Virtual Symposium: 5 in 5

Here is the video I created about five key takeaways I got from this course. I used the TikTok and Clips apps to record and edit my video. Not only is TikTok a very popular app right now, but it also offers a lot of fun and dynamic video creation features! I really enjoyed learning TikTok to create this video and I hope you all enjoy watching!

Here are the script notes I used to narrate this video:

  1. Hyperlinks are not necessarily digital

This is the first thing that I learned in this course. When we began, I associated hyperlinks with the traditional meaning… this little symbol that we use on the internet to jump from one web page to another.

 And this still is part of it… utilizing web technology to improve our library services. However, the Hyperlinks we talk about in the Hyperlinked library are so much more than that. 

These hyperlinks connotate innovation in whatever way possible in order to “link” our communities to our libraries. This can be online or off… what really matters is the emphasis on connection and finding meaningful ways to connect with people that don’t necessarily follow traditional library practices. We can use hyperlinks to bring the people into the library, but we can also create hyperlinks in community site and in the digital realm… however we need to in order to make those connections. 

  1. When we are talking about the digital, we have to think of everyone

Did you know that the FCC reports that over 21 million americans do not have access to the internet? 

In our modern age of technology, it is easy to assume that because so much content has moved to digital platforms, everyone can access it. But, if you don’t even have access to the internet, these digital shifts mean nothing if not inaccessibility. 

So, while it is great for us to work with technologies when improving our library service especially outside of library walls. If we are doing this, we must also be asking… does everyone in our community have basic internet access at home? If the answer is no, this should be one of the first hyperlinks we strive to create if we aim to rely heavily on digital technologies.

  1. Listen to the community

As librarians, it is easy to get caught up in the idea that we are the experts on libraries. But in reality, especially in public libraries, we are nothing without our patrons. 

It is logical then, that rather than thinking “I know bee invite our patrons to give us input at every step of our development. 

How can this look? We can develop a Community leadership council and invite community members to work with us to develop our library services. Even simpler than that, we can produce community surveys, go out into our communities to talk to people, and constantly ask for feedback and recommendations. 

Not only does a high level of community participation give our patrons a greater investment in our libraries, but it also produces services and improvements that are actually what our community wants. Not just what we assume they want.

  1. We are not confined to the library walls

When many hear the word “library” their mind instantly goes to some beautiful, old brick building filled with books… a structure… fixed and unchanging in one specific place.

But we as librarians know that our services are even more than this building. It is important to create this separation and this distinction while also working to expand our library into our communities. 

There are populations that lack access to the library during regular hours or even at all. There are also people that may not be aware of all that the library offers. By venturing out into our community, we can begin to reach these populations and form strong relationships through meaningful service. 

And just like when we talked about hyperlinks, this can be digital or it can be physical. Its all about creativity, innovation, and of course… connection. 

  1. Don’t be afraid of change

There is a reason that we are all taking a course on Hyperlinked library services. This course really makes you acknowledge the fact that the status quo of library services can be improved.

Change is something that should be embraced, celebrated, and explored. 

Director’s Brief: Digital Equity

Image Source: The MIT Technology Review

This brief looks to libraries nationwide, and specifically the Seattle Public Library, to create a mobile hotspot lending and distribution program for the Berkeley Public Library. My proposal suggests that hotspot lending and direct distribution is a key factor in bridging the digital divide and providing internet access to all community members, regardless of their income or housing status.

Learning Everywhere & All the Time

I most resonated with and reflected on Stephens (2020) reference to Thomas & Brown’s statement, “The world is changing faster than ever and our skills have a shorter life.” This has been one of the main threads that runs through many of the modules in this course. However, there is one skill that I believe will have an infinite lifespan: openness to learning. I believe that if we are open to learning new skills and remain proactive in familiarizing ourself with the latest technologies, this learning process will grow easier with time.

I think that at the essence of many of the new technologies, we as librarians are still doing what we have always done– give people access to information and a variety of literacies. The Hyperlinked Library just challenges us redefine what qualifies as “information”, what qualifies as a “literacy” and how we might deliver these things to our patrons.

For example, the Sensory Space at the Marsden Library, extends the realm of learned information to social literacy in which people can develop comfort and skills being around other people through a variety of sensory tools and technologies. I have stated it in many blog posts, but will state it again because I believe it is one of the most essential takeaways from modern library schooling, it is not just about books any longer.

This is not to dishearten anyone who joined the field due to a love of books. Think about what you enjoy about these books– stories, imagery, learning. These are all things that remain essential to great library service. It is just that other things are also now essential. If we look at exemplary modern libraries, we still see all of these elements at work in ways that attract and excite the community.

Furthermore, something that I have noticed in the examples within this module is that we are not starting with a completely blank slate every time. Take, for example, the Story Bar at the Sterling Municipal Library. Seen in our class lecture and described by Robinson (2019), the Story Bar is “a set of multimedia curations, designed by librarians and housed on iPads.” This is an innovative and exciting way to serve our patrons, but at its basis, does it not sound quite similar to a LibGuide? Similarly, we have printers in our libraries that we have learned to utilize, why not also have 3D ones? The Hyperlinked Library gives us the chance to utilize our previous knowledge and skills and strengthen them with the latest technologies, so long as we are open and ready to learn.

This morning, as soon as I got out of bed, I grabbed my cell phone from next to my pillow and went into the kitchen. There, I set my phone down on the counter, made a bagel, and grabbed my phone again to go sit at the table and eat. I do this every day. Normally, I wouldn’t think twice about it, but I knew I was about to begin writing about Mobile Devices and Connections, so the thought was at the forefront of my mind. I really am attached to my cell phone. I’d venture to say a lot of people might also be.

This is not some lamentation about today’s society. More than anything, it is a recognization of our reality. Cell phones are not going anywhere and while they have many questionable aspects, their powers can absolutely be harnessed for good.

Weinberger (2014) states that “we must create the conditions by which libraries will be pulled out of themselves and into everything else.” Harnessing mobile technologies to provide library services to our communities is an excellent example of libraries moving “into everything else.”

As harsh as it may sound, I do not think it is longer enough for a library to just have an app. It has to be a good app. Many libraries have mobile services or mobile-browser friendly library websites, but they often look unappealing or do not work well. Just because something is tech, it does not mean that it will be an automatic success. Just look at the QR code and the Google Glass.

Tech and mobile apps, just like everything else we have discussed, will not succeed without the input of the people that will eventually use them. As such, when developing any sort of mobile service, it is essential that libraries invite their communities to the drawing board and supplement this with community testing and feedback solicitation. As Stephens (lecture, 2020) states, “Inevitably, there will always be some amount of chaos” in creating and implementing new technologies. However, this should not deter any library from using technology to venture into their communities, the world, and “everything else.”

The aforementioned phone (taped to my hand for emphasis and dramatic effect).

New Horizons in the time of COVID-19

I think that our world this week has really brought some strong ideas about people, technology, and libraries to light.

With everything shutting down, libraries have been forced to to move most of their services online. With that, creating library services that are compatible with an Amazon Alexa or offering access to a virtual reality library or information experience, seem more essential than ever.

However, alongside the closure of libraries, the closure of schools has highlighted the technology access gap that affects so many homes across the US. This also greatly impacts the ways in which a closed library may still reach their patrons. This sort of issue is also the case in my library, a small room within the county jail. Our school closed last Friday and with that, library service also ceased. Because there is no access to even the most basic technologies in the jails, there was no way I could utilize tech to continue library service.

As we have learned throughout this course, and highlighted in this class lecture, the idea of “New Horizons” is not necessarily about technology, it’s about creativity and innovation. Instances like the digital divide and jail library services highlight that this essential to keep in mind with the Hyperlinked Library.

For me, the innovation this week came in getting permission from the deputies to bring the library to the patrons while service was suspended. I created mini-libraries of some of the best books in the collection to drop off in the pods where the students could access them during closures at their leisure. While it was simple, it was outside of traditional library service, which I consider an innovation in the strict space I work in. This is all to say, I think that our current situation is going to highlight a variety of ways that libraries can be creative, with and without new technologies.

Cooking up a Cooking Library

Goals/Objectives

The Cooking Library is designed to give patrons access to kitchen equipment and cooking instruction while also building community reading, mathematics, science, and relationship building skills.

Description of Community

This program aims to engage low income community members of all ages, specifically those who may not have had the chance to learn about cooking at home or in school (Ford, 2018).

Action Brief Statement

Convince low income community members that by participating in Cooking Library programs and lending services they will enhance their culinary and general literacy skills which will impact both their bodies and their minds because cooking for yourself is a great way to stay healthy, learn, and save money.

Evidence and Resources

News articles:

Lectures & Webinars:

Mission, Guidelines, and Policy

Mission statement:

The Cooking Library aims to promote general and culinary literacy to low income community members of all ages through programming, kitchen equipment lending, and community participation.

The library would like to utilize a participatory service model by creating a Community Cooking Library programming board composed of library patrons (6 adults and 4 YA members). This board will work with adult and YA programming directors to develop the Cooking Library program through a series of community meetings. It is inspired by the Oakland Public Library’s Youth Leadership Council, but will invite members of all ages. Once we have developed our program proposal, we will invite our community board members to present the proposal with us to the library Board of Supervisors for approval.

As displayed in the Evidence & Resource section of this blog post, there are many libraries that we can look at for example policies and practices. Libraries across the US are implementing culinary literacy services at a variety of levels for a variety of community members.

One of the most important aspects to consider in the guidelines for use of the cooking library will inevitably be safety. This involves both kitchen and food safety, ensuring that no one is hurt by improperly cooked food or improperly used equipment. There are several ways which we could do this. Any library employee who is running a Cooking class should be accredited in a ServSafe program and include important safety information in the programming curriculum. The Cooking equipment lending library should follow a set of rules and regulations similar to those implemented in the Berkeley Public Library’s tool lending library. This might include age restrictions or requirements that Cooking Lending Library participants complete a “Kitchen Equipment and Food Safety Program” before they are eligible to borrow equipment. The Free Library of Philadelphia, also emphasizes the importance of city food license and certification measures as well as food allergy awareness (p. 9).

Funding Considerations

Funding to build an onsite kitchen library would require considerable grant money. The Culinary Literacy Center at the Free Library of Philadelphia cost $1.2 million. It is estimated that a similar program would cost the same. Philadephia offers some great ideas for creative funding, including working with local markets and community gardens to get free or low-cost ingredients. The library could also accept donations of working kitchen tools and equipment. Other funding could come from program fees for special programs and food and bake sales. The library could also invite local chefs to volunteer their time to teach specific programs.

Action Steps & Timeline

If we choose to develop a full on-site library kitchen and lending library, physical prototype will be difficult. However, we can still develop an in-depth written proposal supplemented by kitchen blueprints and 3D renderings.

A reasonable timeline for this project is projected at 1.5 years. This would allow for:

  • 4-6 months of initial community planning.
  • 3-4 months of initial proposals, editing, and approval.
  • Approximately 8 months to construct the kitchen, finalize programming, receive appropriate licensing and training, and acquire lending equipment.

This project is dependent on both Library Board for funding, spacial allotments, and resources. It is also dependent on approval by city officials for health inspections and food service licensing. Both approvals are required to fully implement an on-site Cooking Library.

If the program receives a “no” there are other ways to introduce culinary literacy. Examples include “cooking without cooking”, recipe swaps, and partnering with local food and health programs. Libraries can also provide cooking programming without the use of a full kitchen through tools such as hot plates and convection ovens. Ideally, we will spend some time “brainstorming potential problems and solutions” (Stephens, 2016) during our community meetings so that we may come equipped with response. I suspect that bringing community voices in this discussion will allow for a much broader scope of ideas, issues, and viewpoints.

Staffing Considerations

This service does not require hiring any additional staff. Hours will come from the allotted staff hours for library programming. Some additional hours may be required for hosting community development meetings during mornings or evenings, as those are often the best times for working community members. Funding for additional hours could come from grants or miscellaneous library funds. Another interesting way to generate funding for addition staff hours would to host a library food/bake sale in which plates are sold to raise money for the program. This could be implemented by library staff or, more ideally, the Friends of the Library community. Libraries could also partner with local schools to give students volunteer hours for helping with Cooking Library services, but this would still require staff member participation and oversight.

Training

The most essential component of training would come from ServSafe accreditation. Fortunately, ServSafe includes a pre-planned curriculum covering all aspects of food and kitchen safety that the library can utilize. The library will have to allot some funding for ServSafe fees, which range from $15 to $150 dollars. However, only program heads will require the larger cost training, everyone else can get a food handlers license for $15 dollars. Several other staff members should also be trained in the Allergen course, which requires an additional $22. This training is all online and can be scheduled during staff shifts. Once this is completed, the program heads will also train staff on programming and lending library procedures. This can be done in several large groups and should only require several hours of staff time.

Promotion & Marketing

The library can use traditional marketing strategies such as flyers and social media promotion to increase awareness of the program. Libraries can also team up with local food markets and restaurants to promote the services. Another interesting marketing strategy would to be to team up with the library bookmobile and offer a “food truck” that travels alongside it. The “food truck” could give out pre-prepared foods that are included in the library programming. People love free food and when they come to get it, they will learn about how they could come to the library to make it themselves!

I also think about the recent success and virality of online cooking video series such as Bon Apetit’s Gourmet Makes and Buzzfeed’s Tasty videos. Library staff could make creative cooking videos in a strain similar to these and post them to YouTube. The videos could end by promoting the Cooking Library service. Not only would they work as a promotional tool, but they would be providing additional information to the public about culinary literacy and skills.

Evaluation

Success will be measured in terms of patron interactions and participation. Primary evaluation could come by asking participants to fill out an exit survey post-programming. This would allow us to continue to evaluate the Cooking Library and allow it to grow positively in relation to public response. Additional evaluation can be measured through attendance and kitchen tool circulation. As Stephens and Casey (2008) suggest, just chatting with patrons and getting anecdotal evaluations is also a great way to measure success.

A great result of the Cooking Library that I envision would be to invite patrons to share how they have implemented their cooking literacy into their own lives. This could include programming where patrons who have used Cooking Library services share their new favorite recipes with each other at a community potluck. Another way of showcasing our patron’s cooking would be to create a whole program in which we highlight specific patron’s recipes and invite them to help teach the class.

The Nth Place

The concept that I was most drawn to during this module was the idea of moving beyond the third place. Morehart (2016) states, “The ‘first place’ is the home, where we live. The ‘second place’ is where we work. The third exists as a community center point.” Traditionally, the library would be considered the “third place,” however, librarians are now asking, “What Comes After the ‘Third Place’?”

What I have gathered from this weeks readings is that the space beyond the “third place” involves the bridging and overlapping all three places to create a new “place” that cannot be numbered. Similar to Laerkes (2016) ideas of the four library spaces in which, “The four spaces are not to be seen as concrete ‘rooms’ in a physical sense, but rather as possibilities that can be fulfilled both in the physical library and in cyberspace,” the idea of place can also be untethered from a concrete sense.

The most compelling of the examples of the bridging of the places comes from the Narok Library in Narok, Kenya. There is a large population of herdsmen in this area and the library invites them to bring their flocks of animals along to the library so that they may use the library while also tending to their animals.

This is such a great example of the second and third places coming together in a way that really benefits the library user. We also see the first and third come together in The Healing Library, where libraries provide services to families that have gone through trauma. Online library services also bridge these spaces.

By intertwining library services with the rest of folk’s day to day lives, we can create more essential, accessible, and beneficial services for everyone. The exciting part comes with the fact that there is no set way of doing it. As the Pew Research Center (2014) suggests, “Americans’ connection—or lack of connection—with public libraries is part of their broader information and social landscape.” It is our job to understand that local landscape, talk to the community, get creative, and build some bridges.

The Participatory Library

Let me begin by using a cliche– The Merriam Webster dictionary definition of “public”. When I look at this entry, several points really stick out when thinking about the public in public library:

1a: exposed to general view 2a: of, relating to, or affecting all the people or the whole area of a nation or …. c: of, relating to, or being in the service of the community or nation… 5: accessible to or shared by all members of the community

By definition, then, a public library is nothing without the people. As such, it is curious that participatory service is considered an innovative tool for public libraries when, in fact, it is ingrained in the very title of the institution.

I think that it is easy to create a mental hierarchy between the librarian and patron through work and schooling experiences. As librarians, we are the ones who have spent countless hours studying libraries in depth. We are the ones being paid to assist the public. We are the experts. We know best.

However, when a hierarchy is created, disconnect between the groups soon follows. We begin to make assumptions about what our users want without ever seeking their input. We create a new definition of “public library” in which the “library” eclipses the “public”. Then, we distress when our expertly designed services are not well received.

But, of course we are ill-equipped to create appropriate services, because this logic is unfounded. As Schneider so aptly puts it, “The user is not broken. Your system is broken until proven otherwise.” People know what they want and need. As librarians, it is not our job to decide that they actually want and need other things and just need out help in realizing that. Rather, our job to understand the actual wants and needs of our patrons and adapt to those. The only way to do this is to go directly to the people and trust in what they say.

Participatory service and transparency do just that. By inviting our patrons to become stakeholders and participants, we can eliminate any hierarchal assumptions and create meaningful service. I particularly like the Los Angeles County Library’s appeal for patrons to “create a collaborative vision of y/our library of the future.” In this request, they are literally merging the groups of librarians and patrons into a singular “y/our.” This is something that libraries should be doing both linguistically and on-the-ground. Everyone is an expert. Everyone knows best.

Is Everything Bad Good for Libraries?

We broke the ice in this course by sharing our “guilty pleasures” with one another. For me, my mind instantly went to reality television. Reality TV is my refuge (a sentence I actually texted to my friend last week while watching the latest episode of Vanderpump Rules). Yet, the “guilt” aspect absolutely remains. My obsession with these shows is always something I am hesitant to disclose– especially on a school related web blog. I constantly hear that they are “trash” and “the reason for the decline of our civilization.” So, when I found Everything Bad is Good For You: How Today’s Popular Culture is Actually Making Us Smarter by Steven Johnson on the class reading list, I was eager to read and apply Johnson’s work to my academic and non-academic endeavors.

In this 2005 publication, Johnson presents the theory of the “Sleeper Curve,” in which he argues that modern television, technology, and games have a multitude of benefits for our brains. Through increasing complexity, modern media challenges and engages our minds in ways that media five decades ago did not. It presents us with multiple storylines and character relationships, undisclosed information, and outside references that challenge us figure out the rules, make connections and decisions, and communicate with others as we go along.

However, even Johnson himself notes that he “derive[s] great intellectual nourishment from posting to [his] weblog, but [he] would never attempt to convey the argument of this book” (p. 185) in blog format. So, I too, will leave that up to Johnson and instead focus on the book’s greater context.

If you are interested in his full argument, here is an hour long YouTube video of Johnson presenting the “Sleeper Curve” theory:

You can also purchase a copy of the book here or look for it at your local library.

Although this book was published fifteen years ago, I find that Johnson’s argument holds up. I can apply these mental tasks to nearly all of the modern media that I take in. So, did reading this book make me feel less guilty about my television intake? I think so. However, it was not my main takeaway. Here is a quote from the final pages of Johnson’s book that I believe perfectly sums up its most basic sentiment:

…We should discard, once and for all, a number of easy assumptions we like to make about the state of modern society. The cultural race to the bottom is a myth; we do not live in a fallen state of cheap pleasures that pale beside the intellectual riches of yesterday. (p. 198)

The idea that the old ways are better than the new ways is a common sentiment in many arguments that oppose migration towards a hyperlinked library. People tend to romanticize past customs, but as Schneider (2006) so bluntly puts it, “Stop moaning about the good old days. The card catalog sucked, and you thought so at the time, too.”

Just as the shift in media is not “rotting our brains,” moving away from traditional library practices is not a threat to intelligence. Rather, it is a way to help people continue to develop their minds and learn. Kenney (2014) states that libraries should be “focused on channeling their resources toward helping people solve their problems and meet their needs.” Frankly, remaining stagnant will no longer help us achieve those goals. Stephens (2011) defines what has to be done: “library leadership must move beyond the lending/reference model to a broader view of what’s possible in a community-based space focused on helping people” (p. 59).

Both our course readings and Johnson’s book highlight the same point: change can be great. As librarians, it is not only our job to tolerate these new forms of media, but to also take Johnson’s lead by discovering their cognitive benefits and applying them to our own services. The Internet, video games, and television are not going anywhere anytime soon, but neither is the library so long as we embrace, rather than scoff at, modern media and technology.

References

Johnson, S. (2006). Everything bad is good for you: How today’s popular culture is actually making us smarter. London: Penguin Books.

Kenney, B. (2014). The user is (still) not broken.

Schneider, K (2006). The User is Not Broken.

Stephens, M. T. (2016). The Heart of Librarianship : Attentive, Positive, and Purposeful Change. Chicago: ALA Editions.

What we talk about when we talk about The Hyperlinked Library

I began this course assuming that we were learning exclusively about libraries and modern technology. This is what I assumed we were talking about when we talked about the Hyperlinked Library.

This module made me understand “Hyperlinked” is understood in a much broader sense than its original definition. When we say hyperlinked, we are talking about creating links with the library and the community on a variety of levels. It is all about understanding, connection, and innovation. It is about the shift from the old library to the new. It is about hearing your community and users and coming up with ways to “delight” them (Denning, 2015).

The “old” library: quiet, empty, exclusively book-based, and unfriendly.

Just as “disruption” is a constantly used term in the tech world, libraries must work to “disrupt” traditional library services to keep users excited and engaged. This does not mean that libraries need to get rid of all the books or replace librarians with apps and robots. We just need to find new ways to create links to the community.

Sometimes this looks like integrating new technologies into our libraries, but it can also look like updating library spaces to feel more welcoming, working with community organizations to provide new services, or bringing the library outside of its walls and to the people.

To me, the most exciting part of the “Hyperlinked Library” is that we are seeing it unfold in the most interesting and creative ways every day. Just check out this Pew Research list of some of the innovations that libraries all around us have created. If the aim is to connect with our communities and delight them, I feel confident that we are on the right track.

I particularly appreciated Stephens’ (2016) reference to the Rush quote, “Changes aren’t permanent but change is.” We have to acknowledge that change is inevitable and go with it. The fact of the matter is that libraries are not just warehouses of books. They can be so much more. We also have to understand that “changes aren’t permanent,” so why not go ahead and try to create new and exciting links!

Disrupting the “old”: Why not try it?

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