This made me laugh when I saw it in my Instagram feed. Doterra is a high-end essential oil company.
As much as my former pinch-rolled, acid-washed-jeans-tucked-into-my-white-tube-socks, big-haired young-self hates to admit it: We are in an 80s resurgence. All the mom jeans. All the neon. All the eyeglass frames taking up at least half of faces. It has me singing along with Olivia Newton John’s Let’s Get Physical but with a slight tweak of the lyrics. Sing it with me: “Let’s get mooo-bile… mooo-bile, I wanna get mooo-bile. Let’s get mooo-bile. Let me hear your smartphone talk… smartphone talk, let me hear your tablet talk…”
And now this song will be stuck in your head for the next week. You are so welcome.
Stephens (2021) pointed out in our Choose Your Own Adventure module how Pew predicted in 2008 that by last year, the infamous 2020, “the mobile device would be the primary connection tool to the internet for most people in the world” (Mobile Information Environments). According to datareportal.com, as of July 2021, there are “5.27 billion unique mobile phone users” out of roughly 8 billion people around the world and of those, “4.80 billion internet users” with “92.1% of those users accessing the internet via their mobile devices” (https://datareportal.com/global-digital-overview). This means there are so many library outreach and engagement opportunities present in the mobile environment, through a library’s local web presence (read: its website, chat and text reference services and just about everything as the pandemic taught us), and through the conversations happening on social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat and through online programming via YouTube and Facebook. All of these mobile happenings and artifacts can pull users in, connect the community to the library and serve as marketing materials, almost like a portfolio, and eventually even a time capsule. The possibilities seem endless when paired with the creativity and ingenuity of librarians. Check out Helene Blowers’ self-paced online course 23 mobile things for libraries for inspiration.
Reaching out to the community
As Stephens (2021) said of libraries, “the coolest things we have should be the things we put in the palm of people’s hands”, ideally accessed on the devices people already have in their hands, seemingly at all times. Makes sense, right? Until the pandemic made all of the world pivot, it seemed easier said than done to funnel all of the library’s magic into a handheld device. Doing so now is essential to connect patrons to information, ideas and each other.
Stephens (2021) framed his conversation on the mobile information environment with these questions: “How can the library always be within reach? How can librarians always be within reach?” (Mobile Information Environments). Taking advantage of the mobility of mobile devices is one of the surest ways. It has the potential to make libraries, and librarians, transportable (and of course, as always, transformative), through devices, across the internet and directly, literally and figuratively, into their patron’s community. I love this idea of “structured wandering into the deep recesses of customer space and activity” (Pace & Casey, 2018, p. 34). To do so at this point feels organic and seamless. Casey and Stephens (2020) pointed out that “the infrastructure is now in place and we should use it to reach deeper into the daily life of our community” (Staying Connected, para 1). Build it and they will come! Maybe it should be: Go there, and they will show up. A library’s staff has to be willing to dive deep, sometimes beyond the comfort zone of the library’s four walls and way beyond the reference desk. Pace and Casey (2018) acknowledged that staff buy-in and willingness is key: “Creating a truly community-oriented library requires a community where librarians are partners and players in a multitude of organizations and efforts” (p. 33). It is the librarians that will be building the scaffold of outreach and connectedness. It is the librarians who will use the mobile information environments to create hyperlinked communities and hyperlinked environments as needed. And they are needed: Inside the library, outside the library, in physical neighborhoods, in virtual spaces. It is librarians who will make the library mobile.
Listen: change is constant
Pace and Casey (2018) pointed out that when their library system was undergoing a massive technological upgrade to modernize their facilities and respond to changing community needs, “the biggest change was carried by the library staff. … Communication, and especially, listening, was the key” (p. 33).
I am curious about how we can leverage the mobile information environment to really listen, to take the temperature of the community in a spontaneous and ongoing way. Sure there is the dialogue via social media, and all libraries need to devote the necessary capital and time to make those conversations points thrive, but what if libraries got physical with their environmental scan? I am thinking about a tablet-like wall in the library lobby or on a wall of a bus stop shelter or as a virtual bulletin board at the local grocery store. I envision that these survey walls will, in real time, collate the data gleaned from captured input. I imagine these survey walls will update and shift, update and shift, posing different questions at different times of day: 9-10 AM for parents of school-aged children, midday for seniors, after school for teens, evenings for the 20- and 30-somethings. What if the library partnered with local PR or tech firms to sponsor the creation of these living surveys? Or what if tablet-toting librarians, our community’s empowering change agents, hit the streets, the retail centers, and the community events with one simple question for passersby: How could the library to change to better serve you?
Make way for grief
Change. It’s the buzzword of life, the only constant. In his Sunday talk during our class chat, Michael Casey touched on something that I think is vital in our changed post-pandemic world where we have all been washed away in a river of loss and grief. With change comes mourning. No matter how big or small the change. That grief needs to be acknowledge (Harvard Business Review unpacks our pandemic grief here). Libraries have the potential to make space for grief and mourning, especially as part of a live, continual survey by saying “we see your loss”. Instead of “Tell Us What Makes You Happy at the Library” (Stephens, 2016), maybe the virtual tablet wall can solicit “Tell Us What You Miss”. Or maybe a local mental health professional partner can design a workshop around grief and loss in our community (while at the same time promoting mental health and service information) through the library’s channels, in person or online. And perhaps, from the mourning can come transformation and imagination, that can be ignited by the community conversation in virtual (or hybrid) town halls and in these living serendipitous surveys.
I am confident we can find a way to give space to grief while embracing change. And perhaps we can learn to tip the scale from change anxiety to change excitement. Librarians can lead the way by reaching out and into our communities, in person or virtually. To unleash the potential of community connectivity and community conversation facilitated by mobile information environments, librarians will just have to get physical, or, at the very least, mobile.
Casey, M. & Stephens, M. (2020). Getting Personal. Information Today, Inc. https://www.infotoday.com/OnlineSearcher/Articles/The-Searchers-Viewpoint/Getting-Personal-Meeting-Your-Community-141782.shtml
Pace, C. & Casey, M. (2018). Innovation Revolution at Gwinnett County Library. Public Libraries, 57(3). https://drive.google.com/file/d/1P29op_Sm6CK-CelUrsTZsfhQ8aRESwWZ/view
Stephens, M. (2021). Mobile Information Environments [Lecture]. https://287.hyperlib.sjsu.edu/course-modules/mobile-information-environments/
Stephens, M. (2016). A Visit to Gwinnett County Libraries [Lecture]. https://287.hyperlib.sjsu.edu/blog/gwinnett-county-public-libraries-visit/#comment-1919
I’ve been in this program long enough to have both a first and second edition of Dr. Sandra Hirsch’s Information Services Today. My reading for this week’s CYOA Module 6 led me to revisit @michael’s chapters in both books. The reading in the Mobile Information Environments is on the left, Chapter 18 of Information Today published in 2015 and a significant revision of the same chapter is on the right, Chapter 17 published in 2018. It was so interesting to compare the differences between them and it just goes to show how fluid our information landscape is these days. Both are full of @michael gems. My favorite is from the Chapter 17 version: “The library is everywhere–it is not just the building or virtual spaces” (p. 213). #truth
Former ALA President, Loida Garcia-Febo (2018), tugged at my heartstrings with this statement in the American Libraries Magazine article, “Serving with Love”: “Service steeped in humanism, compassion and understanding should be the cornerstone of what we do, and why we do it, for all members of our communities, including the underserved” (para 5). This is such a beautiful, noble intention with which to approach the work of librarianship. Now, more than ever, our librarianship in the Information Age and in the Attention Economy needs to focus on our shared humanity.
Think about it: Web 2.0 and Library 2.0 are about what us humans are doing with and through technology to, ultimately, connect to each other. Web 2.0 brought hyperlinks–the connection between information as a dialogue between users–to the mainstream consciousness. Library 2.0–with the embracing of technology’s tools alongside user input to move the work of librarianship forward–gave rise to the concept of the hyperlinked library. As Michael Stephens (2021) has reminded us: “hyperlinks are people, too” (Hyperlinked Communities lecture). “It’s about engagement,” Stephens lectured, “how we share with each other and connect with each other” (Hyperlinked Communities lecture). Our hyperlinked libraries are the heart of their communities, connecting us to information, ideas and each other.
I like the idea of taking the connected conversations of Web 2.0 and combining that with the community of Library 2.0 to drop the idea of hyperlinked communities directly into our humanness–our, as Glennon Doyle calls it, “brutiful” (brutal and beautiful) experience of being a complicated human. Stephens (2021) offered Peter Block’s definition of communities as “human systems given form by conversations that build relatedness” (Hyperlinked Communities lecture). Hyperlinked communities, therefore, are complicated brutiful humans in complex and extraordinary human systems with the ability to accomplish just about anything together.
There is something about the word and the concept of community that makes me feel the tenderness of our shared humanity. I remember first feeling that familiar heart swell toward tears while I was sweating on the risers with my friends during our elementary school chorus performances: The many voices becoming one new voice, the act of participating together to give birth to a new awareness, a new experience, a new thing that transcends individuality. Every Olympics, every concert, every storytime, I well up as the energy of community uplifts my heart. To think of the limitless potential of hyperlinked communities, in-person or virtual, opening up space for humans all around the globe to communicate, connect and accomplish makes me swoon.
Libraries can and do hold this space for these hyperlinked communities. Librarians today facilitate this connectedness with the “compassion and understanding” evoked by Garcia-Febo (2018, para 5). But what of those underserved? Garcia-Febo (2018) asked. Stephens (2021) asked it like this: “How might we engage with communities? Who do you want to reach? Who isn’t being reached? How do we reach them? How do we get them to participate?” (Hyperlinked Communities lecture). And how do we traverse the Digital Divide?
Jessamyn West (2014) talked about how the Digital Divide is creating bigger chasms between those online and those who opt out for whatever reason (affordability, access, know-how, choice and so forth). She wrote, “Serving those who are hardest to serve is part of WHAT WE DO but it’s getting tougher as the less-hardest are finally getting online” (Digital Divide Human & Social section, para 13). She redefined the Digital Divide as more concrete issues centering around usability and empowerment; she calls them the “Usability Divide” and the “Empowerment Divide” (Digital Divide Usability & Empowerment, paras 2 & 3), categorizations that can help reconceptualize outreach efforts that could be more effective at reaching the unreachable.
West (2014) made a point that stopped me and made me rethink the privilege I have to opt out of our hyperlinked world. She wrote: “people need to be realistic that their decision to opt out comes with social costs” in the way of “connectedness” and “civic engagement” (Digital Divide & Libraries, paras 13 & 15). She encouraged librarians to entice those who opt out by positioning activity online as “an interactive tool where we can make ourselves heard, express ourselves and find other people like us”, a place where people learn to “to be citizens, to be interactive, to be part of the information economy, to participating in a democracy” (Digital Divide & Libraries, paras 18 & 16). In other words, our activity in hyperlinked communities is where, as Doyle (2021) has said, we can learn “to human”, to embody, enact and practice what it means to be a complicated human in today’s complex society. This sounds to me like the essence of humanism and I cannot think of a better institution to facilitate this connectivity than the library.
Maybe one answer is to take participatory services out to where those hard to reach citizens reside, to create mobile (in the literal sense) hyperlinked communities: a library in a van with books, laptops and printers, and information literacy tutors or maybe a maker lab; pop-up programs based on areas of interest from a community scan such as true crime book club, quilting bees, square dancing 101 or break dancing for seniors or kawaii club for teens; walkie-talkie reference services; Wifi hot spot weekends… The possibilities are limitless when humans human together with compassion and understanding. Anything is possible when it is our shared humanity that is the link.
Doyle, G. (2021). All the Feels: Can we experience our emotions–not as good or bad–but as information to guide us? We Can Do Hard Things [podcast]. http://wecandohardthingspodcast.com/
Garcia-Febo, L. (2018). Serving with Love. American Libraries Magazine. https://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/2018/11/01/serving-with-love/
Stephens, M. (2021). Hyperlinked Communities [lecture]. https://287.hyperlib.sjsu.edu/module-5-hyperlinked-communities/
West, J. (2014). 21st Century Digital Divide. http://www.librarian.net/talks/rlc14/
Attention, Blueberry University Library students. It has come to our attention that we all need to go on an information diet! Even you! Thanks to this month’s Featured Favorite, Clay Johnson’s 2012 book, The Information Diet: A Case for Conscious Consumption, we now understand that in the Attention Economy what information we pay attention to matters, and our current information diet isn’t all that healthy. Think of all the junk in your inboxes and all the hours you’ve spent lost on Snapchat. Who has time for all of that AND who can resist? Admit it–your information consumption nowadays has you feeling gluttonous. Ours sure does. Good thing Johnson (2012) has the answer and a call to action:
It’s not information overload, it’s information overconsumption that’s the problem. …Information overconsumption means we need to find new ways to be selective about our intake. … We have to start taking responsibility ourselves for the information we consume. That means taking a hard look at how our information is being supplied, how it affects us, and what we can do to reduce its negative effects and enhance its positives ones.(p. 26-27)
In The Information Diet, Johnson (2012) explains how we have moved from a barren information landscape to a verdant one. Because of neuroplasticity, every time we encounter information it changes our brains much like how the food we consume changes our bodies. While once information was hard to find, it is now ubiquitous. Because of this information abundance, we fall into patterns of seeking information that affirms what we already believe, which makes us resist facts to the contrary. These patterns are reinforced by information providers who feed us the information we want because it’s what’s most profitable for them. Johnson defines concepts like “content farming”, “churnalism”, “media miners”, “reality dysmorphia” and “search frenzy” to make the case that “with cheap information all around us, if we don’t consume it responsibly, it could have serious health consequences” (p. 51). Learn more by attending one of the workshops listed below.
In the meantime, look out for signs of “information obesity” (Johnson, 2012, p. 63). They include, but are not limited to:
“Apnea”, or shallow breathing or breath-holding when engaged in information consumption
“Poor sense of time”, such as when you look up from your computer and realize the sun is setting and the whole day passed you by
“Attention fatigue” caused by a constant state of distraction; also presents as loss of short-term memory and short attention span
“Loss of social breadth”, or the homogenization of your social circle
“Distorted sense of reality”
Fanatic “brand loyalty”(Johnson, 2012, pp. 63-69)
Does any of that sound familiar? If you are seeing signs of this deadly 21st Century dis-ease in yourself, a friend or a family member, check out the following recipe and join the BUL staff at the following workshops (GFP: guaranteed free pizza):
We will need your help in creating our Source Grading System, our new Careful Consumption Initiative. Together we will set up a rubric against with we will grade Blueberry University Library’s information sources. Each source will get an A, B or C, like restaurants’ letter grades. By practicing source evaluation in line with Careful Consumption principles, you will help guide future BUL students and faculty toward the healthiest information sources for their brains. Follow us @BlueberryUniversityLibrary on Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat to join the conversation.
I like to say the library connects people to information, ideas and each other. Within those connections, the library lives and breathes, as the pulse of its community. We’ve all heard it (so often it is almost cliche): The library is the heart of its community.
The parallels between Web 2.0 and Library 2.0 are unmistakable. Consider this, written in 1999 by Weinberger about Web 2.0. “What connects you to me to everyone else are web pages and email and chat and discussions. These are all artifacts of human voice. … An economy of voice. The voices are heard in conversation. That’s why the Web has its transforming power. It turns out the fundamental elements of our world have been products of deep conversations all along” (Weinberger, 1999, p. 28). “The Web is the realm of the human voice,” Weinberger wrote, facilitating “new types of connections. The heart flowing to other hearts” (p. 21 & 29).
Replace the word “web” with “library” in the quotes above. Reread it. I’m willing to bet it resonates with the softness in your librarian heart. This was a future Stephens envisioned when he said in 2009: “I imagine the school library, public library and academic library forming a connected web of support and service for learners as they grow. Learning will happen everywhere…” (Continue the Journey section, para 10).
And the stewards of that learning and that connectedness? Weinberger(1999) wrote that “a useful expert is not someone with (containing) all the answers, but someone who knows where to find answers” (p. 10). Although he was talking about hyperlinks in Web 2.0, I can’t help but think of this as a description of librarians in Library 2.0. Isn’t that why we are all here? For the finding, for pointing to those connections? Librarians have always done this finding and pointing artfully in service to their patrons, but in the hyperlinked library, the connecting is the key as libraries nowadays not only serve, but also collaborate with their communities. To connect. To explore. To innovate. Together.
Tomlin, Mathews and Metko (2018) asked (and answered) of the hyperlinked library: “what relationship do we want learners to have with their library? One that is grounded in dynamic, interdependent partnerships. One that propels ideas forward and posits the library not just as a place where learning happens but as an institution that transcends its walls” (para 11).
To which I would like to add: One heart flowing to other hearts.
Here is the original “hard to read” version:
This came from a link in Mattern’s (2014) article “Library of Infrastructure”. I thought I’d share it because the title of my blog (which was also the title of the blog I authored for the Friends of the Pleasant Hill Library for 5 years that went the way of the pandemic to make room for the Friends’ commerce site) is a nod to it.
Hi everyone! I wanted to say hello “in person” above and I thought I’d leave in all my stumbles in an effort to be real and vulnerable and fully human. My official bio is below, shamelessly lifted from the ABOUT page of my personal blog: www.itscomplicatedlife.com.
If I were to subtitle my blog for INFO 287 it would be: Connecting people to information, ideas & each other. I hereby declare that my INFO 287 TAG!
I so look forward to learning FROM and WITH all of you this semester!
Julie McPherson is a writer and editor, who spends her days raising her son, a 6th generation Californian, in the pleasant and hilly Bay Area city, Pleasant Hill. She received her MFA in creative nonfiction writing from Sarah Lawrence College and is currently pursuing her MLIS at San Jose State University’s iSchool. Most recently Julie interned at the San Francisco Public Library’s Jail and Reentry Services Reference by Mail program where she package answers to reference queries into beautiful information artifacts for people who are incarcerated. She also supported the Friends of the Pleasant Hill Library through her writing by infusing her personal narrative with universal truths about the transformative power of libraries in a blog called The Vertical File. An article about her blog can be seen here. Her essay, The Transformative Transforms, was featured as one of the first posts in Real Stories on the ALA’s Libraries Transform website.