The Possibilities of Enhanced Book Displays

I’ve envisioned new possibilities for libraries making use of RFID and possibly beacons or augmented applications. Inspired by the possibilities of beacon technology that is being introduced to libraries as highlighted by Enis (2014), I see the possibility for library displays to become smarter.

My local branch of the Edmonton Public Library has a number of ongoing display locations with books that come and go on a fairly regular basis. Shelves like “Staff Picks,” “Fan Favourites,” a table with changing themes and end of shelving displays.

Staff Picks Shelf
Fan Favourites Display
This display changes themes
End of Shelf displays that vary all the time

There’s also the popular “Hits to Go” shelf with materials only available for 7-day loans with no requests.

Very popular display that I always check at the start of each visit.

The only way to see what’s available in a branch for any of these displays and especially for the “Hits to Go!” is to see what’s there on display at the branch.

EPL uses RFIDs for all of their books. Couldn’t it be possible to make these displays smarter? iBeacons could be used to enhance the sales pitch for these materials to create a virtual book display of these materials that could further link to a particular book’s record which could be enhanced to link to more information about the item: Goodreads recommendations, related awards, IMDB or musical artist profiles or even to related TED talks by the creator.

These displays could further link to other related materials in the collection available for check out. I also see this virtual book display as being viewable online or through the EPL app as an exploration of a particular branch to see if they have materials to peek one’s interest.

These virtual displays would by dynamic, again using book RFIDs to update when an item is taken from the display, or new items added to refresh each display so that the content reflects what’s available. It could also help users looking for a particular item on the shelf to know that it’s still in the library, but not on the shelf.

I think this could also be of use for a roving collection like EPL has. As materials stay in the last location that they were returned to until they are checked out or requested, there is no way of knowing what would be found on ongoing displays like “Staff Picks,” “Fan Favourites” or “Hits to Go!” beyond looking at what’s there. Having a virtual dynamic display of what’s available would be useful for many users, and in particular those for whom a trip to the library is more involved due to planning or mobility issues.  

References

Enis, M. (2014, November 18). “Beacon” technology deployed by two library app makers [Web log post]. Library Journal. Retrieved from https://www.libraryjournal.com/?detailStory=beacon-technology-deployed-by-two-library-app-makers

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New/Old Makerspace: Emerging Technology Planning for a Special Collections Library

Goals/Objectives for Technology or Service:

Makerspaces provide library users with access to new innovative technologies that are hard for most people to be able to access. Libraries want “to make it easier for you to make stuff” (Roe, 2019). Considering the mandate of the Bruce Peel Special Collections library full or rare and artists’ books to preserve and conserve rare books for researchers to access (Bruce Peel Special Collections, n.d.), the preservation of how these books were made needs also to be considered. How can a Special Collections library fulfill the needs not just of scholars and researchers, but also those of book arts practitioners? What kinds of technology is hard for users to access? What would an appropriate Makerspace look like?

I propose that a Special Collections Makerspace should be a book printing workshop, with printing presses and book bindery machinery available for the book arts community to be able to use and to continue teach the traditions of book binding. “Makerspaces provide an opportunity for play” (Lotts, 2017, p. 350). Play is an important method for exploring ideas for artists of all levels. This machinery, while not necessarily the height of new technology, still is quite hard for most people to access. Presses are large, heavy mechanical machines that require a fair amount of work space and technical knowledge to operate.

“New technologies will not save your library” (Stephens, 2012, para. 4) and in this case, we have a rich history of available technology to choose from. The University of Alberta already has available equipment. There are several printing presses on permanent display in the atrium of Rutherford Library as well as a Printmaking department that could support a book arts workshop and bindery.

Description of Community you wish to engage:

I wish to engage the existing book arts community, researchers, students and aspiring practitioners with this book arts makerspace.

Action Brief Statement:

Convince Book Artists that by using the book arts workshop they will contribute to their own art practice integrated with book arts history and traditions which will enrich understanding and research of book arts practice because the creation process will be demystified and kept alive.

Evidence and Resources to support Technology or Service:

Fontichiaro, K. (2016). Sustaining a makerspace. Teacher Librarian 43(3), 39-41. Retrieved from https://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/handle/2027.42/117499/tl-sustaining-makerspace.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

Kurti, R.S., Kurti, D., & Fleming, L. (2014). The Environment and Tools of Great Educational Makerspaces. Teacher Librarian, 42(1), 8–12. Retrieved from https://search-ebscohost-com.libaccess.sjlibrary.org/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ehh&AN=98973011&site=ehost-live&scope=site

Jennifer, N. (2016, November 16). Inside an independent book restorer’s studio | Conservation lab. Vice. Retrieved from https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/wnpvdq/inside-an-independent-book-restorers-studio


Letterpress Commons (n.d.-a). Acquiring a press. Retrieved from https://letterpresscommons.com/acquiring-a-press/

Letterpress Commons (n.d.-b). Installing a press. Retrieved from https://letterpresscommons.com/installing-a-press/

Lotts, Megan. (2017). Low-Cost High-Impact Makerspaces at the Rutgers University Art Library. Art Documentation: Journal of the Art Libraries Society of North America 36(2), 345-362. Doi: 10.7282/T3Q81H39 Retrieved from https://rucore.libraries.rutgers.edu/rutgers-lib/54564/PDF/1/play/

Penn, J. (Producer). (2017, May 22). The Art and business of bookbinding with Lisa Van Pelt. The Creative Penn Podcast #322 [Audio Podcast]. Retrieved from https://www.thecreativepenn.com/2017/05/22/bookbinding/

Slatter, D. & Howard, Z. (2013). A place to make, hack, and learn: Makerspaces in Australian public libraries. The Australian Library Journal, 62(4), 272-284, DOI: 10.1080/00049670.2013.853335

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

Policies would be set by library administration and could be adapted from those of existing makerspaces and Fine Arts studios on the University campus. I see this makerspace as being an opportunity to include the University’s Fine Arts department more directly with library spaces. Staff and Faculty from the Fine Arts Department could work in conjunction with Library Administration to solidify and define the Mission, Guidelines and Policies pertaining to this new Makerspace.

Funding Considerations for this Technology or Service: 

Though the technology that I’m proposing isn’t part of the bleeding edge, putting together a book printing and bindery takes a number of dedicated equipment that requires space and money to move, set up and maintain. Space would have to be found and likely renovated to provide a suitable home for a dedicated makerspace. Having a dedicated studio printing and bindery technician would be necessary as well as having staff available for workshops. A publishing company could be formed, and grant funding would be possible through organizations such as the Canada Council for the Arts. Supplemental funding through University donations could be another avenue for supplementary funding.

Action Steps & Timeline:

This is a large project and would require approval by the library director as well as the University administration before moving forward. As a large project, a considerable amount of planning would be required and likely some renovation of the chosen designated studio workshop space. It would be possible to start off the makerspace as a prototype in collaboration with the Printmaking department to start working with book artists and students to run book making workshops using existing campus spaces and technology. These kinds of workshops and events could also be used as a way to promote the future makerspace program.

If approved, I think starting prototype workshops could be developed and begin in January of 2020 and progress through the development and opening of the new dedicated makerspace. Evaluation of suitable spaces, sourcing necessary press, bindery equipment and tools, and planning of the space could take place in 2-3 months (until February 2020). That leaves 6 months to renovate and build the makerspace in time to open for the Fall 2020 semester.

Timeline for Fall 2020 Opening of the Book Arts Makerspace

Program approval by Administration: 8-10 weeks

Evaluation of possible locations: 2-3 weeks

Sourcing necessary equipment: 3-4 weeks

Hiring Makerspace staff: 4 weeks

Planning, designing makerspace Studio: 2 months

Renovate/Build space: 6 months

Move in equipment and materials: 2 weeks

Some of these tasks can be done concurrently such as the hiring process for the technician alongside evaluating and planning the design of the space.

Staffing Considerations for this Technology or Service: 

As this is a large project it would require dedicated staff in the form of a studio printing and binding technician as well as a librarian focused on developing workshops and to assist training other staff within the department. Existing staff could be trained to support Makerspace activities create lists of Special Collections materials to support and inspire book artist creativity.

Creating a Book Artist residency program and Student Internship positions could help supplement the work of Makerspace staff. The residency could include part time support of programs and workshops related to the artist’s portfolio. Student interns with knowledge in printmaking and book binding techniques could additional support and learn as apprentices with the Book Artist resident and Makerspace staff.

Training for this Technology or Service:  

The success of this Makerspace program would require experienced staff support. Though this is a new initiative, having a studio technician that is experienced with printmaking and book binding techniques would be essential. It would be helpful for the Makerspace Librarian to be experienced in working with Fine Arts initiatives as well as developing Makerspace programs and workshops.

These experienced staff could work together to help guide and train existing library staff to be able to support possible research inquiries by Makerspace users. Once a residency and student internship programs are established, it would be possible for exchange of information between interns, resident, Makerspace and library staff. Student interns would benefit from overlapping by a month or so to be able to train their replacements. Supplemental training would be possible from the Makerspace Technician.

Promotion & Marketing for this Technology or Service: 

As mentioned previously, through prototype programs using existing Printmaking spaces would allow for the University’s Fine Arts community to become familiar with the upcoming Makerspace and future book making related programming. The University’s Fine Arts Department has existing exhibition spaces and tradition of hosting guest lectures and Bruce Peel Special Collections also has dedicated exhibits that they hold on a regular basis. It would be possible to hold collaborative exhibits and guest lectures to support and promote the work of the Makerspace within the campus community.

Hosting resident book artists would promote the program within the book artist community as well as creating a supportive program for the production of books. Such a program would likely become a popular role for book artists to participate in and through word of mouth would become promoted through the small press book community.

The University could further promote the program through Alumni and Donor newsletters and publications featuring profiles of resident artists, student interns, upcoming workshops, guest lectures and exhibits.

Having a dedicated Makerspace would also require a web presence where upcoming events and workshops would be promoted and archived for future reference. Digital collections of produced books could be showcased online and become a part of the library’s collection.

Evaluation:

(What benchmarks and performance metrics will you use to evaluate the technology or service.  What stories are you envisioning telling about it? How might you expand the service in the future?)

Measuring the success of the Makerspace would involve analyzing how the space gets used, demand for use of the space and attendance of workshops, lectures and programs. Keeping a digital record of residents, student interns and the body of work produced in the space would serve as future promotional and research materials for other library users and a resource for the book arts community.

These stories could be further highlighted and featured on social media posts by the library. It would be great to feature “behind the scenes” glances of a working book artist’s practice through media such as Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook.

A successful Book Arts Makerspace program could provide a model for other Makerspaces to integrate and support other creative communities even within the University of Alberta community. It would be useful for the University of Alberta’s MLIS students to have access to an alternative model of a Makerspace and could provide future internship opportunities to support the role of the Makerspace Librarian along with those of the Bruce Peel Special Collections.

References

Bruce Peel Special Collections (n.d.). About Bruce Peel Special Collections. Retrieved from https://bpsc.library.ualberta.ca/info/about

Lotts, M. (2017). Low-cost high-impact makerspaces at the Rutgers University Art Library. Art Documentation: Journal of the Art Libraries Society of North America 36(2), 345-362. Retrieved from https://rucore.libraries.rutgers.edu/rutgers-lib/54564/PDF/1/play/ Doi: 10.7282/T3Q81H39

Roe, M. (2019, June 14). LA public library’s new maker space/studio lets you 3D print, shoot on a green screen, and way more [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://laist.com/2019/06/14/la_public_librarys_new_maker_spacestudio_lets_you_3d_print_shoot_on_a_green_screen_and_way_more.php?sfns=xmo

Stephens, M. (2012, May 30). Taming technolust: Ten steps for planning in a 2.0 world. Tame The Web. Retrieved from https://tametheweb.com/2012/05/30/taming-technolust-ten-steps-for-planning-in-a-2-0-world-full-text/

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The Four Spaces of Scholarship

This past week I had the opportunity to visit the new University of Alberta Digital Scholarship Centre located in Cameron Library. While I had spent my time exploring materials for public libraries, I still see similarities in these new spaces that have been created for students and faculty on the University campus.

Laerkes (2016) describes the four different overlapping spaces that public libraries should accommodate: the inspiration space, the learning space, the meeting space and the performance space. These four spaces often overlap rather than be separate areas within a library. During my visit to the Digital Scholarship Centre I noted that they had included all of these aspects into this new area of the library.

I went to the University of Alberta during my undergrad in the early 2000s. Though I didn’t spend as much time in the Science and Technology collections at Cameron Library, I was totally floored at how much the library had changed in 19 years. There is now a Starbucks right by the main entrance to the library on the main floor which is now bustling with student activity entering and leaving the library.

On the second-floor walking towards the Digital Scholarship Centre, we immediately see the library’s makerspace as an inspiring workshop with glass on all sides so those walking by can see what wonders are being created and be inspired for their own projects. They facility includes multiple 3D printers, 3D scanners and has a display case for recent class projects by a 400 level Design class’ designs for airplanes. This visually open lab serves to inspire others while also making the use of the lab into somewhat of a performance.

 They’ve similarly made a feature of their flagship meeting space which features a large touch capable visualization wall made up of 12 full HD screens (Digital Scholarship Centre, n.d.). This space has a large framed window onto the action visible as one enters the DSC space blending the purpose of this large meeting room with that of a performance space.

In addition to these large meeting spaces, there are wide variety of smaller group meeting spaces, group computer workstations, more sound proofed brainstorming/collaboration spaces and a digital sound booth for podcasting. Most of these spaces also offer digital displays and technology hook ups to allow for sharing of visualization and presentations.

They have blended the different aspects of learning and collaborating at a wide variety of scales into this new space and I was very pleased to see how bustling it was, like the rest of Cameron library, only a month after opening.

References

Digital Scholarship Centre (n.d.). Spaces. Retrieved from https://dsc.library.ualberta.ca/book-rooms-equipment/

Laerkes, J.G. (2016, March 29). The four spaces of the public library [Weblog post]. Retrieved from https://blogs.ifla.org/public-libraries/2016/03/29/the-four-spaces-of-the-public-library/

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Community Considerations

What struck me most about our readings of Hyperlinked Communities was the call for libraries to consider who in their community they are currently serving as well as considering those who are not being served. These could be members of our communities that don’t have a grasp of English (Lauersen, 2018), those who don’t have a grasp on technology (West, 2014) or those that are underserved by our institutional biases (Lauerson, 2018). Libraries have work to do to prevent these ingrained biases from affecting how we serve our users and communities.

We should strive to include those in our communities that lack resources. The other day when I was visiting my local library there was a teenage aboriginal boy at the counter wanting to renew his temporary library pass to use library resources. The library assistant told him how he needed to have an adult who lived with him to come and set him up with a proper library account. It was clear from their conversation that he moves around a lot and may have an unstable home life. But here he was at the library, a stable institution, and not fully able to make use of it. I left the library wondering if he would be able to go through the process to get himself a “real” library card. How does our basic process of starting a library account leave some people out? What about those in the community that don’t have a stable address or an adult who’s able to come and get them started? Are there ways that these potential users can be included in the system they want to be a part of?

There are different ways to activate the community through libraries and while they strive to be politically neutral, there are two options to be neutral: strive to avoid politics entirely, or to be a forum where all sides can meet and discuss political topics. Dixon (2017) highlights how a number of libraries are choosing to host these challenging discussions using book clubs or documentary screenings as catalysts. It’s encouraging to see libraries charging themselves with hosting such critical civic conversations that most people don’t have a chance to engage in during their regular lives.

References

Dixon, J. A. (2017, October 23). Convening community conversation programming. Retrieved from https://www.libraryjournal.com/?detailStory=convening-community-conversations-programming#_

Lauerson, C. (2018, June 7). Do you want to dance? Inclusion and belonging in libraries and beyond. Retrieved from https://christianlauersen.net/2018/06/07/inclusion-and-belonging-in-libraries-and-beyond/

West, J. (2014). 21st century digital divide. Retrieved from http://www.librarian.net/talks/rlc14/

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We are ALL creative!

A Context Review

I chose Creative Confidence: Unleashing the creative potential within us all to dive into and I’m very glad that I did. While I have a background in Graphic Design, it’s been a while since I’ve been immersed in design thinking and I am inspired to put these ideas to use in libraries.

The book is written by Tom and David Kelley, two brothers that work together at the International Design firm IDEO. Their main premise is that we ALL have creative potential and that many of us had someone, likely in our childhood, tell us that we didn’t have creative talent. After that we stopped allowing ourselves to be creative and labelled ourselves as not creative. We have to overcome these fears surrounding creativity and realize that creative skills are just like any other kind of skill, they improve with practise.

Kelley & Kelley argue that using Design Thinking combined with a Human-Centered approach can bring innovation to all different kinds of businesses as well as organizations like healthcare and education. Though this book is aimed at a business audience, these methodologies would certainly benefit libraries to be better equipped at developing innovative products and services.

The authors break down lofty concepts into smaller, easier to identify with traits: “Design thinking relies on the natural–and coachable–human ability to be intuitive, to recognize patterns, and to construct ideas that are emotionally meaningful as well as functional” (Kelley & Kelley, 2013, p. 25). With an explanation like this, it’s easy for the reader to envision their own participation in this process.

Similarly, Kelley & Kelley have broken down the design thinking process they engage in at IDEO into smaller, achievable steps: inspiration; synthesis; ideation and experimentation; and implementation. They start by looking for inspiration with real people’s behaviors. They go and seek out experts and extreme users to research how people are actually using products and find points for improvement or challenges to be addressed.

The next phase is synthesizing the research to find where to focus. Sometimes the question needs to be reframed to address an underlying issue. For instance, “how might we reduce customer waiting time?” might become “how might we reduce perceived waiting time?” (Kelley & Kelley, 2013, p. 23). Reframing the question in this way can lead to more innovative solutions to a different but key issue.

Next comes ideation and experimentation. This phase involves generating a lot of ideas and making the most promising ones into rapid prototypes: “early, rough representations of ideas that are concrete enough for people to react to” (Kelley & Kelley, 2013, p. 23). The point of these prototypes is to present the idea with just enough detail to be able to get feedback in order to iterate the idea and move it forward. Kelley & Kelley insist again and again that the best way to present an idea is to show it to people, get feedback and move the idea forward or morph it into something new.

Once an idea has been iterated and refined through prototypes, it’s time to implement the idea and get more feedback through testing. There can be many rounds to the implementation stage with further refinements and improvements made to the product.

Kelley and Kelley provide a rich guide to all the elements that go into making an innovative organization such as creating an environment to foster creativity to a variety of exercises that the reader can engage in on their own or part of a group to make use of those design thinking muscles. From using a mind map to explore an idea, team building exercises where one pulls a new nickname out of a hat to the dream/gripe session where participants can share their dreams and critiques to start a conversation; the authors provide a whole tool kit to get the reader started in sparking the creative process at their organization. They are open enough to work in any kind of organization for a multitude of situations and would integrate well into libraries developing or revamping their programs and services.

The entire process is centered around humans. Kelley and Kelley emphasize that the human perspective is important as it “can yield some of the richest opportunities for change” (Kelley & Kelley, 2013, p. 19). Seeing how people actually interact with an organization, service or product can lead to an entirely different perspective on it.

Keeping humans at the center of the process is also reflected in our readings. K.G. Schneider advocates for a human-centered approach when she says, “meet people where they are–not where you want them to be” (2006, para. 17). Libraries collect all kinds of data around how collections and services are being used. If we pay attention to what that data is saying, there can be some clear messages to inform future development processes. Bryan Kennedy illustrates this point by recounting how his library adapted their help with e-reader program into a program to help with all kinds of devices in response to users’ dramatically reduced interest in e-readers (2014, para. 24).

Using the blueprint that Kelley and Kelley provide would integrate library users into the entire process of creating or revamping library programs, products or services. They call for users to participate in the very creation of what they use in their everyday lives, like the library.

Here is a Ted Talk that David Kelley gave related to creative confidence (about 12 min):

Or if you have more time to explore the topic, here’s an author talk that Tom and David Kelley did at Google (about 50 min):


References

Kelley, T. & Kelley, D. (2013). Creative Confidence: Unleashing the creative potential within us all. New York, NY: Crown Business.

Kennedy, B. (2014, January 27). The user is (still) not broken. Publishers Weekly. Retrieved from https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/libraries/article/60780-the-user-is-still-not-broken.html

Schneider, K. G. (2006, June 3). The user is not broken: A meme masquerading as a manifesto [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://freerangelibrarian.com/2006/06/03/the-user-is-not-broken-a-meme-masquerading-as-a-manifesto/

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Building Potential

Building Potential

After taking Information Communities last Fall as my first foray into my MLIS studies, I became inspired by the idea of how communities form around a huge variety of information needs and how libraries can support, connect and foster such communities. This course was first on the list for this semester when I saw it in the course listings. I’m really inspired by the possibilities presented in the hyperlinked library.

What particularly struck me was how the physical building of the library can drastically change how people make use of it. Leferink (2018) suggests that libraries provide a variety of spaces to promote different kinds of activity. Mattern (2014) comments that “the need for physical spaces that promote a vibrant social infrastructure presents many design opportunities” (para. 16). I see how the architects of my recently rebuilt local library have been successful in fostering such an infrastructure and creating a vibrant social building.

Exterior view of the Jasper Place Library at dusk

My local branch (Jasper Place) of the Edmonton Public Library was completely rebuilt in 2012.

While this is a medium sized library within EPL’s system and doesn’t contain all the services and materials that the system has on offer, it is a bustling library nearly every time I go for a visit.

The building features a number of different spaces for individual study, computer use, community rooms, cozy seating for reading and what I think is a very compelling architectural feature: this large staircase/amphitheatre area which is filled with school kids hanging out nearly every school day afternoon.

Interior view of large staircase and amphitheatre space with book stacks to the left.

I don’t know if they make programming use of their wonderful amphitheatre, but I definitely see a world of potential for holding workshops, host community meetings, having movie screenings or musical performances in this space. I could see that it likely was conceived for story time or author visits, but it provides me with much more potential for how it could be used in a variety of ways to connect with the community in more meaningful ways.

References

Leferink, S. (2018, January 24). To keep people happy…keep some books [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://www.oclc.org/blog/main/to-keep-people-happy-keep-some-books/

Mattern, S. (2014, June). Library as infrastructure: Reading room, social service center, innovation lab. How far can we stretch the public library? Places Journal, June 2014. Doi: https://doi.org/10.22269/140609

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Hello Hyperlibrary Community!

Laurier Park, Montreal in Fall
Here’s a view of my once local park in Montreal

Hi! I’m Sarah Ayers and live in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. This is my third term of my MLIS at SJSU and I’ve really been enjoying diving into new topics. I have a Bachelor of Design from the University of Alberta and worked as a Graphic Designer for 10 years before deciding on a career change to libraries. My work took me briefly to London, UK and for 10 years to Montreal, QC. One of main reasons to make the change to libraries was that I wanted to do something with a greater benefit to society and to interact more with people than with technology.

I haven’t worked professionally in the field but have volunteered in every school library that my mom worked in as a Teacher-Librarian during her career and saw how she was able to transform spaces into vital, active hubs of the school.

I’m excited by the new possibilities that technology provide for us to interact with the world around us, share our experiences and I am very interested to learn more about where libraries are headed in the future.

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