Monthly Archives: November 2019

Participatory Culture, Inclusion, & Problem-Solving

I appreciate the space that Prof. Stephens has given us to catch up and deal with all of the pressing deadlines we have going on right now as the semester winds down.

Having some time to breathe means that I have been take a few minutes here and there to check news sites, blogs, and other media that I enjoy in my free time. I found a couple of articles that I wanted to share here, because I noticed the emphasis on participatory culture and inclusion that we have learned about and discussed in this class. I was struck by how the same principles of transparency, participation, and inclusion were being applied to other areas where there are problems to be solved.

There is a mountain of news articles and blog posts right now about climate change. This article is a bit older, but I came across it and found the ways that the city workers were approaching the issue of heat-related deaths and prevention in the city of Phoenix, AZ, to be similar to the ways we’ve talked about creating hyperlinked libraries: start small, try different things, involve users to get their input, and creating “trials” (beta) to see if any solutions change behaviors or outcomes. I also thought about @desertrabbit‘s Summer Cool Zone program at her library, and all of the different, outside-of-the-box solutions we can find to really improve (or save!) people’s lives.

Additionally, I saw this article about a Nordic urban planning program offered jointly by universities in Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. The program promotes making spaces about people, connecting people, and making decisions with the participation of the community to improve the quality of their lives:

“In the Nordics, there has long been an emphasis on people in urban life, and putting them at the centre,” explains David Pinder, a professor of urban studies at Roskilde University in Denmark.

There’s also been emphasis on building more equal societies, he says, an aim accompanied by “a strong discipline of participation” which encourages decision-makers to think about diverse groups when planning new urban areas and include them directly in discussions.

Further along in the article there is criticism of how inclusive the Nordic countries really are and how well (or poorly) immigrants are being integrated into society there. But the starting point of making the spaces– in this case, cities– people-focused, rather than car-focused or some other-focused, created a connection to the types of human hyperlinks we’re exploring in this class.

Reflection on Infinite Learning

I went through the Learning Everywhere and Learning as Classroom and what I distilled from this module is that there is a need for “delivering learning opportunities and access to collections to mobile users seamlessly and without barriers” (Stephens, 2012, p. 124) and that the library is the place where people can explore, create, and learn about the technology that they need to engage their communities.  Technology literacy is just as important as, well, literacy literacy.  Both types of literacy open the door to learning.  Doctorow (2013) says that “if computers are on your side, they elevate every single thing we use to measure quality of life.”  He means that if you know how to use these devices, they can make your life better. His post on libraries and technology reminded me of this TED talk and why learning how to program is important:

Christian Genco compares learning to read to learning to program (TEDx Talks, 2012).  Computers (and now mobile devices) used to be a thing, a tool that we use sometimes, but now they’re a necessity.  And learning how to use them and learning by using them is more necessary- it is empowering. To reduce the cost of acquiring resources to teach how computers work, Doctorow (2013) recommends that libraries offer workshops to learn how to build your own PC out of e-waste.  You can’t really mess up something that was going to be thrown out anyway. Upcycling these resources provides an opportunity to learn in a low-risk environment with potentially very high returns.

Stephens (2019) emphasizes curiosity in his lecture, and how we use technology to follow our curiosity.  Because of our access to information on mobile devices, “people expect to be able to work, learn, and study whenever and wherever they want to” (Horizon Report 2012 as cited in Stephens, 2019).  Ballance (2013) argues that mobile-driven information needs to be accessible, digestible, and engaging. PowerPoints used to support these goals (with varying degrees of success- creating engaging PPTs takes skill!), but the premise of “taking information about complex subjects and breaking it down” (Ballance, 2013) especially designed for various types of devices (“device agnostic”), seems crucial in a world drowning in information.  Design becomes more important as information becomes less text-based.

(Speaking of less text-based information, I read “Library Emoji” (Stephens, 2016) and then I noticed these user satisfaction stations at the doors to multiple branches of my local library:)

Electronic user survey with emoji buttons

So, libraries are changing from places of transactional interactions to places for creation and exploration, allowing for new opportunities for learning and, at the same time, users want to be able to learn from anywhere.  Libraries are shifting from places where people find information to places where people can create, explore, and learn. Technology plays a huge roll in this shift, with users demanding greater access to resources via mobile devices (“learning anywhere”) and more instruction on technology that they need to make their lives better.


Ballance, C. (2013). Mobilizing knowledge to create convenient learning moments.

Doctorow, C. (2013). Libraries and makerspaces: a match made in heaven.

Stephens, M. (2012). Learning everywhere.  In The Heart of Librarianship, p. 123

Stephens, M. (2016). Library Emoji.

Stephens, M. (2019). Learning everywhere [Lecture]

TEDx Talks (2012). You Should Learn to Program: Christian Genco at TEDxSMU.

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