#hyperlib Virtual Symposium!

Hi everyone! For my virtual symposium project, I decided to create an illustration to sort of wrap up what I considered some of the core principles of the Hyperlinked Library. I’m embedding the video below (went a bit over five minutes, whoops!) and my transcription underneath that. I think I edited out all of the “ums” and “uhs” in the transcript (California native, here). I also threw in some fun links to things that were relevant.

Happy May and happy almost-end-of-the-semester!

Hi there! My name is Lillie Moore and I’m a student in Info 287, the Hyperlinked Library. For my final project I decided to do a bit of an illustration, so you can see it working in the background, just a time lapse video of me sketching this out. I will warn you, illustration is very new to me, it’s something I’ve kind of picked up, it’s a quarantine hobby, maybe you could call it. Something I’ve picked up the last few months, so I’m by no means a good illustrator yet, but I did have a lot of fun doing this, and I thought it would be a fun way to represent just how I felt about this class in general.

So to just give a little bit of a background, I work as a teacher, but I’ve always been interested in library sciences. I don’t know why I didn’t go to that in the first place instead of going right into teaching, but I figured it out in the last few years that that’s definitely where I would rather be, as much as I enjoy teaching. So, I’ve been really inspired though, by, kind of that “vintage 90s kid computer lab” experience? I grew up in the 90sand 2000s, so I have a lot of fond memories of that “once a week, that you go to the computer lab and maybe your teacher had opportunities for you to do something but most of the time it was just messing around on the computers a little bit, so I used that as my source of inspiration for this project. Which I thought is kind of funny because the Hyperlinked Library is so modern and new, and yet I wanted to do something that connected with my personal past, and probably a lot of nostalgia for a lot of people. So that’s where this vintage iMac aesthetic came up, and trust me I know I’ve got some anachronisms, I’ve got some Windows boxes instead of Mac boxes, it’s a mess, but you know, suspension of disbelief.

So, let me talk about some of the key components of this illustration and how they connect to me with the Hyperlinked Library.

So I feel like the best place for me to start is the image as a whole. Like I said, I was inspired mostly by those old, vintage iMacs, you can kind of see me in the beginning using inspiration from. And then it just sort of spiraled from there. Now, the first thing I wanted to do was make a list of, you know, what were some key tenets for me for the Hyperlinked Library, and I’m afraid I’ve already crossed these out and didn’t think to put that on a separate layer, but we can read through them pretty easily here. And I figure I might as well go through step by step, and kind of explain my process of why did I put certain things in some places, what did I mean, what’s the relevance. And some of them are just to tszuj is up, but let’s check it out!

So the first thing I wanted to mention was how Hyperlinked Library should be accessible and I really feel like I hit that with this Instant Message box. It’s an AIM box, but I really wanted to make it something that is a library that is accessible both online and in person, so I’ve got a little conversation going on here, so from the San Jose Library: “Hey! This is the on duty librarian. How can I help you?” And then from Peachesaplenty: “Hi! I’m working on a report about Beethoven for my music class. Can you tell me some good places to start researching?”

Pretty simple and standard library request, but I thought the idea of making it an instant message instead of having to hunt someone down, could make this a little more interesting. I also see this as a little bit participatory, right? It is a student (maybe not the student), the patron, and the librarian working together, on a system that works for both of them. And so it’s connected, it’s accessible for a lot of people, and then in the vein of another one that’s kind of to touch on accessibility, or maybe just to touch on kindness a little bit, I’ve added this sticky note down here, that just reminds people where they can get some snacks if necessary. I feel like that’s an important part of libraries that we sort of overlook is for a lot of people they are places beyond just information providing centers, but places that can provide some level of refuge, and I feel like that matters a lot in the library.

Unrelated, but I was actually really proud of how this effect with the Post-it note turned out! It was just like a warping effect that I found on Procreate, that worked perfectly because I was sitting there trying to figure out like, “How do I make this Post-it note look like not just a square?” So having it flip up in the corner I thought was really fun. Anyway, just a little artist’s note.

I wanted to add that in-person element as well, with the whole connectivity of the library, which is why I added these flyers to the background. One, to just make it a little more visually interesting besides just the computer, but to also show like, “hey we are still connecting with people in person, when available of course.” And trying to bring in events and opportunities to help people learn or help people become more involved in not just the library, but things that might excite them in life, things that might make them interested in life.

And these last two tidbits were probably my most favorite to work on. This is kind of both the storytelling aspect, that we’ll get to in a second here with that Word style document, but also the idea that a Hyperlinked Library involved creation, not just consumption. So yes of course, you can reach out to a librarian, and learn where you can find some information, but you also have those tools to create something of your own, something that sparks your interest. On a practical level, this was one of my favorite aspects, was making that illustration of the brain. It was an effect that I found on Procreate, a glitch effect that I added to a drawing that I had already sketched out recently.

And that’s the final project! Realizing right now that I forgot to sign it in the corner. I will add that at the end. But just to wrap it up, to me, the Hyperlinked Library is a system that is participatory, it includes people who work for the library but people who also go to the library. Anyone who goes to the library needs to participate in its wellbeing and in the creation of materials. I see the Hyperlinked Library as connected as possible. It doesn’t need to just exist in person as physical building. The library can be an idea, it exists online, it exists in spaces that we can’t necessarily see. I didn’t touch on this as much, but I love the storytelling aspect of the Hyperlinked Library and I couldn’t find a way to include it in here in a way that made sense to me, other than that little Word document. But that is my favorite aspect of the Hyperlinked Library. Storytelling is something that connects us, and you know, connecting is what the hyperlinks are all about!

Finally, well, I guess two more things, is making sure there are events and opportunities for people to learn. This is pretty standard in libraries, but you know I just don’t want to ever let go of that. I don’t want a library to be a space where it’s just housing materials. And then finally: accessibility, and this ties really well with that in-person/online connection. That making sure that the library space is accessible to as many people as possible is a huge priority for me.

So, that is my project for the Hyperlinked Library. I hope you enjoyed it! I had a really fun time illustrating this. It took me… a few hours, altogether, but I just kind of broke it up and worked on it in the evenings, and just it was such a blast to do something creative and kind of unusually for a class project. Happy May, happy June, happy whenever-you’re-watching-this, and I hope you have an excellent rest of your year.

Director’s Brief

My Director’s Brief is focused on creating a storytelling podcast for patrons of our library district, Santa Clara County Library. I love podcasts and storytelling, so this seemed like a natural fit. Because podcasts are a rapidly growing market, it seems like a natural transition for libraries to focus on this emerging technology. You can download my brief below. Enjoy!

This entry was posted on May 1, 2021. 1 Comment

Reflection #5 The Library as a Classroom

Pictured: Lillie in her classroom during her first year of teaching.

I am a predictable human. I see the word “classroom” in a list of subjects to study and go “Yeah, that’s the one for me.” I am predictable and maybe a little bit lazy and if I can find a subject that I might already have some background knowledge on, I’ll jump on that chance. So as a teacher, connecting libraries with classrooms sounded like an interseting subject for the week.

If anything has stuck with me this year, it is the concept that the classroom does not necessarily need to “look” like a classroom. My classroom ranges from literal physical space with whiteboards and whatnot, to the empty white wall of my bedroom. Libraries as learning spaces isn’t new, but calling them “classrooms” feels a little weird on the tongue. Ultimately, the message communicated with much of the readings in this chapter is that a classroom can be anywhere that learning is the focus and goal.

Learning, a messy process sometimes, can be defined by so many facets, but if I could only choose one important aspect of pedagogy to reflect on, it would be the power in choice. Nearly every learning opportunity I provide my students includes some level of choice, ranging from very small (what color paper do you want?) to essentially allowing customization of the entire project (what book would you like to do a report on, and how would you like to show your learning?). The library can be an excellent example of spaces that provide choice in learning, as patrons enter a space where they aren’t instructed on what they MUST learn, rather they are asked directly what they WANT to learn about. Choice and self-driven learning is a huge tenet of the hyperlinked library.

Creating fun and interesting activities for patrons to participate in might spark curiosity, but it relies on experts from the community and excited learners to thrive. Why should learning stop after school? Why should learning only be considered valuable when it helps one with their career prospects? Libraries working to normalize learning as a human experience that doesn’t stop outside the typical classroom could help create a more educated and thriving community.

Reflection #4: Storytime

In an old group of friends, we welcomed new people with stories. When you sat down with us, having met us for the first time, inevitably someone would make reference to “that one time when….” and the (probably raunchy) story would begin. There was the time that Tim spilled his heart and his guts out over the patio railing at a New Year’s party, or the time Nick’s prank involving a jug of Soylent went a little too far, or when I once slopped a bowl of Chef Boyardee, barbeque sauce, and Gogurt over my head for fifteen dollars. That last one I actually told to a crowd at Spontaneous Storytelling, although the photo has unfortunately been lost to time. Some of these stories got to the point where anyone could tell them with perfect accuracy.

Storytime is a favorite at your local library’s children’s section, but how can we translate the art of hearing and telling stories to other patrons of the library as well?

There’s a joke in the amateur comedian circles that everyone has a podcast and local comedians just rotate being guests on each other’s podcasts. As absurd as it can sound, there is power in a podcast, sharing your authentic in-the-moment thoughts to an audience who could listen whenever and wherever. Stephens suggests using podcasts in libraries as a way of “packaging” stories, by and for patrons. Inviting patrons to share a story on a weekly podcast, along with suggestions of materials they enjoy, could be a fun and inclusive way to involve patrons in the library and increase its hyperlinked connectivity. Through reading and research, we can learn a lot about gender transitioning or traveling to Thailand or the process of adopting a child, but through hearing personal stories on these topics, we can empathize and potentially challenge our original thinking on the topic. The Wilton Library’s experiment with “The Human Library” does just this, matching people up with a “human book” who can share their thoughts and stories with patrons based on their lived experiences. You don’t need to author a book to have stories to tell.


As a personal fun thing, I’m attaching one of my favorite episodes of a favorite storytelling podcast, RISK!. I remember listening to the inaugural episode of this podcast at entirely too young an age (think middle school), and I didn’t miss a single one for years. I don’t listen much these days, but I can nearly recite this one by heart. Here’s a link to Sara Barron’s story synopsis, and here’s the link to the episode itself (jump about 28 minutes in).

Also, my local comedian friend would always encourage me to pump up his EXCELLENT podcast, Kid Tested, Mother Approved. If you like movies and/or mothers, please give Ruben and Dawn a listen!

This entry was posted on April 13, 2021. 1 Comment

Participatory Services and Emerging Technology Planning

Measure twice, cut once, borrow time and time again.

Posing with the sampler I made twenty years ago

My mother taught me how to sew when I was about six years old. We sat together one afternoon and made a sampler quilt together. These are simple quilts that are designed to showcase more than one quilt block, often used to show off the fabrics of the quilt and the quilter’s ability to create different blocks. I still have this quilt, twenty years later. While I used to be able to fit under it if I squeezed into a ball, now it can’t even cover my legs.

Ten years later, she would send me a sewing machine of my own. With just over ten years of machine sewing under my belt, I’m starting to get the hang of it.

Sewing is a strange skill. It occupies the creative space, but it’s also frequently noted as a “practical skill”. I also continue to be amazed when I meet someone who has never threaded a needle before. I once spent two hours of class time teaching my second and third graders how to thread a needle, tie a knot, and sew a simple straight stitch. There was a lot of laughter and delight and frustration that day. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat.

More and more libraries are opening up to this idea of teaching sewing skills to patrons. This is where the Sewing Kit comes into play. The Sewing Kit is the lending library that will allow patrons to check out tools used for sewing, with the future potential of catering to other textile arts, such as knitting and embroidery. In an age where handmade is back in style, this kind of technology sharing will inspire patrons to think creatively and learn a new skill.

For the purpose of this plan, we’ll assume patrons of the Saratoga Library in Saratoga, California, although this could take place in libraries nearly anywhere.

The Goals

The goal of The Sewing Kit is help library patrons learn the “hard” skills of sewing, such as stitching, measuring, cutting, etc., with extensions into more “soft” skills, such as identifying complementary color swatches or adapting a pattern to create a unique garment or craft. These skills will be learned through hands-on experience using various sewing tools. These goals are extremely flexible, and ideally there will be no mastery of this program, as sewists will always find more to learn and create.

The Community

Sewing has stereotypically been seen as “women’s work”, to this point where the word “seamstress” is going out of style in favor of the more modern and non-gendered “sewist”. This is important to note, as The Sewing Kit will be marketed to any and all patrons interested in learning a new creative skill. The Saratoga Library largely caters to the population of Saratoga, a mixture of families and tech professionals. The library will be primarily marketed towards teenagers and adults, with children’s classes and materials being available on a smaller scale.

Action Brief Statements

(For patrons) Convince patrons of the Saratoga Library that by learning how to sew, even on a basic level beginning with simple hand stitches, they will learn a practical skill which will save them money because they will be able to mend and adjust clothing and other soft goods. Patrons will also have an opportunity to learn a new creative skill which will potentially turn into a lifelong hobby, thus increasing overall happiness and fulfillment.

(For staff) Convince Saratoga Library staff that by participating in and attending to patrons interested in The Sewing Kit they will help facilitate new learning which will enrich the lives of library patrons and increase circulation of textile arts based materials because patrons will be participating in a program that directly involves those materials.

Evidence and Research to Support this Service

As demonstrated by the DOK library, libraries should be designed for doing stuff. The Sewing Kit is no exception. Sewing libraries have already been used across the country, with machines and sewing kits being borrowable. The Makery at the Westmont Public Library in Illinois allows patrons to check out sewing machines for a week. One patron of the Addison Public Library in Illinois was able to teach herself how to make skirts using materials (including a sewing machine) checked out from her local library. The Northlake Public Library (also of Illinois, coincidentally) currently offers a “Library of Things”, which ranges from sewing machines to ice cream makers to a canning set. These are based off what the community requests. Seeing as many of these items are things that people use infrequently, unless they are a hobbyist or artisan, it makes a lot of sense to have them on offer. Finally, Kristen Fontichiaro of Teacher Librarian recommends the usage of sewing machines and curriculum for children in Makerspaces.

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

The mission of the Santa Clara County Library District includes allowing free acess to recreational materials and services. This aligns perfectly with The Sewing Kit’s mission to access to creative tools within the textile arts.

The Sewing Kit should adhere to any currrent guidelines in place that refer to the lending of materials, with exception that sewing machines and kits be allowed for a maximum of one week check out as opposed to three. Additionally, patrons should be able to demonstrate basic understanding of the machine before being allowed to take it home. This could include demonstrating to librarians the ability to thread the machine, sew a line, and clip the thread. Offering the machines as an in-library loan until these skills are demonstrated is a great way to make sure patrons are prepared. The Sacramento Library of Things has a few good guidelines to serve as a base.

Machines are different than books. They can be more fragile and far more expensive. While the machines don’t need to be top-of-the-line, even a basic machine can run around one hundred dollars. Therefore, policies need to be in place and relayed to patrons whenever they check out the machines or other resources. This could include having patrons sign an agreement to return the item to the library in the condition it was received in, and to notify library staff immediately if something is not working correctly.

A few basic supplies

Funding Considerations

As mentioned earlier, sewing machines can be expensive, and while the hobby is extremely rewarding, it is not cheap. While a machine can run in the hundreds, even tools such as shears and needles can add up quickly. I suggest creating a budget that allows two machine sewing kits and four hand sewing kits to start with. Machine sewing kits could include a machine itself, as well as scissors, assortments of thread, extra needles, etc. Essentially it would contain everything one needs besides the material itself. One library to base this off of would be the South Central Library System located in Wisconsin, which includes several tools for machine sewing, as well as a power strip.

Machine Stitching Budget (based on current prices)

This puts the budget for the machine stitch kit at just under 300 dollars, although based on individual store prices this could be higher or lower. The hand stitching kit would include everything except for the machine and the bobbins, lowering the budget to about one hundred dollars. This ultimately puts the total budget for the start-up of this program at 1000 dollars. It should be noted that many of the objects in the kits will need to be “refreshed” between patrons, including the thread, chalk, and needles (those suckers seem to end up everywhere).

One additional budgeting concern includes staffing. There will need to be a resident sewing “expert” to make sure that materials are being handled and utilized properly. I would also recommend that all staff be given a simple crash course in the machine. Threading the machine and sewing a stitch can be taught in an hour or so, and from there it’s up to the staff/patrons to learn more if they are interested.

Where would I be without my trusty ThreadBanger?

Action Steps and Timeline

This program would need to be approved by the interim community librarian, Nichole King. If the project at it’s current scale is not approved, it will be presented on a smaller scale, perhaps with one machine and one hand stitch kit. Even offering a single hand stitch kit could make a difference.

As this is a relatively small scale project, it could be implemented fairly quickly. Some recommended steps are listed below.

  1. After receiving approval from Nichole King (and any others involved who may need to sign off on this), begin resarching and ordering the necessary materials. Allow time for arrival, likely 2-3 weeks.
  2. After materials have arrived and been catalogued, begin informing library staff of their use. This training process could take a week or two to help get all staff who would be involved in the materials familiar with how they work and how they are refilled.
  3. While library staff familiarize themselves with the materials, begin searching for anyone who would be interested in creating and facilitating sewing themed programs to help drum up interest. This will likely take a few weeks. Consider contacting local fabric shops and sewing circles. When possible, these programs should involve hand stitching when being marketed towards beginners, as these will have a much lower cost associated with them than machine stitching programs.
  4. Start creation of advertising materials. These should be displayed prominently in the library, including information on upcoming classes and events, as well as information on how many suppiles will be available and the protocols that will be used with them. Announcement of the machines should go out about one week before their release, with the release arriving shortly after the first program. Due to staff and calendar availability, this could take a few months.
  5. Finally, the materials are released for public access, with programs being held in greater volume during the first month of release and tapering off to less frequent after that.

Staffing Considerations

There won’t be a need for any new staff members, as we are simply adding new materials to the library. It will be required that any staff who may assist with the machines be trained in the basics of them, as further explained below.

Training for this Technology

Training would be primarily a simple thirty minute course for each staff member who assists in checking out materials. This course will allow them to judge if a patron is able to use the sewing machine safely and appropriately on their own. The training would be relatively brief, mostly focused on the primary skills of threading the machine, sewing a simple straight stitch, and trimming the threads/de-threading the machine. Ideally, training could be taught by staff members already familiar with sewing machines, but if no such staff member is available, reaching out to local sewing organizations may yield someone who could come in for a day or two and teach small groups of staff. One way of training large numbers of staff AFTER the release of the machines to the public, is inviting them to watch patrons learning how to use the machine. Before the release, not every staff member needs to be trained on the machine, and those who don’t know could be taught when patrons are loaned the machine for in-library use.

Promotion and Marketing

Promotion of this service could be done through standard means of promoting new library materials: social media posts, news blurbs on the library website, flyers in the library. As previously mentioned, programs could be introduced to the library to help bring in patrons interested in learning how to sew. Advertising in local high schools would also be appropriate, as many younger people are interested in the current DIY trend when it comes to clothing. I also am reminded of the article posted by the Addison Public Library regarding their patron who learned how to sew in the library, using one of the machines they had for check out. Encouraging library staff to utilize this resource could also increase the amount of people interested in the materials. Creating a bulletin display with books on fashion, quilting, and costume making may also increase interest. Local sewists could be asked for objects they might want to display in the library’s entryway as a way of drumming up interest.

Evaluation

The evaluation process should occur at a few intervals shortly after introduction of The Sewing Kit. Ideally, staff should check over the amount of check-outs on a monthly basis for the first six months to see if any trends develop. If the Sewing Kits are consistently being requested (in this case, spending less time in the library and more time in patron’s possessions), it may be time to add an additional Sewing Machine Kit. If interest is low, it would be a good time to create more sewing-centric programs to drum up interest, or consider sharing the kits with a different library in the district to see if they are in higher demand there. Reaching out to community members directly would also be a good approach here. It may just be a case of patrons not knowing that the machines exist.

I was particularly inspired by Efua Assan’s story for the Addison Public Library. She found that the library had something she didn’t realized she needed, and when she got started on it, she discovered all a whole new creative pursuit. This creative pursuit could go on to inspire others, both directly and indirectly connected to her. Our creative pursuits are always introduced to us by someone, whether they’re actively trying to introduce them or not.

Should this go over well, it could easily be expanded to other libraries in the district. The infrastructure will already be in place and materials can be fluidly shared across library branches to fulfill patron requests as needed.

References

Fontichiaro, K. (2019). Makerspace Tune-Up 2.0: Looking into the Future. Teacher Librarian46(5), 43–45.

Stephens, M. (2019). Wholehearted Librarainship. ALA Editions.

Visser, J. (2014, April 11). DOK Delft, inspirational library concepts. The Museum of the Future. https://themuseumofthefuture.com/2011/01/22/dok-delft-inspirational-library-concepts/

This entry was posted on March 24, 2021. 1 Comment

Reflection 1 – The Hyperlinked Library

When pondering what is required for a library to be considered “hyperlinked”, I reflected on libraries that I know particularly well. There’s the local library where I get books for my classroom or personal interest books about how to pin taxidermied bugs to a frame. There’s my high school library that I would tuck myself away into to avoid people. But there was one other library that made a much larger impact on my life.

Upon reading “To keep people happy...” (2018), I was reminded very much of my university library. The McHenry Library at UC Santa Cruz is one of my favorite spaces, and it follows the last two tips that Leferink offers very well: it brings in the outdoors and it creates tons of space. I went to that library once a week for five years and I could always find a different place to sit. I’m a softie who loves a beautiful space, but I can’t imagine getting this kind of experience out of the “digital-only” library some folk fear is the future.

A space in the McHenry, as photographed by Bora. More found HERE.

Matten’s 2014 article considers the idea that libraries can and should move beyond simply being the home of books. This idea isn’t particularly novel, but I was absolutely smitten with the pictures included in the article that show off all these exciting libraries and different kinds of spaces that can be found within them. My McHenry Library was very much that space for me. Yes, it served as a place for me to get books that I needed or as a quiet place to study when I couldn’t focus in my room (or when I was having a really good hair day so the world needed to see me studying). Most of all though, I dwelled in the basement of the McHenry.

The basement media center was home to about a dozen different viewing rooms, where students could reserve a room to having a viewing party. This was my home nearly every Sunday for five years, where I acted and directed for the fabulous Slugs in Fishnets. We would gather, all 15 or so of us, and act out The Rocky Horror Picture Show in that room (often to the delight of people walking past the glass door.

May be an image of 1 person
One of the few pictures I have of me from that room during a dress rehearsal.
2016 Lillie is contemplating both her life choices AND that haircut.

The library for me was my home away from (dorm room) home. Bless them for being so patient with us, I’m sure we were a bit of a pain from time to time. Silly as it is, I made friends in this basement, found passions in this basement, and (bizarrely enough) fell in love with someone in this basement. While that puppy love might have long fizzled out, the McHenry has touched my life in a way that I can’t simply write off. That library was a powerful place for me.

To wrap it all up, I don’t think the concept of libraries being a flexible, community space is a new idea for me, but I could see it being something unfamiliar to the mass public. Libraries are often marketed as these magical (but silent!) places where we find what we need, but what about making them beyond fulfilling needs? What about the space of “Yeah, I don’t really know what I need right now, so let’s check out the library,”? I look forward to providing both a home for books as well as a hub for creativity.

This entry was posted on February 12, 2021. 3 Comments

Reflective Practice

As I wrap up this semester (and try not to stress too much about how I’m graduating in seven months), I particularly wanted to reflect on the “softer” parts of librarianship. I was really fascinated by both Corkindale’s “The Importance of Kindness at Work” and Gershon’s “The Future is Emotional“. I’m a big ol’ softie, so the second article particularly caught my eye. Gershon writes on emotional labor, something I face at work pretty much every day. I really love seeing my second graders each day, but dealing with their big feelings (and their parent’s big feelings sometimes) can be taxing. By the end of the day, I’ve got a major case of deceision fatigue after spending the day telling little ones “Yes, of course you can get a drink of water, you don’t need to ask,” or “No, you don’t need to get your book out of your backpack right now, you can wait until I’m done teaching this lesson.”

Emotional labor is certainly not unskilled, but it’s also difficult to cultivate and teach in adulthood. I love the social-emotional learning lessons my school district has implemented, and I feel that there is a difference between the youth of today versus twenty years ago. While I’m still continuing to learn how to tap into that sensitive side when speaking to others (as well as the confident side!), I look forward to seeing how some of my “soft skills” that I’ve learned from my students will translate into taking care of patrons.

Reflection #3 Hyperlinked School Libraries

I love when I get to use my “Actually, I’m a TEACHER,” card like the smug elementary teacher that I am. Yes, I will continue to milk that card for all it’s worth until I am no longer a teacher (hopefully at that point I will be able to use “Actually, I’m a LIBRARIAN,” or something of a similar ilk).

What we wish all school libraries looked like (Photo via SLJ)

This week, I chose to take a journey to hear what some folk think about school libraries and the concept of “digital natives”. I wrote about this in my context book report on Danah Boyd’s It’s Complicated, but to quickly refresh, referring to children as digital natives doesn’t make sense. You aren’t born with the inherent knowledge of how to sign up for a website or mark emails as spam or search for a good hairstylist on Instagram. You are taught them, either by another human or self-taught. Further, assuming all children/tweens/teens are “digital natives” does them a disservice by assuming they know all of the ins and outs of privacy and safety online or how to read through online information with a fine-toothed comb. In an age where it’s easier than ever to share information, it’s even easier to spread misinformation.

Of course, the solution to stopping the spread of misinformation isn’t to kick your kid off the computer and confine them solely to books (although that’s a good idea to implement every once in a while, even for adults). Teaching explicitly how to find and deal with misinformation is the correct step.

Through my reading this week, I also came across several fun ideas to zhuzh up school libraries, so I’d like to take note of a few favorites.

  • Makerspaces
    • Yeah I like makerspaces, what of it? It’s a trendy term, but it gets the job done and it really just describe a creative zone with few restrictions.
  • Varied noise levels
    • This one kills me slightly, as someone who loves their quiet, but there are ways to keep noisy kids in a noisy space! Check out the Media Vitrine in the Hamilton Grange Library Teen Center in New York.
  • Flexible work spaces
    • I can tell you as someone who works at a school that has been promised modernization for the past three years, “flex spaces” and “flex furniture” is all that administration wants to talk to us about. There are so many different kinds of chairs now, it’s actually a little dizzying. But you know what? It makes a difference. Who knew that comfort was a key motivator for feeling good and enjoying your time in space?
This entry was posted on March 12, 2021. 1 Comment

Reflection 2 – Hyperlinked Communities

A brief aside to begin: I love the word “hyperlink” and how much we use it in this class because I have literally no way to describe what a hyperlink is and what it means to my classroom of second graders. I tried. I really did. After a week I just defaulted to “the blue underlined words” and they were fine.

Idea Box with shades drawn and Ideas in Progress sign
Photo of the amazing Idea Box courtesy of oppl.org

Initially, it can be a challenge to not roll my eyes when I see articles that are all about how libraries need to be inclusive and serve their general public and I’m like “Yeah, dude, has that not always been the case?” But I’m currently taking a class on U.S. library history and have since learned that yeah, dude, that has not always been the case.

In any case, I really enjoyed the articles for this module, particularly those involving the Idea Box. Now, I’m sure everyone loved the Idea Box, so I won’t go into much detail about it, but I will say that I was positively tickled when I saw that the Idea Box was not a little wooden box with comment cards, but an entire room dedicated to the public and their ideas.

One concept that I found across several articles was the importance of not just asking “What do you want in the library?”. It seems like the most straight-forward way to go about things, but I feel that it presents a burden of choice for many people. For example, in my virtual classroom right now, my second graders are working on writing realistic fiction stories based on their lives. This is one of my favorite units, but it is a challenge to get them started. There are so many things they could possibly write about, that they can’t think of a single thing. We combat this with “Tiny Topic” notebooks, but the best way that I have found when working with a child one-on-one is to simply ask them what they’ve been up to lately. Once they start talking, the ideas just pour out.

This frustration with the burden of choice reminds me of the specific questions laid out in Schmidt’s 2016 article: “What did you do this weekend?” , what’s a hobby you wish you had more time for?”, and so on. I found this sentiment reflected similarly in “A Beautiful Obsession“.

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Librarians and genies, the ultimate providers. Gif courtesy of GIPHY.

I think what I love most about the idea of asking specific questions is that it places librarians in this super cool role of secret agent. We are observers and detective and infiltrators. We find out what is needed and we bring it. While I can appreciate the bluntness of point blank asking “What do you want?”, I think it’s just as important to gather this information in a more subtle and observant manner.

This entry was posted on February 26, 2021. 2 Comments

The Privacy and Performance of Teenagers

This one took a weird turn about halfway through, so just sit down and enjoy it, I guess.

Roomba Riding GIF - Roomba Riding Spinning GIFs
“Here, set up the Roomba for me, you know technology.” -My Mother, Christmas 2020. Gif courtesy of Polythene_Pam on Tenor.com

It’s another year of my mother receiving an expensive piece of technology for Christmas and passing it off to me to set it up. Yes, despite the fact that the instructions come down to:

  1. Download app
  2. Make an account on app
  3. Follow step-by-step instructions given to you by the app

Dutiful daughter that I am, I accept this task as I have with past projects (set up the new phone, figure out why the wi-fi doesn’t work, find the correct input on the TV). When I asked my mother why I always had to be the one to set things up, despite the fact that I was following the same written instructions that she could follow, she responds with “Well, you’re young, and young people just know these things.”

Danah Boyd’s 2014 book agrees that “Yes, young people do just know these things!” Except that it states that they also don’t just know these things. It’s complicated, but as Boyd explains in her introduction of It’s Complicated, “Just because teens can and do manipulate social media to attract attention and increase visibility does not mean that they are equally experienced at doing so or that they automatically have the skills to navigate what unfolds.” (13).

Image result for danah boyd it's complicated

Boyd goes into several details on what it means to be a teenager living in a digital world, but the chapters that I found most interesting and relevant to libraries were those on privacy and digital literacy. My natural impulse was to sit here and write about how teenagers learn digital literacy, but honestly? I’d rather pivot and focus on something else: the importance of teenage digital privacy and how it juxtaposes with the need to be seen.

The Balancing Act of Performance and Privacy

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Bo Burnham’s reflection on his fame as written in his Reddit AMA

It’s 2006 and Youtube is taking off. Enter talented teenage musician Bo Burnham. He’s a normal kid growing up in Massachussetts with a knack for playing the piano. He uploads an original song to Youtube one day, titled “My Whole Family Thinks I’m Gay“. In this early stage of sharing digital content, this teen spirals into stardom and by age 20 he has his first comedy special titled Words, Words, Words. Now in 2021, Burnham has released three comedy specials and directed the acclaimed coming-of-age film Eighth Grade. He’s reached stardom and yet, in his latest comedy special, Make Happy, released in 2016, it’s clear that he is unhappy with where he ended up. While I would love to go into detail about this entire set, for the sake of brevity, I’ll sum it up in a single quote.

They say it’s like the ‘me’ generation. It’s not. The arrogance is taught, or it was cultivated. It’s self-conscious. That’s what it is. It’s conscious of self. Social media – it’s just the market’s answer to a generation that demanded to perform so the market said, here – perform. Perform everything to each other, all the time for no reason. It’s prison – its horrific. It’s performer and audience melded together. What do we want more than to lie in our bed at the end of the day and just watch our life as a satisfied audience member. I know very little about anything. But what I do know is that if you can live your life without an audience, you should do it.

Bo Burnham, Make Happy

Burnham takes a cynical look at how teenagers and young adults see themselves today, as performers constantly on a stage. While I agree with him, that this is a common and terrifying desire, I think it is a valid one. In past decades, we have cultivated a culture that seeks attention, and what better age demographic to capitalize on that than the teenager? Even the most down-to-Earth teenager might still wistfully admit they wouldn’t mind going viral overnight.

All this said, this does not mean that teenagers don’t deserve privacy. The two needs can seem like they contradict one another, but Boyd argues that “what’s at stake is not whether someone can listen in but whether one should.” (58). Burnham’s initial videos uploaded to Youtube were intended for his older brother away at college, and yet they were seen and shared by strangers. Does the artist regret this? That is the risk we take when we upload something.

So where does that leave us?

US parental protection software firm Bark has created a helpful graphic to help parents decode common online phrases and symbols
I’m not really sure where this fits in the context of everything, outside of the fact that sometimes teens will use abbreviations to hide what they’re texting, but mostly I just thought this chart was hilarious.

How does this all tie into the library, specifically the Hyperlinked Library model? It’s easy for me to sit here and write down Five Fun Ways to Get Tech-Savvy Teens Into the Library! but I don’t know how much of an impact that actually makes in the long term. I think to make lasting generational change, we need to teach children and teenagers (and even adults) some healthy ways to use social media as well as how to find validation in themselves instead of through others. We need to teach the importance of digital privacy, and not just through the fear-mongering warning of “Remember, everything you put online is there forever!”. Yes, what we say and share online can have an impact, but that does not always make it a negative impact. Social media is a tool, not a trespass.

Yes, young people know how to work technology (it’s a bit more nuanced than that, but generally, yes). They can switch from platform to platform and they know how to create privacy among public spaces. As librarians of the Hyperlinked Library, it is our responsibility to make sure that their privacy is respected and to nudge them in a direction that helps them find the validation they need, without the need to go #viral.


Author’s Note: This piece was a real challenge to write. It was a case where I could see myself putting out something about digital literacy and how teens should be taught how to evaluate sources, but that wasn’t what was in my heart. Now, sitting here three hours later, reviewing the mess that I made, I kind wish that I had just written something straightforward. Maybe I overthought this, but I’m glad I was able to write about something that had been on my mind for a while.


References

Boyd, D. (2014). It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens (1st ed.). Yale University Press.

Burnham, B. (Director). (2016). Make Happy [Film]. Netflix.

Morgan, G. (2018, October 4). The great internet depression: Bo Burnham’s critique on the industry that created him. Medium. https://medium.com/live-at-park-hall/the-great-internet-depression-bo-burnhams-critique-on-the-industry-that-created-him-8c89fb1ca840

Pettit, H. (2017, June 12). The dangerous teenage texting slang all parents should know. Mail Online. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-4596096/The-dangerous-teenage-texting-slang-parents-know.html

Zielonka, A. (2018, June 16). Bo Burnham’s message for the social media generation he epitomizes. Medium. https://medium.com/@AdamZielonka/bo-burnhams-message-for-the-social-media-generation-he-epitomizes-225a108c4815#:%7E:text=Burnham%20calls%201990s%20America%20a,generation%20that%20demanded%20to%20perform.