Karah's #hyperlinkedlibrary Blog

“Harness the Good” or, I’m Scared, but Will Try to Keep an Open Mind

Posted in Uncategorized by on March 30, 2019
Lately, my four year old loves watching Circle Line Art School on YouTube and drawing houses with the tips he picks up.

In this week’s lecture, Michael concludes by saying, “ If we can harness the power for good of [mobile] to help people learn, I think it’s going to be pretty amazing.”  What does it mean for information services? For libraries?

The first thing that comes to mind, though, as I sit at my kitchen table watching this week’s lecture on Mobile Devices and Connections, is my own young children.  Since my first son was a toddler, I’ve been interested in finding the best games to load onto the iPad and my phone for him to engage with, and since then, I have had a lot of fun seeking out the good stuff that exists out there for little ones on screens.  There is a lot of unease surrounding children and screen time, but our philosophy has been “everything in moderation,” and that has worked out nicely for our family so far. Most recently, my seven year old has been playing with Google Earth daily on our mobile devices, and we have been listening to the Harry Potter series using Libby and Sora. My four year old is loving the YouTube channel Circle Line Art School, and has been drawing constantly and adding to his “gallery” on our front porch. All this to say, we use our mobile screens for good, I believe, for learning. It undoubtedly adds value to our daily lives.

But when it comes to AI, I am much less comfortable.  I think it is because I don’t really understand how or why it can be used for good or for learning.  I have a Google Pixel, but I literally only use the voice assistant to set timers. If I want to know how to bake boneless chicken thighs, I Google it myself because I want to scroll through the results, sifting and sorting the results based on my ever-changing criteria; for example, maybe I want to cook them a little differently than I did last week, or I want to retrieve the recipe from the page my friend sent me, or I want to avoid Alton Brown’s advice (I would never, I’m just using the first name that comes to mind here), or any number of other variables based on how I’m feeling on this particular weekday when I’m trying to make it to bedtime without ending up on the local news.   How could AI possibly work with all that? My kids have no interaction with AI in our home because my husband and I don’t use it.  I have a friend who has both an Alexa and an 18 month old in the house. My friend has never called Alexa by name, and instead set it to respond to “Computer” because she didn’t want her baby to confuse the computer for a person.

I think what concerns both of us as parents (and educators) is what Samantha Murphy points out in “Growing up with Alexa: A child’s relationship with Amazon’s voice assistant,” her September 2018 article for CNN Business, ”It raises profound questions about how children interact with technology, with other people, and how it might shape their interactions and development.”  The obvious task for libraries is to provide information, programming, and services that address these questions. How can libraries best harness the power of AI for learning? Is there AI that can provide greater discovery, access, and delivery of information?  Can we build AI into our makerspace programming?

What I’ve realized in thinking about mobile information environments is it is hard to view them with the eyes of a librarian and not those of a wary parent, educator, and patron.  This will be important to keep in mind in my work.

In other news…

On Friday, a colleague strongly recommended Susan Orlean’s The Library Book, and after hearing about it everywhere, I’ve decided to make it one of my few actual book purchases.  She and I got to talking, and I was telling her about Eric Klinenberg’s Palaces for the People, and then this morning I read this article in The New York Review of Books (thanks, Feedly!) about both books as well as the 2017 documentary Ex Libris, which I have not yet seen.  From the article:

Perhaps the most definitive rebuke to the idea of trading libraries for Amazon and coffee shops comes from a former Starbucks employee whom Klinenberg met at a branch of the New York Public Library, where he is now an “information specialist”: “At Starbucks, and at most businesses, really, the assumption is that you, the customer, are better for having this thing that you purchase. Right?” he said. “At the library, the assumption is you are better. You have it in you already…. The library assumes the best out of people.” What we learn from The Library Book, Ex Libris, and Palaces for the People is that we are all better off, too, when people assume the best out of libraries.

I love this piece (though I am confused about the use of quotes around “information specialist”), and am so looking forward to reading Orlean’s book and watching the documentary to bundle with my reading of Klinenberg’s book earlier this semster. I came away from that reading with a much clearer understanding of myself and my love of libraries; I am excited to build on that knowledge with these texts.

Emerging Technology Plan: Let’s Launch a School Library Instagram

Posted in Uncategorized by on March 24, 2019

Goals/Objectives for our Library Instagram


Students and the wider school community will be able to connect with the school library and engage in conversation, programming, and activities via Instagram (BHS Library).


Though engagement is the primary objective, there are worthwhile pedagogical goals embedded within the plan to use Instagram in the library. The World Economic Forum published a piece outlining “8 Digital Skills We Must Teach Our Children” in 2016. As both a teacher and a parent, this brief article resonated with me and should help guide the goals for this endeavor. Because the effort is collaborative with the librarian acting as coach, students will learn through modeling and practice about each of these skills in ways both explicit and implied. Evaluation of these goals will be included and discussed to establish the extent to which the library Instagram has contributed to the cultivation of these important skills.

The World Economic Forum provides useful articles, charts, and infographics to help stakeholders talk about digital skills. Students collaborating on the library Instagram will practice all of these skills, either explicitly or implicitly. Including skills in the project goals is important, especially for administrators who may be uncomfortable straying from traditional pedagogical practice.
Images retrieved from https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/01/digital-danger-kids-protect-themselves-online/
and https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/09/8-digital-life-skills-all-children-need-and-a-plan-for-teaching-them/

Description of Community to Engage

Students at Bloomfield High School as well as the wider school community (faculty, staff, parents, families, administration, board members, local/regional/global school library communities).

Action Brief Statement

Convince students and the wider school community that by engaging with the school library on Instagram they will connect with and contribute to happenings at the library which will enrich their school library experience because libraries are for and about people.

Evidence and Resources to Support our Library Instagram

https://www.libraryjournal.com/?detailStory=the-hygge-state-of-mind-office-hours (the philosophy behind the decision to start an instagram)
https://aislnews.org/hygge-in-the-library/ (the philosophy behind the decision to start an instagram)

Mission, Guidelines, and Policy Related to our Library Instagram

First and foremost, the mission statement. The library mission will guide the Instagram project, and is adapted and inspired by the building mission:

The Bloomfield Public School district, a culturally diverse system, is committed through cooperative efforts within an educational community to provide an equal opportunity for all learners to achieve individual success and to be prepared to meet the needs of an evolving society.


The building mission paves the way for the library mission:

The library provides equal opportunity through cooperative community efforts to achieve success and prepare to meet the needs of an evolving society.

In short, we are people helping people be successful.

From the readings. What follows may ultimately be too much to include in this plan,but I think it is important to lay out guidelines to work from and help lead us in what is new, uncharted territory for our school library. Particularly, what guides us pedagogically and why? Why and how is a school library Instagram valuable? What does our mission look like in practice? I hope to gather answers and guidance to these questions here:

  • “We should be able to say, ‘We teach, we develop independent learning skills, we inspire, and so much more!’ If we can teach our students about these new things, but they enter a workplace culture that doesn’t support transformation, their skills will go to waste. Thus, librarians should seek to encourage and facilitate learning of all kinds within our spaces.” (Stephens, 2013)
    Turning again to the goals discussed above about eight digital skills, the model of the hyperlinked library speaks directly to the ideas outlined in the World Economic Forum article: “Above all, the acquisition of these abilities should be rooted in desirable human values such as respect, empathy and prudence. These values facilitate the wise and responsible use of technology – an attribute which will mark the future leaders of tomorrow. Indeed, cultivating digital intelligence grounded in human values is essential for our kids to become masters of technology instead of being mastered by it.” (Emphasis mine). When speaking about pedagogical value, these skills should serve to guide the conversation.
  • From Rhea Kelly’s 2016 piece, “9 Ed Tech Trends to Watch in 2016,” four trends–Makerspaces, Accessibility, Mobile First, and Video–are viable in the school library and can be featured, promoted, and grown using Instagram. I included quotes from the article that resonated with me the most and speak most directly to the mission of the project:
    • On Makerspaces
      • “Makerspaces are great for building collaboration and a must for campuses. But, in reality they are an administrative change that results from the convergence and democratization of technology.”
      • “They model a peer-based pedagogy, which is one we’re grappling with as we head away from sage-on-the-stage. Our formal teaching can learn from this relatively informal practice.”
      • “Maker pedagogy also models blended learning, as practitioners rely on digital (often mobile) devices for information and for sharing results.”
      • “Artisans, welders, woodworkers, knitters, tinkerers of all sorts can contribute to the campus environment through a makerspace, improving town-gown relations. Faculty and staff can benefit from these connections as well.” I already have relationships with parents who contribute to the library through volunteering and donations; imagine the possibilities of offering community contributions to the library makerspace in this way! Our library Instagram can harness and grow this possibility.
    • On Accessibility
      • “The challenge in accessibility moving forward is vetting products as we move to a more open learning ecosystem. The questions become: Who’s responsible for accessibility? The vendor who creates the plug-in? An LMS certification process? What if the software is free in the first place? Does the school assume responsibility? As various technologies mature, they will be held to a higher standard of inclusion.” This article is speaking to higher ed, but I think the mere existence of a school library Instagram with shared content creation among students, teachers, and community members opens up the conversation around accessibility in ways that don’t currently exist for us in the school library. For example, we have two smaller, special needs schools that live within our larger high school ecosystem; how will they interact with our school library Instagram community? What do we need to make our library’s virtual as well as physical spaces accessible to all users? (Campus Technology published 8 Ed Tech Trends to Watch in 2019 and included Accessibility again, noting: “As we engaged in compliance with accessibility standards at [our university], we broadened our thinking to include universal design for learning…. We are driven by our mission to seek student success in all activities for all of our students, being inclusive in all our endeavors.” (Italics are mine.)
    • On Mobile First
      • “Mobile devices will continue to impact teaching and learning in multiple ways. First, continued negotiation over the role of mobile devices in classrooms. [This is a daily conversation among my colleagues.] Second, growing use of mobile for off-campus work (home, community involvement, study abroad, research, etc.). Third, possible realization that underserved populations use mobile more than the typical college audience; we could see more mobile-first design to meet that group [My students often at least try to follow along on their phones when they have forgotten to charge or left their school-issued devices at home].”
      • “In focus groups we did with students in early 2015, we heard students ask us why our services aren’t mobile-friendly when everything else is.” Users expect everything to be mobile-friendly. I know I do.
    • On Video
      • “‘Video’ is a misnomer that reinforces traditional beliefs and misses the potential. Video in the classroom is still largely a one-way medium. The group with the knowledge (faculty, institution, etc.) makes a video (or worse yet, ‘captures’ a lecture) and then replays it online. But even at the highest Hollywood production quality, it’s still a ‘sage on the stage’ model. This is not where students are. Students have fluency in Vine, Periscope, Snapchat, etc., and are communicating with video and other forms of media at level far beyond the basic concept of video. It’s interactive. It’s engaging. It’s two-way. When they go into the classroom, whether in-person or online, it seems primitive. It’s like asking faculty to go back to typewriters and Wite-Out.” I worry a bit about pandering to students when we start talking about what we perceive as primitive to them; it is what seems to follow every time we in education try too hard to engage students in using technology. In cases like these, attempts to use video can end up alienating students instead of engaging them. But it is true that more and more, library users are engaged by and involved in content creation involving video; how can our school library Instagram feature, promote, and grow this bit of ed tech?

Funding Considerations for our Library Instagram

Initially, members of the Student Library Advisory will be asked to collaborate with the librarian on this project; interested students will need to contribute their time. As the community grows, we will be on the lookout for additional opportunities for collaboration which may result in in-kind contributions or pro-bono contracts. (I am thinking of community members offering programs and services in the library that can be featured, promoted, and grown using our school Instagram.)

BengalLibrary’s first post! Before going any further, I’ve decided to “Plan to Plan” a bit more and gather more information on posting guidelines , at the risk of “overthinking and dying.” (Stephens, 2008)

Action Steps & Timeline

The Instagram has been created and I have secured one Student Library Advisory student collaborator (yay, Josie!), but I need to write our bio this week. I would like to gather and post training materials over the next week, and begin posting daily, at least, in the next two weeks. Training materials should include content considerations (see “Asking the Right Questions: The User Experience”, collaborative inquiry projects, credit for reading “anything and everything” (Loertscher,2008)) I would like to bring in at least two more student collaborators and have them complete training in the next month to bring the team to a total of four, including me. From there, we will evaluate our reach and make a plan to grow our community. Whether or not students drop out, or otherwise do not contribute regularly, I will continue to look for contributors interested in regular participation. I would like to see increasing participation, collaboration, and engagement between now and June, with a plan in place to keep the profile active through the summer months when school is not in session.

Staffing Considerations

Initially, at least, I will use the existing Student Library Advisory to help build our Instagram. Hopefully, engagement will bring in additional students and community members interested in helping to run the project. Staffing considerations and opportunities for collaboration will be included in promotional efforts.


I will use our existing Student Library Advisory Google Classroom to gather training materials (guidelines on posting, captions, hashtags, filters, etc.) and bring in one or two SLA members to turnkey training to interested parties that come on board. The username and password can be shared with collaborators once they have completed training, perhaps demonstrating competency by posting 3-5 times with guidance from existing collaborators. Training can conducted in person during a student’s lunch, after school, and/or completely online with effective use of our SLA Google Classroom and selection of relevant materials.

I want to make note here of something Michael Stephens says in “Taming Technolust: Ten Steps for Planning in a 2.0 World” because I often feel pulled between his step seven, “Overthink and Die!” and step eight, “Plan to Plan.” Essentially, always be gathering information, but don’t let that stop you from moving forward. When you have gathered enough information to launch the project, launch it. Then manage it by creating timelines and an audit process, and having “effective meetings with action items and follow up.” I shouldn’t be afraid to have meetings as long as they are focused always on planning:

Planning projects focuses creativity. Meandering meetings sap creativity.

(Stephens, 2008)

Have a plan, action items, and evaluation in place. Repeat.

Promotion & Marketing

  • Contests for best posts using our hashtag (#blfdbengals)
  • Be aware of the most popular school library related hashtags and use them to increase engagement.
  • Display on whiteboard projector in library and on screens around the school
  • BengalLibrary is the Instagram username and it is linked to a Twitter profile by the same name. Everything posted to Instagram will also post to the Twitter profile. Create a bio that includes links to all the content creators additional profiles (where appropriate) to increase marketing reach.

Evaluation of our Library Instagram

  • Track “likes” and followers gained; Track comments received; look for average number of comments per post to increase–this indicates a growing community and loyal following. Seek out this feedback, grow the community, and share this information regularly on the ‘gram.
  • Be direct–ask for feedback and share stories and anecdotes; make adjustments based on the feedback.
  • Meet with SGA (Student Government Association) and SLA (Student Library Advisory) to review usage and brainstorm new ideas. Post about this process.
  • Meet with teachers and admin to share and brainstorm. Make connections between school mission and core values and the library Instagram.
  • Instagram Stories are not as easily measurable, so don’t spend too much time on them for now. Focus on building a community first, but look to the future and plan to integrate stories more and more as we grow.


Casden, J., Nutt, M., Lown, C., & Davidson, B. (2013). My #HuntLibrary: Using
Instagram to crowdsource the story of a new library.
Kelly, R. (2019). 8 Ed Tech Trends to Watch in 2019
Kelly, R. (2016). 9 Ed Tech trends to Watch in 2016
Loertscher, D. (2008). Flip this library: School libraries need a revolution.
McDonnell, A. & Mollet, A. (2014). Five ways libraries are using Instagram to share collections and draw public interest.
Park, Y. (2016). 8 digital skills we must teach our children.
Schmidt, A. (2016). Asking the Right Questions.
Stephens, M. (2008). Taming technolust: Ten steps for planning in a 2.0 world.
Stephens, M. (2013). Holding us back. In The Heart of Librarianship, page 9.

Some takeaways from Hyperlinked Environments….

Posted in Uncategorized by on March 13, 2019
I bought Keva Planks for the school library in January, and I’ve been happy to see the students using them regularly.

I first perused the materials for the Hyperlinked School Library with a guiding question in mind:  How can I bring activities and programming to my school library that are useful and valuable to my users?  How do I bring in and promote content that is useful and valuable and builds upon our school’s shared vision?  It’s complicated because what might be valuable to the users may not hold value for the administration, which brings me to the reality of advocacy (the part of my librarianship I struggle with the most). And public education is not known for its clarity of vision. But I think the short answer, at least, is to adopt the building mission–the principal’s vision–and link my efforts to those values:

The Bloomfield Public School district, a culturally diverse system, is committed through cooperative efforts within an educational community to provide an equal opportunity for all learners to achieve individual success and to be prepared to meet the needs of an evolving society.”

I am fortunate because my principal is supportive and is interested in the idea of bringing a maker space to the library.  I have been intrigued but overwhelmed by this prospect, but I think it would be great because it would be useful and valuable as well as provide great opportunity for advocacy.  I post pictures and stories on social media to share what goes on in the library already; images from the makerspace would be great PR. In one of the module articles “The New Black & Veatch MakeSpace at the Johnson County Library”, two librarians who operate a makerspace at the Johnson County library in Kansas give their advice for getting started.  One librarian said he could boil it down to six steps:

1) Track need and interest from the community, 2) Find an internal champion, 3) Make a plan – use the data you collected to articulate your goals, 4) Get funding, 5) Buy Equipment/Software, 6) Launch limited activities and usage.”

I love a simple checklist, but his colleague said she didn’t get up and running the same way and offered this advice:

I tell librarians to start with small programs and get people excited. From excitement and interest, the patrons will lead the way on what kinds of things they’re interested in. It’s all downhill from there. If you are successful, funding will be easy to get and justify. No one cares what people say on paper. They care about how many people show up. Stop talking endlessly about how, and just start doing stuff.”

I make note of both pieces of advice and plan to revisit both as I work towards my own makerspace, but I am particularly struck by that last bit: “Stop talking endlessly about how, and just start doing stuff.”  It’s like she’s speaking directly to me–this is me.  I need to stop talking and thinking and researching and just do it.  I am proud of the use the Keva Planks I purchased are getting, and it makes me very optimistic about the use a makerspace would get, but I just need to take the leap.  I know I get bogged down with that original question about how to make it valuable… I worry it will not look “academic” enough or something.  

Some additional takeaways:  

  • I had the pleasure of taking a class with Dr. Loertscher last spring, and I am super excited to see his work on the LIIIITES Model on this website. There is a wealth of information on the school library here, and I’ve already explored a bit as I’ve been exploring building a website for my school library.  I found an excellent example in the Wilton High School Library Learning Commons and have bookmarked it to use as a guide.  
  • That same high school maintains a Digital Learning website I’d like to explore as well and possibly emulate; unfortunately, as it stands now, it would be miraculous if our school could agree upon and then consolidate resources in a similar way, but it’s worth looking into, at least.
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