Symposium Assignment and Final Reflection

When I signed up for this class, I thought I understood what the content would be. Like I’m sure many others did, I inferred that based on the title, “The Hyperlinked Library,” that it would focus on library services via a virtual model. But this class was about so much more than that. In fact, if I were to describe this class to colleagues or my students, while I would include it, technology wouldn’t be in the top three descriptors I would use. When preparing my symposium assignment, I decided to veer away from my comfort zone of the written word and experiment with a more visual medium. I chose to create an infographic that described the ingredients—baker that I am—of the #hyperlib as a way to explain it to others. In reviewing my blog entries, the course readings, and the work of my peers, I chose the top five components that distinguish the hyperlinked library from other virtual models: connection, curiosity, joy, reflection, and heart. I wrote one-sentence definitions and chose visual elements that embodied each aspect.

In looking back on this semester, I feel like I have learned so much about how to use the hyperlinked library model as a teacher librarian. With this being my last semester in the MLIS program, my last class of the program, and this post the last assignment I will complete as part of my studies, I can’t help but be a little sad at the thought of being done. One of my former professors from my English program warned me that completing a graduate program was the process of becoming a new person, and that I should only undertake it if I was ready to change into someone different from who I was. That it would be hard, that I would doubt myself, and that there would be times when I wished I had made a different choice. And while it was hard, and I did doubt myself, at no point have I wished that I chose differently. I will say that I am a different person, though, from who I was when I started. This process has helped me to become a more authentic version of myself—more closely aligned with my child-self who loved nothing more than to lose myself in the library for hours on end. And while I am sad at the thought of my formal studies being over, I am excited at the prospect of being able to share what I have learned with my students: to model for them what it means to follow one’s dreams, to help them become the best versions of themselves, and in turn for them to leave their mark on the world, too.

Director’s Brief: Virtual Learning Commons and Pastoral Care During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Executive Summary

School libraries have been reinventing themselves to inhabit both the physical and virtual world for many years (Loertscher, 2008, p. 46). As users’ needs have changed, and more of them access resources electronically, the ability of a library to connect with them outside the walls of the physical space has become a cornerstone of effective school library practice. With schools closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, what was once a part of a successful school library program has now become the primary method of service delivery. School librarians across the United States are devising innovative and flexible means for meeting the needs of their learning communities through a virtual learning commons model and the delivery of pastoral care during this time of crisis.

Learning Everywhere: Transitioning from a Place-Based Model to a Connected One

In early education circles, it is widely known that children learn through play, and more and more early education curriculums are being updated to reflect this understanding of cognitive development. For some reason, as children get older and grow into adults, this idea is traded in for a learning-through-work model—one which can be successful when viewed through an apprenticeship lens, but by no means encapsulates the only or best way to learn. Additionally, our educational model focuses heavily on control and compliance: students silent, in rows, and not a toe out of line. And while this lends itself to creating biddable adults, it does not teach our students how to be creative, take initiative, or take responsibility for themselves and their lives—which are the skills demanded in our changing work environment that depends more and more on the type of labor that cannot be automated. To prepare our students for this, school libraries are changing their service model to better suit their needs, and that means the quiet school libraries of old are no more. In “What Does the Next-Generation School Library Look Like?,” Luba Vangelova (I cannot read this name and not think of Miss Vanjie, so here’s a gif to acknowledge that!)

Drag Race GIF by RuPaul's Drag Race - Find & Share on GIPHY

features the Monticello High School Library in Charlottesville, Virginia as a model of what learning everywhere can mean in the school environment. The school librarian, Joan Ackroyd, explains that the very things that used to get students in trouble in the library in the past—talking, working on things other than schoolwork, and eating—are the very things that bring students to the library now. Furthermore, students are given ownership over their time and have to be responsible for their actions: “‘[t]hey need natural consequences[.] […] Controlling children that much and then telling them ‘goodbye’ when they turn 18 doesn’t work well” (Vangelova, 2014). As adults we are expected to juggle our work with our personal interests, and to make smart choices about when and how we do so. Kids need practice learning this, too, and by providing them with the things they need to do both, Monticello High’s Library Learning Commons is helping them develop these skills.

The need for flexibility in learning has become even more pronounced with the shelter in place orders covering most of the U.S. as COVID-19 is ravaging the globe. Michael Stephens addresses this in his book The Heart of Librarianship when he says, “[r]eal-world messiness offers a level of experience unmatched by classroom activities” (2016, p. 124). Our society has long favored place-based models of service and employment, and one could argue that this is largely due—at least now, anyway—to a desire by those in power to oversee the activities being completed and to control users and employees as they work. While libraries were already transitioning to a more flexible model to meet the changing needs of our learning communities before the spread of the virus, we are having to evolve even more rapidly to a connected learning model, which Stephens’ explains is “an openly networked atmosphere in which to work and learn” out of sheer necessity (2016, p. 125). Everyone—students, teachers, and adults—is being ask to change the way they work and learn, and to use new technologies to do it. It is messy,

Parents & Teachers During the Quarantine

Because we could all use a little laugh right now! 🤣Parent: Brandalyn Shropshire – BJS Productions – youtube.com/user/BJSProductionsTVTeacher: Stefan Jones – youtube.com/c/StellarStefan

Posted by Bored Teachers on Sunday, April 12, 2020
@bailey_jones

Excuse me while I cry because I’m a senior in college. My softball career is forever done. #fy #fyp #foryou #foryoupage #coronavirus

♬ to build a home by the cinematic orchestra – bigb00tyjuulgang

and can be frustrating on numerous levels: not everyone has the required devices, Internet access is a privilege, technological literacy levels vary from person to person, we are all navigating a world-wide traumatic event, and the emotional toll of missing once-in-a-lifetime milestones can be devastating. But we all—including libraries—are learning day by day. And we are also recognizing that not all efforts will be successful, and that is okay, too. R. Toby Greenwalt addresses this in his article “Embracing the Long Game.” Often our fear of failure inhibits our willingness to try new ways of providing library service, and he argues that failure is to be expected in the quest for evolution: “[i]t wouldn’t be library science without a little experimentation, and some of those experiments are going to fail. But occasionally, an idea is going to succeed. And when it does, it creates an opportunity to reshape the notion of what our libraries can do” (Greenwalt, 2013). Not all of our attempts to provide learning opportunities in our COVID-19 world will be successful, but through our attempts we are all learning together. And it is the “together” part of the equation that matters most.

References

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

Stephens, M. T. (2016). The heart of librarianship: attentive, positive, and purposeful change. Chicago: ALA Editions, an imprint of the American Library Association.

Vangelova, L. (2014). “What does the next-generation school library look like?” KQED Inc. Retrieved from: https://www.kqed.org/mindshift/36326/what-does-the-next-generation-school-library-look-like.

New Models of Library Service in the time of COVID-19

Libraries are constantly working to stay relevant in our ever-changing world. We observe. We analyze. We plan. We implement. Then we plan some more. And to a certain extent, our attempts to continue to meet the needs of our patrons are successful. Eric Klinenberg talks about the manner in which libraries function as social infrastructure, providing a space for those in need and helping to solve the problems that we as a society do not know how to fix. Not only are libraries on the front lines fighting against these problems, but, as Klinenberg explains, when policy makers were asked to address these problems, they came up with the idea of community resilience centers: “[t]hey kept on describing this place, and as I listened it occurred to me that they were essentially describing libraries” (2018). Even with a lack of adequate funding, libraries work to serve everyone who graces their doors. But how do we create new models of service in the middle of a worldwide pandemic? When our doors are closed, and the people we serve—especially those who seek refuge in our physical space—cannot visit? How do we plan for that?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot over the last couple of weeks as we’ve all been asked to shelter in place. To stay home. Feeling both grateful to have a safe place to shelter and anxious for the many people that I know do not. I read that the governor of California is working to house those without homes who may have COVID-19 or be at risk of having it, but the number is a small drop in the bucket compared to the number of people who need shelter—those people have no where to go, and there is no national effort to address this (2020). Food banks are being stretched to the limit, in both rural and urban areas. Record numbers of people have lost their jobs in the last few weeks, and more will in the future, as it seems quite clear that this stay at home order will last well into the summer at a minimum.

People are suffering. But what we librarians know is that people have been suffering for some time now, and the virus is amplifying conditions that were already here: racial disparities, economic disparities, gender disparities, and those related to one’s sexual identity. A stark difference is that the normal justification used by those in power for ignoring those disparities—individual responsibility—is not applicable. They cannot say that the virus is the fault of those suffering. And even if the government response has been sorely lacking when it comes to supporting anyone who isn’t a corporation, libraries are once again stepping in to that void, to be the social infrastructure our communities need in this time of crisis. The ALA conducted a survey of public libraries and the services they are providing during the pandemic. In addition to doing things one might expect, like providing additional service and support for their electronic collections and adding virtual programming, they are also using 3-D printers to make protective equipment for medical staff, working with other local officials to coordinate shelter for the homeless, and maintaining or expanding free Wi-Fi service from their physical locations for use by the public. Furthermore, they are planning to support “expand economic recovery services for impacted businesses and workers” once they can reopen safely (ALA, 2020). Libraries are using the hyperlinked model to connect with each other, to connect with their communities, and to connect their communities with what they need.

My one hope in this unprecedented time is that COVID-19 will help us see just how connected we truly are. How our actions reverberate through the community—both locally and globally. How our consumer-driven world, rooted in the worship of money and profit, is not the only way to live. How by taking care of others, we take care of ourselves. How we can still live a happy and comfortable life without ravaging our planet. Wishful thinking, perhaps. But still, I hope.

References

American Library Association. (2020). Public libraries launch, expand services during COVID-19 pandemic. Retrieved from: http://www.ala.org/news/press-releases/2020/04/public-libraries-launch-expand-services-during-covid-19-pandemic-0.

Levin. M. (2020). Here’s how putting California’s homeless in hotels actually works. CalMatters. Retrieved from: https://calmatters.org/housing/2020/04/california-coronavirus-homeless-hotels-motels-newsom/.

Peet, L. (2018). Eric Klienenberg: Libraries and social infrastructure. Library Journal. Retrieved from: https://www.libraryjournal.com/?detailStory=181003-Eric-Klinenberg-QA.

The Panther Creation Lab: A Place for Joy

Introduction

One of the most daunting questions facing teenagers as they progress through high school is deciding what career to pursue. Options advocated for by adults are often are at odds with what students enjoy, and many feel that there is not a way to find the intersection of employment and joy or purpose—what has been traditionally referred to as a calling or a vocation. With our current educational system, there is little room for exploring personal interests while completing graduation requirements. School libraries are in a unique position to provide both the resources and the space for students to explore these interests—for their own personal enjoyment and as a means for finding work that feeds their souls and pays the bills, as advocated for by Ken Robinson (2010)—because it can serve as a neutral space that is neither school nor home (Loertscher & Koechlin, 2014, p. E4).  At McKinleyville High School, the Mack High Library Commons seeks to meet this challenge head on by opening the Panther Creation Lab, a space where students have the freedom to learn about what inspires them, create content based on that inspiration, and share it with the world.

Goals/Objectives for Technology or Service:

The goals and objectives of this plan center on promoting student exploration of their passions through content creation and publication. Through the Panther Creation Lab, and its sister programs Panther Productions and Panther Press, students will be given the opportunity to learn and create content about topics of personal interest to them. Like other successful programs in school libraries across the country, this content could then be featured as part of the Mack High Library Commons collection (Snelling, 2019, p. 32). In addition to providing authentic opportunities for students to learn the technological skills needed to create the content, it will also provide them with a means for exploring the possibility for those passions to become their future career.

Description of Community you wish to engage:

With a small population of around five hundred students, the Mack High Library Commons has a vibrant and increasingly diverse community of learners. Spanning grades 9-12, the students matriculate from a large and rural geographic area, and have a broad range of experiences and interests. With a high population of low-income students and some geographical barriers to reliable internet service, providing equal access to and experience working with technology at the MHLC is paramount to eliminating potential obstacles to success. The larger learning community is comprised of the teachers, classified staff, administrators and district staff, school board members, feeder schools, and families of our students, and the library works actively to craft programming, services, and outreach to all of our patrons. 

Action Brief Statement:

For Students

Convince MHS students that by exploring their passions and sharing them with each other through content creation they will learn about themselves, which will allow them to determine what they love to do because one’s time should be spent doing things that bring us joy.

For District and Administration Stakeholders

Convince MHLC stakeholders that by providing the learning community with a content creation lab they will support students in discovering and developing their passions, which will encourage exploration of future career options because a vocation centered in joy is essential to a happy life.

Evidence and Resources to support Technology or Service:

A selection of academic and professional articles about content creation in the library:

Hunt, J. (2018). Advocate This, Not That: Four bold strategies to elevate your school library. School Library Journal, 64(1), 20.

 Loertscher, D., & Marcoux, E. (2015). Learning commons progress report. Teacher Librarian, 42(3), 8.

Waugh, A., Taylor, N., Subramaniam, M., Ahn, J., Drain, A., & Fleischmann, K. (2013). Young people’s engagement in content creation an analysis of outliers. Proceedings of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 50(1), 1-12.

Examples and Resources:

A video about a successful library club program that worked to create a solution to a community problem:

A documentary created by middle school students from Schoenbar Middle School in Ketchikan, Alaska:

A course from PBS Learning on video production

A list of apps for use in content creation

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

As part of the larger MHLC Mission Statement to “provide space for students to be engaged in their passions and the magic of the world around them by nurturing a love of learning, reading, and personal development” (Hill, 2019), and the existing MHLC policies that govern patron use, many of the guidelines and policies necessary for successful implementation of the Panther Creation Lab are already in place. The school already has a robust technology use policy in effect that could be expanded to include work in the lab. Additional considerations could be addressed through the district technology committee, including vetting possible platforms to ensure student privacy requirements are met. Students would also be consulted about lab policy, what community standards they feel should be adhered to as users of the space, and what types of content creation will be supported. Centering students in the planning and implementation of this program does what Aaron Schmidt suggests libraries do: ask patrons about their lives and create services accordingly (2016). Publication of content through Panther Press and Panther Productions could be contingent upon honoring those community standards.

Funding Considerations for this Technology or Service: 

There would be some expenditures related to the development of the Panther Creation Lab. As explained by Peta Hopkins, Jo Hare, Jessie Donaghey and Wendy Abbott in “Geo, Audio, Video, Photo: How Digital Convergence in Mobile Devices Facilitates Participatory Culture in Libraries” (2015), there is a saturation of mobile devices in the student population already, and there are many free apps that have already been created that are designed for the types of content students would be making, which “support participatory culture […] through: [l]ow barriers to artistic expression and civic engagement, [s]trong support for creating and sharing, [s]ome form of mentorship, [m]embers who believe their contributions matter, [and] [m]embers who have some degree of social connection” (p. 15). For our students who are without those devices, use of already purchased school technology would help to bridge those gaps. Additional purchase of equipment—like a green screen, music mixing equipment, cell phone tripods, and the like—could be done in phases, based on a survey of what students most desire to use in their content creation. A mixture of library funds, donations, grants, and fund-raising could be combined to cover the cost of procurement for necessary equipment, depending on each fiscal year’s budget.

Action Steps & Timeline: 

  • Phase 1: survey students and larger learning community to determine the types of content they would most enjoy making and the hours they would like the lab to be open—two weeks
  • Phase 2: inventory existing technology for use in the lab—two weeks
  • Phase 3: cross-reference list of existing technology with list of technology needed to operate the lab—one week
  • Phase 4: create budget memo to obtain needed equipment—one week
  • Phase 5: re-designate classroom attached to library for use as the Content Creation Lab and prepare space for use—two weeks
    • This classroom is already part of the library space, and would not require approval to change its use.
  • Phase 6: create lab schedule in consultation with administration, content teachers, and students—one week
  • Phase 7: roll out first types of content creation based on available technology and funds, and student choice—one semester
  • Phase 8: assess effectiveness of program based on data of student use, enjoyment, and amount of content created following a semester of use—two weeks
  • Phase 9: conduct qualitative survey of lab users to identify areas of success and improvement, which will be used to request additional funding for needed technology, update schedule of hours, and redirect resources not being used to other areas of content creation—one month

Staffing Considerations for this Technology or Service: 

No new staff would be required, although expansion of the library clerk’s hours from part-time to full-time would be desirable as part of a larger effort to increase library services and hours. In the event that an increase of hours is not possible, a change in the library clerk schedule could be considered to expand hours after school. Additionally, current library technology students could choose to facilitate lab time as part of their existing classes. By encouraging students with existing skills to participate and providing those who are interested with necessary training, the MHLC could make this a more student-run operation, with supervision provided by the teacher librarian and library clerk.

Training for this Technology or Service:  

One of the most exciting aspects of the Panther Creation Lab is that library staff and students could learn aspects of content creation together—whether that be eBooks, graphic novels, videos and tutorials, podcasts, or music. It is this aspect that makes this venture truly participatory: instead of the normal hierarchy of teacher/student, the playing field is leveled with all learning together how to edit videos, record audio, create digital art, and use publication software to write texts (Stephens, 2016, p. 2). As an additional benefit, it could also create more opportunities for collaboration with content teachers and the diversification of assessment deliverables that students could submit to demonstrate learning.

Promotion & Marketing for this Technology or Service: 

Promotion and marketing for the Panther Creation Lab would be multi-pronged. In addition to featuring it on the MHLC website, marketing for the program and of student content could also be done via MHLC Instragram, YouTube, and Soundcloud accounts—mediums in high use by our student population already. Students would also have the option of posting it to their own social media accounts and tagging the MHLC accounts for maximum outreach. This would allow content to be seen by not just our students, but our community at large. Additionally, hashtags would allow for marketing with content creators outside of our local community, and would help students build connections with others around the world who have the same interests.

Evaluation:

The most important benchmark for the Panther Creation Lab is whether students are using it and enjoying their experience. In order to ensure a vibrant school library, students must first want to spend time there; the best way to do that is to redefine the library as a social organization with social programming (Agosto, Magee, Dickard, & Forte, 2016, p. 263). By providing a space that they can use for their own enjoyment, to explore their own interests, the MHLC will create a community of engaged learners who pursue knowledge of importance to them—the marker of a life-long learner. This skill is perhaps one of the most important that we can instill in our children, as its development goes hand in hand with success in both professional and personal life. What I want most is for the students to talk about their experiences, to share the content they create, and to use it as the basis for future learning and joy. And in the future as new technologies are developed, I would like to see relevant ones nominated for integration into the lab by students, with teachers and students learning about them together.

References

Agosto, D., Magee, R., Dickard, M., & Forte, A. (2016). Teens, Technology, and Libraries: An Uncertain Relationship. The Library Quarterly, 86(3), 248-269.

Hill, N. (2019). Environmental scan and mission statement. Retrieved from: https://docs.google.com/document/d/14IYVJyAz6C7oxNHN6LgQ_FmzBn3cT5no7OE5CBuaVWI/edit?usp=sharing

Hopkins, P., Hare, J., Donaghey, J., & Abbott, W. (2015). Geo, audio, video, photo: How digital convergence in mobile devices facilitates participatory culture in libraries. The Australian Library Journal, 64(1), 11-22.

Loertscher, D. & Koechlin, C. (2014). Climbing excellence: Defining characteristics of successful learning commons. Knowledge Quest. Retrieved from: https://www.dropbox.com/s/g3cxlopfg05fexo/KQ_MarApr14_ClimbingtoExcellence.pdf?dl=0.

Robinson, K. (2010). Bring on the learning revolution!. TedTalks. Retrieved from: https://www.ted.com/talks/sir_ken_robinson_bring_on_the_learning_revolution

Schmidt, A. (2016). Asking the right questions: The user experience. Library Journal. Retrieved from: https://www.libraryjournal.com/?detailStory=asking-the-right-questions-the-user-experience

Snelling, J. (2019). Fully charged. School Library Journal, 65(9), 30.

Stephens, M. T. (2016). The heart of librarianship: attentive, positive, and purposeful change. Chicago: ALA Editions, an imprint of the American Library Association.

Connection with the Self: Hyperlinked School Libraries as Spaces for Learning about What Brings Us Joy

While Matthew Lynch rightfully argues in “Saving School Libraries: How Technology and Innovation Help Them Stay Relevant” that the school library must be “the common thread that ties all disciplines together for [the] most effective K-12 student experiences” (2016), David Loertscher and Carol Koechlin advocate for a more holistic approach to the school library environment. In their article “Climbing Excellence: Defining Characteristics of Successful Learning Commons,” they make the case that a vibrant school library—what they call a learning commons—is not just a place for academic pursuits. Instead, they point out that “[i]t will sometimes take on a role as “third space,” neither home nor school. It is the place young people love—their space” (Loertscher & Koechlin, 2014, p. E4). What makes this so important is that the school library can be the place where students can cultivate their creativity—something that Sir Ken Robinson identifies in his TedTalk “Do Schools Kill Creativity?,”

as being “as important in education as literacy” (2006). He later expounded on this idea that schools must work to better nurture our children’s genuine interests. For so long, our focus in education has been to prepare students for what the world wants from them. He argues in a subsequent TedTalk, “Bring on the Learning Revolution,”

that we should instead help students find what they want from the world so that they can be part of the group of people whose work is who they are and not what they do while they wait for the weekend (Robinson, 2010).

Until the larger educational model transitions to instruction that fosters this kind of development, a hyperlinked school library has the opportunity to fill this need. In our society our focus is always directed outward on what others think we should do, and then we are surprised that students don’t know who they are or what they want from their lives. By providing a space where they can develop a relationship with themselves, to learn about what brings them joy and feeds their souls, we give them the freedom to live an authentic life. I can’t count the number of conversations I’ve had with my students who say that they love doing one thing, but their parents/counselors/society tells them to become a doctor/lawyer/banker/engineer because it’s the “smart choice” for a successful life. What I try to impart upon them is that success is more than financial security, and even if they follow that path financial success isn’t guaranteed, using my own experience as an accountant as an example. I was good at my job; I made enough money to pay my rent. But I hated my work—for YEARS I spent my time doing something I hated. I encourage them to pursue their dreams: become an artist, fix cars, make music, get a job on a fishing vessel. True success is spending the one commodity we can’t buy—time—doing the things we enjoy and spending it with the people we love.

References

Loertscher, D. & Koechlin, C. (2014). Climbing excellence: Defining characteristics of successful learning commons. Knowledge Quest. Retrieved from: https://www.dropbox.com/s/g3cxlopfg05fexo/KQ_MarApr14_ClimbingtoExcellence.pdf?dl=0.

Lynch, M. (2016). Saving school libraries: How technology and innovation help them stay relevant. The Edvocate. Retrieved from: https://www.theedadvocate.org/saving-school-libraries-technology-innovation-help-stay-relevant/.

Robinson, K. (2006). Do school kill creativity?. TedTalks. Retrieved from: https://www.ted.com/talks/sir_ken_robinson_do_schools_kill_creativity#t-1148933

Robinson, K. (2010). Bring on the learning revolution!. TedTalks. Retrieved from: https://www.ted.com/talks/sir_ken_robinson_bring_on_the_learning_revolution

Hyperlinked Communities: Connection and Healing

The ideas we’ve been engaging with over the course of this class are concepts that I think those of us already working in libraries have been mulling over for some time. Those outside the library think that we traffic in books and technology—which is true on a surface level, but we know that while those things might be the tangible manifestation of our work, our real jobs center around people. Sally Pewhairangi explains in her article, “A Beautiful Obsession,” that, “[t]he principal currency today is no longer information, products or services; it is human attention” (2014, p. 8). For libraries, that means fighting against the barrage of other attention-grabbing distractions so readily available with services that patrons want.

As this awareness has permeated the profession, we have made a bigger effort to ask our patrons what services and programming they need. Aaron Schmidt argues in his piece, “Asking the Right Questions: The User Experience,” that while this effort is laudable, we are again missing the point. He suggests that “[i]nstead of asking people about libraries, we need to ask people about their lives” (Schmidt, 2016). At first glance, this might seem counter-intuitive, but when reexamined it actually makes a lot of sense. People’s notions of what a library is and what services are possible are as limited as the representations of librarians in popular media:

By framing questions around the lives of patrons instead of their understanding of libraries and library services, librarians not only build meaningful relationships with their users, but they obtain the information necessary to provide truly transformative programming—programming that can connect us with each other and the world around us. And this is at the heart of what libraries do, as so eloquently described by Amy Stolls in “The Healing Power of Libraries.” She rightly points out that libraries generally, and books specifically, remind us “that there is beauty in our shared language, that in our struggles we are often not alone. They help us heal” (Stolls, n.d.). No matter the service, it is the healing power of connection that hyperlinked libraries provide to their communities.

References

Cinefantastique Online (2009). Ghostbusters: Library. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MYjFKsJjCP0&feature=youtu.be

Pewhairangi, S. (2014). A beautiful obsession. Weve, 7–10.

Schmidt, A. (2016). Asking the right questions: The user experience. Library Journal. Retrieved from: https://www.libraryjournal.com/?detailStory=asking-the-right-questions-the-user-experience

Stolls, A. (n.d.). The healing power of libraries. National Endowment for the Arts. Retrieved from: https://www.arts.gov/article/healing-power-libraries.

Context Book Report: Consent of the Networked by Rebecca MacKinnon

The Internet has fundamentally transformed our world in ways that we as are just now beginning to understand. And yet as we begin to scratch the surface of the myriad ways in which the Internet has changed the way we live, connect, and work, there are many questions that remain unanswered. In Consent of the Networked: The Worldwide Struggle for Internet Freedom, Rebecca MacKinnon lays out the complicated issues surrounding access to, censorship of, and participation in the digital world that has become so necessary to membership in civil society. With access to the Internet a requisite part of today’s life, she argues that its users must provide their consent to the laws, policies, and practices that inform our technological landscape—much like citizens in democratic countries consent to be governed based on their ability determine the means of their governance. She warns that, “[a]mid all of our excitement over new technologies, our default assumption as citizens must be that governments, powerful corporations seeking market dominance, and various other interest groups will use digital networks to obtain and maintain power whenever the opportunity presents itself” (MacKinnon, 2012, p. 14). She gives numerous examples of countries around the world—including democracies like the United States and the U.K., large companies—including Google, Facebook, and Microsoft, and interest groups—like those with a financial interest in intellectual property rights or those who seek to protect minors from content deemed inappropriate, and the ways in which their desire for control over or access to information in the digital world, however well-intentioned, invariably lead to consequences that leave the individual user at a distinct disadvantage. Several countries use governmental powers to legislate the censoring of content considered dangerous to the state, and build the ability to locate individuals who speak out online into their technological framework with the help of technology companies; some use violations of intellectual property rights to selectively jail dissenters under the guise of acquiescing to requests from democratic countries. These are just a few of the examples she provides regarding the inherently complex nature of the relationships between these vested interests.

The Panopticon as imagined by Jeremy Bentham, and critiqued by Michel Foucault.
Jeremy Bentham / Public domain

In addition to the overt means of censorship and use of personal data by governments and private companies to stifle dissent in favor of hegemony, there are also implications that are less so. She connects government surveillance of Internet users’ activity to Foucault’s theory of the Panopticon: when people know that they are being watched, but not necessarily when, that they will self-police their behavior (MacKinnon, 2012, p. 80). You can listen to audio of him speaking about it here. For citizens, simply the knowledge that their activity could be monitored results in a less vocal democratic body. And while there is a recognition that attempts to legislate on behalf of the rights of individuals has fallen woefully short in favor of the needs of governments, corporations, and private interests, MacKinnon makes clear that this does not mean that we as citizens should capitulate to the powers that be: “[t]he difference between Internet freedom and Internet tyranny is not whether the Internet should be governed; instead it is a question of how the Internet should be governed” (MacKinnon, 2012, p. 198).

This question must be answered by the larger public, a public that generally does not even know that these debates are happening, and if they do know, they do not understand the nuanced nature of the technological issues at hand—a problem that MacKinnon is painfully aware of. She explains that in order to create a digital world that serves the people, “[t]he first step is to build much broader public awareness and participation. People need to stop thinking of themselves as passive ‘users’ and ‘customers,’ and start acting like citizens of the Internet—as ‘netizens.’” (MacKinnon, 2012, p. 223). This issue of awareness, education, and participation is central to creating an informed citizenry, and aligns with the principles of a hyperlinked library—namely, a subversion of organizational structures, a lack of hierarchical institutions, seamless service across all channels, equal access to all users, and an evolutionary path that includes some amount of chaos (Stephens, 2018, p. 2). Furthermore, it is the ability to connect that is the hallmark of the hyperlinked library, and Internet freedom is essential to maintaining those connections. Surprisingly, in the almost three hundred pages of this book not once did she mention libraries and information organizations or librarians and information professionals, and the role that we can have in helping our communities become informed “netizens.” There were oblique references to academic experts; however, the connection between information literacy and internet freedom through the lens of information science was markedly absent. As librarians, not only is Internet freedom one of the foundational tenants of our profession, but through a concerted effort with our colleagues around the world, we have the ability to fundamental change the way that citizens understand and participate in the digital world. We have the ability to educate our patrons so that they are able to understand exactly what they are consenting to when it comes to their rights as digital citizens, and empower them to advocate for their rights to a free and democratic Internet.

References

Chiazzo, G. (2016). An introduction to Michel Foucault’s Discipline and Punish – A Macat sociology analysis. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iVFtc9_AB2k

Gutting, G., & Oksala, J. (2018, May 22). Michel Foucault. Retrieved from https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/foucault/

hiperf289. (n.d.). Michel Foucault on ‘Disciplinary Society,’ part 1. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xk9ulS76PW8

MacKinnon, R. (2013). Consent of the networked: the worldwide struggle for Internet freedom. New York: Basic Books.

Stephens, M. T. (2016). The heart of librarianship: attentive, positive, and purposeful change. Chicago: ALA Editions, an imprint of the American Library Association.

The Hyperlinked Library Model: Lions and People and Caring, Oh My!

I’ve been watching nature programs to destress since the semester started, and have been continually amazed by the interconnectedness of life—how through the advancement of science and technology we’ve created a window into the secret lives of animals, learning new things about how they live and work together that often seem very similar to our own experience in this world. I watched a show about lions yesterday, and they shared responsibilities when it came to hunting for food, rearing their cubs, and keeping each other safe. In nature, as humans our survival also depended on our being able to work together to meet the needs of our community. And even though in many respects we have divorced ourselves from the natural world, our need for connection has remained.

The Hyperlinked Library is a result of our evolving needs to create and maintain those connections in the face of an ever-changing world. According to David Weinberger in “The Hyperlinked Organization,” with the invention of the web, businesses and organizations—libraries included—have been changing from a hierarchical structure to one where customers and patrons take a more active role in all aspects of operations. Decisions are no longer made behind closed doors; the narrative is no longer solely controlled by those in power. He explains, “[c]onversations subvert hierarchy. Hyperlinks subvert hierarchy. Being a human being among others subverts hierarchy” (Weinberger, 2001). Through the web, through hyperlinks, users have the ability to connect and influence decisions by networking with each other and having honest conversations about their experiences. In the library, this means that users have the opportunity to participate more in the development and implementation of library services and programming—assuming that those in the library participate in the conversations being had by their users.

Making these connections, having these conversations, whether as a librarian or a user, depends on the kinds of skills that once were seen as less valuable in public sphere (The feminist critic in me could write a whole paper on this. Suffice to say that male forms of knowledge and behavior have historically been elevated—wrongly—over those deemed feminine.). Not only do we complete tasks that I used to joke about in finance as being listed under item number 13: other duties as assigned, but we must do so in a way that builds equal relationships with our patrons. We have to care. As explained in The Heart of Librarianship, “[w]hat we do is not simply what is written in our job descriptions” (Stephens, 2016, p. 27). In my position as a school librarian I noticed that my work was less about what most would consider “library things,” and more about the care I provided to my students. This care was centered around treating them as equals instead of the traditional hierarchal relationship of teacher/student and being present with them while we worked to meet whatever needs they might have in the moment. Yes, some had information needs, but they all had human needs that must be met first. In wondering whether my experience was unique or not, I did a research project centered around this idea last semester, and while still a new topic in the LIS field, what research has been done shows that this type of pastoral care is something that school librarians identify as being a primary component of their job. But it is most certainly not listed anywhere in their formal job description. In a hyperlinked library, librarianship is no longer simply the maintenance and delivery of information to users; it is the creation and maintenance of relationships that enable users to meet their own information needs. Or as Stephens identifies in The Heart of Librarianship, “[it] means focusing on the heart (2016, p. 6).

References

BBC America. (2020). Lions. Dynasties.

Stephens, M. T. (2016). The heart of librarianship: attentive, positive, and purposeful change. Chicago: ALA Editions, an imprint of the American Library Association.

Weinberger, D. (2001). The cluetrain manifesto: The hyperlinked organization. Retrieved from https://www.cluetrain.com/book/hyperorg.html

Salutations!

Greetings, all. My name is Naomi, and I’m in my final semester of the MLIS program here at San Jose State. I live amidst the redwoods on the coast of northern California, and graduated from Humboldt State with a B.A. in English. After working in finance for many years, I opted to change careers and fully transitioned to teaching after earning my English credential. Through a serendipitous set of circumstances, after applying to this program I was hired to work as a library teacher at a local high school, and taught for the last two years in temporary positions while taking the requirements to complete my library credential. I have been fortunate to only be a student for the first time in my adult life as of last semester, which is allowing me to focus solely on my studies—a true novelty. With my library credential requirements completed as of December, I have this class and e-port to finish before graduation in May.

On a personal note, I’m a bit of an introvert. I love to read—shocking, I know. I also love to cook and bake yummy things, tend to my small container garden, and listen to music. My tastes are varied, but I tend to favor house music when given the choice. I watch a variety of television and movies, and spend a fair amount of time with my large (and somewhat eccentric) family as well. Finally, I enjoy traveling—both to remind me of the world outside the redwood curtain and why I always return.

I look forward to meeting all of you, and am excited for the opportunity to learn together as we explore The Hyperlinked Library.