Kenney’s article, Where Reference Fits in the Modern Library, resonated with me. The article discusses how librarians are transitioning from helping patrons find things to helping them do things. I work in a busy public library and spend more than half of my time on the reference desk providing technical help. Some of the most common questions I get are how to log onto a computer, apply for a job online, create an email account, print out a picture, or format a Word document, and that is in addition to providing assistance with making copies, scanning, and printing. The other day I spent almost 30 minutes helping a lady apply online for a job at Walmart. It was frustrating because the website kept freezing up and we couldn’t get beyond creating a user account. After thinking about it, I realized that the problem might have been the security software or settings on our computers, as I don’t think they are updated very often. Not being able to meet a patron’s need is very difficult for me and is definitely the hardest part of my job!
Libraries still have the same purpose as they did 50 years ago: to foster learning. Only now, instead of leading patrons to tangible items such as computers, we can teach them to do things for themselves, which is huge! I agree with Kenney (2015) that libraries have “become the help desk for the community” and we should be honored to take on this role. Libraries are not only tasked with providing technology, but must also teach users how to use it. But with limited staffing and varying levels of digital knowledge, this can be challenging. Nygren (2014) suggests connecting “digital insiders” with “digital outsiders” of all ages. For example, teens can teach adults how to use Facebook to connect to family and friends. This connected learning approach involves using mentors to help individuals improve their digital literacy skills. One way libraries could foster connected learning is to start a Hive community or network which connects young adults to educators, peers, and community partners in order to teach them about digital media and technology (Nygren, 2014). The Hive sounds like something that could really benefit my library and I plan on exploring it further.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading “Don’t Hate the Phone Call, Hate the Phone by Ian Bogost (2015, August). The prevalence of rotary telephones (particularly the Western Electric Model 500) are gone, with the exception of those individuals who still have a landline and have held on to their “antique treasure.” Maybe it’s just nostalgia, but I do miss my old landline phone from the 1980s. By landline I don’t mean cordless phone, I mean the old yellow Cortelco 2554 model that was attached to my kitchen wall. Interestingly, Bogost (2015) makes no mention of cordless phones which are similar to cell phones in regards to mobility but obviously have a limited range. I suspect they weren’t mentioned because they are not as “intimate” as the older handset models which were comfortable, easy to grip, and molded perfectly to one’s ear and mouth (Bogost, 2015).
Bogost (2015) discusses the awkwardness of using today’s smartphones to actually talk and underscores the risk of weak signals and dropped calls. This resonated with me, as I hate talking on the phone but I love communicating by text, Facebook, email, and sometimes chat. Smartphones clearly don’t offer the handheld comfort of a Model 500 but they do offer a different kind of tactile experience with touchscreens that can be tapped and swiped (Bogost, 2015). It seems that talking on the phone is the last thing users want to do these days but that doesn’t mean we aren’t connecting. The fact that I constantly check my phone for emails, texts, Facebook and Instagram notifications, and news updates simply means that I am always reading, thinking, communicating, learning, and most importantly, connecting.
It’s amazing how many different ways we can connect by using mobile technology. Some people might think that technology is impersonal, and in some instances that could be the case. But the reality is that mobile devices provide ways for us to connect to people all over the world in ways we never even dreamed of 30 years ago. Stephens (2015) describes communications as having “evolved from simple two-way interchanges into interconnected, multi-layered flows” (p. 3). Back in the day we could talk to our loved ones on the other side of the world but we were limited to one-on-one conversations and only if both parties were available to talk at a specific time. There were no texts, Facebook posts, or emails to read and it was impossible to know what friends and family were doing at any given time (maybe that’s a good thing for some). Mobile technology has provided us with many tools to become more transparent and that is how we stay connected in this fast-paced world.
After reading the 21st Century Digital Divide article by Jessamyn West, I began evaluating how my library is accommodating users in the area of digital literacy. West (2014) equates helping people get online with “helping them to be citizens.” I couldn’t agree more. The digital age is not just about innovative technology, but also about learning to do old things in new ways.
The Fairfield Civic Center Library is the main branch of the Solano County Library system. The Library currently has a Computer Lab with 20 desktop computers and one printer/copier. Our current digital literacy services consist of a Tech Buddies program for seniors that provides drop-in tech help (2 hours) with small devices and laptops, twice a month, at two senior recreation centers. Additionally, we have a computer docent volunteer who provides computer help two hours a week. We recently added Mobile Hot Spots to our circulating collection and they are in high demand.
Our users often need assistance getting online and doing basic tasks such as checking email, printing, scanning, and filling out online forms and job applications. Many users have requested basic computer classes or help using their smartphones or tablets. There is an increasing need for digital literacy services and it would greatly benefit the community to expand current services to offer comprehensive digital instruction and tutoring.
Purpose and Benefits
The purpose of the Digital Literacy Learning Center (DLLC) would be to encourage users to learn how to use computers, smartphones, and other digital tools in order to prepare them for new opportunities for employment, education, and business, help them cultivate personal and professional relationships, and complete routine tasks requiring the use of the Internet. In addition to having access to computers and printers, users would have access to one-on-one digital literacy tutoring, online access to DigitalLearn.org basic computer tutorials, in-person computer training classes, Grow with Google workshops, and a technology “petting zoo” where users can try out various gadgets. The DLLC would be a good example of a service offered by a participatory library, which Casey (2011) describes as one that “engages and queries its entire community and seeks to integrate them into the structure of change” (para. 8).
Goals/Objectives: The goal of the DLLC is to provide users with the digital knowledge and skills required to access jobs, increase productivity, build businesses, complete routine online tasks, and maintain personal relationships. Digital literacy classes would teach users computer basics and would touch upon the following topics: using email, navigating a website, applying for jobs online, completing forms, printing, scanning, online privacy, social media, Microsoft Word and Excel, using smartphones and tablets, and more.
digital literacy skills and empower users to apply these skills in practical
personal growth and learning from exposure to new technology.
digital literacy in order to improve standards of living.
users to maximize their digital skills in their businesses.
a safe place where users can get help with basic everyday tasks and learn how
to protect their digital information and identity.
users how to download eBooks, movies, and music.
job seekers in finding or preparing for employment.
small business owners to build their online presence.
students with new technology that will help them succeed in school.
users cultivate professional and personal online relationships using social
media platforms (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube).
Description of the community: This program would benefit adults 18 and over, who are looking to improve their digital literacy skills. Potential users would include job seekers, business owners, entrepreneurs, students, and senior citizens. A large percentage of users would have little to no experience using computers and many would not speak good English.
Action Brief Statement: Convince users of the Fairfield Civic Center Library that by learning new digital skills they will acquire fundamental digital and online knowledge which will help them achieve their lifelong goals because they will become more competent with technology as a result of using services and resources provided by the library.
The DLLC fits in with Solano County Library’s mission and values under Strategy for Success: Strategy #1 Seeds for Success which states “The Library supports basic information needs and provides a diverse range of resources for people of all ages.” The DLLC would meet the emerging digital needs of the community.
Policy for the DLLC would be the same as for any other program and all library policies would be enforced (behavior, privacy, Internet use, etc.). Volunteers would be required to get a background check in addition to attending a 2-hour orientation.
Digital literacy classes would be conducted by volunteers and regular library staff. Ideally, two classes would be held per week. Bilingual classes would be held at least once a month, but if that is not possible, a translator would be present during the regular classes. One-on-one computer tutoring sessions would be offered in 1-hour increments, two hours a day, four days a week by appointment only. Roving computer help would be provided during business hours based on volunteer availability. The technology “petting zoo” would be held once a month and patrons would not be allowed to take devices outside of the DLLC.
Funding Considerations: Funding for the DLLC would be through a Digital Technology grant provided by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, ALA/PLA Grow with Google grant, Friends of the Library, and Solano County Library Foundation. Expenses to be considered are installation of software, hardware (scanner, charging station), and technology books. Partnering with local colleges and adult schools for recruitment of volunteers would help reduce the number of hours staff would be required to run the DLLC. Electronic gadgets needed for the “petting zoo” would be donated or borrowed from staff and volunteers.
Action Steps & Timeline: 12 months
Send program proposal through proper channels for approval (1-2 months).
Once approved by administration, apply for digital technology grant, submit application for funding from Grow with Google, and approach Friends of the Library and Solano County Library Foundation.
Purchase any needed hardware, software, and equipment (2 months).
Determine where to borrow gadgets for the technology “petting zoo” (1 month).
Work with volunteers and staff to create monthly calendar and daily schedule of classes, workshops, and tutoring sessions (1 month).
Officially open the DLLC (grand opening).
Evaluation period (every 3 months for first year).
Create focus groups after 1 year.
Staffing Considerations: Volunteers would conduct most of the computer classes, however, all reference staff would be trained to teach classes when volunteers are not available. Library IT staff would be used as a last resort when volunteers and reference staff are unavailable. The DLLC would require at least 12 hours of staffing time per week, with 4 hours devoted to teaching classes and 8 hours for one-on-one tutoring. Some of the library staff hours would come from the Tech Buddies program which would transition over to the DLLC. Hours would also come from our computer docent who currently volunteers for two hours a week. Ideally, there would be a roving computer docent volunteer available during business hours, but that would depend on volunteer availability.
Training: Reference staff (3 librarians and 4 para-library professionals), two IT staff, and 3-4 volunteers would attend at least one 2-hour Grow with Google workshop and get oriented with DigitalLearn.org tools and resources for trainers. Additional training may be required depending on what type of classes are being offered. Volunteers would be required to attend a 2-hour volunteer orientation in addition to the Grow with Google workshop.
Promotion & Marketing: Marketing strategies to be used would include in-house flyers, pamphlets and bookmarks advertising the DLLC, social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube), newspaper press releases, word-of-mouth, and advertising at senior centers, adult schools, Solano Community College, and local hiring agencies. The DLLC would also be promoted at outreach events and ongoing library programs. Additional marketing support would be provided by ALA and Google once funding is secured. The Solano County Library website would also be promoting the DLLC and would incorporate DigitalLearn.org as an online resource.
The DLLC would be evaluated every 3 months for the first year. Surveys would be distributed to all users who attend classes, workshops, and one-on-one tutoring and attendance would be recorded at all classes and workshops. Staff and volunteers would also provide feedback.
After one year, focus groups would be created to gather more detailed information from users regarding the usefulness and effectiveness of the classes, workshops, tutoring, and events. Participants in the focus groups would be encouraged to share their experiences with the DLLC on the Solano County Library social media pages and website.
Results from the evaluations would determine if any changes need to be made, such as the addition or removal of classes and workshops. Based on feedback about the DLLC and new and emerging needs of the community, additional programs and resources that may be considered in the future would include a CoderDojo program for youth between the ages of 7 and 17, digital equipment (laptops and tablets) available for check out, virtual reality technology, and 3D printers. Budget considerations would also factor into the decision to expand services and resources.
While exploring the readings from Global Communities and Global Librarianship, I came across the Kista Library, which is located in Stockholm, Sweden. This library models what I consider to be the perfect library environment: one that inspires comprehensive community engagement. The Kista Library is enormous and is comprised of several distinct zones for various avenues of learning. The library includes the following sections: the Kids’ zone which has a sound-proof room used for digital story-telling and movies (the Black box), the Reading zone where users can read e-books, printed books, and audio-books in several different languages, the Lounge zone which has three digital screens displaying artwork and exhibits and includes hammocks for patrons to lounge in, the Digital zone where digital instruction and programming are offered for beginners, the Learning zone which consists of 20 rooms and a lecture hall, a stage, 22 study rooms, and a cafe. The library moved to its new location in 2014, inside of a shopping mall, and saw a 300% increase in usage (Queroz Hernandez, 2019). What a strategic way of drawing in patrons!
Needless to say, I am in awe of the Kista Library and I can see why it received the “Public Library of the Year Award” in 2015 (Model Programme for Public Libraries). What impressed me the most about this library is that it is compartmentalized to accommodate a well-diversified range of users and provides many creative ways for users to interact and engage. It houses a large selection of books in other languages, including newspapers from all over the world. Additionally, the librarians speak different languages and many are trained in IT and digital services (Queroz Hernandez, 2019).
In a perfect world all public libraries would model the Kista Library, but with budget restrictions, lack of funding, and logistics, this is not possible. The structure of this library has opened up my mind to creative ways of engaging users at my library. The idea of having a stage or a lounge with hammocks sounds intriguing. Planting a library in a shopping mall is a brilliant idea and I would love to see more libraries in commercial locations. The Kista Library has clearly demonstrated that thinking outside the box can attract more users and cultivate change.
For this week’s readings, the 21st Century
Digital Divide, by Jessamyn West, resonated with me. In this day and age,
computer literacy is no longer optional; it is becoming necessary in order to
survive. I come across patrons every day at my library that can barely type
much less navigate the Internet. These are the patrons that are trying to apply
for jobs online (and we know how tedious those online job applications can be).
I often wonder how our patrons can function without the knowledge of doing
basic tasks, such as creating new accounts, checking email, and filling out online
forms. The Internet holds so many opportunities: careers, meeting new people,
applying for financial assistance, online courses, shopping, etc. Clearly,
people with low digital literacy are being left behind in a physical world that
is shifting into more of an electronic one every day.
As technology continues to evolve, the digital divide
is going to get wider and wider. On one hand, libraries are adopting virtual
reality, digital maker labs, and streaming services such as Overdrive, yet on
the other hand there are users that don’t even know how to find or use a
browser to get on the Internet. I am very troubled by this. The irony is that I
fear I might be drifting closer to the lower end of the spectrum, as I know
very little about AI, virtual reality, and 3D printing. I do not use Siri or Alexa,
nor do I have any Nest products in my home. But those things are really just
extras. Using them can make our lives more convenient but they are not
necessary for daily living.
And then there are those individuals who would rather avoid technology altogether. Many of them are probably seniors that feel they can live without it, and that might be fine for some. But what about connecting to friends and family members far away? What about applying for SSI benefits or Medicare? Most government programs require applicants to complete online applications and for many users this can be intimidating. It has gotten to the point where seniors will have to eventually give in and join the online world. Who will they turn to for help? Libraries. Therefore, it is our job to help them every step of the way by offering resources and mentoring them to become confident, well-informed citizens.
TEDx Talks. (2011, October 16). Aleph Molinari: Let’s bridge the digital divide! [Video file]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/kaxCRnZ_CLg
The Abundant Community, written by John McKnight and Peter Block, illustrates the advantages of relying on community rather than consumerism to provide basic needs including safety, security, food, jobs, health, and well-being. Consumerism forces us to rely on systems such as government, corporations, and professionals to solve our problems and it creates the illusion that we need to be fixed and that our imperfections must be hidden. In contrast, the abundant community movement emphasizes shifting from isolation and disconnection to a culture of transparency, inclusion, compassion, and, connection. The foundation of the abundant community is the giving of gifts, the presence of association, and the compassion of hospitality (McKnight & Block, 2010). In addition to these properties, there are six basic components that make a community competent: kindness, generosity, cooperation, forgiveness, acceptance of fallibility, and mystery (McKnight & Block, 2010).
The abundant community and the participatory service model
McKnight and Block (2010) define a competent community as “one that takes advantage of its abundance, admits the realities of the human condition and the truth of decay, restoration, and growth processes that are a part of every living system. Variety, uniqueness, and appreciation for the one-of-a-kind are its essence” (p. 65). This mirrors the open and transparent approach of the participatory service model (Casey, 2011). Casey (2011) describes the participatory service library as one that “engages and queries its entire community and seeks to integrate them into the structure of change.” He elaborates further by discussing how the community should actively participate in developing new library services and ideas (Casey, 2011). The common goal here is the use of integration and openness to foster change.
Libraries as community builders
McKnight and Block (2010) describe a competent community as “the place where I can be myself by sharing my unique gifts and revealing my unique sorrows. It is where one fully emerges as one of a kind” (p. 69). In sharing, connection is cultivated and trust is built. Stephens (2016) posits the importance of using virtual and physical spaces to encourage patrons to engage, participate, and connect. Libraries can do this successfully by creating a welcoming environment where everyone feels comfortable. For example, puzzles and board games can be placed in common areas where patrons gather. Book clubs are another way patrons and library staff can connect. Users can connect virtually by sharing their stories and art via blogs, writing book and movie reviews, or joining online forums with ongoing discussions about various topics.
In order to reach out to non-library users, Stephens
(2016) suggests that we “go to them, ask them what they want and need” (p. 42).
McKnight and Block (2010) also emphasize the importance of reaching out by
knocking on doors to get community members on board. Libraries can do this by participating
in community events, setting up Little
Free Libraries throughout the community, or even hosting free concerts. This
can be accomplished virtually through interactive library websites and social
media platforms as well as blogs.
It is evident that the abundant community parallels the participatory library service model. They both share the same goal: to create an engaging environment that encourages transparency, connection, compassion, and love; to create a place where everyone is welcomed and valued. This is truly the “heart of librarianship” (Stephens, 2016).
The photo below is from today’s sermon at the church I attend. The message was about community and I felt compelled to share it since it fits right in with this report.
There seems to be a theme within the foundational readings: Change is good, change is necessary, change is inevitable. That being said, we as librarians are to embrace this change by learning about our patrons and providing resources and services that are relevant to their needs. In order to achieve this, we must strive to be open minded, flexible, and even courageous (don’t be afraid to speak up!). Casey and Savastinuk (2007) discuss how Library 2.0 is a catalyst for change in libraries and it is essential for the survival of the library. I couldn’t agree more.
I found it interesting that the Library 2.0 model does not necessarily promote the latest technology, but rather, encourages unique ways of meeting the needs of the community, be it technology, programming, social events, or services. I work at a busy public library where I spend a significant amount of time assisting patrons with basic computer tasks such as logging into email, saving documents on a flash drive, creating new user accounts, printing, and scanning. It is obvious that this community is not tech savvy and would not benefit from a 3D printer (although, we do have them at one of our other branches). We have recently added circulating WiFi Hot Spots that patrons can check out for up to 3 weeks. The Hot Spots are very popular and there is currently a hold list of over 200 people. By offering Hot Spots, the library is providing opportunities for people to develop their computer skills, gain access to jobs, connect with friends and family, apply for government assistance, and the list goes on and on. This indicates there is a great need for Internet access beyond the walls of the library. Perhaps one day free Internet will be accessible everywhere through global satellite internet.
I stumbled across an article in American Libraries magazine that shares tips and tools on how to use the latest technology to reach out to patrons (Marcotte, 2019). One of the tools that was mentioned is DigitalLearn.org, a free Public Library Association website that offers basic online instruction on topics such as how to use a computer, navigate a website, search the Internet, and use email. Additionally, it provides courses on Internet safety, using social media, using a mobile device, and it even offers courses that teach users how to search for jobs online and create a resume. Resources like this should be promoted in all libraries, especially those representing users with low socioeconomic status who are more likely to have limited digital skills. It is imperative to provide the necessary tools to help patrons become more confident with technology and use it to change their lives. Change doesn’t have to happen overnight, but it is an ongoing phenomenon that we must embrace in our field of work.
Casey, M. E., & Savastinuk, L. C. (2007). Library 2.0: A guide to participatory library service. Medford, NJ: Information Today, Inc.
Greetings! My name is Sharon and I am beginning my 3rd and final year as a MLIS grad student. The very first course I took, INFO 200 with Dr. Stephens, left a permanent imprint in my mind about how libraries are constantly evolving, and that is why I am here. This semester I am looking forward to soaking up as much information as I can about emerging technologies and how they can be integrated into the library community. As someone who is always trying to think outside the box, I am eager to see what this semester has in store for me and I have no doubt that my mind will be opened up to new ideas, opportunities, and adventures.
I was born and raised in Castro Valley, CA, located in the S.F. Bay Area. After 35 years I migrated to Winters which is a small town about 40 minutes from Sacramento. Along with my husband of 7 years, I reside with my 17-year old daughter, 14-year old stepson, our dog Gizmo, and two geckos. I am also a step-grandmother to three boys ages 1, 3, and 10. Needless to say there is never a dull moment!
I earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology in 1998 at Cal State East Bay (CSU Hayward back then). I enrolled in the SJSU MLIS program in 2005 and successfully completed one course during what had to be one of the most difficult times of my life: I had to move unexpectedly, I was pregnant with twins, and my 2-year old daughter got diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. It was my daughter’s diagnosis that made me decide not to continue with the MLIS program. Fast forward 14 years later and here I am returning to fulfill my dream of becoming a librarian. My ultimate goal is to become a medical or public health librarian or possibly a Disaster Information Specialist (not exactly a typical MLIS career pathway).
Other Interesting Facts
I worked as a prison guard in a men’s prison for nearly 5 years. I’ve been a surrogate mother three times and birthed two sets of twins and a singleton to three different couples. I’m obsessed with Disneyland and I had the privilege of dining at the infamous Club 33 back in 2003. In my spare time I enjoy reading various fiction books, dancing (ballet especially), community outreach, watching old movies and TV shows, researching random things on the Internet, and spending time with my husband, daughter, and stepson.