Hyperlinked Librarian

Archive for the ‘Reflection Post’ Category

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!]

References

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

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.

References

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:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/universityofderby/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/ohlonecollege/

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.  

References

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

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.

Space

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.

References

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.

References

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/

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.

References

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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