Hyperlinked Librarian

Please take a look at my Virtual Symposium presentation above!

View slides:

View transcript:

During this last module, I was stuck by Michael Stephen’s (2018) article, “Library Superpowers Activate!,” which discusses how to have confidence in the ever-changing technological landscape of librarianship. As libraries begin to offer and explore new technologies, it’s important for librarians to adapt and learn.

If you’ve read any of my posts, you know that I work at a large public library that offers amazing services such as access to 3D printers, a laser cutter, and sewing machines. I used to think that an “expert” would be needed to help patrons troubleshoot these machines. While I think that it certainly helps to have experience with these machines, I think it’s perhaps even more important to have a “can-do” attitude when approaching situations involving new technology.

In the aforementioned article, Sally Pewhairangi states,

The good news is you [already] possess six qualities that can help boost your digital literacy confidence—adaptability, critical thinking, curiosity, empathy, patience, and problem-solving—and use them to varying degrees for different situations. 

para. 2

Once a library staff person has developed a basic understanding of a new technology, they can use these six qualities when working further with that technology. While the technology we use can seem flashy and complicated, adaptability, critical thinking, curiosity, empathy, patience, and problem-solving are the true “superpowers” of a service-oriented librarian.

While that’s all fine and good in theory, I have still experienced frustration from staff when working in makerspaces due to a lack of training. I’m still unsure if it’s up to the makerspace staff member to educate themselves or if extensive training is needed in order to successfully service these spaces. I’m leaning toward the latter, mainly because in Stephen’s (2017) article, “Librarian Superpowers,” many library folk mentioned the need for support from their library administration (para. 8).

In the end I think it’s a balance. Library staff should have a positive, “can-do” attitude and utilize their “superpowers” but they will also need support from their home libraries in order to be successful. It’s just like the “formula” says: Essential Skills + Mind-set² x Support = Success. You need all three to thrive in librarianship.

[Stay tuned for my Virtual Symposium – Coming Soon!]


Stephens, M. (2017). Librarian superpowers. Retrieved from https://www.libraryjournal.com/?detailStory=librarian-superpowers-office-hours

Stephens, M. (2018). Librarian superpowers activate! Retrieved from https://www.libraryjournal.com/?detailStory=librarian-superpowers-activate-office-hours

Image Credit: https://www.flickr.com/search/?text=sunset&license=7%2C9%2C10

Here is the first paragraph of my Director’s Brief introduction:

Adulting 101 classes are a current trend in academic libraries. In fact, many universities in Colorado have Adulting 101 classes, such as the University of Denver and the University of Colorado, Boulder (Brady, 2019). However, the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs (UCCS) Kraemer Family Library has yet to offer any such workshops on skills that could help students successfully transition into adult life. Part of UCCS’s vision is to “[provide] students with academically rigorous and life-enriching experiences in a vibrant university community” (Mission, Vision, & Values, n.d.). Adulting 101 classes have the potential to enrich students’ lives through gaining hands-on experience with skills that are necessary to thrive in adulthood. In addition, Adulting 101 classes can encourage students to visit the library and participate in library initiatives, which has the potential to build community on campus.

University of Derby (UK) Kirtley building classroom

Learning has changed. In the last decade alone, the concept of how people learn has evolved from lecture-based and solitary to facilitator-based and collaborative. Joan Lippencott (2015) best describes how the nature of learning has transformed by stating the following:

The trends in higher education reform that emphasize active learning and learning as a social process converge well with an increasing emphasis on the need for students to develop collaborative skills and the ability to communicate effectively and professionally in various media.

(para. 2)

There is a lot to unpack in Lippencott’s statement. Firstly, there is a clear shift in higher education toward “active learning and learning as a social process.” Gone are the days when the ideal format for learning was a professor lecturing while students passively consumed the information. While lecture formats are still valuable for content delivery, there is now more emphasis on applying the content through collaboration and various forms of media. Secondly, educators now see the immense value in learning through creatively utilizing new media in a collaborative way. This has taken the form of 3D printers in academic libraries for science and engineering majors as well as utilizing gamification and video technology. These two shifts have one clear idea in common: collaborative learning. Because collaboration is important in today’s workplaces, students are now being taught how to communicate effectively through collaborative group work.

Ohlone College (CA)

Now, if you’re anything like me, you might cringe at the idea of “group work” based on a bad experience or two in the past. However, I think that there is a right way and a wrong way for teachers and facilitators to go about group work. If you’ve taken INFO 203, you know that people may not intrinsically know how to be productive team members. In fact, the perceived “laziness” of a group member may actually be due to a lack in understanding in the assignment or simply being overwhelmed with the work/life balance. Because working on teams does not come naturally to every student, instructor-librarians who want to incorporate group work into their classes would serve their students well by first teaching students how to work effectively on teams. A good go-to for information on effective teamwork is Burce Tuckman’s (1965) 5 Statges of Team Development (yes, it still holds up despite the publishing date).

Teaching students about teamwork needn’t be as exhaustive as a class like INFO 203, but even a weeklong introduction on collaborating effectively on teams would be a huge benefit to students. After all, if collaborative learning is the new trajectory of “learning how to learn” then we must set students up for success rather than for failure when working together in groups.


Lippencott, J. (2015). The future for teaching and learning: Librarians’ deepening involvement in pedagogy and curriculum. Retrieved from https://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/2015/02/26/the-future-for-teaching-and-learning/

Tuckman, B. (1965). The five stages of team development. Retrieved from https://toggl.com/stages-of-team-development/

Image credits:



As I was going through the “New Horizons” module last week, I was astonished by some of the emerging technologies. One technology in particular stood out: virtual reality (VR) headsets. VR technology is not particularly “new” as of 2019, but there is a lot of new potential in the way VR can be used.

Maybe I have been living under a rock, but before I explored the readings and videos of this module I thought that VR was just a fun thing to do – purely entertainment. I had no idea that VR is now being taken to the next level, promoting learning, collaboration, and exploration. (I was so moved by new VR horizons that I even shared the video we watched below with some friends and family):

I was struck by Mike McShane’s (2018) article, “Is Virtual Reality the Future of Fieldtrips?” which ponders the potential of VR in the classroom. In the article, McShane points out that not all students and educators have access to expensive class field trips that can enrich educational experiences. But VR has the potential to rectify gaps in educational funding when it comes to excursions. McShane explains, “If students cannot make it to the museum in person, perhaps a VR headset could bring the museum to them” (para. 5). However, McShane does not consider how schools that are struggling to fund field trips could potentially afford multiple VR headsets for students. That’s where libraries could come in. Libraries with funding grants could purchase VR headsets and partner with schools to provide virtual excursions to places of educational value.

I can imagine that my amazement at emerging VR technology is echoed throughout libraries considering adding VR to their services. However, libraries thinking of purchasing VR headsets need to be wary of “technolust” – the “irrational love for new technology combined with unrealistic expectations for the solutions it brings” (Stephens, 2012). McShane (2018) alludes to this trepidation when it comes to new VR technology stating, “Virtual reality appears to offer much that can supplement those [educational] opportunities, but I would worry if it works too hard to replace them” (para. 12). In other words, schools and libraries first need to establish a clear purpose for new technology before diving into spending just because they are amazed at the potential of the new technology. For instance, perhaps a better solution to education funding for excursions is “improving access to [physical] field trip opportunities,” as McShane puts it.

While VR technology can open many doors, as Jan Holmquist (2013) puts it, “it also needs to be the right tool for the job.” VR just may be the right solution for the lack in field trip funding, but keeping realistic goals in mind for what VR will accomplish once implemented can help schools and libraries avoid tech for tech’s sake.  


Holmquist, J. (2013). MOOC intro. . Retrieved from https://youtu.be/RGZ9V8wnV4g?list=PLJFU8Vb2i7KwdDjZwceGOhRlb6LuuYMQV

McShane, M. (2018). Is virtual reality the future of fieldtrips? Forbes. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/mikemcshane/2018/06/13/is-virtual-reality-the-future-of-field-trips/#5a07a8e71809

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

Image credit:

Palmero, M. (n.d.). [Picture]. Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/nanpalmero/16237219524/in/photolist-qJPZEL-mneNgj-29XCKsU-Wz2LLG-28QRxj8-X79ngw-TUusLy-23XCJHy-4HYWqe-R44DLP-2ey6qtR-FURQQL-oMGD88-HWUzfM-25s5ZtS-21WtQm1-24enugV-24Trzh9-UqRBWq-2eLfbJr-SUP24d-qjRsW6-JfQWmg-23RRJ9s-TgGh6p-Wp5gFB-mndD5V-Ld1FgK-VvTVEq-YMDakb-UiwGbL-26o4HQ1-25QPsjE-p48eTs-4vP6no-L5HYq9-4vP6qy-p3TRQp-24YEUjR-o7wu3s-HFZm7R-Gxay3V-2cmcFSM-kj2bJi-PhoCNG-SmpGCG-obm23Z-Un6FXY-YV6T6f-Un8God

St. Charles Parish Library


Library 21c is a large public library in Colorado Springs, CO. True to its name, meaning “21st century library,” Library 21c is equipped with two makerspaces, a huge performance venue, multiple meeting rooms, and gaming centers. When Library 21c first opened, it contained a large kitchen space, which was converted into a fully operational coffee shop/café. However, the café had difficulty bringing in enough revenue because of the lack of foot traffic within the library. The café eventually vacated the library, leaving the kitchen space empty. Because of its fully operational kitchen, Library 21c has a unique opportunity to engage its community members through cooking and culinary literacy.  

While I was at first inspired by libraries experimenting with food pantries and cooking classes, what really stood out to me during my research was The Free Library of Philadelphia’s Culinary Literacy Center. The Free Library states that “Cooking and eating are educational acts and provide opportunities to learn math, science, languages, history and so much more.” Clearly, cooking at the library has much more potential than meets the eye. Like the Free Library, Library 21c will utilize its fully functional kitchen to create a new type of participatory experience for adult patrons.

The following sections outline a plan to implement a new Culinary Literacy initiative at Library 21c.


Through hosting cooking classes in the library’s operational kitchen, Library 21c will provide memorable literacy and learning experiences. Through the Culinary Literacy initiative, the library will accomplish the following goals:

  1. Use the unique and popular experience of cooking and eating to promote various types of literacy (math, science, language, and cultural)
  2. Increase health and nutrition knowledge for the community
  3. Promote diversity and inclusion through periodic immigrant-led and/or culture-focused cooking classes

Description of Community:

I would like to target adult community members in the Colorado Springs area.

Action Brief Statement:

This new Culinary Literacy initiative will convince adult learners that by attending cooking classes at the library they will contribute to their own personal literacy goals (cultural, culinary, language-based, or otherwise) which will empower adult learners to learn a variety of competencies through the fun vehicle of cooking because having a variety of literacy skills can transform the lives of our library patrons.

Evidence and Resources:

Above is a great video about the Free Library of Philadelphia’s cooking program.

Other resources:

Free Library of Philadelphia. (n.d.). Every bite of food tells a story. Retrieved from https://libwww.freelibrary.org/programs/culinary/about.cfm

Kouame, G., Logue, N. & Mears, K. (2019). Making space for a makerspace. Journal of Hospital Librarianship, 19(2), 182-189, DOI: 10.1080/15323269.2019.1600636

Maitland Public Library. (n.d.). Cooking at the library. Retrieved from https://www.maitlandpubliclibrary.org/cooking-in-the-library/

Peterson, J. (2016). Library kitchens and cooking programs. Retrieved from https://www.webjunction.org/news/webjunction/library-kitchens-and-cooking-programs.html

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

Roth, E. (2019). Cooking classes at the library! Retrieved from https://library.nashville.org/blog/2019/03/cooking-classes-library

Mission, Guidelines, and Policy:

After getting initial permission from the library director, there will be a vertical team established to brainstorm the mission, policy, and guidelines of the cooking classes. Vertical teams are teams in which “all levels of an organization – from frontline staff to the directorial level and everyone in between” (Casey & Savastinuk, 2007, p. 45) are included in the creation and implementation process. A vertical team is ideal since all levels of staff can get involved with the new initiative.

Casey and Stephens (2008) state that, when introducing new tools or services into the library, “The new tool or service must fit into the library’s philosophy” (para. 5). The mission of the Culinary Literacy initiative will align with the Pikes Peak Library District’s overall mission of “Providing resources and opportunities that impact individual lives and build community” (About PPLD, n.d.). The literacy component of the cooking classes, which empowers ESL community members to learn English, for example, has the potential to “impact individual lives.” Likewise, people coming together from diverse backgrounds to learn how to cook can “build community.”

The kitchen will essentially become another space to create, since patrons will ideally be able to make recipes along with the instructor during a class demonstration. Therefore, for policy’s related to the space, the Culinary Literacy team can draw upon the library’s existing Makerspace Safety Guidelines to establish policies and guidelines for the space. These guidelines include a patron agreement form and information on policies regarding minors in the space.

Funding Considerations: 

One good thing about creating a cooking program at Library 21c is that the library already has a space with a fully functional kitchen, therefore no extensive renovations are needed. However, the program will need other cooking gadgets and utensils (whisks, spoons, spatulas, bowls, blenders, etc.). Stocking the kitchen could be funded through the library’s programming budget (if there happens to be money left over after a fiscal year). Another option for funding is staff donations – a kind of “kitchen supplies drive,” if you will. However, it would be ideal to obtain a grant to completely stock and rejuvenate the space. As teacher-librarian Nicholas Provenzano puts it, “The quickest way to fund a makerspace is to write grants. They are not easy to get, but they can jump-start a space very quickly” (2018). Provenzano also suggests creating a donation wish list and partnering with local businesses.

Action Steps & Timeline: 

A reasonable timeline for this project would be nine months to a year. The library director would have to first approve the program. After approval, funding would be key. Project flow will be dependent on funding – the amount of time it takes to write, submit, and obtain a grant, for instance, could influence the timeframe. Then, the vertical team that will plan and implement the program will be put together and start the program planning process from there.

After funding is procured and initial planning is organized, the Culinary Literacy initiative could be prototyped with a smaller-scale cooking series that would be held in the kitchen space before it is completely up and running. Prototyping the program before a hard launch will help iron out any kinks (such as how many patrons can comfortably fit in the space and where the best place for the presenter might be, for example). Prototyping would also include experimenting with different formats of the program in order to determine whether the space is better suited for small demonstrations or for larger participatory classes.

Staffing Considerations: 

The Nashville Public Library (NPL) created a position that coordinates the library’s Be Well initiative. This position, held by Beth Roth, MA, is responsible for overseeing the cooking classes as well as creating, organizing, and updating the Cooking and Food blog on the library’s website. While it would be amazing for Library 21c to have a position dedicated to the cooking program initiative, our library will most likely partner with businesses and nonprofits to keep costs low. One full-time librarian and one full-time library associate will be responsible for coordinating and facilitating the initiative. While these two library staff members will be program facilitators, making sure everything runs smoothly before and during the classes, volunteers from businesses and/or non-profits will lead and teach the classes. Because facilitation takes considerably less time than lesson-planning, library employees interested in the cooking program would need only about an hour a day to plan classes for future dates. Staff time that is needed to coordinate with volunteers and help set up will be allotted during “off-desk” hours for full-time employees. Full-time library employees usually have about 3 off-desk hours a day that are designated for planning, organizing, and programming. Work relating to the cooking classes would therefore be folded into off-desk hours.


After they have learned as much about the space as possible through organizing and preparing, a training manual will be designed by the Culinary Literacy initiative team. The training manual will include an overview of the space, where to find equipment training manuals, and safety procedures. Because volunteers will be folks who already know their way around a kitchen, volunteers will get a brief overview of the space, the manual, and its safety procedures prior to their class being scheduled. Any other library support staff who are interested in facilitating a program in the future would also be trained on machines and safety procedures within the space.

Promotion & Marketing:

Promotion and marketing for the cooking classes will be in the form or social media as well as physical promotional products. Social media promotion and marketing will include posting flyers and information about the cooking classes on to the library district’s Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter feeds. YouTube can also be a strong tool for promotion – the facilitating librarian could record a short clip of the class in progress, which would be posted to YouTube and other social media platforms. The classes will also be promoted through the library’s physical printed calendar. Likewise, small physical flyers stocked at service points throughout the library will be created for marketing. For specific classes relating to learning English through cooking, flyers can be distributed to language programs throughout the library district. Staff can also reach out to cultural groups who use the library, such as the Russian language meetup group, to potentially teach or participate in a cultural cooking class.


To evaluate the cooking program initiative attendance statistics will be recorded during each class or demonstration. Additionally, the program will be evaluated based on its propensity to change lives and build community. Such information can be assessed through patron stories and feedback. Questionnaires and comment cards will be distributed to provide a glimpse into how the program has impacted individuals and the community.

A short-term future goal is to create a LibGuide relating to the Culinary Literacy initiative. The LibGuide would contain information about cooking websites, definitions, conversion charts, a list of book reviews, information about nutrition, and possibly a blog. More staff time would be needed for this guide to be effective.

One long-term goal would be for the program to expand into a true makerspace model in which patrons can use the tools and the space for their own personal and professional creations. Our patrons currently come to the library to use sewing machines for their projects, why not provide a KitchenAid blender or other machine that can be costly to individuals? Or maybe a family could host their child’s birthday party in the space, in which the kids would get to make their own birthday cake along with the adults. The space could eventually be used in the same way that our makerspaces are used, as a space for creativity and self-guided learning. This type of model must include a foundation of radical trust (Stephens, 2019) between the library and its patrons. But with more brainstorming and teamwork, this goal could be accomplished.

Closing Remarks:

The Culinary Literacy initiative is a further step towards participatory service in the library. Patrons who take advantage of the cooking classes could learn a wealth of information delivered through the fun mechanism of cooking. The library is about building community and changing individual lives. The cooking program initiative for Library 21c has the potential to do both.


About PPLD. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://ppld.org/about-ppld

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

Casey, M. E. & Stephens, M. (2008). Measuring progress. Retrieved from https://tametheweb.com/2008/04/15/measuring-progress/

Provenzano, N. (2018). Five tips for funding your makerspace. Retrieved from https://ideas.demco.com/blog/5-tips-for-makerspace-funding/

Stephens. (2019). The hyperlinked library: Participatory service and transparency. [Lecture].

Image credits

Funds. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://creditscoregeek.com/

Marketing tools. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://jpndc.org/jpevent/marketing-for-small-business-mercadotecnia-para-pequenos-negocios-ses-2/

Oven mits. (n.d). Retrieved from flickr.com

St. Charles Parish Library. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.webjunction.org/news/webjunction/library-kitchens-and-cooking-programs.html

Hunt Library NCSU

As someone who hopes to work in an academic environment someday, I chose to explore how academic libraries fit into what we’ve been learning about Library 2.0 and participatory culture. I noticed three major themes from the readings for academic libraries: (1) An emphasis on space that meets student’s needs, (2) Introducing services that spark intellectual curiosity, and (3) Being a support system that meets students where they are.


In the past, academic libraries were used for students to access books and academic journals, scholarly works that were only available in print form. With the growing reliance on electronic resources, however, academic libraries have been able to rethink space that was previously taken up by books. Many academic libraries, like the Hunt Library at North Carolina State University, store their print collections offsite, leaving space in the library building for student scholarship and collaboration. Today, academic libraries are focused on how the library can provide spaces for students to engage in group collaboration as well as having areas for quiet study space.

Intellectual Curiosity

At its core the academic library is there to support students in order to enable student success and retention. However, the increase in electronic resources and Internet search engines like Google have prompted some students to do their research from their dormitories rather than visit the library. As Webster (2017) puts it, “[the] success of our online services has driven the researcher away” (p. 2). In order to bring students back into the library, the library must provide new services beyond reference assistance. For this reason, libraries now have interactive study rooms that encourage play and intellectual curiosity (Fister, 2012). These spaces include white boards, glass windows to write on, and giant computer screens to practice presentations. Webster states that this a new type of learning has unfolded, which “requires collaboration with other students [and] the creation of tangible objects using technology housed in the library” (p. 2).  If the library is to continue to support students, then it must provide services that are compatible with how student work is created today. Such services inspire intellectual curiosity because of their ability to create rather than to consume.

Support System

I was inspired by Hardenbrook’s story of creating a food pantry in the library for students. I remember being an undergraduate and thinking to myself, “Uh-oh, it’s 8:00 at night, I’m hungry, the dining halls are closed, and I’m not sure if I have one last Ramen noodle stored away in my dorm.” Hardenbrook describes similar situations in which students end up “skipping meals, not eating, or out of meal swipes (ID card ‘swipes’ tied to the university’s dining plan)” (para. 1). A free food pantry in the library helps to alleviate stress that accompanies “food insecurity” for college students. The pantry is also an example of “radical trust” (Stephens, n.d.) since it is based off of a “take what you need, give when you can” system. I think that the open, trusting system of the food pantry that Hardenbrook describes actually encourages students to participate in the food share system. Hardenbrook explains,

“We […] strongly felt that the food pantry should be unmediated. With sensitive issues such as food insecurity, people may feel embarrassed to ask for help. The food pantry is self-service. We promote it as judgment-free zone” (para. 5).

According to Berger (2015), people generally like sharing useful information that will help someone out. Because the food pantry is so helpful and useful to students, it is likely that students will participate in the service by paying it forward and donating food when they can. This has been the case at Hardenbrook’s food pantry.

These three themes all have one thing in common: the idea that the library is an entity that continuously listens to the needs of students, whatever those needs may be, and acts on those needs. Casey and Savastinuk (2007) assert that Library 2.0 means that the library continually reevaluates services to make sure they are services the community wants. Academic libraries are continually seeking ways to improve their spaces, foster intellectual curiosity, and meet students where they are in regards to what kinds of practical things they need. Clearly, academic libraries have their own unique way of marching towards a Library 2.0 model.


Berger, J. (2013). Contagious: Why things catch on. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.

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

Fister, B. (2012). Playing for Keeps: Rethinking How Research Is Taught to Today’s College Students. Retrieved from https://www.projectinfolit.org/barbara-fister-smart-talk.html

Hardenbrook, J. (2019). Starting a food pantry in an academic library. Retrieved from https://mrlibrarydude.wordpress.com/2019/09/13/starting-a-food-pantry-in-an-academic-library/

Webster, K. (2017). Reimagining the role of the library in the digital age: changing the use of space and navigating the information landscape. Retrieved from https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/2017/02/15/reimagining-the-role-of-the-library-in-the-digital-age-changing-the-use-of-space-and-navigating-the-information-landscape/?platform=hootsuite

[Image credits: https://www.lib.ncsu.edu/huntlibrary ]

[Image credit: https://mrlibrarydude.wordpress.com/2019/09/13/starting-a-food-pantry-in-an-academic-library/

In order for the library to become “hyperlinked” – that is, connecting people and their communities together – the library must be an inclusive space, a space where all people and all communities are welcome.

Last year, the library district where I work, Pikes Peak Library District (PPLD), hosted Drag Queen Story Hour, a program that encourages early childhood literacy while promoting diversity and inclusion. My library district is located in Colorado Springs, a fairly conservative town. So, when one of our main library branches decided to host Drag Queen Story Hour, there was some pushback. One city councilman publicly demanded the library to cease support for the program before it began. Our library director, John Spears, responded to the councilmen in a professional, well-worded letter saying that the library is and always will be open to everyone. In his letter, Spears cited two sections from the ALA Bill of Rights:

V. A person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views.

VI. Libraries which make exhibit spaces and meeting rooms available to the public they serve should make such facilities available on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use.

The ALA Bill of Rights protects citizens from discrimination when using the library. However, Spears also evoked a sense of leadership that libraries ought to have when promoting inclusion.

One of the readings that really resonated with me this week was Christian Lauersen’s “Do You Want to Dance?” keynote speech. Lauersen stated that “inclusion demands action, awareness, [and] responsibility” (p. 3). In other words, “inclusion” is a verb – it is something an institution must actively do rather than passively promote. For libraries, to be inclusive is to undertake “acts of inclusion [aimed] at improving the conditions for those who are disadvantaged by our social and historical structures” (Lauersen, 2018, p. 5).

The moment that PPLD decided to keep Drag Queen Story Hour, regardless of varying opinions, the library district engaged in a deliberate act of inclusion. In Spears’ letter, he reminded the public that the library provides a service that is “steeped in humanism, compassion, and understanding […] for all members of our communities, including the underserved” (Garcia-Febo, 2018, para. 5). Libraries have become spaces in which everyone is invited to participate, which charges libraries with the responsibility of being stewards of diversity and inclusion.


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

Lauersen, C. (2018). 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/

Picture References

Drag Queen Story Hour. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.dragqueenstoryhour.org/

Hands. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://hewlett.org/committing-diversity-equity-inclusion/

Public libraries today not only provide access to materials, but also act as a community hub for learning and connecting. However, many people still view the brand of the library in limited terms of “library=books.” This narrow perspective is problematic for libraries, which actually have so much more to offer than books. How can we rebrand the library so that when people think of the library, they think of the many valuable services it offers? How can we show people that the library is “the place to be”? In other words, what can librarians do to get the library to catch on?

In his book Contagious: Why Things Catch On, Jonah Berger (2013) explains why some things catch on – or why things become popular, viral, and trendy – and other things fail to do so. Berger asserts that products and services that “go viral” tend to have six things in common when they are marketed: social currency, triggers, emotion, public visibility, practical value, and stories.

Libraries need to tap into Berger’s core principles that make things catch on. A focus on participatory culture could be the key to libraries’ success. If libraries partner with current users, more interest and popularity could be stirred up. The following paragraphs outline three examples of ways to make things go viral, which are paired with Library 2.0 principles. Fusing Berger’s tenets of virality with Library 2.0 principles has the potential to make library services catch on.  

Social Currency and Radical Trust

Part of participatory service includes “radical trust” (Stephens, n.d.). In this service model, users are encouraged to participate based on a foundation of trust. Radical trust can be observed in libraries experimenting with automated self-service technology, like Gwinnett County (Ga) Public Library (GCPL), which opens its doors to the public before normal hours of operation. The idea of self-service relates to social currency because of its exclusivity. Social currency refers to how we share things to make ourselves look interesting or “in the know” in social settings. Exclusivity makes people feel like insiders, which is a type of social currency (Berger, 2013, p. 51). Only people with library cards can get into the Gwinnett County Public Library after hours. Exclusivity therefore creates an incentive for people to get library cards and use library services before the library is open to the rest of the public. For this type of social currency to work in libraries, however, radical trust – a product of participatory service – must be present.  

Practical Value and Reaching New Users

According to Berger, “people like to pass along practical, useful information” (Berger, 2013, p. 158). Moreover, people like to share information that will help out a buddy or two (ibid). This is why YouTube videos that depict practical information often go viral. Not surprisingly, practical value also includes saving a few dollars (Berger, 2013, p. 160). A good example of libraries tapping into the power of practical value is Rock County Library’s (Mn.) receipts, which display how much money the patron saved by borrowing books from the library. Showcasing money saved is exemplary of Library 2.0 because it is a way to potentially reach out to new users (Casey & Savastinuk, 2007. p. 37). If someone shares how much they saved at the library – perhaps via text, Facebook, or Instagram – the library has effectively used its current patrons to advertise library services.

Stories and Participatory Culture

Berger states that “Stories […] give people an easy way to talk about products and ideas” (Berger, 2013, p. 189). The author describes a story as a type of “trojan horse” that transmits information (ibid). Thus, libraries need to encourage people to tell their stories relating to library services. The Pikes Peak Library District (Co.) (PPLD) tries to home in on this idea of storytelling through its website. On PPLD’s main page, there is a link that says, Share Your Library Story! Below the link there are blog entries of people who have participated in the website’s storytelling feature. By drawing upon participatory service, whereby consumers are transformed into participants, PPLD has created a space where people can tell their stories about the library. People who visit the library’s website who notice the stories will ideally be drawn in enough to try out a service at the library.


Contagious provides a way for libraries to catch on, to become popular, to become the next new thing. If libraries can combine Library 2.0 principles, like participatory service, with marketing strategies like the ones Berger discusses, then they might be able to change their own brand from “library=books” to “library=people.”


Berger, J. (2013). Contagious: Why things catch on. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.

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

Stephens. (n.d.). The hyperlinked library: Participatory service and transparency. [Lecture].

Picture Credits

Contagious book cover. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15801967-contagious

Gwinnett County Public Library (n.d.). Key to Library. Retrieved from https://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/2019/09/03/automatic-people-self-service-libraries/

Hamaiti, B. (n.d.). Dandelion blowing. Retrieved from https://fineartamerica.com/featured/2-dandelion-blowing-bess-hamiti.html

Rock County Library. (n.d.). Receipt. Retrieved from http://rockcountycommunitylibrary.org/

Pikes Peak Library District. (n.d.). A million stories. Retrieved from https://ppld.org/whats-new/share-your-library-story

What I found most striking about the foundational readings was changing the approach to how library staff and administration operate. I started our readings with “Cultivating Complexity” where Mathews (2017) talks about utilizing different types of teams to achieve different types of goals. Mathews describes the new organizational environment as an “evolutionary ecosystem.” Like a natural ecosystem, change is ever-present and organisms must constantly adapt. Mathews says that the remedy for this ever-changing work environment is to adapt company’s organizational structures. The author asserts that “Rather than being bound by static job descriptions, strict reporting lines, and the territorial nature of functional units, employees [should] be free to act upon emerging situations” (p. 23). Mathews emphasizes that teams need to be fluid – without strict hierarchies – in order to cultivate creativity and readily respond to change.

In Library 2.0, Michael Casey and Laura Savastinuk (2007) predict the type of organizational change Mathews discusses nearly a decade later. While Casey and Savastinuk’s main point is embracing participatory culture and putting the changing needs of users first, the authors also highlight the need for the library as an organization to make changes internally as well as externally. Casey and Savastinuk suggest the use of “vertical teams,” or teams that “include staff from all levels of an organization – from frontline staff to the directorial level and everyone in between” (p. 45). In the vertical team structure, all levels of staff are involved in planning, implementing, and evaluating current and emerging services, effectively flattening the “top to bottom” hierarchy.

The distinctively team-oriented aspect of the Library 2.0 model struck me because the library where I currently work has gone through immense changes in the past five years. In that time, I have seen some instances where change has been managed effectively and not so effectively. Case in point, last year the library’s “leadership team” (our head-honchoes) decided that the largest libraries in the district would benefit from merging staff desks (i.e. Circulation and Adult Services desks would be combined into a one-stop-shop for patrons). The first attempt at this desk merger was a huge disaster. Staff at the first test-library felt like the merger was a mandate rather than a choice and did not fully understand the need for such a disruptive change to their regular routine. Thankfully, the leadership team learned from their mistake. With the second test-library they decided to create a “Merge Herd” team dedicated to the smooth transition of merging staff desks. The Merge Herd is what Casey and Savastinuk would call a “vertical team.” Staff from all levels – from shelving to our regional manager – were involved. Not surprisingly, the desk merge at the second library was a huge success, staff even said that services and patron interactions were significantly better after the merger.

After reading Mathews in conjunction with Casey and Savastinuk, the wildly different outcomes at the two test-libraries makes perfect sense now. The Merge Herd was “free to act upon an emerging situation” – the desk merges – and make the situation a positive experience through vertical communication. Additionally, including staff from all levels worked to boost morale and made employees feel like they had a say in a decision that would directly affect their work-lives.

Personally, I’m thrilled to see that libraries (and other company’s) are starting to rethink hierarchical structures that often do not benefit anyone but the higher-ups. Many times, this type of hierarchical thinking does not even benefit the customer, whose experience may suffer based on a management decision that could have been re-thought had they only consulted employees who actually work with the customer every day. This is precisely why staff re-organization is so pivotal to the Library 2.0 model – a harmonic flow of ideas emerging from staff communication at all levels can only benefit the customer’s experience and their perception of the library.


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

Mathews, B. (2017). Cultivating complexity: How I stopped driving the innovation train and started planting seeds in the community garden. Retrieved from https://vtechworks.lib.vt.edu/handle/10919/78886

Picture References

Lightbulb. (n.d.). [Picture]. Retrieved from https://www.quora.com/What-is-important-in-teamwork

Plants. (n.d.). [Picture]. Retrieved from https://www.inc.com/young-entrepreneur-council/from-starting-lineup-to-game-winning-shot-whats-your-growth-strategy.html

Team circle flying. (n.d.). [Picture]. Retrieved from https://www.inc.com/lee-colan/building-and-protecting-your-leadership-values.html

Team clip art. (n.d.). [Picture]. Retrieved from https://www.govloop.com/community/blog/the-foundations-of-teamwork/

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