Let's show this prehistoric library how we do things downtown.

Reflective Practices: Competitiveness Is a Positive Trait in Librarians

In his Office Hours blog post titled “Librarian Superpowers”, Michael Stephens describes co-leading workshops at the Next Library Conference where participants created visual representations of the formula for success (Essential Skills + Mind-set2 x Support = Success) as well as models for the ideal librarian.

Stephens and his co-leaders found that within these models  “the line between required skills and mind-set felt a bit blurred. One model might include creativity, flexibility, or empathy as a skill, while another placed those in the mind-set category. […] The mind-set category included being open-minded to all aspects of our work, emotionally mature, playful, curious, happy/positive, observant, courageous, and motivated.”

While the kids had never heard of the game Hungry, Hungry Hippos, they still had fun coding their robots to play it. And I had some fun enjoying the nostalgia.

I can’t help, but stop and nod my head at each one of these. Even though, to me, the distinction between skills and mind-set is definitely a blurred boundary, possessing these traits is non-negotiable when it comes to successful librarianship, especially librarianship of the present and future. And while we have heard a lot recently about creativity, flexibility, and empathy, I was most delighted to see the following traits of librarianship in print: “playful, curious, happy/positive, observant, courageous, and motivated.”

When comparing these traits to how librarians are depicted in mainstream media, which shapes how much of society perceives us, it’s pretty obvious we need to work on these traits, as well as develop our confidence in using them publicly. As Stephens points out in another Office Hours blog post, “Champion of Confidence”, confidence results in the following: “More free time: When I am confident in my abilities, I don’t worry about every detail and that frees up time to spend on other things. Clear decision-making: When I lack confidence I question myself on every decision, and as a result it takes forever. But when I believe in myself and my abilities, the decision seems obvious. Healthy risk-taking: I am less willing to take risks when I am unsure. Confidence turns thoughts into actions.” (Stephens, 2017)

My new elevator pitch is I get to do stuff like this all day. Stomp rocket instructions and activities available from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

While I don’t always consider myself a confident or courageous person, I whole-heartedly relate to the traits of “playful, happy/positive, observant, and motivated”. When I look more closely at these four traits though, I can’t help but think about games, the gamification of education and libraries, and, most suitably to me, competitiveness.

See, where I may lack confidence, my competitiveness more than makes up for it. I relate to ex-NFL Head Coach Herm Edwards who famously shouted “You play to win the game!” after he was accused by the media of purposely losing. I mean, I’m not going to yell when I lose (Sorry, Herm), but I think competitiveness is an overlooked yet essential skill of librarianship, especially nowadays, especially in urban areas, where quality, well-paying jobs are so scarce and qualified applicants are so numerous. Maybe hitting the job force at the height of the 2008 recession made it so I’m just used to no other way to succeed.

Maybe this is why, when I read from Stephen’s Librarian Superpowers post about that one workshop group who created a visual representation of librarian skills with the motto “collaborator not competitor”, I was disappointed. It reminded me of one of my former coworkers, a now-retired librarian who at the time was definitely one of those “waiting for them to retire” librarians (Stephens, 2016), who told me they were “not a competitive person.”

It’s such a foreign concept to me. And I’m pretty confident the majority of our patrons, especially those younger than us, agree with me. Healthy competition should not be put down by anyone in our field. It should be developed just like these other skills and mindsets. It’s one way we get better, get motivated, display playfulness, and become observant of others. We can also help to develop and cultivate healthy displays of it in our patrons, whether through after school video game events, adult trivia nights, or other similar participatory programs.

“Competition helps kids learn that it is not always the best or the brightest who are successful, but rather those that work hard and stick with it.” – Timothy Gunn, Psy.D., pediatric neuropsychologist (McGuinness, 2019)

“Many cooperative games teach children to problem solve as a team and help them learn the lifelong skills of working for the common good of the group.” – Ronda Klosterman, physical education teacher (McGuinness, 2019)

Join me. Let’s play!


McGuinness, D. (2019). Why competition is good for kids (and how to keep it that way). Parents. Retrieved from

Stephens, M. (2016). The Hearth of librarianship: Attentive, positive, and personal change. Chicago, IL: ALA Editions.

Stephens, M. (2017). Office Hours: Librarian superpowers. Library Journal. Retrieved from

Stephens, M. (2018). Office Hours: Champion of confidence. Library Journal. Retrieved from

Virtual Symposium – Five in Five

Director’s Brief: Flexible Space for Participatory Service in Future Library Design

Rendering of proposed Pleasanton Civic Center / Library. Courtesy

Space that is flexible to users’ diverse needs, participatory to engage and inspire users’ curiosity, and user-designed to stay relevant and up-to-date are crucial components to the design of a new library, especially for it to stay relevant to our future populace (Casey & Savatinuk, 2007). These concepts have proven successful in libraries such as the Netherlands’ LocHal, Denmark’s Dokk1 and Kilden libraries, and Vancouver Public Library, among others.

This brief urges that in the subsequent planning stages of the Pleasanton Civic Center / Library Master Plan, such models and examples should be studied and strongly considered for implementation in the new library.

Incorporating Infinite Learning into Volunteer Training 2.0

Two of our awesome Kid Power volunteers ready to promote the Summer Reading Game to our youngest patrons and their families. During last year’s Kid Power training, showing pictures like this worked well to depict their role in promoting the game, but this year I’m going to make training a participatory experience where trainees will learn by acting out various scenarios they’d encounter
while promoting the game at these booths.
I shot this video last summer thinking I’d use this in next summer’s Kid Power Training. I may still use it as an activity starter, but after reading about Learning 2.0 and Library as a Classroom, I now want to engage the trainees in interactive experiences that this video can’t replicate while giving them opportunities to be creative and come up with their own ways to promote the program (guided by staff).


Better Impact. (2019). My Volunteer Page. Retrieved from

Bookey, J.L. (2017). 8 Awesome Ways Libraries Are Making Learning Fun. Huffington Post. Retrieved from

Mentimeter. (2019). Retrieved from

Pewhairangi, S. (2016). Library as a Classroom for Library Staff.

Screencast-o-matic. (2019). Screen Recorder. Retrieved from

Stephens, M. (2019). Library as a Classroom . Retrieved from

Stephens, M. (2019). Professional Learning Experiences . Retrieved from

Stephens, M. (unknown). Serving the User When and Where They Are. Retrieved from

Volunteer Hub. (2019). 4 Easy to Implement Volunteer Training Tips. Retrieved from

Allowing the Spark to Guide Us

Good morning, Dash.

In his article “Creating a Voice for the Library: Storytelling, Experience, and Play”, Matt Finch offers some profound yet simple advice to consider in promoting ourselves and our spaces, and the services we provide for our community members.

While he touched on listening and asking questions (what many of us librarians have heard before), Finch takes these interconnected concepts a step further, citing writer Linn Ullmann’s “artistic listening”: “Your role, then, is to not stick to your original idea-it is to be totally faithless to your idea.” Finch puts this into the librarian’s perspective as “capturing the initial spark of inspiration, then allowing that spark to guide you, instead of trying to corral or direct it.”

Reading this was incredibly coincidental and affirming. Last week I hosted the first second-level workshop of what I thought was going to be a series of elementary coding workshops for 3rd and 4th graders using the Wonder Workshop robots Dash and Dot. After some awesome results from the introductory classes this summer, my idea was to offer more classes this fall, based on levels so the children could develop their coding skills over time. After the introductory class, students would move up into the second level, then the third, and so on. I had some general curriculum to guide me and I was confident that the first second-level class would get similar results.

Dash’s attachable ball launchers are a big hit with the early coders.

I was wrong. Don’t worry, it wasn’t a failure at all. The kids had a ton of fun and I noticed each child learned something and persevered through challenge. But I scrapped my plan after about 15 minutes of a 1.5-hour program. What I noticed was that each child was moving at a different pace and was interested in learning via different routes. My linear thought process was all wrong. The kids were guiding themselves and exploring what interested them and I was merely getting in the way. Well, until I realized what I was doing and stepped back. I became “faithless to my idea”. And then I saw the program for what it needed to be, an open, exploratory workshop where staff and volunteers are there to assist students in their exploration of early coding concepts by playing with these robots.

An example of some of the challenges the students are able to work through.
Some students really enjoy these. Others would rather explore concepts
by building their own creations.

Shana Ratner also touches on this in Emerging Issues in Learning Communities, namely that the new model of learning is seen as a process where “we learn best by actively doing and managing our own learning.” I feel lucky that I got to witness the truth in this statement firsthand, and lucky that I was able to recognize it for what it was without having a label for it yet. Not only will future robot programs be designed with freedom of exploration in mind, but not having to spend time lesson planning is going to save me a decent chunk of time that I can devote to other endeavors, like recruiting and training the volunteers who assist these students. It’s a win for everyone. And a lesson learned from failure and being willing to listen to and adapt to user needs.


Finch, M. (2017). Creating a voice for the library: Storytelling, experience, and play. Retrieved from

Rainie, L. (2016). The puzzles librarians need to solve [slide presentation]. Pew Research Center. Retrieved from

Emerging Technology Planning: PPL’s Innovation Studio

The calm before the storm. Pre-opening on a summer Saturday
at the Pleasanton Public Library.

Goals/Objectives for Technology or Service:

            In adhering to the strategies adopted in Pleasanton Public Library’s 2017-2022 Strategic Plan, most notably the strategy to “enhance programming that will encourage exploration and intellectual curiosity” (City of Pleasanton, 2017), library staff recommend the adoption of a dedicated makerspace in line with the state-of-the-art technology demands of the Pleasanton community nestled adjacent to the heart of the world’s technology hub, Silicon Valley. A dedicated technology-centric space will allow Pleasanton residents of all ages to discover their abilities, connect with the tools and resources they need to succeed in today’s world, and share their new abilities and innovations with others.

            Now couldn’t be a better time to implement such a space. With general fund revenues for the City of Pleasanton reaching an all-time high of $122 million, an increase of $4.7 million from last year, and with expenditures $3.6 million less than anticipated, the City of Pleasanton is headed into fiscal year 2019 with a $6.7 million surplus (Bing, 2019). Anticipated to cost only $15,000 to implement, and $120,000 to staff annually, the Innovation Studio budget is a drop in the bucket compared to the city’s “major traffic improvements and multimillion-dollar investments to reduce school overcrowding.” (Bing, 2019). If Pleasanton’s 83,007 residents are to truly believe that the City of Pleasanton lives up to its 124-year-old motto, City of Progress, then its library must also adapt and improve to meet the imperative technology needs of its residents.

            In repurposing the current Tulancingo Meeting Room, the new Innovation Studio will focus primarily on the creative application of various new technologies, including video making and editing, video game design, computer coding, web development, electronics tinkering, and virtual reality experiences. A dedicated library staff person fluent in the various technologies offered will develop training for library staff, incorporate common core curriculum in the lab’s special programs and challenges, and administer routine assessments of the space, the technology offered, and the changing needs of the Pleasanton community.

            The Innovation Studio will also be used in promoting the library. Various technology, like the Dash and Dot robots or littleBits or even videos created by patrons, can be brought along and showcased at outreach events or city festivals or via social media. The Innovation Studio will not only turn the library into a technology destination for the community, it will turn the community into a technologically creative force, improving the lives of everyone involved.

Pleasanton loves new ideas, as shown here during the ribbon-cutting ceremony
for the new Little Library Lounge at the Stoneridge Shopping Center.

Description of Community you wish to engage:

            The city of Pleasanton, California is located just a few miles northeast of the Silicon Valley in the San Francisco Bay Area. It is currently home to 82,267 residents with a median income of $142,000 and a median home price of $949,600 (City-Data, 2019). White residents make up 53% of the population, Asian residents make up 30%, Hispanic residents 10%, and Black residents 2%. The city’s predominant industries are “professional, scientific, and technical services” at 24% and manufacturing at 22%. Computer and math occupations rank 2nd at 22% (City-Data, 2019). Home to technology corporation headquarters such as Workday, office campus complexes such as Oracle, and a few miles drive away from Google headquarters, Pleasanton residents must not only be digitally proficient, but digitally creative to compete in the tech-centric and tech-savvy workforce thriving in the 21st century greater Bay Area, especially with the threat of automation looming in many industries.

            In 2018, the Pleasanton Public Library served 587,243 visitors who checked out over 1.1 million items (City of Pleasanton, 2019) as part of a $4.9 million operating budget with 23.5 full-time equivalent staff (City of Pleasanton, 2017).

Action Brief Statements:

For the public:

Convince potential users that by participating creatively in the library’s new Innovation Studio they will discover new technology skills which will connect them with new techonology opportunities because technology skills and creativity are what drive the Silicon Valley.

For Library and Recreation Department administrators:

Convince Library and Recreation Department administrators that by repurposing the Tulancingo Meeting Room into a technology and Innovation Studio they will draw new users and develop community partnerships which will broaden the library’s reach into the community because half of our community does not currently see the library as a valuable resource that offers technology skill-building resources.

There’s been a great disturbance in the library force thanks to the
Archimedes makerspace at the Fremont Library.

Evidence and Resources to support Technology or Service:

Alameda County Library. (2019). Archimedes: Innovation libguide. Retrieved from

Bing, J. (2019). Upbeat year ahead for Pleasanton: Downtown, Costco, Workday, Stoneridge lead to changes. Pleasanton Weekly. Retrieved from

City of Pleasanton. (2017). Operating Budget: Fiscal Year 2017/18 – Fiscal Year 2018/19. Retrieved from

City of Pleasanton. (2018). STREAMing Saturdays survey results [internal document].

Roman, A. (2018). Why makerspaces are so important in public libraries. YALSA Blog. Retrieved from

Thomas, D. & Brown, J.S. (2011). A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change. Retrieved from

Urban Libraries Council. (2019). MakerSpaces in libraries. Retrieved from

Willingham, T. (2017). Library makerspaces: The complete guide. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

YouMedia. (2015). In San Francisco, Teens Design a Living Room for High-Tech Learning at the Public Library. Retrieved from

Our high schoolers demand technology access, and in creative ways.
So much so they carried this flatscreen in from home to pair with their Switch.

Mission, Guidelines, and Policy related to Technology or Service:

            As adopted in its 2017-2022 Strategic Plan, the library’s mission is for residents to “Start your journey here. Discover, connect, enjoy.” (City of Pleasanton, 2017). In this strategic plan, Innovation is highlighted as one of the library’s five values where: “We continuously pursue innovative training and new best practices to improve service delivery and enhance our ability to appropriately serve the changing needs of the Pleasanton community” and where “We consistently seek feedback from our colleagues and the community in an effort to provide the best service possible.” (City of Pleasanton, 2019) While only about 50% of Pleasanton residents have library cards (City of Pleasanton, 2019), efforts to increase library card holders is succeeding, up 12% in just over a year from only 38% of residents with library cards in 2017. In 2018, new STEAM programming efforts saw a first-time user rate of 36% so continuing this effort to reach more users by specifically targeting their technological needs is paramount. The Strategic Plan outlines this as well: “Enhance programming that will encourage exploration and intellectual curiosity” and “Increase assistance and instruction for customers in the use of digital devices, tools, resources and general digital literacy skills.” (City of Pleasanton, 2017)

Fifth and sixth graders ready to test out their code on the racetrack
as part of the library’s new STEM programming.

Funding Considerations for this Technology or Service: 

            Personnel costs for staffing the Innovation Studio at 58 hours per week total an estimated $120,000 annually based on an average of $35/hour including benefits for PCEA/AFSCME Local 955 library assistants and librarians (City of Pleasanton, 2018). In comparison, the total personnel costs for the library in the 2017-2018 fiscal year totaled over $4 million. With the increase in property tax revenues and general fund reserves, there is ample room in the city’s budget to transform a sparsely used public meeting room into a transformative and creative space with limitless potential that aligns with both the city and the library’s strategic goals.

            Room configuration changes, including desk stations, wall-mounted cabinets, and deadbolt locks, including installation, are estimated to total roughly $6,000. Technology equipment, including six computer stations uploaded with various editing and design software, two FlashForge 3-D printers, a Cricut Explore Air, and various other accessories and hand-held tools are estimated to total $7,000. Total one-time materials, installation, and technology costs are thus estimated to total less than $15,000. In comparison, the total library budget spent on materials, supplies, and services was $190,000. The Innovation Studio would increase this total by a mere 8%. With in-kind funding likely provided by the Friends of the Pleasanton Public Library, as well as potential community partners like Workday, Oracle, and Safeway, there is ample possibility to increase the budgeted allotment of technology and materials not to mention the possibility of recovering all costs. 

Maybe a film screening launch event at the Stoneridge
Shopping Center would create some buzz?

Action Steps & Timeline: 

 The Innovation Studio can be prototyped using existing public laptops, sound and video recording equipment (awarded via the StoryCenter storytelling grant), and the Large Meeting Room. An ideal population for a prototype would be the afterschool teens, who already use the Large Meeting Room as a hangout on weekday afternoons. Staff can create a mock set-up of the proposed space with foldable tables and the materials listed above.
            Prototyping could occur weekly over a month-long period, with each day focusing on a single proposed technology already owned to save staff preparation time. Evaluations will be given to all participants and staff. After compiling these evaluations, a report will be composed and requests for more funding submitted to the Friends of the Pleasanton Library nonprofit group for new technologies not already owned, like the Cricut machine, video making equipment, and video editing software.
            In the following months, teens will be able to create videos pitching the Innovation Studio idea. After a few months of work led by library staff, teens will pitch the idea and play their videos to Library and Recreation Department administrators and via a presentation to the city Library Commission.
            If a yes is confirmed on the project, staff and volunteers will request a year-long timeline for user-centric research, planning, materials acquisition, limited construction, installation, and staff/volunteer training.
            If the request receives a no, staff will seek a less expensive and portable option that utilizes the Large Meeting Room space or programs to be offered on the road at various locations around the city. This plan would require half the development stages but would require double the staff time per program.

Our staff and volunteers already know how to make. Every summer they
transform our children’s room to the tune of that year’s theme.

Staffing Considerations for this Technology or Service:

            One full-time library assistant will be necessary to manage the technology equipment featured in Innovation Studio, preferably an outside hire with experience in the various technology offered, especially 3-D printing, video editing, and basic coding. A background in libraries would not be as essential to the potential hire’s résumé as would a technology background with some teaching or public education experience.

            During hours when the specialized library assistant is out of the library, a trained librarian or library assistant will staff the room. The specialized library assistant and the Library Director will develop a training plan for select staff as well as a staffing schedule for the room. In total, 58 hours of staff time per week at an average of $35/hour will be dedicated to staffing the Innovation Studio for an estimated cost of $120,000 annually, including benefits (City of Pleasanton, 2018). A core of volunteers will also be trained by the specialized library assistant. Groups like Amador Valley High School’s Girls Who Code Club or volunteers from nearby Workday will be recruited to offer more assistance during regular hours and during special events.

            Due to space limitations, technology like the Oculus Virtual Reality station, the Dash and Dot robots and supplemental iPads. Currently, the Tulancingo Meeting Room has two locking doors, however, deadbolts will need to be installed on both doors for security purposes when the lab or the library are closed.

Training for this Technology or Service:

            Library staff and volunteers will be trained, policies researched and published, and waivers and liability forms created. Most importantly, that the community will decide and will continue to decide what it is and what it’s going to be, as well as have a voice in what to include in the trainings.

            Library staff will seek out a dedicated volunteer corps to assist in staffing the lab and in training new volunteers and staff. Partnerships will be sought to provide additional technology and expert volunteers. With the discussion of a new library and civic center complex across the street being underway, a larger, more comprehensive creative space may be possible in the not-so-distant future, as would a dedicated wing of the new building complex designed specifically for the many technology skills needed by the Pleasanton community.

Promotion & Marketing for this Technology or Service:

            As outlined in Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions, former Apple “chief evangelist” Guy Kawasaki urges that a product or service launch “must capture people’s interest and imagination by telling a story.” Adhering to this wisdom, members of the community will be recruited to create stories using the Innovation Studio’s equipment, telling about their lives, their place in the Pleasanton community, and how the Innovation Studio helped inspire them. These initial stories will be posted on library social media accounts and email newsletters. This promotional method will not only save staff time, these user-created stories will be able to resonate across a much wider swath of the population than library staff would be able to reach. Ideally, works created in the Innovation Studio will also be able to serve as promotion for the lifetime of the technology space.

I bet with some cool video making tricks our teens could make that
Cricut Millenium Falcon look more like this.


            Evaluation for the Innovation Studio will consist of participant surveys (both digital and paper), including those completed by staff and partner organizations, while keeping in mind the intent of the creative space, to engage the Pleasanton community through hands-on exploration that is driven by the technological skills and interests of the Pleasanton community and adaptable to the changing needs of Pleasanton residents.
            In following the principles laid out in Library 2.0: A Guide to Participatory Library Service, user-centered planning and the need for constant feedback will be essential to the sustained success of the new space. In addition to surveying users, effort will be made each year to survey non-users, or members of the community that have not used the Innovation Studio, for whatever reason.
            Success will be measured monthly, quarterly, and yearly by attendance, number of completed certificates, number of programs, circulation of the library’s technology materials, number partner organizations, volunteers and volunteer hours contributed, outreach visits, and news articles published, as well as feedback via surveys and focus groups performed out in the community.

Other References

Casey, M.E. & Savastinuk, L.C. (2007). Library 2.0: A guide to participatory library service. Medford, New Jersey: Information Today, Inc.

Kawasaki, G. (2011). Enchanted: The art of changing hearts, minds, and actions. New York, NY: Portfolio/Penguin.

Stephens, M. (2019a). The hyperlinked library: Exploring the model lecture . Retrieved from

Stephens, M. (2019b). The hyperlinked library: Participatory service & transparency lecture . Retrieved from

The Truth About Libraries

Post image
Many thanks to Reddit user u/Bodhicaryavatara for this awesome quotation.

Learning Through Play: Hyperlinked Youth Interact with Library and Museum Spaces of the Future (Now)

These students created motorized longboards that can be controlled from their smartphones and record front and rear video from two onboard GoPros all with accessories made at the Fremont Library’s new Archimedes maker space.

While makerspaces like the one pictured above are drawing in the teen and emerging adult crowd, in last week’s Choose Your Adventure(s), I found myself diving into participatory learning spaces for younger children, both in public libraries and museums. I was inspired by Billund Library’s Children’s Capital, whose creators believe “a visit to the library should be an inspiring, active and educational journey, during which you are met by worlds that surprise, inspire and offer knowledge in new and imaginative ways.” With the many different “worlds” featured in the library, “the spatial differentiation creates conditions for both children and adults, supporting a variety of learning situations and possibilities of acquiring knowledge – from concentration and in-depth studies to experimental, creative and physical activity. Billund Library is the place where children walk on the bookcases.”

In the video above, founder and creative director of Rosan Bosch Studio, lead design firm of the space, Rosan Bosch explains, “The library design is based on the concept of play and learning. [The library is] where we get to experience that our motivation to learn is our most powerful engine for life long development and learning [and it is] this extremely motivating public space where we can try out new innovative things.”

Billund Library’s innovative approach to designing a space that kids want to learn within and around got me exploring whether anywhere in the San Francisco Bay Area might be similar. I couldn’t believe I’d forgotten about the Bay Area Discovery Museum. This entire museum is like one giant playground, designed to inspire children with seven specific learning goals:

1. Be curious

2. Come up with ideas and try them out

3. Make thoughtful decisions

4. Communicate thinking

5. Take risks and persist through challenge

6. Learn to collaborate

7. Build STEM knowledge

I was thrilled to see #5 on the list. I had the honor of participating in a workshop for children’s librarians at the Bay Area Discovery Museum’s Center for Childhood Creativity a few years ago, and one of my favorite takeaways was this concept of not only giving kids the opportunity to fail, but to plan for failure, to learn from it obviously, but to also even encourage failure. For if we’re too focused on not failing, we can’t achieve the ah-ha moments!

This digital journey through participatory learning spaces for children inspired me to get out to a museum close by and see what they were doing, if anything, with the recent participatory trends. After some research, I decided to check out a local wildlife rehabilitation hospital/museum, the Lindsay Wildlife Museum in Walnut Creek, Calif. that apparently had recently committed to a more participatory approach.

I remember visiting this museum as a kid, and looking at all of the local animals they were rehabilitating, mostly hawks, turkey vultures, owls, etc. behind window panes. I vaguely remember a docent bringing out a hawk on their gloved hand so we could see its huge feathers up close and, of course, petting a live snake, so I remember the space being more up-close and personal than other museums. I was happily surprised to see the changes the museum had made when I visited recently. And I’m even more glad I brought my niece and nephew along to test it out with me.

My nephew was entranced by the classic snake petting right at the door.

At first I thought the museum hadn’t changed much, the space looked similar, just smaller (or was I just bigger?). However, the change was in the exhibits. Now each exhibit had an interactive experience or two for the kids to learn about the lives of these animals they were visiting.

This interactive video game allows children to fly above the local mountain range like a turkey vulture searching for food. My niece and nephew spent at least 30 minutes on this, and came back to it multiple times.

Some of the museum’s participatory offerings surprised me by just how much interest my niece and nephew showed in them. Like the flying game above, I didn’t understand what was appealing about the less than stellar graphics or repetitive game mechanics. But they loved it! And this struck me as a huge reason for including children in the design process for these spaces. We adults, no matter how much we interact with children, aren’t children. We need to include them in the design process of their learning spaces as is clearly displayed by the efforts of Billund Library, Bay Area Discover Museum, and the Lindsay Wildlife Museum.

Hyperlinks Are Patrons, Too


In Earning Trust, Aaron Schmidt urges that libraries exist to help patrons be successful, while librarians work with members to accomplish goals.

But what if our community members are already successful?

In Asking the Right Questions, Schmidt writes that it is the duty of librarians to figure out what problems we can solve for our community.

But what if our community members don’t appear to have problems?

I recently had a conversation with one of my coworkers about how to reach the 60% of our community that doesn’t have a library card. We work in an affluent suburb of Silicon Valley, so naturally the conversation revolved around what services we currently offer that a wealthy citizen would actually utilize.

Our verbal list was short, our goal daunting. But one thing was clear: We don’t know the problems affluent community members face.

Do the rich face problems though? Of course they do. Everyone has problems. Some have even said the rich have more of them. Plus, everyone has goals they want to achieve. So how do we manage to engage someone with vast resources at their disposal? What could we offer them that they can’t just go out and buy?

To figure this out we’re going to have to start conversations with them. And not just ask them what we could do to get their patronage. “Talk with them. Observe them. Get to know them and ask them about their lives.” (Pewhairangi, 2014) While Sally Pewhairangi’s advice is directed toward avid library users, her message in A Beautiful Obsession can also be used as a way to capture the attention of our non-users.

I’ve seen the art of conversation with non-users work before. The strategy is a key component of design thinking, where simply asking open ended questions and digging deeper into one’s feelings and emotions centered around their daily lives can shed tons of light on their struggles, desires, and needs.


While working for Contra Costa County Library, I was fortunate enough to play a role on a committee dedicated to reaching 18-25 year olds, an elusive demographic to most of our libraries. We used casual conversations with members of this demographic to get insight into their lives. We discovered that people this age are constantly busy (shocker!) and that, above everything else, they crave unstructured free time to play and be creative.

With their help we came up with a way to meet this need, an outreach program called Art MeetUp, where librarians would take art supplies (and food!) to local college campuses and let the students there let loose. It was amazing to witness the simplicity of it all. I witnessed the beginning of new friendships, the gratitude of strangers, and the re-imagining of libraries on the faces of many of these students.

As Michael Stephens puts it in the Week 5 lecture, “Hyperlinks are people, too.” Well, hyperlinks are our users, too. And non-users are simply hyperlinks in hiding.


Pewhairangi, S. (2014). A beautiful obsession. Weve. Retrieved from

Schmidt, A. (2013). Earning trust: The user experience. Library Journal. Retrieved from

Schmidt, A. (2016). Asking the right questions: The user experience. Library Journal. Retrieved from

Stephens, M. (2019). Week 5 lecture . Retrieved from

Enchantment: The art of changing hearts, minds, and actions… and what librarians can learn from it

Or why this librarian traveled to Disneyland and found it

The Enchanted Tiki Room in Disneyland, California.

Do you ever read those books that seem to stumble into your life at precisely the right moment that you’re not only reflective, but, more so, enchanted?

As guy Guy Kawasaki, the former “chief evangelist of Apple”, puts it in his eponymous book on how to change the hearts, minds, and actions of those we seek, Enchantment is about bringing a “voluntary, enduring, and delightful change in other people” in our professional, or personal, lives. The book is for readers “who see life for what it can be” as opposed to what it can’t. (Kawasaki, 2011)

The first step in accomplishing this: Kawasaki details that we must achieve likability and trustworthiness from others. In other words, be a mensch – a yiddish word for good person, “no matter whom you’re dealing with and who will ever know what you did.” (Kawasaki, 2011) While at first this advice may sound idealistic or propose perfectionism, Kawasaki’s steps to achieve likability seem grounded in attainable reality. My favorites include accepting others, finding something you like in others in order to spark discussion, swearing infrequently, and defaulting to yes when asked for a favor. This last recommendation reminds me of Michael Stephen’s wisdom presented in his Hyperlinked Library week one lecture, in summary, that leaders of libraries are looking for librarians who are willing and eager to learn. According to Kawasaki, saying yes, to our bosses, to our patrons, to our significant others, helps us buy time, which allows us to survey available options, and, most importantly, “builds rapport”.

In the library world it may be more than that. I can’t help but think how saying yes was instrumental in the achievements I’ve made, or seen anyone make, in the library field. Casey and Savastinuk allude to this idea in their Library 2.0: A Guide to Participatory Library Service. “Empowering the user”, “user-centered planning”, “constant evaluation”, (Casey & Savastinuk, 2007) these necessities in achieving participatory library service all demand that we say yes to our patrons, not just our bosses.

I re-read Kawasaki’s “say yes” passage a few times, hung up on the last relationship Kawasaki highlighted, your “significant other”. This made my head tilt at the coincidence. My wife had just proposed a trip to Disneyland for our first anniversary. I was hesitant to listen to Kawasaki and say yes (I didn’t want to be around crowds and the expense alone, yeesh). But I also wanted to get away. To escape reality. The enchantment of Disneyland was both. Finally, my wife persuaded me with, “Come one, Star Wars Land just opened.”

She had me at Star Wars Land: My wife, Bob Ross, and I in front of the dejarik board inside the Millennium Falcon at Galaxy’s Edge, Disneyland, California.

Kawasaki’s next steps after achieving likability and trustworthiness? Preparing for launch. Of utmost importance to launch: capturing people’s interest and imagination by telling a story. Lucky for me, I was able to concurrently compare Kawasaki’s proposals to what I interpret as the beta version of Disneyland’s new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.

There were many successes, architecture and construction most notable among them — I never imagined my footsteps would make the same sound Han Solo’s made above the Millennium Falcon’s smuggling compartments! But after two explorations on back-to-back days, my wife eloquently explained the new land’s biggest flaw: “There’s no music. All of the other lands have music.” She’s right. Amid all of the engineering expertise that went in to Galaxy’s Edge, there was still a glaring absence, more obvious because it’s what made the movies so exceptional: John Williams’ score. Coincidentally once again, Kawasaki backs up my wife’s observation in Enchantment, citing the studied power of music to enchant and influence others in the choices they make while immersed in a launch.

Don’t think that libraries can’t capitalize on the power of music, too! If I’ve seen a LEGO building program put to Vivaldi spark the creations of pre-teens then you can’t tell me soothing nature sounds in the toddler area won’t keep tantrums at bay. I started doing this before the storytimes I host, after observing a mother playing these for her child on her cell phone after they’d gotten comfortable in their seats. I’ve gotten compliments from parents on how it helps their children engage ever since.

In addition to music, Kawasaki’s Enchantment stresses the power of immersing others in order to win them over. Despite it’s flaws in scope, here’s where Galaxy’s Edge won me over. My favorite experience was meeting a pair of stormtroopers patrolling the land, decked out in full costume. I was able to mumble Princess Leia’s famous “Aren’t you a little short for a stormtrooper” loud enough to quickly regret it, as you can tell from the picture below.

Overcoming resistance is the final portion of Kawasaki’s Enchantment I will discuss here, and one that stuck with me the most, maybe because of its brutal honesty, “resistance to change is the norm.” (Kawasaki, 2011) It’s something we all face in libraries from all sides. Kawasaki doesn’t get bogged down in this reality though. Instead he pushes forward and offers countermeasures, like providing social proof that others, especially influential others, are getting value from your new and participatory services.

My fellow classmate James L., in his context book report, discussed the hope that librarians capitalize on the maker movement, to develop the tools for independent learners to become successful, if not solely to use as a successful, librarian-thankful CEO marketing campaign — something I believe we should have exploited with Ray Bradbury’s library-thankful background than we ever did.

To me, Kawasaki’s social proof of value is the most ubiquitous challenge currently facing public libraries (if not all libraries). I believe Kawasaki’s proposals, strategies, and evidence provided make Enchantment a must-read material for all librarians.


Casey, M. E., & Savastinuk, L. C. (2007). Library 2.0: A guide to participatory library service. Medford, N.J.: Information Today.

Kawasaki, G. (2011). Enchanted: The art of changing hearts, minds, and actions. New York, NY: Portfolio/Penguin.

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