When I examined the lessons on reflective practice, I could see that lessons that were essential in INFO 287 were from my fellow classmates. Although it was the encouraging direction of Dr. Stephens that shepherded us through the coursework, it was the self-reflection and viewpoints that were shared by my classmates using those readings that allowed me to have many surprising revelations throughout the class. I was very moved by the sincere efforts I saw in many of my classmates to learn, try new things, educate themselves and their communities. The skills and creativity that I saw showcased by my classmates was inspiring. As we worked through the different modules and assignments, I always had a low-grade case of envy! I could not believe that people could express themselves so articulately, or creatively, or artistically.
The biggest surprise I had was how much emotion I felt when reading or viewing fellow students’ work. When one of my classmates discussed user centered library design, physical spaces and how a more inclusive library design could benefit her son, I was moved to tears because of the honest vulnerability shared. Another shared how bringing her octogenarian mother to a digital library event brought joy and a shared pleasure to them both and it cemented my understanding of how libraries can serve many different types of patrons.
Seeing the work of my classmates made the serious issues facing librarians seem a little less daunting and more manageable. The soft skills of librarianship, the social and emotional aspects of the work, were skills that I hadn’t valued as much as theory in practice. When I was able to push myself and try new technology and to share myself in my work as well, it made it more nerve wracking to share but also a more heartfelt and valuable piece of work. I am not surprised that we read in Leading from the Heart, “the heart is considered the softest of the leadership skills”, but the one that most effectively taught me the most memorable lessons and I hope to bring with me into my daily work.
For this Director’s Brief I was excited to think about how storytelling can be something done communally and serve as a sort of conversation to the same community in the future. At one of the webinars that I attended this year hosted by REFORMA SJSU and SAASC I started learning about community archives. This one in particular discussed Representation in Archival Repositories and was focused on how a specific group of immigrants and settled and lived their daily lives in early 20th century Iowa. Janet Weaver from the University of Iowa Libraries discussed the Mujeres Latina Project, and the digital humanities project Migration is Beautiful. She showed slides of source material that included journal entries, photographs, receipts from shopping trips and finally interviews of oral history that were shared by descendants of these early immigrants.
When I realized how fascinating it was to see that material and see how similar and different it was to current life in that same community, I realized that it would be amazing to see a project driven by Storytelling, that could records our current life during the global pandemic. After some internet searching I was able to find many projects that are being housed in mostly academic libraries, that are attempting this type of digital community archive. This Brief will discuss how a digital community archive through the power of storytelling, can help a community have the conversations that help us see ourselves and by leaving an archive based in the community library, will foster a conversation with the future.
In this course we have explored the idea of constant learning, and seeking out Professional Learning Experiences. I am eager to embrace this concept in order to develop into a better creator of programs and stronger librarian over all. I also want to embrace the idea that we can be playful* in our work. For my virtual symposium entry I tried a brand new, to me, technology, the app TikTok! I have loved the #SeashantyTok that I’ve seen and wanted to try my hand at it. It was challenging to try to work within the limitations of the app, and I have an increased respect for the creators who have mastered it. In 60 seconds I attempt to convey some of the highlights of developing participatory, user-centered service, and emerging technology in Hyperlinked Libraries while rhyming. (Lyrics Below). * Please note for historical accuracy I wore the typical garb of our people, glasses and also donned a cardigan.
It is clear that like it or not, ready or not, the world of information is changing. And to maintain the value, focus and reason for libraries the way we provide information is evolving, which leads us to this inevitable idea: Librarians must also evolve in our obtaining information and continuously learn for our personal growth. When I began Library School and again in this course, the hardest concept for me to embrace was the concept of “Continuous Learning” or professional development. At first glance Infinite Learning: Professional Learning Experiences seemed like some sort of unending punishment.
One reason is that it was HARD for me to go back to grad school. There were nights when I was struggling to remember how to log on to Canvas, submit an assignment, or convert a document into a PDF. My brain was firmly in the “Mom Zone” and I can tell you every last thing you would ever need to know about making your own organic baby food or how to choose a pediatric dentist but going back to school was stretching my mind rapidly and in uncomfortable ways. Throw in a global pandemic and it felt terrifically unfair that as soon as I would master a skill, I learned that the ALA chose Education and Continuous Learning as one of five key action areas adopted to fulfill its mission of promoting the highest quality library and information services for all people. Couldn’t I just learn most of the stuff really well and just stop?
The second reason I felt resistant to embrace the philosophy of continuous learning is that in my heart of hearts I am kind of a “no” person. Not a negative person but a hesitant and perpetually cautious one. My favorite part of comedian Amy Poehler’s book “Yes, Please” was reading about the improv concept of “Yes, and…” A Forbes article describes, that in improv circles, the idea of “yes, and” is that an actor is always acknowledging what’s happening in an existing scene before adding something to it. Basically, a willingness to accept what is happening and energetically contribute and try to build the scene. I could see in stark relief how much better “Yes, and” is than “No. Can we not”! Later, I read Tina Fey’s book, Bossypants, and she also encourages the use of ” Yes, and”.
“As an improviser, I always find it jarring when I meet someone in real life whose first answer is no. ‘No, we can’t do that.’ ‘No, that’s not in the budget.’ ‘No, I will not hold your hand for a dollar.’ What kind of way is that to live? … Now, obviously in real life you’re not always going to agree with everything everyone says. But the Rule of Agreement reminds you to ‘respect what your partner has created’ and to at least start from an open-minded place. Start with a YES and see where that takes you.” Tina Fey
After it became a little easier for me to master the technological vagaries of the academic life, I began to feel less resistant to the idea of continual learning. Ten Fast Company article related that there are different types of learners , I would probably be a surface learner, and the Australian Librarian PLE article also reinforced that idea. To encourage different types of learners and motivations are also different. The last year has dramatically illustrated our children are growing up as digital natives, and it can feel shocking to hear kids speaking casually to our household AI or log on and trouble shoot their zoom classrooms faster than we can. If we are to be useful teachers and mentors than we too must embrace and see as quotidian omnipresent technology and learning about it.
Now I am an advocate of this principle and when we begin to learn about the emotional labor that librarians do in their daily work, we must consider the concept of vocational awe that often accompanies our ideals of the profession. Some of the ways that we can address and avoid the professional burn out is to continue to learn and discuss new ways of interacting and working. This cannot be successful if we are not willing to learn. I also recognize how important it is to keep learning so that we can assist our patrons in using equipment, digital technology, and new programs. The concept of the 23 mobile things and its global offshoots is so fascinating, because it breaks down the learning into manageable parts and feels within reach. Developing a “Culture of learning” (Heart of Librarianship) personally as well as institutionally, makes it less of an onerous task and focuses on a realm full of possibility.
To work in institutions of knowledge and serve as conduits of information then we may embark on as Stephens writes, a “research journey—to collect, analyze, and publish illuminate new knowledge as part of our practice of librarianship” and promote a culture in ourselves and our libraries that support that. I now am excited about the idea of seeking professional learning experiences and this year have tried to say Yes, more than no, and averaged one webinar a week about something I have never learned about before. And if I have problems, I just ask my 6-year-old to be my tech support.
- Bowers, H. (2017). 23 Things – 10 Years Later
- Simon, K. (2020). “Emotional Labor, Stressors, and Librarians Who Work with the Public”
- Velasquez-Potts, M (2019). Imagine Otherwise: Fobazi Ettarh on the Limits of Vocational Awe
- 23 Things for Professional Develpment (2013)
- Stephens, M. (2016). The Research Journey
- Stephens, M. (2016). “Learning to Learn” in The Heart of Librarianship, p. 140
The module for New Models of service has been for me the most useful and thought provoking of the semester. The concrete examples of how different libraries are using their resources to produce innovative programming, design new physical spaces and create new channels of connecting with their communities are particularly inspiring. The culmination of the module was the opportunity to speak with Stacie Ledden of the Anythink libraries. Perhaps I am an especially literal thinker but the act of reading the theoretical underpinnings of the hyperlinked library and then seeing so many of the ideas put into practice and interrogating that, was a chance for the ideas to finally coalesce and gain a concrete understanding of what they could look like in everyday practice.
Many of the concepts of the Hyperlinked library can be identified in the creation and operation of the Anythink libraries. Ledden gave us access to many of the foundational documents for the anythink brand and library system. It was enlightening to read the expected job competencies and manifesto that each staff member would bring to their employment. I was especially interested in the process that Ledden described to encourage employee buy in and participation of the Anythink Mission, all employees were required to re-interview for their jobs. It struck me that Michael Case from Gwuinnett County Libraries had also described this process, launching a new vision for a library system isn’t easy and it might not be universally beloved. Some employees hastened retirement, and some moved to other branches because the changes just were not comfortable or welcome. The employees who remained might not have their original jobs and new job titles and categories were created. This dovetails with the foundational ideas of hyperlinked libraries to not be married to the past, to embrace new ideas and ways of being a library.
Another idea that we had the opportunity to see in action was that of optimizing the Physical Spaces of the library. The Klinenberg article stressed the importance of the physical plant or “palaces for the people” which are the foundation of what Klinenberg terms “social infrastructure”. These are the places where libraries can encourage their communities to gather, create and reach the goals of unifying and welcoming people. The Anythink library video of the Brighton Branch was exciting in that we could see the modern aesthetic adopted by the library. It was described as bright, light, and spacious. It included that harbinger of hygge, the fireplace, and was specifically referred to as something that would entice visitors in the colder months. We learn from Klinenberg that “Sociologists have this term called “collective effervescence,” which refers to the spirited joy that you find when a group comes together and does something special.” How wonderful if we can encourage this by carefully planning our library spaces to nudge our users towards this spirited joy.
Finally, the idea of marketing the library was of utmost importance. For Anythink the rebranding of the library was the opportune moment to roll out a new mission statement, statement of purpose and logo that would be instantly recognizable to the community. Almost all of the participants in the video expressed a pleasant surprise at all that is offered by the library and this is a sure sign that more communication of the programs, and over all value the library adds to the community. Lipsey and Madera share that although many of the ideas that were generated through community collaboration were exciting and considered groundbreaking many of them were already being done in some form by libraries! We can surmise that a lack of marketing and communication continues to potential patrons desiring programs at libraries that were already offered but were unaware of them. This goes hand in hand with the hyperlinked library concept of openness and transparency. Our patrons should know what is available to them and how we got there. Anythink embraces this idea by publishing their annual budget and report on their website.
This beautiful video on Anythink shows the library using their physical space by bringing a Mexican artist to create an alebrije in the library. Bringing joy through art!
- Paxaman, M. (2019). Challenged but not dying, the public libraries are more relevant than ever.
- Stephens, M. (2019). “Hygge State of Mind” in Wholehearted Librarianship, p. 63
- Lipsey, R. F. & Madera, F. (2015). 100 Great Ideas for the Future of Libraries.
- Peet, L. (2018). Libraries and Social Infrastructure.
When the word technolust entered the lexicon and discussion around the Hyperlinked Library, I knew this was a malaise that the director and staff of the Santa Clara County Law Library would never suffer from. The institution tends to be slower and more traditional in our approach to serving our patrons and would scarcely succumb to an irrational love of new technology. Change tends to be glacially slow and incremental, often needing many layers of bureaucracy for approval. All California County Law Libraries have a mission to serve members of the Bar, members of the Bench, and residents of the County who are self-representing litigants. While we tend to serve a culturally diverse clientele we don’t have some of the elements that public libraries have, such as a wide range of ages served, programs that involve maker spaces, or cute babies at lap sit time. What County Law Libraries do have, is lots and lots of people who seek legal information and advice.
While this unprecedented period of worldwide pandemic lockdown has halted most services offered by the Santa Clara County Law Library (SCCLL), it can also inspire new and innovative use of technology to meet the needs of its patrons. After I attended the North American Virtual Reference Online Conference I was able to learn about many academic libraries transition to virtual reference services. Adopting the emerging technology of online conferencing via Zoom in the SCCLL will allow the library to host several critical functions that are currently frozen or severely curtailed; Reference, Continuing Legal Education credits (CLE), and Lawyers in the Library will all be added to a virtual model. By introducing a program of virtual online interface via Zoom to the SCCLL I hope to reach existing and new patrons in the community and facilitate the programs already offered by the library in a virtual format that can be accessed during the pandemic lockdowns and can continue after normal operations resume.
Goals/Objectives for Technology or Service:
- Increase service to community offered during a pandemic lockdown through virtual online meeting technology (Zoom).
- Integrate and adopt innovative uses of technology to maintain communication with patrons, reference and classes.
- Serve population that may not be able to physically access the Law Library.
- Partner with community providers to maintain a virtual Lawyers in the Library program.
Description of Community you wish to engage: The library will engage with the members of the bar, members of the bench and self-representing litigants in Santa Clara County to offer virtual reference services, virtual continuing legal education, and facilitate virtual pro bono legal services to community members who cannot afford private legal services by coordinating and facilitating access to legal information and referrals in the Lawyers in the Library program.
For patrons: Convince Law Library patrons and community members that by utilizing the virtual services of the library they will be able to be directed to the legal knowledge they are seeking, fulfill their CLE’s, and access a network of limited legal assistance which will help them succeed in their jobs and help them with their legal issues at no cost.
For staff: Convince library staff and administrators that by offering virtual services they will benefit the library by increasing the numbers of users they can serve as well as reach a new population of patrons because they will not be restricted by physical limitations.
Evidence and Resources to support Technology or Service:
- Scholarly works
- Harmon, M. G., Grzybowski, S., Thompson, B., & Cross, S. (2018). Remaking the public law library into a twenty-first century legal resource center. 110(1), 115–148.
- Matyasheva, S. S. (2013). Advantages of Library Virtual Reference Services. Bibliotekovedenie, (6), 36-40.
- Khan, N. A, & Zainab, T. (2015). Virtual Reference Services in Modern Libraries. International Journal of Digital Library Systems, 5(2), 1-17.
- University of Florida virtual reference services: https://uflib.ufl.edu/virtual-services-during-covid-19/
- Oregon Institute of Technology, parameters of service: https://www.oit.edu/library/about/mission/vrsvc
- San Diego County Law Library services: https://sandiegolawlibrary.org/covid-19-legal-issues/
- Danish Library Guard – virtual reference service https://www.biblioteksvagten.dk/
- ALA Best Practices to Protect Privacy for library patrons, https://chooseprivacyeveryday.org/calling-users-in-a-pandemic-best-practices-to-protect-privacy/
Mission, Guidelines, and Policy related to Technology or Service: The Mission of the SCCLL to provide free access to legal materials to all persons interested in the law will guide the policies for adopting virtual services. The SCCLL director will set the policies related to virtual services, while reporting to the Library Board of Trustees. All virtual services are already offered at the library in person or via phone and will continue to follow library policies, the main change will be adopting the technology to conduct the services virtually. An emphasis on best practices for providing privacy and confidentially for patrons during virtual services will be determined by the staff and director. Example policies can be seen at the Hawaii State Law Library as well as the California Council for Law Libraries (CCCLL) .
Funding Considerations for this Technology or Service: The budget for this service will be for staff training and one time equipment purchases. The SCCLL already uses a business membership level of Zoom, pays for the time of the staff and has powerful internet that can sustain an increase in the volume of usage. While library staff already uses computers to conduct reference inquiries, the new process of screen sharing to show a patron the results of searches will be a new skill that must be taught. Similarly, CLE’s are already offered at the library, but setting up a camera to broadcast the continuing education class is also a new skill. The lawyers in the library program is one usually offered in person and setting up a Zoom waiting room and scheduling and connecting the attorney and patron meeting is a skill that must be learned. Offering virtual services incurs no new costs in terms of physical space. The funding will be used to improve the skills of staff to achieve a level of competence with the technology as well as initial fees for video cameras and headsets or microphones to increase video and audio quality of the service.
Action Steps & Timeline:
Week 1- Purchase cameras, microphones and headsets for the library. Configure computers in office to best provide privacy and create a dedicated station for staff who will be conducting the virtual reference and CLE’s. Purchase reference materials for staff to assist in technical troubleshooting and create a best practices and guidelines document for staff.
Week 2 – Begin weeklong training for SCCLL staff to build comfort and familiarity with new equipment and virtual interface. Practicing different reference scenarios and creating a schedule for which hours will offer virtual services.
Week 3 – Work with partner community organizations to train attorneys for Lawyers in the Library program to appear virtually.
Week 4- Promote and Launch Virtual Library services. Promotion will be via social media accounts and an email blast to all registered patrons with a law library card. Many patrons use the law library website and call via phone so they will be informed during those interactions with staff as well.
Week 5- Evaluate program on a monthly basis. Using user metrics, staff anecdotal evidence and exit survey upon patron exit of Zoom session.
Staffing Considerations for this Technology or Service:
This service will require staff time. Although the same services are being offered virtually, the staff member will not be as responsive to the patrons in the physical library. Initially only one staff during shift will be designated as the virtual librarian on duty. The demand and efficacy of the amount of staff dedicated to virtual reference and scheduling will be evaluated monthly. If there is not a demand during the shift for virtual services, the staff may assist patrons within the library as support to the on-duty librarian.
Training for this Technology or Service: Library staff is generally well versed in using computers to answer reference questions, the need for training will be to achieve a high level of competency using the online service Zoom. Library staff will be trained in maintaining the mission of the law library, confidentially, privacy and access to information while in a virtual space.
Promotion & Marketing for this Technology or Service: Promotional material with the information on how to access the law library virtually will be shared on all social media accounts, email blast of registered card holders, and digitally shared with partner organizations such as ProBonoProject, San Jose Public Library, Santa Clara County Library, South Asian Law Alliance and the Santa Clara County Bar Association. Staff will create and maintain a page on the SCCLL website explaining the new Zoom reference services and hours. Staff will prepare and practice a short script to introduce the new zoom reference service to community calling in.
Evaluation: The success of introducing virtual services into the SCCLL will be evaluated by measuring the metrics of how many reference questions were asked, the types of questions asked, CLE courses utilized and number of Lawyer in the Library appointments made and attended. In Tame the Web we are reminded that, “We have a great opportunity to harness emerging technologies and create engaging and useful services, deeply connected to the core mission and values of librarianship.” Providing these services will be in keeping with the free dissemination of legal information mission of the law library.
One of the long term effects of moving to a virtual consultation model is that it could be sustainable even after physical spaces and the county law library reopen. Several of the benefits could include easier access to potential clients who may face disability or difficulty with transportation as well as recognizing that as we move to a “tele-everything model”, increasing number of patrons can and want to access the library from a computer, tablet or cell phone. The ease of consulting from a home office or convenient and quiet location could also make it easier for volunteer attorneys who can fulfill their volunteering/pro bono commitments from home without any travel, which could increase the number of attorneys who are willing to donate their time and services. Consistent and forthright evaluation by staff and the director will ensure that time and resources are used wisely, and can provide an opportunity to course correct or eliminate aspects of the program that aren’t utilized.
- Green, G. (2012). The innovative use of technology in libraries.
- Casey, M., & Stephens, M. (2008). Measuring progress.
- Louisiana Lawyers in Libraries. (2020) Lawyers in Libraries
- Stephens, M. (2008). Taming technolust: Ten steps for planning in a 2.0 world.
I chose to explore Libraries during the global Covid 19 Pandemic. Please download the PowerPoint from Dropbox. When you start your adventure, click on the buttons and anchor text to move forward in your journey.
Reflection #2 – Hyperlinked Communities, how can we reach ALL users if our librarians only reflect a small part of the community?
Peter Block has defined communities as “human systems given form by conversations that build relatedness”. If we seek to have our libraries serve all, then our conversations must include the languages spoken in our communities. One of the barriers that we must acknowledge when seeking to have these conversations is the blinding whiteness of our profession, Librarians are overwhelmingly white and female, and this may affect how and who we are serving. Efforts to ask questions to understand the systems as well as encouraging recruitment, retention and promotion of library staff and librarians from underrepresented communities can increase our ability to serve more of our communities.
When I think about the Hyperlinked community, it is with both joy and trepidation. For all the exciting ideas that we are exposed to, there remains the work – the execution of those plans that the wheels of new theories have put in motion. Of the tenants of the Hyperlinked library that I keep returning to is that of not being married to the past. Of being aware of both internal and external challenges to adopting a more nimble and responsive way to conduct our libraries and preparing to overcome those obstacles. If almost everything that I can write this year somehow circuitously finds its way back to either the Pandemic and/or issues of systemic racial inequality that affect our day to day lives, in lockdown or not, it is because they take up so much space. Once these conditions have been seen they cannot go back to being unseen, part of the unexamined miasma of conducting our daily lives. The hyperlinked community aims to reach ALL users, and to do that we must be prepared to see who we aren’t serving, and why. Because we recognize that communities are human systems we can only be as effective as our staff and if we haven’t examined the systems that we either support or dismantle with our service.
Stacks and Facts shares an interesting an analysis on historical librarian demographics.
I was so excited to read all the resources assigned to the module for hyperlinked communities. The readings affirmed that librarians are thinking about and doing the hard and necessary work of understanding how to best serve all our communities. The hyperlinked library can be a place where we foster inclusion, compassion, and service for our communities. As Garcia -Febo writes in Serving with Love, librarians are enriching the conversation around these topics and must continue to move forward to embed humanity, compassion, empathy, awareness, and understanding into our library services nationwide.
The Multnomah County Library video communicates to us that they have an Equity and Inclusion manager that helps the library ask, “who are we missing?” when it comes to their community. Some of the most powerful work that can be done to best create a hyperlinked library is just to ask questions. Questions like, who are we serving, how can we best connect with them? Last year I began attending the SJSU iSchool Diversity Webcasts, I highly recommend everyone check these out and attend the live presentations. In San Jose many members of our community are immigrants, I often wonder how we can best serve people who might desire to use and visit the library but may be constrained by language, knowledge, and documentation barriers. Dr. Ana Ndumu, who spoke on initiatives that are transforming library ideology on immigrants, was an engaging webcast speaker who addressed this. Many attendees to her talk wanted to know how to we best serve our immigrant communities. She had such a simple answer, she recommended, just asking something like, “what do you need to do what you’re doing”? She stated that effective community programs can be as simple as providing a free and safe space for community groups to meet and organize. This relates to the Schmidt article, “Asking the right questions”, by pinpointing the right questions we can anticipate people’s needs and that will surprise them, delight them, and make them feel welcome.
Christian Lauersen writes that diversity, inclusion and social justice is in the library DNA, it corresponds so well with our values. His moving example of how the University of Copenhagen established a mentor/mentee program with new international students and the Library partners with them where one of their events is a Library candle lit dinner that usually ends with dancing, just imagining that makes me so happy!
Finally, financial support such as the ALA Spectrum scholarships, the ALA working groups on equity and inclusion and a commitment by libraries to foster and encourage BIPOC library staff and librarians will translate into a library that can best create programs and spaces that will serve the greater community.
Librarian diversity http://www.ala.org/aboutala/offices/diversity/diversitycounts/divcounts
Peter Block Chaos Management https://www.chaosmanagement.com/images/stories/pdfs/Notes%20on%20Peter%20Block’s%20book%20on%20Community.pdf
Library Professionals: Facts & Figures https://www.dpeaflcio.org/factsheets/library-professionals-facts-and-figures
Garcia – Lebo, L. (2018, October 29). Serving with love. Retrieved March 14, 2021, from https://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/2018/11/01/serving-with-love/
iSchool diversity webcasts https://ischool.sjsu.edu/demand-webcasts-diversity
Schmidt, A. (2016). Asking the Right Questions.
Multnomah County Library https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=58FmnzlFzzs
Lauersen, C. (2018). Do you want to dance? Inclusion and belonging in libraries and beyond.
“The Virtual Self: an accumulation of the statistical minutiae of every-day life and what it could mean for Libraries”
Sit with me for a moment and let’s commit the most cursory of self-examinations. Do you use any wearable technology that tracks your physical self? Do you use a cell phone that generates information about your day and movements? Do you update or share to any social media sites or use apps to record the ephemera of your life? If you do, then you have proceeded to track what Nora Young calls your Virtual Self. Nora Young is the host of a popular radio show called Spark, about technology and culture on CBC Radio. Her book, The Virtual Self, How Our Digital Lives Are Altering the World Around Us, delves into the historical, present, and possible future of what she’s coined as the Culture of Self Tracking.
She also uses the terms the “Quantified Self’ or the “Quotidian Record” to explain the capturing of information expressed in a statistical way. Although this book was published in 2013 (a veritable lifetime ago when reporting technological culture and internet advances) Young’s dialed into the practice and desire to record metrics in order to evaluate the impact of personal behaviors and continued “registering of presence”, via apps and online programs which has only increased in subsequent years. According to Young we have become a culture of “dedicated statisticians of the self”. Our apps can be aspirational for recording and analyzing what we’ve eaten, how much we’ve exercised, the beautiful places we’ve visited, the books we’ve read and the music we’ve listened to during the year. All of this information can also be used by governments and businesses to track and analyze our virtual and physical selves and I will argue that libraries can also use it in targeting services to our patrons.
Young seats her subject historically by presenting us with the examples of Benjamin Franklin (an avid diary keeper) and monks like St. Augustine who created written systems to record their daily thoughts and actions and examined them in pursuit of an improved morality and a search for goodness. We are to understand that “self-tracking isn’t a zany invention of digital culture” but it is in fact a tradition whose roots reach back into collective Western history. Self-tracking is in fact enjoyable for many reasons, not least the opportunity to gain insight when seeing ourselves at some remove over time. The big difference between us and Ben Franklin? Forget about Poor Richards Almanac, the Founding Father status and all those experiments with electricity. It’s that self-tracking and generating vast amounts of geolocation and other measurable data with our fit bits and cell phones is now so incredibly easy. We don’t need to do much besides download an app and agree to terms and conditions and we’re off to the racetrack to record copious amounts of data and here’s the kicker, sharing it! Present day self-tracking is now radically social, we let people know where and who we’ve been with just by tagging our photos and checking in. Our constant sharing and liking of other’s posts and photos create a state of “ambient awareness” that permeates our culture.
The future of the virtual self seems poised to only grow. Young couldn’t have predicted that not only would more social media services such as Instagram and TikTok became so powerful as cultural touchstones that they would enter the Presidential debates or aggregating data from users cell phones would assist Public Health departments track the spread of Viral Diseases such as Covid-19. As Web 2.0 leads increased interactivity of websites and services can Libraries make use of the digital info that can be aggregated by auto reporting? Young posits that the data maps created by simple auto reporting can be aggregated and harnessed to useful ends by using that info to lobby governments by analyses on how services are being used. Libraries can and should be aware that they must have websites and possibly even apps that are easy to use and responsive to the mobile devices that are certainly being used to access library services. With cell phones approaching near ubiquity and internet access considered a basic right, a Library who ignores its virtual services is doomed to irrelevance.
As a result of pandemic times changing the kind of services that can be provided by libraries, we must follow the precepts of the hyperlinked library. Being nimble and not married to how things “have always been done”. Michael Casey writes in about the participatory library that although libraries have been aware of advancements in engagement such as blogs and Facebook they aren’t always embraced or used. Casey encourages that a “participatory library is open and transparent, and it communicates with its community through many mechanisms. The participatory library engages and queries its entire community and seeks to integrate them into the structure of change”. Librarians and information professionals must embrace and learn about the new ways that our patrons will access the library and record their personal interactions therein. Libraries can support Open Data Movements in pushing the government to have statistical and public service information made available to the public. In Making Libraries Visible on the Web, Fons reminds us of the need to have the “increased perceived value of libraries and the efficient movement of books and services into the hands of readers.” When digital information is made available, we can practice transparency within our libraries and gain the insight and contributions of the public on how best they can be served. When aggregate information is properly anonymized and protected, what it can teach us about group behavior can help cities make better plans, and allow us to make our cities and specifically, libraries, more “sustainable, efficient and responsive.”
Finally, Young shares that self-tracking holds surprising power, “At the personal level, it can help us change behaviour, but it also offers insight, providing us with an undeniably clear picture of how we behave.” And the behavior of our patrons is something that librarians should be most curious about.
Young, N. (2013). The virtual self: How our digital lives are altering the world around us. Toronto, Ontario: McClelland & Stewart.
Casey, M. (2020, June 10). Revisiting participatory service in trying times – A Ttw guest post by Michael Casey. Retrieved February 22, 2021, from https://tametheweb.com/2011/10/20/revisiting-participatory-service-in-trying-times-a-ttw-guest-post-by-michael-casey/
Stephens, M,(2020) Lecture, The Hyperlinked Library Exploring the Model https://drive.google.com/file/d/11E9ip6Wnku1kN9MMHl0Vldwpkbni1HB9/view
Fons, T. (2016, August). Making libraries visible on the web: The digital shift. Retrieved February 22, 2021, from https://cclibrarians.org/outlook/making-libraries-visible-web-digital-shift
Young, N. (2012, April 28). Self-tracking: A digital record that offers insight into what makes us tick. Retrieved February 22, 2021, from https://www.thestar.com/news/insight/2012/04/28/selftracking_a_digital_record_that_offers_insight_into_what_makes_us_tick.html
In the Hyperlinked Library, we read that the foundational tenant the “library is everywhere – it is not just the building or virtual spaces”. It could be argued that at no time has that proved to be as true as one year into a global pandemic, which necessitates that libraries operate leaner, faster and in markedly different ways than has ever been asked of them. While the pressure cooker environment created by lockdowns has asked libraries to do anything and everything with very little time or experience in the face of most services turning virtual, in a way this time period can be seen as any other time in history when an intense situation caused rapid change and adaptation in an industry. Buckland writes presciently in Redesigning Library Services: A Manifesto that the “expanded use of library service…will depend more and more on facilitating self-service than on one-on-one service by library staff. An increasing proportion of the use of library services will be from outside the library”. The concepts of the Hyperlinked Library can be embraced for encouraging a faster, flattened, and more responsive library which is at this time imperative. In the White paper, Facing the Future, the ideas for libraries to function as a more entrepreneurial entity could read as a primer for any start up in an incubator anywhere in Silicon Valley. In particular the 3rd tenant: “Think like a startup“ can be most beneficial to libraries because a startup mentality will condition the library to anticipate constant change and encourage giving new ideas a place to incubate. The now almost cliched words of the tech sector; disruption, transformation, and innovation can be an exciting lens when applied to viewing libraries.
This concept dovetails with the lecture of the Hyperlinked library in highlighting the need to combat forces both internal and external that slow down or altogether stop change and innovation in libraries. If we are to apply best practices for creating hyperlinked libraries, we must make our prime objective that of serving the user. This can guide us as stated in Facing the Future to not just improve a vacuum (or library services) but focus on the overall picture of how and why we clean (or use the library). In the Hyperlinked Library lecture the story detailing the signs saying “Don’t touch” which created an unwelcoming environment deeply spoke to me. As an employee of a County Law Library I am acutely aware that we have many signs that can create an inhospitable environment. The funniest sign we have hanging on our bathroom warns users that you may NOT use the bathroom to plug in a crock pot to make fish stew. It hangs there because it has been attempted but I do wonder how many of the “do not touch” and “don’t do this” signs contribute to patrons feeling unwelcomed and therefore leaving unserved. In a library embracing service to the user, using the library and its virtual services would ultimately feel exciting, welcoming, and even fun.
Here are some funny signs that prohibit patrons in libraries. I can’t help but wonder if there are better ways to communicate with our patrons.
Stephens, M. The Hyperlinked Library (2011)
Mathews, B. Think Like a Startup (2012)
Buckland, M Redesigning Library Services: A Manifesto