleick 2011). Gleick seems to lament that, “the old ways of organizing knowledge no longer work” (Gleick 2011). The way we store and share information is changing, and library professionals need to address this. 

Gleick contemplates the problem of turning information into useful knowledge, and notes a similar role for blogs and aggregators, Wikipedia, and the “vast, collaborative filter” of our connectivity with the internet. If it comes to this, library and information professionals should step up to the plate by identifying the information worth intaking and sharing with.

We can look at “The Information” as a way to explore what might be coming for libraries within the framework of participatory service (briefly, a culture of participation where the information flow is two-ways) with Gleick’s telling of HG Wells’ “World Brain”. Well’s collection of essays serves as an example of a dreamed community formed around information and knowledge sharing. Wells’ new world of an authoritative, unifying über encyclopedia foreshadowed the worldwide knowledge sharing community we know as  Wikipedia. Here, any individual or group can contribute or access this well of information. 

Michael Casey argues that the “participatory library is open and transparent… [it] engages and queries its entire community and seeks to integrate them into the structure of change”. So how does Gleick help us explore the library’s future in participatory service? It should serve as a reminder that the nature of information and the ways communities share them have always changed, and will always change- and as information professionals we need to equip our libraries for such change.

Gleick, J. (2012) . The information: A history, a theory, a flood. New York, NY: Vintage Books.

Notes on the Foundational Reading

It was enjoyable to see the differences in the writer’s approaches to a changing library landscape. This module’s readings range from the years 1992- 2012- twenty years. In 1992, Buckland asks the reader to expect and plan for a blend of automated and electronic library in the years to come; less locally held physical services and materials combined with traditional catalogs, collections, and buildings, where users can “serve themselves”. Buckland anticipates rapid technological change and how it could affect how the library should provide access to information. 

In 2007, Casey and Savastinuk ask how libraries can remain useful and relevant as they “are no longer the first place many of our current and potential customers look for information”. They discuss the popular concept of Library 2.0; a future library that should empower library users through participatory and user-driven services. Casey and Savastinuk argue that a Library 2.0 would include participatory web (where users play an active role in providing feedback and web content creation) and participatory service (where the flow of information is two-way). The authors argue that libraries can shape the future by providing services that people want now, with an added warning to avoid “technolust” as we reach towards new technologies. 

Fast-forward to today’s age of the start-up, and we have Brian Mathews’ two articles that ask libraries to adopt a more creative culture with a call for more disruptive ideas. He likens libraries to that of a growing organism or biome, where library staff have fluid “roles” as nurturers of a flexible library that can thrive in a complex world. Mathews asks libraries to think as start-ups do; by asking what libraries can create today that will be essential tomorrow. Rather than focusing on sustaining operations and services as they are, we need to “think about cleaner floors”- to shift the entire paradigm of library services. With Mathews, library professionals must act as both nurturers of unique organisms and as venture capitalists who invest in new concepts. 

The tone goes from cautionary to bright-eyed optimism, as the above authors rethink the relevance and function of the library in the twenty-first century. 


Im excited for this course to get rolling!

I chose this course because a trusted coworker recommended it, and I felt the subject at hand is relevant with today’s libraries. I am excited about exploring what other countries are doing in library services and thinking about how we could apply such services at American libraries. My area of interest in the LIS world would have to be public librarianship in general, as I am currently a clerk at a medium-sized public library.

As for myself, I studied cultural anthropology as an undergrad at UCSC but somehow found myself in the world of public libraries. You can find me at any Los Angeles-area estate sale, independent bookstore, my favorite vegan Vietnamese restaurant, or at home cuddling my new kitten with a glass of vermouth on ice at my side.

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