Hyperlinked Librarian

Archive for October 2019

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/

Skip to toolbar