Happy almost end of the semester! Here is my infographic accompanied with a recording to expand on the 5 takeaway concepts I chose to share. I have very much enjoyed this class. It has influenced my thinking on many levels and I think will make me a more creative and compassionate person, whatever my professional path may be. Thank you to everyone for your inspiring ideas and for actively participating in my journey through the MLIS program. I hope our paths cross in the future!
Here is the transcript of my recording:
Welcome to my Virtual Symposium Infographic presentation where I explore five takeaways from our Hyperlinked Library curriculum. Like many of my fellow students, I find it challenging to narrow the lessons covered in this incredibly inspirational class into only 5 concepts, but here’s my attempt.
Concept 1: Think of your users as customers. This idea goes back to our foundational materials and Michael Casey’s book Library 2.0, which encourages us to look outside of libraries and towards successful businesses and other institutions to notice how they compete for potential library users. For instance, Casey muses, why if libraries and bookstores have similar content, do people often prefer to linger longer in one space over another? How can we design our spaces to be more welcoming. Maybe we need to offer coffee and pastries along with free wifi and couches covered in attractive coffee table books. Many libraries have adopted this model. Additional support for this concept comes from the Anythink library, where librarians are referred to as concierges rather than librarians. As professionals we might consider ourselves paid to assist our customers by arranging tours or experiences. And finally, as Pam Sandlian Smith says in her Tedtalk about the Anythink Library, the library should be designed as a marketplace model, where people can browse and shop to pick and choose what they desire in the moment.
Concept 2: Blurring the Lines.
This was a big reoccurring and overreaching concept from the class for me. As libraries continue embracing participatory models, the distinction between us and them or librarian, designer, creator, and patron, becomes less defined. For services you have multigenerational chess clubs, or family campouts, blurring the line for unnecessary age group confines. Libraries are blurring the line of indoor/outdoor by offering community gardens, outdoor reading rooms, bookmobiles, outdoor cafes, and giving away free passes to State Parks for infinite learning potential. In our creativity module, we learned about UCLA’s Powell library not distinguishing the staff space from that of the users, but rather creating a living room model that was used for different things at different times. The same article mentions that there is no divide between high staff satisfaction and customer satisfaction, because these are intricately linked together, once again using successful businesses as evidence to support this claim.
Concept 3: A Home Away from Home
A library should make people feel at ease and promote an instant sense of belonging for whoever walks through the door. It should be cozy, embracing hygge, a concept many of my peers explored over the semester. We want sleepovers, and mulled wine, and soup nights, and maybe access to showers or closets with some basic necessities. We want non-judgmental safe places that protect us from the harsh realities life often brings. My local library had a rolling coat rack for people to donate or take coats as needed this winter season. Maybe we embrace the open library model so people can relax and keep warm outside of staffed hours. Reconsider reflecting back to a librarians as concierges model. perhaps we have volunteer or staff members walk around with warm washcloths or just wander around sometimes to ask if anyone needs any help? Long gone is the intimidatingly large stationary desk with the librarian perched behind its fortress waiting for those bold enough to approach.
Concept 4: Play is good for everyone. Circling back to observing other institutions as role models, I went to the Sonoma County’s children museum last weekend and was blown away. Their Mission Statement is “to inspire curiosity and creativity through joyful, transformative experiences.” And their vision Statement is “we envision a compassionate and vibrant place that supports the creative potential of all children and enhances a child’s capacity to actively contribute to the long-term health and prosperity of the community. I loved that. Health and prosperity IS directly linked with joy and play. But it’s not just for children. This was explored in the New Models module and highlights that the Nordic philosophy for play was meant to bring people of all ages and social groups together into public places. Our libraries must be places we clamor to gather and celebrate during all stages of our lives, not places where we feel dependent upon informational professionals who tell us to be quiet or not to touch anything.
Concept 5: The Human library.
Many of us have been incredibly moved by the Danish concept of the Human Library that has now moved into many libraries all over the world. Check out some books, who are people. Learn what it’s like to be someone else. Empathy is so valuable in how to navigate the world and there are so many stories we can’t live or understand through our own limited experience. I wanted to include this as a stand-alone idea as one of my takeaways because it encompasses almost all the modules in one service. It’s telling stories, it’s participatory, it’s wholehearted, it’s infinite learning, it’s new model, it connects people in a profound way and it’s proof that libraries can be a solution to bringing understanding to the world. It also showcases how without people and without humanity, our libraries are just places.
Thanks for listening and for an incredible semester filled with thought provoking and hopeful ideas.