Once libraries were the source of information, the home knowledge resided in, now libraries are adapting- transforming into ships of infinite learning and creative classrooms that surf and navigate the vast sea of information. Using black belt information literacy skills as nets to pull up the catch of the day libraries help feed and nourish their community with practical learning and doing (Stephens, 2012. p121-127; Kenny, 2015). As Doctorow (2013) mentions, many people confuse libraries with book depositories asking “What do we need libraries for? We’ve got the internet now!” and I see phrases all the time like “libraries are competing with Google!” and it makes me wonder-why?
The internet is a vast never ending universe of information and the average consumer is getting lost quicker and quicker without a strong set of information and digital literacy skills. Why is this language of libraries competing with the internet even a topic of discussion? The fear from librarians about losing control over knowledge has occurred, it is in the past. Libraries and librarians should be marketing themselves as the information guides, the captains of ships, the community mentors with all the secret road maps to not just true information but infinite learning and discovery (Kenny, 2015). There are now over 4.5 billion sites on the surface web with millions more being created almost every day, there are 5 billion internet users worldwide, 154 million .com domains alone. Learning potential is limitless, human connection and communication is on this same path of boundless opportunities. On the other side of this spectrum there are 3.5 billion people who do not have access to any internet at all, and it’s not just developing nations, 7% of Americans don’t use the internet at all. Many people don’t know how to use smartphones or upload a job resume and so with this ever widening gap in information literacy skills libraries are no longer competing with Google, they are the ships navigating this endless ocean and teaching community members how to safely surf the waves and learn as they go.
For me infinite learning is exciting and enjoyable, I’m a big self learner, I love podcasts, audio books, and new ways of consuming information. I love that anyone at any age, with no money, can now learn something new -with access to the internet and someone (libraries) to help them access, navigate and understand it. Digital skills coaches (librarians) are popping up to teach a common sense approach to this digital world and developing pedagogy and curriculum accessible to all with participation and collaboration at its core (Digital Promise, 2016; Lippincott, 2015). As capitalism and consumerism run rampant in our society we have run out of spaces where we can just exist, libraries are one of the few hold outs, and now a safe haven with opportunities to learn anything and everything your heart desires. Libraries are becoming a place to tinker, to experiment, share ideas, learn soft skills and tackle problem based active learning experiences (Greenwalt, 2013; Lippincott, 2015).
The ocean of information will only get deeper and wider, the information digital literacy skill gaps are doing the same. Librarians must be captains on a ship of infinite learning.
For my Innovation Strategy Roadmap I chose to look at the simple need for movement. Regardless of age, work, or any other demographic, everyone needs to get up out of chairs and move from time to time. Even if it’s just a couple of minutes, everyone from library staff, to seniors, toddlers, students and everyone in between can benefit from a little movement.
Since I am currently finishing up an internship with the OCPL, I chose their set up, they have large TV screens at check out and throughout the branch, so I thought a simple social media TikTok library dance would be a fun participatory project. It could engage anyone and everyone who has a smart phone, the library could collect the videos to create a compilation on the big screens. TikTok dance videos are user friendly, can be modified for a variety of ages and needs and meet the goal of a quick movement break! This uses technology, encourages participation of anyone and everyone with access to a smart phone, can be done at the library or at home, and could snowball into a myriad of other programs, marketing tools etc.
Honestly, this project really challenged me and I’m still working out why. I made a slide presentation using Prezi, this was my first time using this platform. I believe you have to have an account to view, mine is a free account and this is the link it gave me:
The purpose of this reflective blog post is to examine the Power of Stories Module 10 in the HyperLinked Library and how a single idea at one library can transform a global library community and spark a connection revolution.
I have done many different jobs in my life, one was as an editorial photojournalist for overseas and local nonprofits, and I have seen how powerful and impactful stories are. Storytelling is art, and a good story harnesses universal human emotions, seizing our deepest core memories and beliefs and binding our hearts with others through shared experience. The best way to overcome prejudice, hate, or misunderstanding is to make a feared enemy or misunderstood community member relatable to friends, family or loved ones. Stories have the power to do this, creating empathy out of fear and hate, growing compassion where there was anger. Stories are addicting, and humanity can’t get enough of them. Look at the way we consume fictional stories, documentaries, true crime- we soak up stories with an eternal hunger that can’t be satiated. One popular instagram account that demonstrates this is HumansofNY, which highlights individual people the photographer, Brandon Stanton, meets on the streets. He met a man from Ghana Africa who tells his story, and the next thing the reader knows we’re watching a photography library being built. The stories are relatable, often heartbreaking, personal, and beautiful. From simple conversations on the street Stanton has now gone all over the world to twenty different countries telling similar stories, uniting and creating a global community of humans. These stories are like wildfire, catching every human heart.
This same pattern can be observed in the Human Library that started in Copenhagen. Denmark’s Human Library in 2000 became so popular it has now been replicated in the United States in 2008 in Bainbridge Island, Washington, and Santa Monica California. In Lismore Australia the event was so popular the community asked for a monthly program (Went, 2013). In 2011 the American Library Association sponsored a Human Library. A simple idea of humans being “checked out” with the goal of “un-judging someone” and getting beyond stereotypes and assumptions to meaningful dialogue has resonated with people on a global scale (Ray, 2019). When we remove mystery, fear, and the unknown while humanizing and relating to one another we bond while shedding our misconceptions and bias. This allows us to really listen, and find value in all human experiences (Stephens, 2020).
Not only do stories help us see and understand others in new lights, connecting us together, they are also incredible marketing tools. Our strongest memories are tied to strong emotional responses, and a great way to promote libraries as relevant is to tie them to strong storytelling. The connection revolution is here.
The idea of Global Librarianship or International Librarianship feels so BIG, and at first glance, overwhelming. In actuality, with the technology we use today, the world is getting smaller and smaller. Collaboration between nations, between libraries around the world, has become a reality we can now take practical steps to participate in. We are all indirectly influencing people around the world every day with social media, blogging, online forums and creative endeavors. No one nation, no one library is a silo anymore. How much we choose to directly participate is up to us.
As Stephens mentions, public libraries are now being “woven with experience, involvement, empowerment, and a healthy dose of true innovation” to create a “Hygge State of Mind”. He gives the example of New Zealand’s Auckland University of Technology and the Dokk1 Library in Aarhus Denmark as two separate libraries, in two nations, both exploring this concept of what hygge means and how to create this in their library spaces (Stephens, 2019. p60, 63).
Hygge /ˈh(y)o͞oɡə,ˈho͝oɡə/ as defined by Google’s Oxford Languages:
“a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture).” “why not follow the Danish example and bring more hygge into your daily life?”
IFLA’s Trends Report gave five trends shaping the information society: education, privacy, civic engagement and transformation, and showed how libraries are a big part of this. Online education is disrupting global learning, and having all our societies linked with technology has empowered new voices and thoughts (IFLA, 2021). Lauersen (2021) describes public libraries as a haven for communities, and a place to fight inequality, polarization and loneliness while empowering the people. Peet (2018) looks at how public libraries are a place of digitization of data, a place for democratic discussions. The Dokk1 Model Program for Public Libraries, gives a list of five library functions that would work cross-culturally, revealing libraries as the bridge to not just books, but human connection, learning, creativity and expression. All of these examples are creating a space with a hygge state of mind. A place where people in that community can come together, share ideas, learn new things, and explore what others around the world are also doing. Libraries around the world are seeing what others in their field have done, and working on their own versions in their communities.
Our world now is shrinking with ever evolving technology, and libraries are integrating and adapting along with it by incorporating design thinking and a user oriented approach (Peet, 2018). In Finland they have taken the physical space of libraries as a platform for activities, learning, public discussion, access to equipment, data networks and to connect with experts (Raiskila, 2020). In Aarhus they are looking at citizen services, office spaces, local culture and community desires to design spaces for their people (Ro, 2016). Libraries in Europe and in America are working to create sources of information for refugee populations (Pyatetsky, 2015). Examples like the INELI Balkans project ties together a sustainable network of public libraries across eleven countries (Rajić, 2016). All of these are basically creating a space with more hygge.
We get to choose how connected we want to be, how much we want to partner with libraries in other nations, to look at their models and develop them for our own communities; and then create platforms where all our users can share ideas and connect. We can create a sense of hygge in our own spaces, and become a beloved third place for our community. Being a global librarian is now a choice we get to make.
Context Book Review of: Thompson, C. (2013). Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing our Minds for the Better. Penguin Group.
I am naturally a pretty pessimistic person -much to my chagrin. I want to be an optimistic library wizard as I described in a past post, but in reality I tend to be a regular doomsayer when it comes to the library world and beautiful innovations like the Dokk1 Library. While everyone is singing praises of beautifully newly built libraries and their positive impacts on communities, my natural inclination is to ask about budgets, sustainability, poke holes in why that would not work where I live, and be a regular neigh-sayer. That is why I chose Clive Thompson’s book, “Smarter Than You think: How Technology is changing Our Minds For the Better”. The very title made me roll my eyes and smirk quietly to myself as if I somehow, with my limited knowledge, I knew better.
This is often how many library users feel about unfamiliar technology, and why administrators holding purse strings are sometimes redeicent to spend on new advancements. We fear elements of our lives that we do enjoy will be robbed from us if we embrace an untested new technological feature. We fear being excited and then let down by a new venture, so we choose to stay in the cozy “this is what we’ve always done” static mindset. Brene Brown (2010) calls it “foreboding joy” to protect oneself from feeling vulnerable or disappointed, and while this is psychologically understandable, it is not helpful. Clive Thompson’s book is perfect for someone like myself. In every chapter he gives examples of how technology, and the internet, goes through these different phases of development and use; and how in the end the technology was neither good nor evil, but just a tool to bring people, their knowledge, creative ideas, and problem solving abilities together, to elevate learning, and encourage deeper thought processes.
The content of Thompson’s book relates heavily to the Hyperlinked Library course material as he describes examples throughout history of humanity’s response to new technology which is almost always related to communication and information systems. Thompson’s description of chess centaurs, a blend of human intuition and creativity with the calculating power of a computer, shows how the world of chess changed with the addition of computers. Thompson points out that after a computer beat a world chess master it did not end the game of chess, but rather just expanded what was possible. These centaurs became an option for competing and the final result was a team that worked better than either did alone. This transformation in the world of chess led to humans learning faster, being more adventurous and risky in their plays and the whole game of chess was elevated. I think this is an excellent metaphor for what libraries are now doing with technology advances. The Open+ system did not replace librarians, it freed them up to do more things and reach new patrons! Self service technology has helped stretch budgets and free staff for more meaningful work (Zulkey, 2019). We are creatinglibrary centaurs, integrating technology into the library game and elevating the services provided.
In Chapter 4, Thompson dives into the idea of new literacies with digital tools, he starts with the complex issue of gerrymandering and how before technology it was so confusing and complicated the average voter could never hope to understand, but bringing in software like “district data” to do all the heavy data crunching freed up citizens to approach the moral challenges of this issue. The software builds mental tool kits and makes data analysis accessible to the people! The data visualization tools created by software assist humans with statistics and data visualization, making it mainstream and accessible in a way it never was before. Libraries can tap into these new forms of literacies as they become available and essential to further their own services goals. The main lesson was that technology tools help humans think better, think deeper, and solve problems that were out of reach in the past; libraries need to harness these tools whenever possible.
Thompson’s chapters dove into many different elements of how technology has improved our lives and how we think. He explains the audience effect, the generation effect, the theory of multiples, weaving in research on memory and conversations on what it means to document our lives in a digital world. He explains how debating in the comment section of a news article can produce deeper points of insight bringing in the architecture of participation and participatory services. This reminded me of Chant’s (2016) user-designed libraries, letting users collaborate with professionals for a better final service and space. The final product? A library centaur that can facilitate radical transparency by showing what libraries are working on, by giving multiple avenues of communication and by allowing the community to participate and decide for themselves (Casey & Stephens, 2007; Zeigler, 2006). Thompson also addresses fighting pluralistic ignorance with technology tools for big and small issues, and shows how curious people are going to “colonize technology tools” for social purposes because we are social creatures! In his final epilogue he described an AI called Watson, who with transactive memory and fact checking abilities could be something we one day have helping us in our homes. I hope one day this is an option.
Thompson’s book has truly inspired and converted me. The evidence he provided has encouraged me to shed the warm cozy pessimism of doubt and embrace the beautiful world of possibilities. Going forward I will seek out opportunities to create library centaurs and new digital literacies to further library objectives of social connection and learning.
Brown, B.(2010, October 12).The price of invulnerability: Brene Brown at TEDxKC [Video]. YouTube. Retrieved September 24, 2022, from https://youtu.be/_UoMXF73j0c.
The purpose of this post is to discuss and reflect on the Hyperlinked Library Module Four’s readings on participation and transparency. The more I read, I was reminded of a podcast, The Wizard and the Prophet on Freakonomics. Two sides of humanity’s reasoning behind their actions.
The Prophets are the doomsayers, they look at humanities problems and say “We are all doomed! We must stop everything we are doing and reduce all consumption immediately! We must go back to the way things were! We must instill fear in the people to stop these human made problems and revert back to a better simpler time. If we don’t we are all going to die, these are the end of times!!!!”
The Wizards in comparison would be more of the optimistic technologists who say, “it’s all going to be ok! Look at all the cool things humanity can create, there is no problem that human ingenuity can’t solve! Whatever issues we create, we’ll find new and better solutions to them! Humanity is awesome, onward!”
Now I’m not saying things are as black and white as this in libraries, but I have defiantly met both in libraries. I know most things in life are much more nuanced and we need multiple perspectives to move forward in this world. Some things need more of a prophet’s approach and other things need the wizard’s, but to truly find balance we need both.
Libraries do have dwindling budgets and economic struggles, and some jobs are being replaced by technology. Sometimes this opens up new opportunities freeing humans to do more complex work, other times it slashes budgets and dwindles a library’s community impact. Some technology labeled as a fad or feared, has become a key marketing tool to reach a broad audience of 800 million users (Casey, 2011). It might die out at some point but while it is around it should be utilized (Schneider, 2006). There are also lots of amazing avenues being opened up and explored as technology extends access and makes library services more convenient (Zulkey, 2019).
So this makes me ask, which am I? A wizard or a prophet? Am I innovative and fearless enough to be a wizard or do I play it safe, live in fear, and refuse to budge on issues because I’m a comfortable prophet doomscrolling on my phone? I feel like twitter and a lot of the social media platforms are filled with librarian prophets right now here in America. At the same time I see wizards dive after the next newest technology, and as Kenny (2014) mentions, libraries still need to focus on people and services, not just the newest digital format as ebooks use has flattened and been shown to just be another format, not the only one as predicted. “The average library decision about implementing new technologies takes longer than the average life cycle for new technologies.” as Schneider (2006) wrote, and this is what I have witnessed.
Wizard librarians by their very nature have to collaborate, bring people in, and demand participation from their community for their ideas and dreams to flourish. It make sense that if you can get stakeholders to participate, and not just spectate, that you increase their buy-in. I love that the LA public library asked its people what they wanted (Mack, 2013), and that Youmedia created spaces for teens to come together and learn and innovate together (2015). These wizards created buy-in by asking their community to participate and innovate with them, and it worked great! They were transparent with their communities, lived with an assumption of radical trust and delivered a product the community celebrated.
I also wonder how much of the success or failure of these participatory adventures depends on the economic stability of the community? I feel like in times of prosperity libraries and creativity ventures flourish, but in times of economic hardship communities focus more on survival, practical application, and are less likely to embrace innovative or risky new projects? (Again recognizing that this is a sweeping generalization and there are anomalies to most absolute statements). Most of the readings so far have been published pre-pandemic, pre-black lives matter, before the global pandemic brought us to our knees, and Roe Wade overturned and stripped women of their rights. What are the little itty bitty steps I could take to be more of a wizard right now on the verge of an economic recession, where politics are more polarized than they have been in generations, and doomscrolling on my phone definitely isn’t helping.
I love Schneider’s 2006 manifesto quote, “You fear loss of control, but it’s already happened, ride the wave.” So many of these quotes spoke so deeply to my heart, and my deep longing to be a librarian wizard someday. I want to “meet people where they are- not where I want them to be (Schneider, 2006)” and to do that I need to be a practical library wizard riding the waves of radical trust.
The purpose of this writing is to reflect on the HyperLinked Library Model in Module three, and to process a question on funding for that model.
Looking at the DOK Library concept, my first thought after making a note to visit someday, was How did they pay for it? The description of the DOK as a concept center with radical design elements built into furniture, equipment and programming sounds amazing-and expensive. Living in America I see our tax dollars going to priorities that I don’t share. I see teachers underpaid, school systems cutting certified librarian positions for cheaper technicians. I see public libraries with one librarian and fifteen library assistants and clerks. I see a nation that doesn’t even know that most states require their librarians to have a masters degree, and have no idea of what goes into a certified librarian or what their work product looks like. In The Hyperlinked School Library: Engage, Explore, Celebrate Stephenes talks about schools needing qualified librarians, embracing the 21st century learner, and how these technology tools can lead to awesome learning potential (2010). As a library student I’ve read countless studies on how motivating children leads to better learning outcomes, and how using design thinking, learning commons and play for learning creates awesome results. How do we get people holding the purse strings to read these articles? How do we get funding for these kinds of things?
I am currently working with Dr. David Loertscher on his AliveLibrary.info project that’s being tied to a virtual reality project with SJSU. It’s a nationwide effort to showcase what awesome effects certified teacher librarians have on students’ learning (in its initial phases). He’s been interviewing some of the top names in the field, and as his student assistant, I get to listen in and then process interviews, and I’ve been inspired and really see elements of the hyperlinked library in every discussion. When asked about HOW these teacher librarians have accomplished what they have they say some version of the following: they have to have a seat at the administration table, they have to have administration and directors who do their own research and advocate for them, they have to have funding provided by the state for programs/research that are proven, not just flashy, and they need administration and state officials to prioritize learning (not just sports) while not being afraid to try new models of exploration. Many of these interviews describe environments similar to the Unquiet Library Mathews (2010) describes, and they work! There is lots of evidence that these library media centers have life changing effects! [See recent interviews: K.C. Boyd on district leaders supporting TC, Tricina Strong-Beebe on Design thinking and how librarians are game changers, Lisa Bishop on the Flipped school library, Fran Kompar on the Digital Learning Commons, Nancy Anna Lucero on advocating for oneself and programs, and Teresa Voss on co-teaching as a Library Media Director.]
So knowing that they hyperlinked library model works, and has life changing effects, how do we -library students or newbie library professionals – convince administrators, state officials, and people holding the purse strings to actually look at all this research, see what has been done and be willing to try it out? How do we convince someone in these leadership roles to take a chance, stop making policy based on fear, and be willing to invest in these ideas? I literally giggled at Schmidt’s suggestion of a shower, gym, restaurant and coworking space tied to a library (2014). Not because I don’t see its potential, I loved the idea, but because I can’t see how to sell it to capitalistic American governing bodies. I recently facilitated a zoom for Dr. Loertscher conversing with a librarian in Columbia and she mentioned how of the twenty nine cultural centers in their main cities, twenty one of them also house their public library for that area. The cultural centers and libraries are literally the same building. It’s built in. How do we build cultural importance into our libraries? How do we convince our districts, our administrators and governing bodies to be as inspired as we are -and invest?
The purpose of this post is to reflect upon the Foundational Readings for my Hyperlinked Library class. I love all the inspirational literature on the world of libraries, the integration of technology and seeing examples of human creativity elevate the world of information to become more accessible, opening up new doors to creation and exploration. That being said, when I first did the foundational readings, especially Mathews’, 2012 Think like a Startup, I felt a pang of pessimistic frustration.
My immediate thought was, “OMG, I want to work for an information organization with these kinds of innovative ideas, connecting others, with room to innovate and space to fail and explore!”
Then all the dark realism in the back of my head whispered, “These articles are made for people within leadership and management roles of libraries. I’m in library school, and I’ll be lucky if I’m in a full time paraprofessional role doing the job of a librarian for half the cost for years. These ideas are super cool, but it will be a decade or more before I’m in a position of authority where I could actually suggest or attempt any of these ideas.”
I remind myself that leadership can happen at any position within a library, and the Hyperlinked Library Model is really inspirational and happening all over the world. But I feel my love for these concepts come up against the internal barriers of “this is the way it’s always been.” As someone who comes from outside of the world of libraries I could give you countless discouraging examples of gatekeeping, closed doors, and toxic hierarchical behavior fueled by fear, and apathy as I’ve tried to get an entry level foot in the door at an academic or public library. But I don’t want to write a discouraging diatribe on what libraries in my area are. I want to write about what libraries could be if they embrace things like: going beyond the familiar, disruptive ideas, messy innovation as a team sport, learning commons, design thinking and experimentation (Mathews, 2012).
For this to become a true reality we must accept failure as part of the process. Fail faster and fail smarter by expanding and editing as revisions are needed while we focus on services sustainability not just the newest flashy technology. This is really hard to build into a budget proposal, as adding failure into anything can seem defeatist to the one holding the purse strings. Mathew’s (2012) article is now ten years old and his imagination of what is next in digital platforms has become a reality (p.3). Buckland’s Redesigning Library Services: A Manifesto was beautiful, but thirty years old, and much of what he wrote about has come to pass since. In chapter 3 of the Automated library he describes the “drift-down” principle proposed by Michael Gorman:
“Nothing should be done by a professional that can be done by a technician.
Nothing should be done by a technician that can be done by a clerk.
Nothing should be done by a human being that can be done by a machine. (Buckland, 1992).”
So while my heart sings and skips along with the narratives in these foundational readings, my brain tells me that realistically many of these strategies might be used as a means to slash rather than grow budgets. But is that just my fear of the unknown talking? I want to hope, I want to believe that the hyperlinked library really is possible, and I want to be a part of it.