Final Thoughts: A Reflection

As I embarked on this final assignment, I took a moment, took a breath… and asked myself, “How did I end up here?” After this semester, I have two more (Summer and Fall) then I graduate. I’ve not looked at this program from a strict librarian focus but more so than an information broker and technologist. 

Information centers

While I’m fascinated by libraries and museums, I am also intrigued by the idea of other kinds of information centers like research institutes, think tanks, foundations, etc. Information isn’t exclusive to libraries and museums. As part of my program, I completed a Communication Specialist internship at the California Cybersecurity Institute.

Information centers:

  • have one primary mission: to serve and transform their communities.
  • are the technological and information hub of their community.
  • envision and embrace a future that combines learning, sharing, and creating knowledge and experiences that meet the needs of their users.
  • create new opportunities for learning and exploration.

Information centers, libraries, and museums must also adapt and provide life and literacy skills to their communities.

Then came the pandemic

Although the SJSU MLIS program is online, and there wasn’t a big jump to continue teaching and learning, however, after I watched the Reflective Practice lecture, I had a revelation that because of the pandemic, I’d lost my access to neutral space. Even though the program is online and I was able to continue to work from home, I’d lost having a third space to go. Pre-pandemic, I would often visit Cal Poly’s Kennedy Library during lunch to get away from my desk for a bit and read or write or watch a lecture – a change of space. I would also go to my local library from time to time, usually on the weekends, and leave the distractions of home behind. This got me thinking about how this has affected people/communities that really rely on these spaces and how libraries are such important spaces for people to decompress, take a moment, and let their minds go wild. Damn, I’m happy that we’ll all be able to go to the library again soon and experience all it has to offer!

Towards graduation

With my current job in Information Technology Services at Cal Poly, I decided to take a more technical MLIS route, so much so that I may not have taken some of the more traditional library classes. It leaves me wondering if I’ve covered all of my bases to defend my traditional library knowledge (cataloging, reference, and collections, etc.) and course competencies that are required for the final INFO 289 e-Portfolio class. My job in documentation and knowledge management will hopefully help fill these gaps. 

I live in a small town and walk through the town square quite often, several times a week, in fact. I pass the city library and the old, original Paso Robles Carnegie Library, built in 1907, which houses the El Paso de Robles Area Historical Society. I visited the historical society this week to inquire about volunteering. I loved walking through the magnificent building and seeing some of the exhibits and artifacts of years passed. They need a lot of help, especially with better organization of their cataloging system, website, and maps, among a slew of other potential projects.

Paso Robles Carnegie Library
Photo courtesy of the El Paso de Robles Area Historical Society

Final thoughts about librarianship

I am confident and proud of the work I’ve done in this class and feel like there was freedom to color outside the lines. Some overarching ideas around librarianship that have resonated with me include:

  • Freedom of knowledge
  • Librarianship is the ultimate service profession
  • Advocating for the user/customer and teaching new things when possible, broadening perspectives 
  • Helping to improve the community

The best of all is that libraries are the great equalizer because they are for everyone and allow everyone to acquire knowledge, experience, and connect to the world.

My #HYPERLIB Journey

As I reflect on the past semester and my #hyperlib path, I was surprised to see how many blog posts and assignments I’d completed for INFO 287 – The Hyperlinked Library. Often during a semester, I become consumed with what’s happening at the moment and don’t always see the complete picture. So, it’s nice to take a step back, survey all of the work I’ve completed, and take it all in. My course overview artifact is a map that walks through each week of my #hyperlib journey of learning and includes reflective blog posts, a book review, an emerging technology planning document, and a director’s brief. Each has an assigned number that, if clicked, shows that particular blog post or assignment. 

View my animated infographic and follow my journey through INFO 287 – The Hyperlinked Library.

From this class, I am taking away a broader understanding of the technologies available for libraries to flourish and offer unique programming to patrons to keep current patrons connected and connect those who have never thought of the library as a resource for information and inspiration. Libraries are constantly evolving, and it’s crucial to find new ways to engage patrons and meet their needs. Patrons, users, and customers need to be top of mind at all times. The topics I explored included changes during the pandemic that prompted people, education, business, etc., to change their ways of thinking around digital interaction primarily out of necessity. The unintended progress made in the realm during the past year is astounding, although I wonder at what consequence. I also explored user research and user-generated communities, delivering unique and customer experiences (RIP Tony Hsieh), the availability of the virtual reality experience and how it can be used to enhance educational experiences and support library missions, and ways to deliver cybersecurity & ethical hacking and digital literacy training to different populations. Since libraries are ever-changing, evaluation is imperative to determine the effectiveness of programming.

This course offers a treasure trove of information and examples of how libraries worldwide have embraced a higher level of connectedness through creative and innovative methods. I recommend that all SJSU MLIS students experience it.

The potential connections are vast. Hyperlinks are the connections made by real individuals based on what they care about and what they know, the paths that emerge because that’s where the feet are walking, as opposed to the highways bulldozed into existence according to a centralized plan.

David Weinberger, “The Hyperlinked Organization,” The Cluetrain Manifesto, 1999.

Lifelong Learning and Digital Literacy

I chose my own Infinite Learning adventure and explored the Learning Everywhere module. Libraries are essential to the cultural fabric of society and are the ideal place for lifelong learning. Through the lecture and readings, I was reminded of a program that I was introduced to when I worked at a YMCA teen center in San Diego in the early 2000s. We collaborated with the Youth & Family Services division of the association to bring their Independent Living Skills (ILS) program to our branch. I’m glad to see the program is still in existence and has grown. According to the YMCA of San Diego County website, ILS is “designed to prepare and assist current and former foster youth through their transition from the foster care system into independence.” I always felt the training these youth received would be beneficial for all to learn, not just those who were part of the system and starting their adult lives. I remember starting college right out of high school and thought I knew it all; however, a class like this would’ve better prepared me for life on my own. The program taught students how to write a check (is this even relevant anymore?) and budget, secure housing, perform a job search, and interview. I imagine now this life literacy (as mentioned in the lecture) program includes a digital literacy component.

People can use the internet to search and find information; libraries remain relevant because programs can be catered to the community’s needs and life skills now include digital skills, which have become practical knowledge. According to one of the sources I tend to gravitate towards, Pew Research, adults with more tech access translates to increased independent lifelong learning using the internet. Those with connectivity at home (smartphone and broadband connectivity) are more likely to learn independently. Two libraries tackling adult digital learning include Chicago Public Library (CPL) and Denmark’s Roskilde Libraries. From The Library as a Gateway to 21st Century Skills, CPL’s approach to adult education uses technology as a gateway to academic skills, which has been successful with low-skilled adults. This gateway provides access to technology these adults may not have and the skills to search for information online, for example, job or health information. Closing the tech gap (computer and internet access) fosters adult learning. CPL offers two digital literacy programs:

  • The CyberNavigator program, which aims to “demystify technology” by training community mentors to be “digital skills coaches” and help patrons to “incorporate technology into their daily lives.”
  • Chicago DigitalLearn, which consists of online modules with topics like using a computer, navigating a website, online searching, intro to email, online safety (accounts & passwords, internet privacy, online scams, and disinformation in social media), plus online job searching and how to create a resume.

The Roskilde Libraries strategy states that the library is for everyone and focuses on the following key areas:

  • Literature and the joy of reading
  • Lifelong learning
  • Music for everyone
  • Digital literacy and digital well-being
  • Democratic participation and dialogue

The library’s goal is “the safeguarding of every citizens’ access to knowledge and learning linked to skills, dissemination and credibility.”

I was impressed to learn of DigComp, the Digital Competence Framework for Citizens developed by the Joint Research Social Affairs & Inclusion Centre and DG Employment and includes 21 competencies with eight proficiency levels. The belief is that “being digitally competent means using digital technologies in a confident and safe way for various purposes such as working, getting a job, learning, shopping online, obtaining health information, being included and participating in society, entertainment, etc.”

As mentioned in the lecture, “the heart of libraries is supporting learning, and our users’ curiosity through every means possible,” which encompasses life literacy, or digital and information literacy, life skills, and lifelong learning which can be accomplished “anywhere and everywhere.”

New Horizons: Virtual Reality

According to the Center for the Future of Libraries, an initiative of the American Library Association, virtual reality (VR) is “the computer-generated simulation of images or whole environments that can be experienced using special electronic equipment… spherical or 360-degree video that captures an entire scene in which the viewer can look up, down, and around.”

Field Trips

As part of the INFO 287’s New Horizons module, I read Forbes’ Is Virtual Reality The Future Of Field Trips? article by Mike McShane, where he introduces the idea of virtual reality field trips. If there aren’t museums, for instance, in a particular area, why not bring the museum to the students? VR can add value to all library environments (academic, public, information centers, etc.) by providing a truly immersive learning experience. There’s an opportunity for students to gain exposure to other cultures and ways of life to better understand the world. They can even experience or create new worlds and explore many concepts through VR. The possibilities are limitless! McShane mentions Google Expeditions and Explorable Places, both of which are comprehensive resources for accessing virtual reality field trip options.

Google Cardboard

When I took INFO 204 Information Professions, the class was assigned an Advocate for a Technology Trend activity. We had to make a case to stakeholders around introducing a new technology to the organization. For the California Cybersecurity Institute (CCI), an information center I mentioned in a previous post, I proposed incorporating VR technology into their anti-human trafficking programming to make training available to more people through online delivery. As part of my VR research, I dabbled with Google Cardboard.

I purchased the Cardboard viewer from Google’s website, which I recommend if you just want to see what VR’s all about. Currently, the viewer is only sold on Amazon, although Google offers other options on the Get your Cardboard page. If you’re in a maker mood, you can build your own viewer by downloading instructions from their website. Heck! You can even use a pizza box to make a VR viewer. I also recommend looking for VR content that interests you. I found that the radio station KCRW had its own VR app, including studio performances from a catalog of bands like Death Cab for Cutie and Thundercat. I enjoyed seeing the music performed and felt like I was there. I also checked out the Cardboard app’s demos. I was impressed and found them visually stimulating as well as evoking physical and physiological responses. Tinkering with VR was an eye-opening experience for me, and even though I only scratched the surface with how it can be used, I see its potential.

Libraries

Libraries with VR programming offer patrons the chance to interact with a newer technology they’ve not likely been exposed to before, especially those in marginalized communities.  The use of VR in academic libraries where teaching and learning are happening seems like a natural fit. VR could enrich public library patrons, too, by allowing them to experience environments and situations beyond their physical location and space. To start a VR program, libraries should consider the following:

  • What equipment should be purchased for a fully immersive VR experience?
  • What’s the overall cost to start and maintain a VR program?
  • How to manage content curation and procurement? (educational, cultural, games, etc.)
  • Are items checked out, or are they used in a designated space?

To learn more about VR and libraries, please visit:

Emerging Technology Planning – Cybersecurity and Ethical Hacking for Teens

Background

Last summer, as a part of my SJSU MLIS program, I had the opportunity to intern as a Communication Specialist for the California Cybersecurity Institute (CCI). CCI is a Cal Poly research institute that creates partnerships to advance its mission of promoting cybersecurity “workforce development” through “public, private, and academic partnerships.” According to the organization’s website: “…the CCI teaches future and current Californians how to protect the state, decreasing the current 67,195 unfilled cybersecurity positions in California.”

My interest was piqued by one of their long-standing and popular events, the California Cyber Innovation Challenge (CCIC), a middle and high school cybersecurity championship for the State of California with an emphasis on a “gamified satellite cybercrime challenge scenario comprised of a multi-layered cybercrime plot written by Cal Poly student employees.” Think of the computer security version of Capture the Flag (CTF) competitions, but stealthier, that advocates white hat or ethical hacking. Or even better, DEFCON, the pioneer of hacking conferences. Teams are composed of middle and high school students from across the state with an adult advisor, usually a teacher or parent. The idea is to get students excited about cybersecurity and its societal implications, translating their interest into a career through whatever route they choose, from less formal training to a traditional college education. This plan will address how to introduce cybersecurity and ethical hacking concepts and best practices to students, prepare them for this competition, and a career in cybersecurity.

A 2018 Pew Research Center global study of 26 countries titled, International Publics Brace for Cyberattacks on Elections, Infrastructure, National Security, showed that many citizens doubt their countries are prepared for major cyber hacks. They’re most concerned about national security breaches but are also fraught about infrastructure damage and election tampering.

A 2016 study, Americans and Cybersecurity, revealed that many Americans do not trust the federal government, social media sites, and similar institutions to protect their personal data. On the other hand, 64% have personally experienced a significant data breach, but most Americans fail to proactively and adequately protect themselves online.

There’s an opportunity to educate the youngest generation (they’ve been online all of their lives) about cybersecurity, how to protect themselves and others, and cultivate a potential career. The nature of libraries altruistically, especially in the digital age, supports access, economic and civic community building, creativity, education, innovation and new technologies.

The 2014 Aspen Institute Dialogue on Public Libraries Rising to the challenge: Re-Envisioning public libraries report focuses on furthering the library’s crucial role in the digital age. As noted in the report, public library’s:

  • Aim to build up communities.
  • Called upon to be centers of learning, creativity and innovation.
  • Sustain the educational, economic and civic health of the community.
  • Inspire learning and empower people of all ages.
  • Promote a better trained and educated workforce. 

Most notably, under the report’s 15 Action Steps for COMMUNITY section, which speaks to ethical hacking programming in #8: Volunteer organizational and technical expertise to mentor and support learning that takes place in library spaces and on its platform, including in innovation labs (especially those aimed at youth), maker and hacker spaces and resource-rich coworking spaces.

The International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA), an independent leading international body representing the interests of library and information services and their users, presented a report in 2016 that identified some trends.

  • New technologies could improve access to information, but the gap to access will also broaden and place more value on information literacy skills. 
  • Online education will become more prevalent and commonplace and cheaper and easier to access with an increased value on lifelong learning and less formal methods of learning. 
  • Privacy and data protection will bear severe consequences for individual privacy and trust in the online world.

Cybersecurity and Ethical Hacking Program for Teens at the Paso Robles City Library

Goals/Objectives

Implementation of a cybersecurity and ethical hacking program for teens will:

  • Introduce cybersecurity and ethical hacking concepts and best practices to middle and high school students.
  • Foster 21st Century skills for students, which they’ll need to be productive and successful contributors to society.
  • Focus on underserved student populations who may not typically have the opportunity to use the proper technology and learn hacking skills. 
  • Prepare students to participate in the CCIC, individually and as a team, and interact with Cal Poly students, who ultimately run the competition, while getting a glimpse of college life.
  • Create a scalable, easily replicable program offered virtually and in-person that schools may not have the resources to host, sustainable with the help of partnerships.
  • Explore cybersecurity career pathways in an effort to bolster California’s workforce in this field.

Description of Community you wish to engage

Middle and high school students, with a focus on underserved students, who are interested in technology and may have limited access to technology.

Action Brief Statement

Convince students interested in technology and ethical hacking and their parents (or guardians) who want to keep them engaged in activities beyond what’s offered at their school that by participating in ethical hacking classes with the proper technology, they will gain 21st Century skills and knowledge of cybersecurity and ethical hacking which will expose them to new ideas and future career opportunities because the library’s program will connect them with the modern, digital world.

Evidence and Resources

Mission, Guidelines, and Policy

The program’s mission is to develop and cultivate students’ learning, literacy, and life skills related to cybersecurity and ethical hacking, incorporating equity, access, opportunity, openness, and participation and should align with the library’s mission and ethical hacking guidelines. 

Library stakeholders (board members, trustees, and management) and staff should be involved with setting policies, so there is a level of transparency. Also, since CCI is a partner, someone from that organization should be involved in policymaking as an advisor to ensure ethical hacking guidelines are covered, since they are truly the subject matter experts. 

Example policies to explore might include the American Library Association (ALA) Advocacy and Public Policy site is a solid starting point and has policy examples including the ALA Policy Manual, local, state, and national policy resources,  and Guidelines for the Development of Policies and Procedures Regarding User Behavior and Library Usage. White hat cybersecurity and ethical hacking guidelines should also be considered, including reviewing policies and frameworks from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE), as well as DEFCON’s FAQ and Code of Conduct.

Students should have to sign an agreement to abide by ethical hacking standards, such as ensuring they understand the limitations of white hat hacking and not breaking any laws. If they check out the equipment, they’ll need to take responsibility for it. Conduct and library use guidelines will also be included in the agreement. An accompanying parent or guardian’s signature is required on the form.

How will the grant, allocated funding, budget, available free-space, etc. will be distributed?

Grant
The grant is solely to launch the free program and sustain it for one year. In that time, other private or public funding sources will be researched and pursued.

Staffing
One full-time staff member, a current library employee, will oversee the program, and a part-time staff member would need to be hired to run the program. 

Contracts
There would be a contract between the grant holder(s) and the library to ensure program funds are correctly allocated. CCI might be involved initially in the project rollout phase; however, they wouldn’t be as involved as the program launches, so there’s no bias when the team competes at CCI’s competition. Their involvement may require a contract. There may be a cost, or at least acknowledgment, associated with using another organization’s training even if they’re non-profit or a government agency, which is a gap.

Equipment and software
Some equipment will need to be purchased like laptops for students who don’t already have their own. A portable cart that locks and can be secured would also need to be purchased to house equipment. The library’s computer lab will be used at times for the program; however, it will be shared with library patrons. The cart will make it possible to instead move to an alternative space within the library. Other equipment will be needed to emulate real-life scenarios, although the hope is that the CCI partnership may help actualize some of the equipment or devices required. Some of the necessary software is open source and typically available at no to low cost. Some monies may need to be allocated to buying specialized software, but this may also be obtained through the CCI partnership.

Space
An existing computer lab will be used for the program and other alternative library spaces like conference rooms. Some of the program will be virtual, although student limitations will be considered if their living situation is not conducive to their success in the program. For instance, there’s the option to do some of the learning remotely. If a student does not have an internet connection or wifi access, we want to ensure they can use the library for the program’s hands-on learning, even if it’s not during the program’s hours.

Action Steps & Timeline

Once the part-time program coordinator is hired, then program development can begin. It will take a total of five months to launch this program. Project flow is dependent on how long it takes to hire a program coordinator, and if there’s a cost in using another organization’s instructional materials or the time, it might take to develop some of our materials.

5 months

  • Hire a program coordinator.

4 months

  • The program coordinator collects all known program requirements ensuring all stakeholders are on board.
  • Creates an initial plan to present to stakeholders and gather feedback.
  • Develops a more detailed project plan accounting for stakeholder feedback, including a budget and hardware/software list, and will need approval from management.
    • Evaluates and selects learning materials for the program. A lot of this already exists. Do we need to pay for this or acknowledge the organization in any way? The middle school section will be more introductory than the high school section, which will focus on skills needed for the CCIC.
    • Determine how long the program will run? Are there different sessions throughout the year? Is there a special summer session or camp?
    • Creates a marketing plan as part of the more detailed plan.
  • Begins building out the program.

3 months

  • Continues to build out the program.
  • Gets budget and hardware/software list approved and begins the procurement process. 
  • Set up program registration. 
  • Program promotion begins online and in person. Post posters and flyers where appropriate. (Ongoing)

2 months 

  • Presents to stakeholders again as a transparency measure and to ensure continued buy-in.
  • Finalizes program content and sends it to their supervisor for review and approval.

1 month

  • Receives hardware, prepares and tests it for program launch.
  • Weekly social media posts.

Program launch

Program session ends

  • Evaluation
    • Self-evaluation
    • Surveys to participants and parents
  • Iteration based on feedback
  • Grant writing, relationship building, and searching for sponsors (Ongoing)

Staffing Considerations

One full-time staff member, a current library employee, will oversee the program, and a part-time staff member would need to be hired to run the program and ensure its success. This staff member could be a Cal Poly student or someone who has cybersecurity and teaching experience and ideally experience launching and sustaining a program. Grant writing experience would also be a requirement, although if the library has access to a strong grant writer, they may have the ability to source future funding opportunities. Volunteers may be added if there’s high demand for the program, which could include Cal Poly computer science or education students as interns.

Training

The part-time staff member will have a cybersecurity and ethical hacking background; therefore, rather than training, they’ll be building and delivering the program’s content with the help of special guests and volunteers. Free and low-cost resources that can be used for training content exist; they just need to be vetted. The program can also get instructional material guidance from CCI. The program will be scheduled out four months before the launch date.

Promotion & Marketing

Successful marketing campaigns take a multifaceted approach and consider different audiences and methods of delivery. Here’s a list of options.

  • Get included in all library promotional platforms, including:
    • Physical collateral – direct mailings, posters and flyers in the library and other community buildings
    • Add to the library website as an announcement, blog post, and event
    • Create social media campaigns and ask other local organizations to share your posts with their audiences. Share their posts too from time to time to build community.
    • Post listings on event sites like Eventbrite and local community sites
    • Include a blurb and link to program info in email signatures.
  • Present at local middle and high school assemblies and in classes, PTA meetings, community events, etc.
  • Hold special events throughout the year like an open house, lightning talk, or mini BarCamp style event that includes a program info session and demo.
  • Write, pitch,  and distribute a press release to local media.
  • Word of mouth – Talk about it to everyone!

Internally mention the progress of the program in meetings, so everyone becomes involved and invested. Show your passion for the program when speaking about it. Post about it on the library’s intranet, Slack channel, and other available electronic methods.

Evaluation

After each session, a self-evaluation will need to be performed with an internal lessons learned, which will involve stakeholders and staff to determine what went well, what did not go well, and how to improve the program. We also want to look at the quantitative data like the number of participants and if that grows over time (that’s if it makes sense to grow). A survey will go out to participants to gauge their level of satisfaction with the program and more qualitative data like What did the students learn, was it worthwhile? Would they participate again? Would they recommend the program? Parents will also be surveyed to gain their insight and feedback.

Telling the stories of student impact and success will be the most important and will become the most powerful over time. By checking in on the student periodically and tracking their cybersecurity journey, their education path, experiences, and career. Did they seek further education in ethical hacking? If so, formal or informal? Did they end up in the cybersecurity field or a related field?

The program’s long-term goals include creating a scalable, easily replicable for other libraries, sustainable program with the help of partnerships and grants, and acting as a feeder to career pathways for students who may decide to pursue college or take some other training and join the cybersecurity workforce.

References

Garmer, A. K. (2014). Rising to the challenge: Re-Envisioning public libraries (A report of the Aspen Institute Dialogue on Public Libraries).

International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) (2016). IFLA Trends Report.

Pew Research (2017). Americans and Cybersecurity.

Pew Research (2019). International Publics Brace for Cyberattacks on Elections, Infrastructure, National Security.

Raine, L. (2014). The Internet of Things and what it mean for librarians.

Stauffer, B. (2020). What Are 21st Century Skills? 

Sullivan, M., Sullivan, M., & Sullivan, M. (2019). The biggest tech trends of 2019, according to top experts. 

Choose Your Own Adventure: Pew User Research

For my Choose Your Own Adventure, I chose to explore the User Research from Pew module. It best aligns with my work and goal of continually improving the user/customer experience. While I reviewed some of the recommended articles, I was intrigued by the changes in digital life over the past year due to the pandemic and attitudes moving towards the future. I received my first dose of the Modera vaccine this week, almost a year to the day after life began changing and moving primarily online. I never thought I’d be working from home for an extended period. And now there’s the potential of never going back to the traditional office setting that has been the norm for so long. The Pew Research Center article that intrigued me the most, Experts Say the ‘New Normal’ in 2025 Will Be Far More Tech-Driven, Presenting More Big Challenges, was published this year on 2/18/21, surveyed “915 innovators, developers, business and policy leaders, researchers and activists”, and delves into the unintended consequences of the pandemic and what’s to come. Essentially, how have different populations been affected, and what are the predicted trends and lasting impacts in the pandemic’s aftermath. What has shifted and been accelerated as a by-product of the pandemic?

Specifically, I’m interested in understanding how the pandemic has affected workers, especially those who have moved to working from home and the changes companies and organizations have adjusted. Have there been positive or negative impacts for the company and its employees personally? Have diverse populations (Hispanic, Black, Asian, etc.) been negatively affected more than the White population? Have workers with/without college degrees been more adversely affected by the pandemic in their work?

Additionally, how have students been affected by changes prompted by the pandemic in teaching and learning? We know it has been a challenge for many parents working from home and managing K-12 students who are also learning from home. How have families been impacted where the parent doesn’t have the option to work from home or the students don’t have all of the technology resources available to ensure their academic success? I am more connected to the college student experience since I support student success at Cal Poly in the Information Technology Services department. Understanding the experience of Gen Z college students and how to best cater to their needs and prepare them for the shifting job market is of interest to me.

I also took a look at the CYOA: Libraries and COVID-19 module, specifically, Public libraries and technology: From “houses of knowledge” to “houses of access,” which affirms the technological need the library fulfills in the community by providing access to services like WiFi especially to underserved communities.

Here’s a snapshot of what I learned from researching technology and the COVID-19 pandemic.

From Experts Say the ‘New Normal’ in 2025 Will Be Far More Tech-Driven, Presenting More Big Challenges:

Life in 2025: There have been significant debates since the emergence of COVID-19 about its potential impact on global society. Much of the conversation has centered on the transformation of people’s social interactions, their physical and mental health, economic and social divisions, the nature of work and jobs, local, national and global politics, climate change and the globalization of goods and services. Of course, the evolution of people and technology could play a major role across some aspects of the “new normal” in years to come.”

Emerging change

  • Tele-everything is embraced.
  • Humans’ yearning for convenience and safety fuels reliance on digital tools.
  • The best and worst of human nature are amplified.

Worries about life in 2025

  • Inequality and injustice are magnified.
  • As risk grows, security must also; privacy falls and authoritarianism rises.
  • Threats to work will intensify from automation, artificial intelligence, robotics and globalization.
  • Misinformation will be rampant.
  • People’s mental health will be challenged.

Hopes about life in 2025

  • Social justice will get priority.
  • People’s well-being will prevail over profit.
  • The quality of life will improve.
  • Artificial intelligence (AI), Virtual reality (VR), Augmented reality (AR), and Machine learning (ML) will yield good.
  • Smarter systems will be created.

From What we’ve learned about Americans’ views of technology during the time of COVID-19:

  • The internet has been an important part of Americans’ lives.
  • Dependence on the internet and mobile phones raised concerns about affordability.
  • The pandemic highlighted concerns about the digital divide due to school closures and the shift to online learning.
  • Some Americans were dubious about the effectiveness of technology for tracking the coronavirus and lacked confidence in others to keep their personal records safe.

From How the Coronavirus Outbreak Has – and Hasn’t – Changed the Way Americans Work:

  • Employed adults with higher educational attainment and incomes are most likely to say their work can be done from home.
  • About seven-in-ten workers who say their jobs can mostly be done from home say they are teleworking all or most of the time.
  • Most employed adults who have a workplace and who are teleworking all or most of the time say their workplace isn’t available to them.
  • The shift to remote work has been easy for many workers; younger workers and parents more likely to have faced challenges.
  • Teleworkers are taking advantage of online tools and platforms to keep in touch with co-workers, and most see them as a good substitute.
  • Looking ahead, a majority of those who say their job can be done from home say they’d like to telework all or most of the time post-pandemic
  • For those workers who are spending time at their workplace and interacting with others, at least half are concerned about being exposed to – or spreading – the coronavirus.
  • About a quarter of workers say they are less satisfied with their job than they were before the coronavirus outbreak.

From Long-term unemployment has risen sharply in U.S. amid the pandemic, especially among Asian Americans:

  • Long-term unemployment rose more sharply among Asian American workers who are unemployed.
  • Among the unemployed, bachelor’s degree holders and older workers have higher long-term unemployment rates.
  • The long-term unemployment rate for women and men overall is about the same, but there are gender gaps among Black, Hispanic and Asian unemployed workers.
  • Counting discouraged workers among the unemployed raises the unemployment rate 0.6 percentage points for Black workers.
  • Workers without a high school diploma and young adults have an unemployment rate of about 13% when discouraged workers are included.

BarCamp: A User-Generated Community

barcamp

“Communities are human systems given form by conversations that build relatedness.”  – Peter Block from Community: The Structure of Belonging

I joined Twitter in August 2007, my foray into social media, while becoming involved in the San Diego tech community. I attended many local tech-focused Meetups and became one of the organizers for a Web Technologies meetup group. We would organize speakers to present each month about topics like the difference between CMS’s like Drupal and Joomla, cybersecurity and social engineering, search engine optimization, etc. I also attended social events, like Tweetups. There were many micro-communities based on interest, and often these groups would engage in-person and online. 

Around the same time, I caught interest in BarCamp San Diego’s event and realized the two-day San Diego event was part of a larger concept. BarCamp, considered an unconference since, unlike many other conferences like South by Southwest (SXSW), you have to be selected to present. At BarCamp, anyone could present on any topic (although most were technically focused) as long as there was a time slot available. The first BarCamp was held in Palo Alto, California, in August 2005. While there are official organizers who secure space, sponsorships, and resources like wifi for the events, all are encouraged to participate by presenting or contributing in some way. Sharing event details and content on social media is condoned. The event is democratic, and attendees are the ones powering the conference. Typically, a wiki is used to organize before, during, and after the event where all have access to contribute. All are Barcamp is easily replicable and a model for user-generated conferences in any field. I can see the BarCamp format being beneficial to those in the MLIS program, librarians, educators, students, communities supported by libraries, etc., to share knowledge and expertise.

BarCamp San Diego 3 | Microsoft, 2008

YMCA Thanks in Microsoft Lobby

The Rules of BarCamp

  • 1st Rule: You do talk about BarCamp.
  • 2nd Rule: You do blog about BarCamp.
  • 3rd Rule: If you want to present, you must write your topic and name in a presentation slot.
  • 4th Rule: Only three word intros.
  • 5th Rule: As many presentations at a time as facilities allow for.
  • 6th Rule: No pre-scheduled presentations, no tourists.
  • 7th Rule: Presentations will go on as long as they have to or until they run into another presentation slot.
  • 8th Rule: If this is your first time at BarCamp, you HAVE to present. (Ok, you don’t really HAVE to, but try to find someone to present with, or at least ask questions and be an interactive participant.)

by Tantek Çelik as parodied from The Rules of Fight Club.

Stay Connected through Innovation


Think like a STARTUP

One of the readings that resonated with me most so far this semester is “Think like a Start Up” by Brian Mathews. The entrepreneurial spirit applies to all sectors, even in smaller doses, if you work for a more traditional organization; however, COVID really rocked those who did not already have an online presence, be it social media, online ordering, etc. I live in a small town (Paso Robles, CA). It has been interesting to see restaurants that have otherwise relied on word of mouth to attract business forced to step up their game and establish social media accounts or refine their use of current social media to drive business and communicate with their customers. Those who have innovated have been able to keep their heads above water with the ever-changing state rules.

Last year due to COVID, my department at Cal Poly, Information Technology Services, was tasked with taking campus virtual within two weeks. In fact, spring break was extended an additional week to allow for this transition. The entrepreneurial spirit of swift change, testing, gathering feedback, iteration, and strategic pivoting based on data collected was alive and well. The team launched Virtual Computer Labs (Appstream), “a cloud-based application streaming service that enables Cal Poly students, faculty and staff to access specialized academic software previously only available in on-campus labs” earlier than anticipated. Also, we combed through and updated documentation around services that would be most prominent for virtual use like GlobalProtect virtual private network (VPN), Duo multi-factor authentication, now required to connect to most Cal Poly services, and Zoom web conferencing. Ensuring our knowledge was up-to-date and accurate helped make the transition of in-person pedagogy to online a success. We leveraged our websites to direct users to knowledge base articles for self-help instead of submitting a support request. We were able to leverage 

COVID has pushed traditional services online at a faster rate. Libraries have the opportunity to connect with and educate their communities in various ways, but this will take some innovation on their part. Mathews says that academic library patrons want to move digital, and “if we don’t do it someone else will. Perhaps our future isn’t centered on access to content, but rather, the usage of it. Maybe there is a greater emphasis on community building, connecting people, engaging students, assisting researchers, and advancing knowledge production?” He continues that it’s more “about redefining and realigning the role and identity of the academic library. We can’t map our value to outdated needs and practices, but instead, must intertwine ourselves with what’s needed next. It’s time to innovate.”

Libraries must respond to the wants and needs of the community in new ways.