Infinite, Innovative, and Intrinsic Learning

It was so difficult to choose a topic to reflect on for this week. The title “Infinite Learning” is very appropriate to the modules because the direction that you can take this reflection, or the services that you can discuss, or the ideas that were inspired by these readings, truly are infinite. A couple honorable mentions for me in the past couple weeks of discovery were:

  • Adulting 101 classes – This can be scaled to so many other groups (e.g. Teenage Skills, 101, Applying to Colleges 101, Living on Your Own, 101) (Stephens, Learning Everywhere). 

Picture credit: @thekitcheninsta Twitter

  • Linking podcasts to literature: For example, If you liked podcast, try reading this ___ book (Stephens, Learning Everywhere). I love the idea of creating a multimedia element to this learning service connecting a newer medium (podcasting), to a more traditional library service (print books). It’s such a good way to bring in 21st century forms of media and combine them in an interactive way with library services. A few years ago I jumped aboard the podcast train and I haven’t jumped off yet. I love the idea of storytelling in this format and the idea of curating podcasts, podcast book clubs (pod clubs), and connecting listeners to either related literature or literature referenced throughout a podcast episode I would absolutely love to see more of (Stephens, Gifts of This Hour). 

Photo credit: https://www.simonandschuster.com/getliterary/books-to-read-if-you-listen-to-the-last-podcast-on-the-left/

  • Idea Box – A constantly evolving, user-created, participatory service with no boundaries to what can be created within? I’m in. I loved that an idea and service as broad and open-ended as this one was able to experience so much success. The Idea Box is “takes a major cue from the way communities emerge and develop online…These experiences–which can often be consumed in just a few minutes–help to introduce what Harris calls ‘surprise and delight’ into the library visit, helping to improve the overall experience” (Greenwalt, 2013). I’d love to visit a library that has a version of an Idea Box. It’s great that a service like this can be replicated across all libraries, yet it would never look exactly the same at any of them since it is always a reflection of the community who is contributing.

One thing I wanted to push myself to focus on aside from these amazing ideas and programming, is my PLN, or Personal Learning Network. There was a quote in a reading from Professor Stephens this week that read, “keep revisiting the ideas coming out of a conference with follow-up sessions or online chats to work through barriers and share successes and failures. That would break the ‘hear it, discuss it, get excited, take it home, and then watch it die’ cycle” and this hit way too close to home for me because I realized that this is something I hate to admit that I have done time and time again … (Stephens, PLEs @ ALA). I do try to attend as many workshops and conferences as time and money allow. However, I have to recognize that I am guilty of falling into this familiar trap of first: excitement, second: thinking of the endless possibilities of future programming and services, third: the fizzling away of ideas into the sunset.  I’m deciding to make nurturing my Personal Learning Networks a primary goal from this point forward. I want to acknowledge the many avenues that learning comes into my life so that I can continue to foster that particular network and keep the lines of lifelong learning open. I decided to make a little slide that charts the various networks:

I’ll probably continue adding to this as more networks pop into my head. But these help me distinguish clearly between the ways that I network and facilitate learning, in whatever form that may take. 

References:

7 Books to Read If You Listen to The Last Podcast on the Left (2019). In Get Literary. Retrieved from https://www.simonandschuster.com/getliterary/books-to-read-if-you-listen-to-the-last-podcast-on-the-left/

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

Stephens, M. (2017). Gifts of this hour. In Office Hours. Retrieved from https://287.hyperlib.sjsu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/GiftsofthisHour.pdf

Stephens, M. (2019). Learning Everywhere. [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from https://sjsu-ischool.hosted.panopto.com/Panopto/Pages/Viewer.aspx?id=e38d4a22-9626-4b29-a038-aaef0124ee52

Stephens, M. (2018). PLEs @ ALA. In Library Journal. Retrieved from https://www.libraryjournal.com/?detailStory=ljx181002newsOfficeHours

Mobile Mentalities

I work with middle school kids and some days it can be really hard to snap out of the “Kids these days…” mentality when I see them walking around, heads bent down, eyes and hands fixated on their cell phones the moment that school is over and the cell phones are allowed to come out. I know that they are most likely not jumping straight to an ebook or researching information on news stories. Most often, they are using their phones to hop onto social media or play games. However, I do have control over my mindset and my optimism about what mobile devices mean to the next generation. Instead of expressing pessimism in their total absorption with these devices, we can channel this energy and our opinions into catering services to the next generation using the format that is most appealing to them: mobile devices. 

Photo from: https://www.forbes.com/sites/alexledsom/2019/08/30/the-mobile-phone-ban-in-french-schools-one-year-on-would-it-work-elsewhere/#2737179f5e70

As Lee and Roddis (2016) write, “More than any other group, younger people expect to be able to use their mobiles to manage their lives.” The term “managing” can be open for interpretation because the way we choose to manage our lives on our mobile devices might look different than how younger groups manage theirs. It is also at the point where we cannot dictate how they will continue to use their devices to “manage” their lives, but we can offer potential interfaces for them to access. 

I loved the quote from Dr. Stephen’s article this week that describes information as having “an active social life; creating and sharing ideas plays out across networks and social sites” (2015). Just as the younger generations have active social lives on their mobile devices, information too has a social life. Where can we connect the two?  

Photo from:

https://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/article/2017/mobile-kids-the-parent-the-child-and-the-smartphone/

If kids are using their phones mostly to text and to download apps, in order to get information into useful information into their hands, we have to be meeting them at this level, which will include the creation of more library apps or outreach services that connect to people through their mobile devices. Stephens (2016) continues, “Information professionals who establish free, open, and well-publicized communication channels on mobile platforms and who build these channels for user interactivity, will be rewarded with a growing, engaged community base.” We focus so much on persuading kids to put their mobile devices down, when instead we can be encouraging them to use them in a different, interactive way that involves the library, access to information, gamifying educational resources, and/or creating interactive methods of involving them in the creation of new information. 

Entering into their online lives through their mobile devices at a younger age will allow for continual exposure to learning platforms catered to their desired mode of access. If kids are introduced to information, library, book, etc., resources now, then they will probably be more likely to use them as they grow older, including when they enter higher education. Weinberger (2014), discusses how it can’t always be up to us in the field to dictate how the future of libraries is going to look or act. He writes, “Our job then, is not to invent the future of libraries, it is to enable others to do so.” Instead of feeling pessimistic about the amount of time that we all spend on our mobile devices, we should channel this into providing access and information in whatever format is most desired, most accessible, and most used by the next generation and put it in their hands to determine how information services will evolve. 

References:

Lee, P. & Roddis, E. (2016). How do today’s students use mobiles? In Deloitte UK. Retrieved from  https://www2.deloitte.com/uk/en/pages/public-sector/articles/how-do-todays-students-use-mobiles.html#

Stephens, M. (2015). Serving users when and where they are: Hyperlinked libraries. Retrieved from https://tametheweb.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Stephens_ServingtheUser_HyperlinkedLibraries.pdf

Weinberger, D. (2014). Let the future go. In The Digital Shift. Retrieved from http://www.thedigitalshift.com/2014/09/digital-libraries/let-the-future-go/

Curiosity-Driven Learning in an Academic Environment

Last week, I sampled bits and pieces of the mini-modules, but I read through The Hyperlinked Academic Library in its entirety. Since an academic library is the type of environment I’d like to eventually transition into, I was really curious to see how the Hyperlinked and Library 2.0 ideologies could transfer into an environment which can be a bit stiffer and possibly suffer from more bureaucratic red tape than other types of libraries might experience. 

I found the article, “Sparking Curiosity,” to be very intriguing in its use of curiosity in the learning and engagement process. The notion of being a Hyperlinked academic library involves bringing students, faculty, and staff in and providing them with nuggets of information that will lead to a spark of curiosity. An inspired, involved, and curious university body will in turn create more high quality research output and discoveries. 

Cycle of Curiosity-Driven Research. McREL International https://www.mcrel.org/curiosityworks/

It seems to me that the faculty would be a great demographic to work on involving. They serve as a direct bridge between the library and their students and they could become a stakeholder and champion of academic libraries if they encourage their students to use the library or by assigning projects that encourage curiosity. Rempel and Deitering write that, “instructors and librarians must create conditions where students feel motivated, capable, and safe enough to explore and learn in the research process” (2017). 

Photo by Lloyd Degrane at the University of Chicago: Conducting classes in the library

They also argue that librarians need to be entering the research process with students at an earlier stage. Instead of having students use the library once a project is “assigned” to them, librarians and faculty can collaborate and create a process rather than a product. The process should induce curiosity. In fact, it should be primarily driven by curiosity. Rempel and Deitering continue: “They needed to analyze and understand their own curiosity, think about its role in the academic research process, and figure out how curiosity might shape their thinking and learning more generally, beyond the first-year composition classroom” (2017). 

University of Notre Dame Hesburgh Library. Flexible classroom seating for small group collaboration with shared large presentation screens. 

Teaching college-level students to focus on curiosity-driven research would require some conscious de-structuring of previous learning pedagogies that they have grown up emulating. But the academic library can be the place that bridges this gap in abilities, knowledge, resources, and critical thinking. Several ways that libraries can use faculty as a conduit for improving (the quality of)  student research output would include:

  • Hosting faculty office hours in a shared space in the library with a reference librarian 
  • Bringing classes to the library throughout a research project to collaborate and be guided by librarians 
  • Offering an option for faculty to submit as assignment for “review” to the library so that librarians can offer feedback on resources and strategies for student engagement

I try to do the equivalent (albeit on a much smaller scale), in my own job as a middle school librarian. I try to get into the classrooms as much as possible, or host classes in my library. I want the students to see me outside of the library and know that I am there for them outside of just checking out books to them. I want to be their link to research. I want to be their link between what they are curious about and assisting them with doing the work to learn more about that. When I do transition to an academic library, I would be overjoyed to continue being this link to students. 

References:

Rempel, H. G. & Deitering, A.M. (2017). Sparking curiosity – Librarians’ role in encouraging exploration. In The Library With The Lead Pipe. Retrieved from http://www.inthelibrarywiththeleadpipe.org/2017/sparking-curiosity/

Libraries in Times of Crisis or for Social Needs

“It means we are all-in, all the time: bucking the status quo to do the right thing at the right moment, owning our actions as professionals, and creating institutions that expand minds and open futures” (Garcia-Febo, 2018). 

Libraries in Times of Crisis

I love the idea of Module 5’s namesake: Hyperlinked Communities. Plus the fact that a hyperlinked community can revolve around a common physical area as well, like the library, makes it even better. I find the idea of libraries as a community center to be so much more accurate of a description for them these days. This trend towards libraries reaching out to the community to help them in times of crisis or in times of social need is empowering and comforting. The library is telling its community, we see you, we acknowledge you, and we’ll help you. This type of transparency and willingness to serve as a safe zone for almost any situation goes beyond the basic description of library services – this is actively demonstrating compassion for the community. 

“Wifi, water, rest, knowledge. We are here for you” (Stolls, 2015). – From the Ferguson Municipal Public Library after the protests and police action shut down businesses all over Ferguson in the wake of the shooting of Michael Brown.

Tweets are from Ferguson Library Twitter

The library serves as a home base for those who have been displaced, are feeling unsafe and uncertain, and who are looking for some semblance of order in a chaotic environment. It is transparent, it is reliable, and it connects others who are experiencing the same feelings of uncertainty. 

“A library in the middle of a community is a cross between an emergency exit, a life raft, and a festival” (Eberhart, 2015). 

In the wake of hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma that overtook the south in 2005, libraries supported their communities by providing safe spaces for the public to “locate individuals, fill out Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) forms, find disaster information, obtain supplies, and recharge electronic devices” (Eberhart, 2015). While we hope to never find ourselves in a crisis like this, it is comforting to know that we can look towards our local libraries for support and open doors.

Bobst Library, New York University, after Hurricane Sandy

Libraries in Times of Social Need

I also absolutely loved the reading from this week called, “How a Modern Library Keeps Mothers Healthy in Rural Ghana,” by Nicole Baute. What an incredible and important service. This is just another fantastic example of libraries supporting the social needs of their local communities. As Dr. Stephens has written about, libraries (and other businesses, of course) often fall into the trap of “technolust” – always striving for the newest and greatest technological services. Yet, as he mentioned in a conversation with a former student:

“When people are asking for help so their basic needs can be met, how do we balance that with emerging technologies?” (Stephens, 2017). 

What good is the newest technological gadget to someone who instead needs information about pregnancy and motherhood? Rather than always striving for the latest and greatest, libraries instead should be looking into the more immediate social needs of their community, even if these services displace funds that could have been used for new technology. And in the case in Ghana, the library really stepped up to provide a much needed service to expecting mothers. 

The services and capabilities of libraries is limitless. Each community is different, therefore each library has a chance to serve their communities in their own unique way. 

“Practice ‘both/and’ thinking. This invites us to see that more than one reality or perspective can be true at the same time, rather than either/or, right or wrong, good or bad” (Dixon, 2017)

This quote reminds me of a golden rule of improv: always respond “Yes, AND” to a line. This keeps the momentum going and keeps the ideas flowing. This rule seems to apply to libraries too. The “Yes, and,” or “Both/and” thinking allow for library services to develop, even if they seem to fall outside the “normal” (for what even is normal in the library world anymore?) framework of services. Saying yes to new ideas allows for the community to build the library to fit the real needs, in times of stability, in times of crisis, or in times of need. 

This module really reminded me of that Mr. Rogers quote about always looking for the helpers in times of crisis. Libraries are the helpers.


References:

Baute, N. (2013). How a modern library keeps mothers healthy in rural Ghana. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Retrieved from https://www.impatientoptimists.org/Posts/2013/11/How-a-Modern-Library-Keeps-Mothers-Healthy-in-Rural-Ghana

Dixon, J. (2017). Convening community conversations, programming. Library Journal. Retrieved from https://www.libraryjournal.com/?detailStory=convening-community-conversations-programming#_

Eberhart, G. (2015). Libraries in times of crisis. American Libraries. Retrieved from https://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/blogs/the-scoop/libraries-in-times-of-crisis/

Garcia-Febo, L. (2018). Serving with love: Embedding equality, diversity, and inclusion in all that we do. American Libraries Magazine. Retrieved from https://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/2018/11/01/serving-with-love/

Stephens, M. (2017). Libraries in balance. Library Journal. Retrieved from https://www.libraryjournal.com/?detailStory=libraries-in-balance-office-hours

Stolls, A. (2015). The Healing power of libraries. National Endowment for the Arts.  Retrieved from https://www.arts.gov/article/healing-power-libraries

Libraries: The New Information Empire?

In Tim Wu’s 2010 book, The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires, he presents the history of the world’s major information monopolies starting with the telephone and progressing through radio, film, television, and finally: the Internet. His book is split into sections that detail each information empire, discussing the creation, rise, fight for control, and in many cases, demise of the monopolistic corporations who tried to exert total control over each medium. Although many aspects of each of these mediums have become obsolete or imploded within each conglomerate’s administration, they share many characteristics that are still applicable and descriptive of information empires today.

Because each of these information empires was so revolutionary and the concepts so new, there was always a race for control between companies who sought to monetize, monopolize, and control access to the form. Wu writes, “We sometimes treat the information industries as if they were like any other enterprise, but they are not, for their structure determines who gets heard” (13). We see this demonstrated throughout the text and throughout history with examples ranging from the radio being used as the primary mode of political propaganda, to more current day examples of Google search engine filters and advertisements.

While the trajectory of the Internet empire is still evolving and growing, the trajectory of the other information empires can teach us a lot about what happens when we try to monopolize information and sell it as a corporate product. And while I am not making the argument that libraries are poised to become the next giant information empire in the same vein as radio and television, I am suggesting that the history of each industry does offer positive qualities that the library of 2019 has either started to adopt, or is perfectly situated to begin adopting in order to become an evolved standard of an information empire.

Libraries as a Disruptive Industry

Wu discusses how many of these information empires had inventors at the helm. Oftentimes they had many inventors at the same time, entrenched in patent wars, and ultimately the ones who won the legal battles (most likely meaning the ones with the most money), are the names that we associate with each invention. However, Wu writes, “The inventors we remember are significant not so much as inventors, but as founders of ‘disruptive’ industries, ones that shake up the technological status quo. Through circumstance or luck, they are exactly at the right distance to both to imagine the future and to create an independent industry to exploit it” (19).

We can view libraries today, or the future of Library 2.0 as a disruptive industry. In our case, we can strip away with the corporate ideals and battles; we do not have to worry about relinquishing control of all libraries to the people who founded them in the beginning. Instead, we can take the more important aspect of Wu’s statement – that of encompassing what it means to be a disruptive industry – and incorporate that into the new Library 2.0 ideology. Libraries have the capacity to provide the widest range of services. They are positioned in what Wu describes as the perfect distance between the future of the next new informational and technological development, while also serving as a pillar of informational freedom and access because of their long-standing reputation as an equal services provider.

Libraries as a Cultural Product

“The aim of any cultural product should be an improving one: to inform and to educate as well as to entertain,” (Wu, 113).

Wu writes about these information empires in the context of the industrial cycle of life and death. He says of large industries like these that, “in the natural course of things, the new only rarely supplements the old; it usually destroys it. The old, however, doesn’t, as it were, simply give up but rather tries to forstall death or co-opt its usurper” (Wu, 28). Many libraries are at this point in their lifecycle where they are either met with resistance from employees, or they welcome the new ideas, however much they may change the classical image of the library. As we’ve read over the past few weeks, the reason, “But we’ve always done it this way,” does not suffice if the library wants to survive as a respected institution. We do not have to look at this radical change in library services as co-opting and usurping the old way of doing things. We do however, have to allow for the library to adapt into its new Library 2.0 form in order to become successful in our new information environments.

A way that we can do this is to allow the concept of participatory culture to create the future of library services. Wu continues, “He who prides himself on giving what he thinks the public wants is often creating a fictitious demand for lower standards which he will then satisfy” (39). Rather than library administrators deciding how and what the library will represent to its community, the invitation should be extended to the community itself to decide on in order to create something that probably would not have occurred to the administration.

Wu refers to a phenomena called ‘founder’s myopia’ that discusses the blind spots that those who create or are in charge of a service cannot see for themselves. He writes, “Again and again in the development of technology, full appreciation of an invention’s potential importance falls to others — not necessarily technical geniuses themselves — who develop it in ways that the inventor never dreamed of. The phenomenon is hardly mystical; the inventor, after all, is but one person, with his own blind spots, while there are millions, if not billions, of others with eyes to see new uses that had been right under the inventor’s nose” (45).

Using the community as the primary resource to develop the new Library 2.0 will allow for complete access to ideas and needs that library administration or library employees could not have thought of on their own. This is often why other information empires failed. Instead of accepting the new ideas for uses of these products, the corporations wanted to stunt the growth so that they could remain in control. However, participatory culture allows for libraries to become a cultural product made by the people. This direct access to collaboration and change is what will allow libraries to continue thriving as a cultural product of their communities. 

Library as Signifier

This last point I wanted to make really appealed to my English-major training. Wu writes that, “Unlike almost every other commodity, information becomes more valuable the more it is used. Consider the difference between a word and a pair of shoes. Use each a million times: the shoes are ruined, the word only grows in cachet…The key to capturing the economic potential of such phenomena is turning an image or a brand into a signifier– a symbol of something” (230).

Currently, I would say that the signifier of the library is still the classical image of books, which brings to mind the images of silence, scholarly research, and shushing librarians, however I do think that this is changing. But if the image of Library 2.0 could create a new version of a signifier for the library as a cultural and community symbol, the signified emotions would be collaboration, acceptance, open access, and a helping environment. 

Whereas the previous information empires have risen and fallen, the library has become a mainstay in our culture. While it most definitely has its struggles, the saving grace is that it is more flexible than other information empires have been. It has the opportunity to evolve into an individualized cultural product. It does not need to be regulated by a corporation. Instead, it is regulated by the people who create it, embodying the concepts of participatory culture. Library 2.0 is a new information empire, but one that will be able to accept and embrace change. 

Wu, T. (2010). The master switch: The rise and fall of information empires. New York, NY: Random House, Inc.

Elevator Speeches: Turning a Conversation Into an Opportunity for Advocating

After completing the readings from Module 2 and 3, I was feeling pretty inspired by the possibilities that libraries can potentially offer. After reading the essay in Dr. Stephen’s chapter from The Heart of Librarianship, that discuss elevator speeches, I decided that I wanted to come up with an extended elevator speech/made up discussion between a non-library user and myself where I explain the concept of Library 2.0, participatory culture, and the hyperlinked library model. 

I’m not sure about everyone else, but I often find myself unprepared to ‘defend’ the field of librarianship to someone who is not an active library user and truly is not aware of the benefits of libraries. I am also one of those people that is kept awake at night reliving a conversation in my head and coming up with better responses that I wish I would have thought of at the time. Therefore, I am going to create the conversation here, allowing me to come up with the responses that I wish I could come up with on the spot, combining some common questions I get about being a librarian, getting a degree in library science, and answering what purpose libraries serve in 2019.

(I’m trying to figure out how to make the images below appear larger. For the time being, you might have to zoom in on your screen to be able to read them).

(And the rest, I am just typing into a paragraph here because it is too long to put in the storyboard)

Me: Well, that’s where the concepts of Library 2.0 and the Hyperlinked Library Model come in. Libraries offer more than just access to Google, and you can get more from libraries than Google can give you. Libraries create a platform for the local culture to express itself and provide services that advance knowledge. And the term ‘knowledge’ can refer to any piece of information that a user is seeking, be it a more traditional research assignment being completed by a student, to a group of children learning how to code in an after school program and everything in between. The library as an institution does not have a fixed structure anymore. It morphs and transforms continuously to fit the niche needs of its community, even including its physical structure! And as librarians, we listen to what the patrons want and need and allow them to participate in actively recreating an environment that serves a meaningful purpose for them. We have left the ‘shushing’ in the past and instead of trying to control a static environment of silence in the stacks, we listen to what the users want and respond to those requests, and there really aren’t limits to what it is capable of doing. The library is kind of a jack-of-all-trades these days. It has the ability to become and to host any type of activity or service and as librarians, it is our responsibility to facilitate the information and these services to all patrons. Sure we still love physical books, and we love providing access to the Internet, but that is just the tip of the iceberg for library services these days. For any activity or information need you can think of, I guarantee there is a library out there who has a service that supports it.

Non-library user: Well, that was unexpected. Maybe I’ll pay a visit to my local library…

References:

Casey, M. E., & Savastinuk, L. C. (2007). Library 2.0 : A guide to participatory library service. Medford, NJ: Information Today, Inc.

Mathews, B. (2017). Cultivating complexity. 

Mattern, S. (2014). Library as infrastructure.

Stephens, M. (2016). The heart of librarianship. Chicago, IL: American Library Association


Introduction

Hi everyone, my name is Liz. I’m looking forward to this class with everyone. I really enjoy the format of this class so far with this blog, rather than being on Canvas. This is my last semester of classes (besides the ePortfolio which I will take in the Spring). Hopefully everything will go according to plan and I should be graduating then as well! I currently work as a librarian at a middle school in Southern California where I was born and raised. The school year started the same day as SJSU classes did. This is my 4th year there. I love it for the time being, however I do not think I am cut out to work with this age group long term. I would love to transition into academic librarianship, whether that be at a university, community college, or research center. My background is in English and literature, and I would ideally love to be a subject librarian for the humanities or English department at a college.

Some of my favorites hobbies and activities include reading, cooking, weightlifting, puzzles, hanging out with my awesome dog, and traveling (especially visiting libraries wherever I go). This summer, I was able to get some traveling in and went to Chicago, Denver, San Luis Obispo, and Mammoth Lakes. In Chicago, I was able to visit a handful of bookstores as well as an amazing archive with 40 foot high shelves that moved. Below are some pictures of the archives as well as a picture of my dog and I at Devil’s Postpile National Monument in Mammoth.

University archives shelving
Devil's Postpile
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