Blog Archives

Reflective Practice & Closing Time

I am sorry for this class to come to an end as the semester wraps up. I feel like much of what we’ve learned in this class will help to scaffold the trajectory of my library career. I’ve appreciated all of the articles we were assigned to read that were inspiring, thought-provoking, and heart-warming.  Libraries and librarians rock! But so do our users.

Most of all, I’ve loved the focus on the heart in librarianship and the discussion of how empathy, communication, and trust can really impact the work we do so that we can amplify learning and connections in our libraries.  

Corkindale’s (2011) “The importance of kindness at work” resonated with me and reminded me of what a difference an empathetic manager can make.  My father passed away suddenly at the beginning of this year. My manager and coworkers were amazing, jumping in to see how they could relieve me of some of my workload, what support they could provide, etc.  And this attitude is not just in times of grief or tragedy; even when my children are sick, or they can see that my workload is piling up while others have some space, we all work together as a team to look out for each other, to make sure that everyone can manage, has the support and resources that they need to be successful and not feel overwhelmed.  Our work and mission is stronger because we communicate, we support each other, and we trust each other.

This class has forced me to really think about what role technology has in our lives and how librarians can and should be the leaders in adopting emerging technology and showing others how a new technology can improve their lives, create connections with other people or to learning, or just delight them.

Another piece that really resonated with me in this Reflective Practice module was the article about  how to gain confidence in this digital environment (Stephens, 2018). I really like action steps laid out for me, and Sally Pewhairangi’s advice seems like a good way to keep trying new things without letting the fear of failure stop you:

  1. Set a super small goal
  2. Brainstorm
  3. Get ready
  4. Do it
  5. Celebrate

Adding to that, I found the idea of letting beta be your friend and just trying things out without perfecting them (part of the iterative design thinking process) to be encouraging and realistic.  I will use these steps as I approach each new thing, each new challenge that I feel unsure about.

Looking forward to the future!

References

Corkindale, G. (2011). The importance of kindness at work.

Stephens, M. (2018). Librarian Superpowers Activate!

Image from the Portland Library and Learning Commons at the University of Oregon.

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.

References

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.

Reflections on Mobile Devices & Connections

Woman looking at tablet screen

This module made me think of this meme I saw a couple of years ago, especially on the Second Screen Sharing phenomenon (Stephens, 2019).  During the 2016 election, I remember scrolling through Facebook and texting friends while I watched results come in on my laptop.

The “other, smaller internet” is where people, especially students, are watching videos, checking social networks, and using instant messaging (Deloitte, 2016).  Additionally, younger adults, non-white, less-educated, and less-afluent individuals use mobile devices as their primary source for accesssing the internet (Stephens, 2015, p. 4).  People are walking around with these gadgets that allow them access to a world of information, and they want to find the information they’re seeking on their cellphones, through apps, messaging, or the web.  “Library collections need to be where the users are exploring” (Stephens, 2015, p. 5), and the users are exploring on their mobile devices, as demonstrated on the infographic below.

Whenever I am digesting loads of information about how libraries need to change, I appreciate specific questions that lead me to think about concrete, specific solutions.  Stephens (2015) offers a starting point in terms of bringing library services to users via mobile devices: how many of your processes require people to visit your location?  How many could be accomplished via the web or mobile technology? (p. 4).

To start, making the library mobile-friendly: can a user search for materials using the library’s website or an app?  Can the user experience be improved? Next, making access easy. Weinberger (2014) suggests that libraries need to make library resources more accessible for users through the development of APIs, linked data, and a “library graph”.  To be honest, I don’t really understand the Google Knowledge Graph that he talks about or how this stuff works. I know a bit about APIs having done some web design and coding using JSON and JavaScript. But I need to dive deeper to learn a little more about these other tools and how users want to find and use information.  And this deep-diving is necessary, if librarians are to deliver “easy-to-use, unique, and just-in-time services to the palm of a user’s hand” (Stephens, 2015, p. 8).

References

Deloitte (2016).How do today’s students use mobiles? [UK Study].

Stephens, M. (2015).Serving users when and where they are: Hyperlinked libraries.

Stephens, M. (2019). Mobile Devices & Connections [Lecture]

Weinberger, D. (2014). Let the Future Go.

Reflection on Hyperlinked Environments

In an earlier post, I discussed John Palfrey’s book In BiblioTECH: Why Libraries Matter More in the Age of Google. To be honest, I found that he seemed to focus more on library collections and how to digitize them than on how libraries themselves are changing in terms of the services they provide. Perhaps it’s because he wrote his book almost five years ago, but there are so many more exciting things happening in libraries than just digitizing collections. The Hyperlinked Environments module shows how flexible and adaptable libraries can be to stay relevant to users in the 21st century. Palfrey advises libraries not to become “just community centers” (2015, p. 80); he advocates for libraries sticking to what they do, just changing how they do it. 

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

However, libraries such as DOKK1 in Aarhus, Denmark and Oodi in Helsinki, Finland, among others, are proving that libraries can exist as a user-centered, hyperlinked environment, where there is overlap between traditional services libraries provide (“books”) and what services have been traditionally offered by “community centers”.  Laerkes (2016) described “the transformation of the public library from a passive collection based space to a more active space for experience and inspiration and a local meeting point.” 

Depending on the needs of the community they serve, libraries are community centers.  The new Calgary Central Library, as I shared in my previous post, offers a dance class open to the public. Helsinki Central Library Oodi describes itself on its website as a “living meeting place” (What Is Oodi?);  there’s no mention of books in its description, though they are certainly still there. Users can study, try new technology, create music, art, check out sports equipment,  organize a performance: really, the possibilities seem endless

There is no reason to limit the services that the library provides.  Indeed, I would argue that libraries should have no boundaries when it comes to meeting the needs of their communities.  Palfrey addresses library collections and how to better meet the needs of the community in terms of access to materials, but libraries such as DOKK1 and Oodi are now focused less on collections and more on users by providing them opportunities to do things, rather than just find things.

In the library, there is the freedom to create, to learn, to explore, to try something new with support from librarians and with little or no cost to the user.  And this is what makes a library a library and not “just a community center”.

References

Laerkes, J.G. (2016). The four spaces of the public library.

Palfrey, J. (2015). Bibliotech: Why libraries matter more than ever in the age of Google. New York, NY: Basic Books

What Is Oodi?

Reflections on Participatory Service and Hyperlinked Communities

I want to address both Participatory Service and Hyperlinked Communities in this post because I feel like both of these modules really expanded my perceptions of what a 21st century library should be.

Before completing the readings for this module, I understood the value in creating spaces for all of our users and for finding ways to delight them.  What was new to me, however, was the emphasis on engaging users to create these spaces and programs in the first place. As Casey (2011) argues, “getting [people] to participate, at any level, will go a long way towards gaining their buy-in” (Casey, 2011).  Getting people to participate means that we need to bring together a diverse group that represents the community in terms of socio-economic status, including gender, ethnicity, language, and age. Stephens (2013) points out that inviting users to contribute their ideas and voices can lead to new programming or services or spaces that might otherwise be overlooked.  Chant (2016) echos Stephens (2013): “We as librarians know what we want and what we can offer. But when we go into the community to find out what they want, we end up with a much better space.”

Technology

Garcia-Febo (2018) asserts that libraries need to “incorporate the principles of diversity, inclusion, and intersectionality” throughout their services and Lauersen (2018) explains that diversity is having people of different backgrounds and abilities at the table and inclusion is having this diverse group add their voices and perspectives and make decisions at that table.  You can’t just ask for community members to come to a meeting so you can check off that diversity box; if you want to be inclusive, then those diverse voices need to be heard and part of the planning and decision-making. Inclusion will improve the library’s services.

I found Dana Boyd’s (2016) post about technology and inequity to be especially engaging.  Her discussion about social media, the digital divide, and statistical prejudice explored a new (to me), technical side to the creation of the information bubbles that we live in, how the tools and data that we use and create every day “are empowering to the privileged at the expense of those who are not” (Boyd, 2016, “The World We’re Creating”).

Technology is a tool that is necessary to participate in our democracy, to be interactive, to manage daily life, and to be social.  There is a digital divide in many communities that libraries can address by offering access to and instruction in technology to those who are inexperienced users (for whatever reasons).  Additionally, libraries can bring in emerging technology for digital natives, who want to do more, who can do more but don’t know what else is out there, and who want to create and connect with other people.

Weaved through both of these two modules was the discussion of trust.  I found Schmidt’s (2013) words to be especially relevant: “Without trust, it is impossible to connect to library members in a meaningful way.”  So, what does this mean in practice? What role does trust play in libraries? For a start, it means setting guidelines rather than rules and trusting your users to follow those guidelines (Casey & Stephens, 2008).  It also means bringing users into the discussion of how to create services, spaces, and programs that improve their lives and trusting that they know what they need. Librarians can empower these users asking the kind of questions that will “help your library learn about the lives of the people it serves” (Schmidt, 2016).  By inviting them in, listening to their suggestions, and following through with what we learn and addressing their needs, we foster the users’ trust in the library.

Libraries should use both/and instead of either/or when it comes to serving their communities.  A hyperlinked community can be both low-tech and high-tech, it doesn’t have to choose. And libraries are the place to make these connections happen.

References

Boyd, D. (2016). What World Are We Building?

Casey, M. (2011). Revisiting participatory service in trying times.

Casey, M., & Stephens, M. (2008). Embracing Services to Teens

Chant, I. (2016). User-Designed Libraries – Design4Impact.

Garcia-Febo, L. (2018). Serving with love: Embedding equality, diversity, and inclusion in all that we do.

Lauersen, C. (2018). Do you want to dance? Inclusion and belonging in libraries and beyond.

Schmidt, A. (2013). Earning trust. The User Experience

Schmidt, A. (2016). Asking the Right Questions.

Stephens, M. (2013). Collection Bashing & Trashing. In The Heart of Librarianship, page 99.

Thoughts about the The Hyperlinked Library Model

I worked my way through all of the readings from Module Three, The Hyperlinked Library Model.  I really connected with some of them and some of them I struggled to find the thread that would illuminate the author’s/’ view of the Hyperlinked Library.  I also struggled, initially, to see how Library 2.0 and the Hyperlinked Library are different.

I believe I’ve figured out that the idea of Library 2.0 has more to do with the participation of the users in the information seeking and creating process and the Hyperlinked Library has more to do with the way the organization functions internally and how its structure can interact with users externally to better serve them.  Library 2.0 says, let’s invite the users, see what they have to say. They Hyperlinked Library Model says, we can create networks to solve problems and find information; we don’t have to stick to the old way of being gatekeepers of information. Let’s see who can help and let’s create a partnership within or without our organization to find solutions or to create something new.

Libraries following the Hyperlinked Model have shifted their focus to the user.  I found Denning’s (2015) five questions for libraries helped me make the abstract idea of a “Hyperlinked Library Model” much more concrete and actionable:

  • How can we delight our users?
  • How can we manage the library to enable continuous innovation?
  • What will make things better, fast, cheaper, more mobile, more convenient, or more personalized for our users?
  • What needs could libraries meet that users haven’t even thought of yet?
  • What are the things that libraries are currently doing that users already love?

These questions turn the libraries’ goals outward, so that you’re not looking at what’s best for the organization, but what’s best for the users who make the library a vital part of the community?  It’s the connections and partnerships and learning that is created by asking the questions posed by Denning (2015).

I don’t currently work in a library, but even in the organization where I currently work, these questions and their answers provide insight into changes that need to be made but also leave space to continue doing what is working for the organization and its users or clients.

References

Denning, S. (2015, April 28).  Do we need libraries? Forbes. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/stevedenning/2015/04/28/do-we-need-libraries/

Skip to toolbar