The other day I told my Google Home device to go to the next song, and my 5-year-old daughter said, “Mommy, you were kind of mean to Google just now.” It is so confusing to explain that the “Google Lady” is not a person. To model social graces, I might just have to be more polite and patient with this tiny little, ever listening speaker that sits in my kitchen. I only use it for listening to the news or music when I cook. I quabble with my daughter who tries to out-shout me to get the Google Lady to do what she wants, “Hey Google!” she yells after I have told it to play the news, “Hey Google, play Elsa music!” At which point, the Google lady begins the Frozen station obediently. I feel doomed and should really take Elsa’s advice to let it go, but I am hesitant. Kelly (2018) explains “some research indicates children understand …Google Home is a piece of technology, but they also see these gadgets in psychological terms — as having emotions, as being capable of thought and friendship, and deserving of moral treatment, Severson added.” I suppose I can feel good about the fact my daughter understands how to care for other’s emotions through tone of voice, but still…
I unplug it often. I don’t rule out that Google is listening. I suppose the convenience of it makes me bend my leniency. One time, I was laughing with a room full of people, and my Google Home started laughing too—unprompted. It was so creepy. I turned it off for months.
I know I am going to have to embrace this little thing (as a symbolic gesture of accepting IoT), despite the confusion it brings to my daughter and I trying to navigate our playlists and manners. You should have heard the last time we had a play date: two five-year-old’s became aware that Google Home was on. The shouting match of requests that followed was unbearable. I almost felt bad for the Google Lady.
Looking down the pathway to libraries as my new workspace, I know that IoT will need to be utilized, and we need to anticipate how to use them to our communal and civic advantage. As Stephens (2018) suggests: “Of course, the more interesting functionality will come when we can ask our virtual assistants to look up books at our local libraries, place holds, and even read the books to us.” I can see how even the Google lady can help us meet new trends in user connection.
I remain concerned about privacy issues, especially regarding library accounts. Griffey (2019) highlights an important aspect of indulging smart and smarter machines: “As more libraries and library vendors move into developing AI and machine learning systems, we should be sensitive to the privacy implications of collecting and storing the data that’s needed to train and update those systems.” From my own experiences, although embarrassing to admit, I think I often sacrifice a concern for privacy over the intrigue and convenience of new technology. One example of this is engaging with the ads that come up in all of our internet usage. The incessant running shoes that I looked at last week keep popping up in my emails and searches, and damned if it doesn’t remind me of my running aspirations. It is important for librarians to work for people to combat complacency and convenience of our patrons so that their privacy is ultimately protected.
Finally, I do admire the sentiment noted in the OCLC (2014) report: “Several librarians indicated that libraries should wait until the technology is more widely adopted and available until investing time, effort and money into developing IoT services” (p. 5). Librarians can model slowing down, protecting privacy, and strategizing about the best technology implementation as they face changes.
Stop-Motion Animation Library Lab for
Youth in Rural California Communities
The Stop-Motion Animation Library Lab (SMALL) is a
program targeted towards young library patrons. Implementation of a SMALL will
benefit youth of all backgrounds; however, it will especially be fruitful for
youth who are from agricultural, rural communities in California, who face
inequalities in educational opportunities in science, technology, engineering,
art, and mathematics (STEAM).
Many youths from such communities like Salinas,
Watsonville, and the Central Valley are English Language Learners, from first-
and second-generation immigrant families, and/or steeped in historical
inequities, and often enrolled in schools with low test scores and free school
lunch programs. Young people who fall into such unique types of demographics, face
complex challenges in their informational needs, especially in regards to
access to science education (Shea,
M., & Sandoval, J., 2020). In short, this
SMALL program would work well to target youth who do not have ready access to
high technology makerspaces and quality school programs in STEAM because of
systemic inequities in the California school system and beyond.
(As an educator in these unique communities, I have
personally witnessed the gaps in access and education that many students face.
I strongly feel that libraries can provide significant supplemental educational
programs, like SMALLs, to help ameliorate the inequities that exist for young
people, especially in regards to STEAM education.)
It is important to note that this program can run in any
library, and anyone can use it. It will enhance a library’s STEAM initiatives
and engage participatory services using emerging technology trends. For the
purposes of this project, however, special focus will be on this special
information community in need of STEAM experiences to bridge the digital
divide, so-to-speak and build cultural competence for libraries in rural
communities. It would best be placed in a youth area of a library, if
Objectives for SMALL:
To introduce HiLo
approaches to integrate technology trends into libraries with limited resources
based on the premise that “cost shouldn’t be a barrier for meaningfully
including technology in … creative pursuits” (Shea and Escude, 2019). HiLo is a
term which represents the idea that high technology with low cost digital tools
can engage patrons “in high-complexity thinking and creating” (Shea and Escude,
To integrate HiLo
digital tools to foster STEAM learning in the library, especially for young
afterschool users who are underserved in their communities.
To support STEAM
experiential learning opportunities, especially for young patrons who do not
have access to a makerspaces or robust STEAM programing.
Users: Convince youth library users that by participating
in the SMALL they will have fun with storytelling and technology, which will
enhance their engagement with STEAM because they deserve to learn high
technology skills and produce narrative products for their community that
express their creativity.
Library Organization: Convince youth librarians that a
SMALL is a HiLo way to engage students in STEAM applications with a low-barrier
entry level for youth and facilitators.
Useful Resources and Guides
Paley, V. (2004). The classroom as Narrative. Schools:
Studies in Education,1(2), 63-74. doi:10.1086/589211
Gabrielson, C. (2008). Stomp Rockets,
Catapults, and Kaleidoscopes: 30+ Amazing Science Projects You Can Build for
Less than 1$. Chicago: Chicago Review Press.
Shelley. (2018). What is STEM and STEAM? A guide for parents and educators.
To engage the diverse community of young patrons in the
creation and dissemination of information through trends in emerging technology
which foster STEAM skills. To provide inviting spaces, where innovation will be
sparked and curiosity ignited. To consider participatory programming
opportunities that inspire young people to share creativity and build community.
Life-Long Skill-Building and STEAM benefits of SMALL:
Implementing a SMALL into a library space will foster
inquiry based learning, or what Booth (2011) correlates with “Discovery
Learning”: “…a problem-based or inquiry-based learning, takes place when
students form knowledge by way of inquiry and direct experience” (p. 53). This
type of learning is ripe for a library that aims to honor Library 2.0
approaches, as emerging trends engage communities of discovery and
A SMALL can provide the emerging technology trend that
will create participatory experiences of discovery STEAM principles that include
“innovation, creativity, critical thinking, and problem solving” (Shelley,
Shea and Escude (2019) contend that “The magic of
stop-motion is in how inanimate objects come alive through the manipulation of
time, sequence, visual perception and creative storytelling.”
While the library staff and
administration would be involved in setting and facilitating the policies, the
following recommendations are encouraged:
expression and creativity:
Because this project naturally
encourages young people to express stories through imagery, there may be causes
for concern regarding content expressed. For example, graphic imagery (like
violence or pornography) may be of concern. However, Shea and Escude (2019) suggest, for
example, that “Using violence in storytelling can also help kids make sense of
violence they may have seen, felt or experienced in their own lives and
surroundings.” So, be advised that to sensor the expression of this content can
close doors to the topics and themes that young people are navigating. Stories
with graphic content can lend insight into the information needs of the unique
information community of your library users. It is recommended, therefore, that
when “disturbing” stories are produced and shared, that librarians and staff
see this as an opportunity for discussion, questions, and insight into services
that might support young people in their learning development and life-long
information needs. Building rapport and collaboration with schools and
counseling departments can help to discover ways to address the content that
might be of concern. Additionally, if a young person is sharing such content
with the wider public, there are many learning opportunities that exist in
discussing information literacy.
with participatory programming in mind:
It is important to reflect upon the
best practices in how and where students submit their stories to the wider
community. There might be an option for students to keep the videos private,
but also an option to submit the videos into a dropbox-like collection, which
can then be viewed by librarian staff/administrators, to then be used in
multimedia facets: videos can play on screens or media displays in a loop in
the library or on the library website, videos can be posted to Instagram hashtags,
film festival events virtually or physically could help build community, awards
can be granted for videos submitted through crowd sourcing, inspiring a
creative and competitive edge and the community participates.
Lab set-up, maintenance, and recommendations:
This project is very flexible regarding materials and
energy output of staff. The main efforts will involve setting up the lab workspace
and stop-motion stations. I.T. might be involved in the initial technology set-up
that the library has to provide. However, technology set up could only be a matter
of downloading a free app and making sure camera/phone is attached and
functional to a tablet or computer set-up. Since it is simplistic in nature, it
is reasonable that staff and/or volunteers can participate in the initial
It is entirely possible to set-up the workspace in a
manner that no staff are needed to facilitate this service after set-up. The
first few days/weeks might require some technology or in-person support, but
after some time, it is expected that users will help each other. The long-term
benefits are valuable in this regard.
For the day-to-day maintenance, staff might want to reinforce
the “clean up after yourselves” motto, or they can take a few minutes
throughout the day to clean up if necessary. Depending on the age-range aim,
middle school students and older are very capable of creating this project on
their own (and cleaning up) with just the tools available at the workplace
station. Also, young people and caretakers can collaborate in such a project
together, and reinforce the clean-up philosophy.
It is possible that users will have questions and want to
troubleshoot. This will have to be discussed based on the availability of staff
and librarians. An excellent instructional guide from the app itself is very
helpful, not to mention the thousands of resources easily found on YouTube and
simple Google searches. The troubleshooting can be seen as an information
literacy learning opportunity in the making. Many students who are highly
engaged often refer to such online support to make their movies more complex,
like adding audio, or to fine-tune their editing.
There are plenty of videos also for educators to teach
stop motion, which can even be used to convince your staff and administrators
about the value of SMALL experiences, like this well polished and sponsored
video, focusing on the value of stop-motion in arts education in particular:
When the program starts, it is suggested that a volunteer
or a “regular” user sit at the station and make stop-motion and engage with
onlookers or young people interested, to encourage getting started. Peer
support and collaboration works naturally for this project and is highly
encouraged. Participatory service aligns strongly with the SMALL. That being
said, there may grow to be “regulars” at the station, or young people who can
be determined as “experts,” who could be role models and supporters for other
users. Service-learning hours could be fulfilled if such a program were popular
afterschool and on weekends. The SMALL provides the perfect opportunity for
community building and service learning.
A laminated one sheet list of instructions (see appendix)
could be utilized and/or a Libguide, or instructional video could be set up on
the computers that will be set up at the stations. In fact, there doesn’t need
to be any computers at the stations, given the capability of many students who
have mobile devices. However, it is suggested that presuming all young people
have access to a cell phone and an app store, especially in the rural,
underserved target communities, even though the app is free, might not be
practicing cultural competence. Therefore, it is suggested that several
computers/laptops, or smart tablets are set up with recording camera
capabilities, so that people can access the technology if they don’t choose to
or do not own smart phones or tablets.
It is recommended that no new technology needs to be
bought. The “stop motion” app is completely free to download and use. If the
library so chooses to upgrade the app, after some time in seeing successful
creation and depending on patron engagement, staff and administrators might
decide to invest in the upgrade, which is $4.99 per computer. It is an
inexpensive upgrade: Less then $20 if it were to be upgraded on 4 computers at
Materials and Tools:
The materials to make the videos can be upcycled, reused,
and acquired by a donation drive, or thrift store purchases. It can be a fun
challenge to meet a zero-dollar goal as far as materials are concerned. The
possibilities are endless, and a simple inventory of what the library already
has material-wise can get it started. Young people can bring in their own
materials as the program takes off. Some suggestions include:
construction paper or recycled paper from the library
paper fasteners (if desired) to allow students to make
joints for character movements. See image.
pre-cut characters (can be re-used and shared and/or
created with craft cutter)
More complex materials:
*craft cutter (vinyl and paper) and computer: if already
available a craft cutter at the station can be a great way for students to
produce images for motion stop. The cutter saves time in cutting and allows
students to access this emerging technology tool. It also might be considered,
that if the program gains momentum and is in high demand that a craft/vinyl
cutter be purchased (they are around $150 and exemplify the HiLo approach).
Animation stages/rigs (see Instructables for further resources) can be prebuilt, like this one:
But a phone or tablet can be wedged between library books
to keep the camera still while setting up the images.
The Watsonville Environmental Science Workshop Coordinator, Darren Gertler, came up with the following HiLo Rig:
Movies can be captured in dynamic ways which allow for no cost or little cost: with a rig where the phone or camera faces down. On a table top where the camera from a computer can be adjusted downwards, with a camera facing a stage backdrop. It is suggested that different set ups are at the table, and encouraged that young users get creative with how they want to shoot. It is part of the learning process and takes STEAM thinking to set up and produce.
Planning and Time
The SMALL can be prototyped as a station with both
physical and technological restraints. Because of its flexibility, it can be
set up on a table, with limited resources. As you can see, there are several
inexpensive rig prototypes that can be used and reused. A library can commit to
the HiLo approach and only use what they have to create prototypes (books, soda
bottles, and cardboard—all items a library might have on hand) to prop a phone
up or build prototypes for the long term.
It is suggested to pilot the program with basics, keep in
mind the philosophy behind HiLo. Similarly, Booth (2011) suggests for teaching
technology: “There are plenty of costs associated with developing and
customizing emerging technologies in an organizational and educational setting,
and Free (Libre) Open Source Software (FLOSS) alternatives to fee-based
services regularly present themselves as useful alternatives” (p. 65). Booth’s
(2011) suggestions also counters Stephen’s (2004) “technolust” obstacles in
technology use in libraries. Bottom line: Use the free app and free stuff for
initial set-up, until users might want more options and based on evolving information
Furthermore, if the library community wants to practice
the HiLo lifestyle, the set-up of a program can be fairly immediate. The
library can use what they have, download the app on computers/tablets with
cameras, and set up a table and it can get started in a matter of days, even
hours. The background decisions and outreach with staff and administrators might
take longer. A pilot could ensure a quick set up, and then a re-visitation with
staff and administrators might mean further planning and time. Depending on the
culture of the library, perhaps, a “do-first, then ask for forgiveness-second”
approach is preferable to such a low-risk program.
Staffing and In-Person Program Support
A volunteer/staff member/librarian/administrator might
set up the pilot of the program. This might take part of a day’s work for set
up. The maintenance of the station can be low, if the station is set up with foresight.
A young person who loves the project is a good target to
use as a peer mentor at the station. If young people take to it, leadership and
community building skills can be fostered if a young person is asked to be a
mentor, especially with a schedule. Furthermore, as previously recommended, service-learning
hours can be fulfilled as a station facilitator and stop motion “expert”
Volunteers from any walk of life can help with the
station. Even if the volunteer has no training in stop-motion, the troubleshooting
and problem solving with users at the table can create a quick experience of
Parents/guardians can help younger children.
Technology troubleshooting is likely the most time costly
in-person investment upfront, but once the SMALL is implemented at the library,
it is only a matter of time that the users will grow accustomed to the program
and can likely help any newcomers as the program gains momentum. Thus, there
are upfront hours to be invested that will likely subside.
It does not take a degree or special training to
facilitate the projects, so any level of staff can commit some time to
facilitation. Ideally, the less facilitation by staff the better, because these
projects without staff support encourage STEAM skills, problem solving,
critical thinking, independent dedication, and confidence building. This is a
low stakes entry level kind of skill that can easily be mastered without the
in-person help of staff, especially if the technology is well running (the computers
work and the cameras work and the app is functional).
can be playing to provide a context for the project. It also makes the creation accessible because most young people are familiar with animation. A matter of simple explanation can be deduced or explicitly told: animation is a series of pictures taken that trick the eyes into thinking that the objects are moving. About 6 pictures per second make animation.
Because the stop-motion animation videos are products to
market themselves as the program runs, the videos submitted to the library can
be used for promotions.
Participatory programming offer marketing opportunities,
like film festival, or contest, or Instagram and social media sharing opportunities.
Signage, website advertisements, and word-of-mouth are
great proponents for encouraging users to use the SMALL. Also, placing the
station in the middle of a youth space is ideal, or wherever foot traffic is.
Any censoring of the videos could take some time. Posting rules about posting obscene imagery to help users self-censor their submissions is strongly not recommended. Allow students to create their narratives and use the products as signals to any further support needed as earlier suggested. If there is a trend of “disturbing” videos, then librarians and staff can work with schools or social workers with how to move forward. Given the understanding that some themes that young people will create will be reflective of the culture we live in, as Shea and Escude suggest (2019).
The videos themselves serve as evidence of
Quality and quaintly can help provide metrics.
Community judging of videos can help to self-evaluate.
Users can provide verbal or survey feedback of
how it is working for them and what their needs are going forward.
The video collection can become an archive, or a
means to evaluation. It can be run on social media and evaluated by the
community as such. Librarians do not need to be the judges.
(Laminated One Page Instructions for SMALL
Simple Instructions for Stop Motion (Can be in various languages spoken in community)
Stop Motion: a series of pictures
that are combined to create animation.
Download Stop motion on your phone or open on library computer. “?” button will guide the editing and design process.
Design set backdrop/background
Arrange action figures/shapes/dolls/playdoh, etc.
Slightly move objects to create the animation
Take picture and repeat.
Consider include credits page as one image before or after movie (your name/s title of movie, etc.)
View movie and edit as needed.
Add sound and design filters if desired.
Identify the title of the video (include your name/avatar if desired) and export video to the library Dropbox (or Instagram, etc.)
Avoid using dialogue or words
Camera needs to be still and in the same place.
Typical movies are 6 frames per second. For example, if you want a 10 second clip you need 60 pictures.
Instructional manual is within the app for questions, troubleshooting or more complex design options.