We need to talk more, enough with all this shhhh!

I have only attended one Professional Development day and that was earlier this year. From the half dozen lectures and events throughout the two days, there was one common theme throughout, a one (or two person) presentation with little to no audience participation, aside from the time near the end of the demonstration devoted for questions. Each lecture followed the same criteria: a librarian would present a service, event, or change implemented at their library, how it positively, or negatively affected the rest of the library, and how the audience could incorporate the same services, etc. at their own insitutitions. 

It’s not as bad as it sounds, despite the multiple hour to hour-and-a-half long lectures, they were extremely interesting, and very informative. That being said, after reading Stephen’s article (2018), “PLEs @ ALA”, I cannot help but wonder what a PD day would be like in an atmosphere that is completely different,  relaxed and open to brainstorming and informal communications. 

“Organizers have recognized that people want to be active, exchange ideas, and be challenged by one another.”

People have ideas. People dream. People think. But, not all people have the opportunity to share these ideas. Some people are shy. Some people are ignored. Some just don’t get the opportunity to speak up. 

There are many obstacles that prevent people from sharing their ideas. Those same obstacles can prevent other human connections from forming: friendship, trust, collaboration, and accountability. I cannot help but think how amazing it would be to sit down in a room full of librarians and be able to actively engage and share ideas with. I mean, how often do librarians, or any other employees in other fields, get the opportunity to share their ideas and get a reasonable, welcoming, and entertaining audience who is more than excited to offer feedback and work alongside you to see your idea possibly reach fruition?

So why are the participants attending these PD events (and other related activities) becoming more open and willing to collaborate and are actively seeking opportunities to share their ideas? I couldn’t help thinking that communication, internal communication and the inadequacy of both in the workplace, have been slowly leading to this participatory explosion among librarians. From experience and observations, communication is one of the most challenging, ignored, and undeveloped skills in many institutions and places of business. 

    Poor communication offers the following for employees:

  • Employees have no opportunity to provide input and suggestions
  • Employees struggle when working together
  • Employees feel undervalued, not important
  • Employees don’t know what is happening, what services they are supposed to be providing or have ceased to provide
  • Employees become dissatisfied with their working environment, which then affects their work and their duration of employment

While I believe library events would definitely benefit from more engagement with the attendees, I also believe that this observation from event organizers have revealed a larger issue: There are not enough opportunities in the actual workplace available to employees for collaboration, idea sharing, communication. While organizers work towards reinventing professional development from lecture-based instruction to hands-on, informal, brainstorming “focus groups”, employers really need to focus on addressing communication in the workplace. 

I’ll stop here and offer one possible communications solution that my supervisor and I have been toying with and are in the process of writing a proposal for (so as to hopefully implement it in our daily dealings with each other). Discord, the online, social media and gaming platform. That’s right, we are trying to get all of our library staff actively involved in Discord, a place where we can share information and links with each other, whether we are in the office or not, and a place where we can store and archive information for later use. If you haven’t tried it, check it out. I was actually introduced to Discord by another iSchool student. We have shared multiple classes over the last year and a half and have utilized Discord as a way to keep in touch with each other as we work on projects (both individually and in groups) and have used that platform to encourage each other and share additional school related information, i.e. to inform each other on upcoming registration dates (like the class registration that opened earlier this week.) 

What are some other ways or technologies that could be utilized to open up communication in the workplace?

ReferenceStephens, M. (25 October, 2018). PLEs @ALA. [Web blog post.] Retrieved from https://www.libraryjournal.com/?detailStory=ljx181002newsOfficeHours

Okay, so phones are pretty useful…

I was a teenanger when cell phones really exploded on to the scene. Middle school offered flip phones and semi-flat, sleek smartphones that were nowhere near as smart as today’s phones. But what I am getting at is, I have seen what the mobile phone explosion did to my age group, it reshaped everything about the way we communicated and it actually broke down barriers, while constructing a few in the process. I have always thought these new technologies have been more effective at alienating people and destroying the idea of face-to-face communication and relationships. I took those thoughts and constructed a personal hate for some of these technological innovations. 

I am going to admit something. I was wrong about technology. Its great. 

Something that has resonated with me lately, mobile devices are excellent resources for growth and learning and collaboration. I keep my phone on myself nearly 90% of the day and probably use it just as much. I keep in constant interaction with information through the podcasts I listen to, use different apps to check my emails and watch lectures for iSchool, and have recently worked alongside another librarian to incorporate the use of the social-gaming network, Discord, as a resource to strengthen internal communication among staff. My opinions towards technological have begun to evolve.

There was one item I wanted to address before concluding my thoughts on our most recent modules. From a historian’s perspective, while reading “Smartphone ownership is growing rapidly around the world, but not always equally”, it was stated that “In most emerging economies…ownership rates [of smartphones] across all age groups tend to be lower than those seen in advanced economies” (Silver, 2019). My question: If developed countries have a wider access to information and the ability to create information on greater platforms, what will this mean for the history and the future of third world, developing countries? What information will be lost because of a lack of access to new technology? What information will be manipulated by other countries? What if those countries aren’t friendly? Will unequal access to technological innovations create a skewed, unequal history of the world? Not that history is balanced in the first place, nevertheless, I am sure the future will witness the loss of cultural and social histories of some groups of people due to this unequal mobile access.

Reference

Silver, L. (2019). Smartphone ownership is growing rapidly around the world, but not always equally. Retrieved from https://www.pewresearch.org/global/2019/02/05/smartphone-ownership-is-growing-rapidly-around-the-world-but-not-always-equally/

Gamifying games: an academic library’s approach to embracing fun to encourage the future success of our students

Goals/Objectives for Technology or Service:

Books are awesome, but they are no longer the dominant focus of the library; let’s be honest, were they ever really? After reading Joe Hardenbrook’s short blog (2019) about an academic library’s success in creating a food pantry for students, I was inspired to find other areas of student life and the college campus experience that could be amplified through a library-led service. One thing I have learned from the readings during this semester, especially Hardenbrooks blog, is that libraries are not just places for studying and reading books. Students don’t realize this, sometimes librarians fail to realize this as well. As librarians, we should be showing students not only what the library is, but what it can be.

I work in the library of a small, private college (Emory and Henry) located in rural Southwest Virginia. Years of budget cuts, staff layoffs, and stagnant, library tradition have frozen this library in the last century. The idea that the library is a makerspace and that librarians can offer services that do not necessarily involve the usage of books, is slowly starting to creep its way through the staff, but it has been a slow process. This past year, I have been working with a librarian to make our strategic planning meetings more enjoyable, constructive, and worthwhile. Our director has noted that so far staff communication and engagement concerning strategic planning has been exceptional, she hasn’t had to prod us for ideas, everyone is willing and WANTS to share their thoughts. I attribute this success to the inclusion of games during each meeting. Employees are now constantly expressing how they “cannot wait” for the next strategic planning meeting. 

This reaction has inspired me to embrace gaming and gamification to create a new service for the library’s user community. Games and gaming have been suggested as possible ways for librarians to connect with students, as a way to open up communication and increase user involvement with library planning and to increase overall usage of the library’s other services. The Emory and Henry Library needs its students, the students need the library, but currently there are no services or actions being taken that demonstrate those needs exist. Students think the library is just for books. My goal is to recreate the library and its staff into something unexpected. A source of fun and games on campus. 

How? Hosting game days in the library. All day events, twice a month during Fall and Spring semester, where students can go and come as they please, interact and play with other community members and library staff in an informal, comfortable setting that encourages social growth, creates new avenues of communication between librarian and user, and removes any physical or psychological barriers that may have unknowingly been the cause of the decline in library use. These game days can include a variety of game types and genres, from “just-for-fun”, to topical games that cover themes like library instruction, critical thinking skills and career development, and other items chosen for specific learning objectives. 

 As a companion to the game days, and a service that can be made available year-long, the development of mobile app gamifying student’s campus life will be spearheaded by the library, but may require a collaborative effort between the college’s IT department and a third-party game developer. This mobile app would rely on an experience and level up system of play, where the user (student) is given different tasks to perform daily and upon completion, is awarded experience points. “Players” level up, earn badges and title that represent different achievements, and can share those achievements so that others can see. Tasks could range from finishing a homework assignment, visiting the library, or meeting someone new. 

In a college campus where more often than not, a student is complaining that “there is nothing to do” or “nothing fun on campus,” this gaming and gamification service is the perfect opportunity for the library not only to become the central hub on campus, but demonstrate (to students and administration) that their primary concern is the students that they serve. It may appear all fun and games, but this service is intended to better prepare students for once they finish their studies and enter into the career force. 

“The most significant help you can provide your users is to add value and meaning to the information experience, wherever it happens…” (Schneider, 2006). 

Expected Outcomes:

    Social growth (being comfortable and able to appropriately and significantly add to the conversation/ environment.)

    Opportunity to interact with differing perspectives

    Library Awareness (offering a chance for engaging conversations between student and librarian)

    Community Awareness/ Breaking down barriers (In a comfortable, semi-formal environment, these games offer the opportunity for conversations to spark, people who may not have known each other beforehand become better acquainted, everyone begins to learn new things about people in their community.)

    Development of collaboration and critical thinking skills

    Retention (for college admissions and enrollment)

Description of Community you wish to engage:

It is my intention that through the implementation of this project, the library will have better extended its reach to the entire campus community, with an emphasis on appealing to and engaging with the student body, but in no way excluding the participation of the institution’s faculty and staff.

Action Brief Statement: 

Convince students that by attending and participating in gaming events in the library and by downloading and participating in the companion phone app, they will discover that the library is a place for community growth and engagement, collaboration, and fun which will encourage student retention and library awareness because the library cares about its user community and strives to be more than a storage place for books.

Convince library staff and administration that through the implementation of gaming and gamification in the library, they will discover a new means to promoting critical thinking and reinventing the current library into a welcoming, comfortable, safe space which will increase library usage, create a lasting experience for students, and also prepare students for life after college because the current and future success of students depends on the actions done by the library and college employees.

Evidence and Resources to support Technology or Service: 

Articles:

Mallon, M. (2013). Gaming and gamification. Public Services Quarterly, 9. Retrieved from https://doi-org.libaccess.sjlibrary.org/10.1080/15228959.2013.815502 

Mallon, M. (2013). Gaming and gamification part II. Public Services Quarterly, 9. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1080/15228959.2013.842403 

Walker, C. (27 June, 2019). Gamification in the library – Level one. [Web blog post]. Retrieved from https://aislnews.org/gamification-in-the-library-level-one/

Game programs and examples:

Keeler, A. (5 November, 2014). Gamification: Creating a level up for your students. Retrieved from https://alicekeeler.com/2014/11/05/gamification-creating-a-level-up-for-your-students/ 

Coursera. https://www.coursera.org/#course/gamification

Open Badges.  http://www.openbadges.org 

Training:

Safe Zone training. https://thesafezoneproject.com

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

As with the creation and implementation of any service on an academic campus, that service must abide not only by the mission and policies of the library, but also that of the entire institution. Failure to meet the college’s standards and expectations will likely guarantee that this service will not be adopted.

For the gaming portion:

    Library staff will be tasked with creating procedures/policy for game selection. While the games are not necessarily required to fit within a particular genre or offer specific learning outcomes, a process of review should be considered. Not all games would be considered appropriate, even in a college setting. As these activities will involve employee/student interactions, care will be taken to avoid including any games that could produce uncomfortable or potentially harmful (physically and emotionally) results.

For the mobile app:

    Privacy will be of utmost importance when creating a mobile app that will allow users to share and communicate with other users. Policies will have to be created to ensure that the mobile app and creating company does not violate user privacy. For this concern, librarians will need to work alongside any third-party groups to ensure that users’ information remains secure and is not being sold or provided to outside sources. 

 Funding Considerations for this Technology or Service: 

    Staff Time: Depending on the preparation required, which should primarily consist of the selection and set up for “game days”, the library director should expect staff to actively participate in games. Staff can either select or be assigned specific times to engage with the event, or the library director may devote the entire work day to interacting with the participants. 

    Grants and Donations: For the library to be able to supply a large selection of gaming materials for the physical events, the director or project leader may consider researching if grants are available. Grants could also be useful for kickstarting the development of the mobile app, although for both parts of this projection, the director may consider allocating some of the library’s budget to cover any recurring costs.

Action Steps & Timeline: 

The start date for this service (including the release of the mobile game) will coincide with the Fall 2020 Semester start date. If we begin preparing at the beginning of November, we should have everything ready and everyone trained by Summer.

for Game days:

Selecting and purchasing games can be added to the library’s collection development policy. Projects for student assistants in the remainder of the Fall 2019 semester, and upcoming Spring, could include preparation and additional research into gamification and what games are best for a college crowd.

While preparation for this aspect of the service will be ongoing and needs to be governed by several library staff, the only other preparation of dire importance is staff communication and diversity training. As the college already offers employees these programs on an annual basis, staff that are not already trained, will be able to attend these courses before the semester begins. 

Of course, we can begin preparing now and test run a few game days during the Spring semester. Doing this will allow staff to gauge student interest in such a service and allow for student, faculty, and administrative input. This will give users the chance to tell us what they want to see from the service.

for Mobile App*:

The mobile app will probably be the most difficult aspect of this project. Approval will be needed from the Library Director and depending on college policy, this portion of the project may require discussion with the administration. Feasibly, the approval process could be finished by the end of the year. This would give the library two months to research and locate potential games designers, come up with cost estimates, and begin brainstorming design and gameplay ideas.

Game development needs to begin the first of the new year, as it can take anywhere from 3 to 6 months to create a well-developed app. This will give library staff ample amount of time to learn how to use the program.

*one consideration to keep in mind: not all students and community members have a cellular device. During the planning phase, and ideally this is discussed with the Director and others involved, that an additional resource should be considered so as to not exclude anyone.

 Staffing Considerations for this Technology or Service: 

For gaming events days: 

    Staffing is not necessary, although in order to meet all of the desired objectives, the success of this service will benefit from staff support and participation. As previously mentioned, staff participation can be all-day, or scheduled for portions of the event. As far as monitoring the event and resolving any questions of issues that may arise, as well as making sure everything is running smoothly, student workers can be utilized, not only as an extra set of eyes, but as promoters and participants in the games.

For the gamification mobile app:

Although the programs exists that could enable the librarians to create their own mobile app from scratch, the app’s creation will be assigned to an outside organization. As for any monitoring that may be required, that is a service that can also be included as part of the contract between the library and the creating organization. Employees will also actively be using the app, so any issues or concerns with this gamification service should reach librarians attention in no time.

 Training for this Technology or Service:  

While library staff will be expected to know how the mobile app works and be able to provide basic assistance for students seeking help. As this app will provide another point of communication access between students and librarians, all library staff will be required to use the app. That doesn’t mean staff will be required to actively engage with the gaming portion of the app, but they should make an effort to actively communicate and maintain a library presence in the virtual space. This will undoubtedly be an ongoing process. A basic training session will be provided prior to making this service available. 

Communication training is a must. One of the primary objectives of this service is to create new outlets for communication between students and staff. We want to know what students need from the library, what they want, and sometimes students just want someone to talk to. In order to ensure staff feel comfortable and that they are able to appropriately address any number of topics and ideas that may arise, each employee must attend programs on diversity and inclusion,including Safe Zone training . 

Promotion & Marketing for this Technology or Service:

There are several options available for E&H Library staff for in-house promotion of this service. The library’s web page would be a reasonable and obvious outlet to spreading the word about a new service and should definitely be utilized, however the Library’s Facebook, even in its current state (growth is slow and there has been little effort to take advantage of this resource) may prove more effective at spreading the word. If anything, this would offer the chance for the Library’s Facebook page to become a more efficient source of information and activity within the community. Unrolling new technologies such as interactive blogs are another way the library can spread the word and become more modernized and up-to-date.

Bulletin boards and television displays within the library are another promotional tool that should be utilized. And of course, physical communication can not be ignored. Sometimes students are more receptive to an idea if they hear about it in person, instead seeing a piece of paper or online post. 

There are also several options for campus-wide promotion and advertisement outside of the library. The Mass Communication and Student Life Departments should be contacted as not only could they provide promotional services, but may even offer to work alongside the library during the actual creation and implementation of this new service. They may offer additional sources of revenue and staff to ensure that this service project reaches its full potential. Other areas that could be used for marketing include Greek Life, the school newspaper, and the library’s student assistants. 

Evaluation: (What benchmarks and performance metrics will you use to evaluate the technology or service.  What stories are you envisioning telling about it? How might you expand the service in the future?)

Statistics will be used to reflect the success, or failure of marketing efforts and student interest and can be obtained through library gate and physical counts of participants during each “Game Day”. For the mobile app librarians should be able to see how many times the app was downloaded each semester/year and how often it gets used. Users of the mobile app will also have a place to leave feedback and express what does and doesn’t work.  

Online surveys and “suggestion boxes” would be used to evaluate whether this service is meeting its stated objectives and that participants are benefitting from its use. Performing before and after surveys/questionnaires would allow librarians to compare entering freshmen’s expectations and apprehensions of attending college, and offer those students a chance to share what this program has done to help them, or in what areas it came up short.

For the Future: 

Try to make this a campus-wide event (game day, all day, everywhere on campus)

    Continue updating and adding new things to the app, create an “after graduation” version of the app so that former students can continue to participate and grow

Reference

Schneider, K.G. The user is not broken: A meme masquerading as a manifesto. Retrieved from  http://freerangelibrarian.com/2006/06/03/the-user-is-not-broken-a-meme-masquerading-as-a-manifesto/

Hardenbrook, J. (13 September, 2019). Starting a food pantry in an academic library. [Web blog post]. Retrieved from https://mrlibrarydude.wordpress.com/2019/09/13/starting-a-food-pantry-in-an-academic-library/

Discussion #3: Because we care, we provide more than books

To think that I spent my childhood, teenage years, and now my young adult life, in the library and yet never once thought the library could be anything more than a place to store books. That said, it should be of no surprise that as each week progresses through LIS school, I am discovering another new approach to library services, and I am learning that a job in the library means a lot more than just books on a shelf!

So what has sparked my curiosity this week?

There are more ways than currently imaginable for a library to serve its users. 
In his blog post, Joe Hardenbrook (2019) described the creation of a community-run food pantry for students. He, along with his fellow librarians, noticed that some students weren’t eating (time constraints and lack of food/funding were several factors pointed out) and they wanted to come up with a way to help. They initiated a food pantry in the library, did so without seeking consultation or permission, knowing that this was a great idea and a great way to give back to the community. This was a great way to demonstrate that the library is a place for students and that the library provides more services that circulation transactions and interlibrary loans. 

Other services that stood out in the readings were the provision of rest areas (nap pods) and the furniture and library’s layout in conjunction with the user’s information and research needs. Stress fairs are another example of a library services, yet how often do we think of these kinds of services? Surprise! Not all library services have to be about the library and books. 

For example, I believe that smiling, greeting, and engaging in conversation with library patrons is a service and not just in our job description. This has been a struggle for me, I am extremely introverted and have never been a big fan of smiling. However, simple gestures like that go a long way, it makes connections, makes patrons feel comfortable in the library and when/if they need help, and it keeps them coming back. I have definitely noticed a larger number of frequent users coming into the library this semester, many happy faces, and many of these patrons will actually seek out conversation; they want to get to know the people who are going to help them find the resources they need. 

If a simple hello is enough to keep a user coming back to the library, imagine what else we could do to get people through the door. It feels good when someone shows they care and are there to help. And that was a huge takeaway during this week’s module. Librarians want to help wherever they can, however they can. They want to see their users succeed, they want to see their users happy, healthy, and successful. 

I don’t really want to be a parent, never have wanted to, yet I am starting to figure out that librarians are very much like parents; striving to make sure they provide the best of the best for their patrons so that those patrons can go out into the world and make something of themselves. That is a lot of responsibility and I am actually excited for it. 

Bring a wookiee, because change is not a process you want to do solo.


Pardon the Star Wars joke, but as I have just recently finished a Star Wars/Librarian themed display at work, I cannot resist. In all seriousness, I am starting to realize why iSchool courses strive to make learning a collaborative experience. Once we become librarians, and even now for those of us employed at libraries, it will be/is expected of us not only to work with other library staff, but also to be able to engage in open discussions and be able to share ideas with other administrators, faculty, public service employees, students and other youth, and the list goes on of potential community participants. We have to work together. We have to change together. I really enjoyed reading Young’s article (2017) on participatory design and it makes sense!  How do librarians know what to include in their building and as a service? How about asking the people who you intend to serve what they want to see in their local library? What do students want? It’s not just the books and a quiet place, they want more. 

As I read Young’s words, he mentioned the use of games “to help generate ideas for solving [problems]” (2017).  While I have had experience using “game brainstorming” with my fellow employees, I have already seen how effective “gamifying” can be, but I hadn’t considered including students in a similar setting. Whose says librarians can’t have fun? Long gone are the days of angry librarians monitoring the stacks, just waiting for that unknowing student to make the slightest sound before pouncing on them with a barrage of “shushing” that is just as loud, if not louder than the student.  

Reference


Hardenbrook, J. (13 September, 2019). Starting a Food Pantry in an Academic Library. [Web blog post]. Retrieved from https://mrlibrarydude.wordpress.com/2019/09/13/starting-a-food-pantry-in-an-academic-library/


Young, S. (2017). Participatory designs in action | The user experience. Retrieved from https://www.libraryjournal.com/?detailStory=participatory-design-action-user-experience#_

It’s nothing new, social media has always been a big deal

How new is social media? Given the definition provided by Merriam-Webster, “forms of electronic communication (such as websites for social networking and microblogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content” (2019), one could justly assume that social media is a fairly new concept relying solely on the applications and system software of electronic devices, the internet, and the large number of online users. Writing on the Wall: Social media–The first 2,000 years by Tom Standage (2013) leaves the reader with a different understanding of what social media is and how long it has existed. If one were to attempt to recreate this definition to include the information Standage reveals in his book, social media would not be a construct solely-dependent on online collaboration. Instead, social media would be defined as the steps taken and the devices or techniques used (not limited to an online format) by humans to communicate with one another and to share information over large distances. In other words, social media was created to answer: how do we get information from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’ in the simplest way possible? With this new definition, social media becomes a concept that has existed since humans first began to communicate with each other.

So what does any of this have to do with the library? Standage’s book is undeniably a history text, however, while it provides many details and facts about major events and historical accounts, the author’s primary intention was to reveal the high demand information has always experienced, pointing out groups (such as governments) that try to suppress this information, and the ingenious methods people came up with in order to continue to spread information to friends, family, everyone. Standage includes well-known methods such as the telephone and the television, but also describes the spread of information via graffiti and through the act of sneaking folded messages into the pockets of unsuspecting community members (2013). For libraries, it is all about getting users to the information they want, but with the shift towards internet technologies, “who needs a library today, when it is possible” to discover almost anything “without even getting out of bed” (Denning, 2015). 

The most important idea conveyed by Tom Standage is that information and communication (social media) are dependent on the other and that both are constantly evolving. We can observe, in history, how the idea of social media has evolved and how its recent innovations have only been attempts to improve the means for information to be passed from creator to user, not to make the library irrelevant. After all, we have social media to thank for paper, printing, books, basically the very existence of the library (Standage, 2013). As librarians try to prepare their collections and institutions for the future and as the rest of the population grapples with this evolution, Tom provides four key takeaways important to understanding the information profession and to understanding how our world works:

1. Humans rely on communication

2. Humans are constantly seeking information

3. Information is important, the more information the better

4. Humans are constantly finding new ways to share information quicker and to a wider audience (Stadage, 2013).

Steve Denning (2015) offers librarians five questions to consider when trying to manage a library in this new age:

  1. How do we make our users happy?
  2. How do we maintain continuous innovation?
  3. How can we make services more convenient and less expensive?
  4. What hasn’t been invented yet that could make information seeking even easier?
  5. What do users continue to like about the library? 

These questions reinforce the idea that a successful library is one that focuses on the needs and wants of their users and as Standage points out time and time again, people want information, as much information they can get their hands on, and they want to use social media to discover and share even more.

People have always relied on communication for daily activities, to expand their knowledge, to encourage creativity, and inspire innovation. This has always been the world of communication and the dissemination of information. Librarians have been misled into thinking they need to compete with technology, yet the very goal of technology has been to improve the social media medium for communication and research to become easier than it has ever been. As I progressed through the remaining pages in this book, I believe I was being led down a path that revealed a hopeful message: information relies on communication, communication relies on information; the larger the audience, the greater the effect information can have on society and society wants this; therefore future technology will continue to strive to improve human communication and librarians will strive to incorporate these technologies, further improving their collections and services (Standage, 2013). The library is built on everything discussed up to this point, communication and information cannot exist without the other, and the library requires both in order to serve its community efficiently. Because librarians can observe this cycle in Writing on the Wall, change is no longer a surprise or something to be feared, it can be expected and librarians can learn from the past to avoid making the same mistakes of their predecessors and in order to prepare their institutions for the future.

Reference

Denning, S. (2015). Do we need libraries? Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/stevedenning/2015/04/28/do-we-need-libraries/?utm_campaign=ForbesTech&utm_source=TWITTER&utm_medium=social&utm_channel=Technology&linkId=13831539#6ae2dad6cd7f

Merriam-Webster. (2019). Social media. Retrieved from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/social%20media
Standage, T. (2013). Writing on the wall: Social media–the first 2,000 years [E-reader version]. Retrieved from https://www.amazon.com/Writing-Wall-Social-Media-First/dp/1620402831

Writing on the wall photograph.(n.d.) Retrieved from http://media.bloomsbury.com/rep/bj/9781408842065.jpg

Discussion #2: Don’t forget about books

There was one quote in particular from our reading for the week that really stuck out to me, taken from Brian Kenney’s article, “Three ways publishers and libraries can work better together” (2016), it reads:


“What today’s library elite seems to forget is that reading is a maker activity–and a profound one. When a reader engages with a text, her own experiences interact with the narrative to create something entirely new. This makes reading so rewarding: we each create our own distinct version of the books we read.”


It was a refreshing step back (but not in the wrong direction!), reading Kenney’s words. I started my graduate classes, this time last year, and I can no longer keep up with the list of changes, ideas, improvements, and discussions that have revolved around the notion that the library is a constantly evolving organism. There are a great many changes happening within and to libraries. Kenney reminds us that, in the midst of new technologies, new services, new formats, new programs, and new collaborative ideas and creations that will get librarians and community members working together, we need to take a moment to appreciate and recognize the library services that are currently practiced. 

For me, personally, Kenney’s article has given me a reason to pause and reflect on the vision I have always associated with the library, as a place to read. My main reason for focusing on this quote was the last sentence, “we each create our own distinct version of the books we read.” The idea that a single book could have an endless amount of interpretation and meaning is completely fascinating. Taken a step further, books dictate the many ways we approach the world around us, the choices we make, the laws and ethics/morals we live by, every aspect of life is based off someone’s interpretation of information. Because of the popularity and longevity of books, can we also take a moment to consider how to get more people interacting with information this way? What are some things librarians can do to make reading more appealing to our community? Does the library provide any outlets for patrons to discuss these books with each other, to interact with the versions that others have created and to share our own insight?

Ever since I sat down in my Info-200 class and focused on information communities and the user experience, along with this new talk about maker spaces, all I have focused on were what new ideas and technologies I could integrate into the library’s services. I have always loved books, loved reading, but this idea of books still being an important part of the library had been pushed to the back burner. Focus must be on computers, databases, electronic resources, software for designing and creation, a louder library, the interactive catalogue, more open collaboration areas. I will stop there and just say how relieving it is for someone to remind us that books haven’t gone anywhere and don’t appear to be going anywhere anytime soon. 

Reference

Kenney, B. (2014). The user is (still) not broken. Retrieved from https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/libraries/article/60780-the-user-is-still-not-broken.html

Discussion #1: Change is in the air

From the foundational readings, and I will also admit there may be some influence from the book I am reading, Writing on the Wall: Social Media–The First 2,000 Years, intermixed throughout this post, there is one particular theme that kept coming up, concerning change in the library, that continues to bother me as it obviously bothers those writing these materials. It is librarians’ reluctance to change. People are always looking for new ways to access and share information and over the last few millennia we can trace the evolution of record keeping and how quickly each technique was adopted and embraced. The use of papyrus, paper-making, the invention of the printing press, the postal service, telephony have all played a part in the spread and creation of information and each invention seemed to be readily grasped by everyone, in some manner or other (Standage, 2013). Yet here we are presently at a crossroads with the path towards technological innovation to our left and traditional library services to our right. And which path do librarians choose to follow? The path of least resistance, the ways in which they were taught, the traditional “Paper Library” path to the right. As Buckland points out, “people worry…about the advantages and disadvantages of using computers” but for items/materials they are familiar (paper!), little attention is given (Buckland, 1992). It perplexes me to no end that librarians have become content with their services even when the rest of the world is crying for change. Here are just a few of the reasons librarian should be jumping for joy over the innovations that come with the Electronic age:

  • “Electronic documents are not localized” (Buckland, 1992).
  • Multiple people can use a document at once.
  • Easy to copy, easy to edit.
  • Storage is no longer a matter of shelf space. 

Now, when you ask someone in the library profession what their mission is, they will typically respond, “to serve our users to our best ability by providing them with the best access to as much information as is available/possible.” Why then, are librarians so fearful of change, when change appears to open up a door librarians have been searching for for centuries? Let’s face it, new technology is inevitable, it’s going to keep coming and if libraries don’t open their doors it will pass on by, leaving libraries in its dust.  

Taking a step away from the changes that are facing the library, I want to get personal and provide my experiences in working in a library for over five years. This reflection is sparked by Brian Mathew’s discussion on staff collaboration and teamwork in Cultivating Complexity.While I would love to copy and paste his section on “Co-Discovery & Co-Development” for you to read, I will at least provide a few important concepts:

Guidance is key when working as a team, not a machine.

Explain why, do not simply issue new commands to implement change.

Let staff experiment with solutions.

Let the staff be involved, feedback and brainstorming are key. (Mathews, 2017).

For me personally, I have been able to see a team of workers function in an environment plagued with drastic budget cuts and staff layoffs. I have also been able to watch this same team, over the last year, evolve with the help of a new Director and new Tech Services Librarian. We (the team) are currently in the middle of strategic planning (working on our SWOT analysis at the moment) and with the guidance of our director, each member has been given the chance in helping with the development of planning and each is sought out for active participation and brainstorming. The Director has shown interest in getting the library staff working together as a team, something we (at least since I’ve been there) have failed to do (typically each staff person would focus solely on their daily duties that helped keep the library open, but as far as growth and community involvement, there was little to none). As things begin to change I can feel excitement buzzing through the staff, including myself, as I look forward to being able to use the library skills I am learning in iSchool to help expand the library’s reach and use. At this point I feel as if I am teasing by bringing this up again, but the strategic gamification that I am co-working on at the moment is a result from active listening and guidance between Director and employee, and she has supported us the whole way. She is actually responsible for us focusing on strategic planning as the subject for our games and I must admit, the experience has been the most eye-opening and helpful. Change is happening and I am glad to be a part of it.

Here is a picture of one of the games we made. I will also include the instructional Powtoons we created for it. 

“They made it their own and, thankfully, I listened” Mathews, 2017).

Reference
Alley, A. & Hanshew, J. (2019). Emory & Henry library trivia. [YouTube video]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QFPW76gMt0U
Buckland, M. (1992). Redesigning library services: A manifesto. Retrieved from http://digitalassets.lib.berkeley.edu/sunsite/Redesigning%20Library%20Services_%20A%20Manifesto%20(HTML).pdf
Mathews, B. (2017). Cultivating complexity: How I stopped driving the innovation train and started planting seeds in the community garden. Retrieved from https://vtechworks.lib.vt.edu/handle/10919/78886
Standage, T. (2013). Writing on the wall: Social media–the first 2,000 years [E-reader version]. Retrieved from https://www.amazon.com/Writing-Wall-Social-Media-First/dp/1620402831

Blog#1 Introduction

Greetings! I am Adam and I am from Abingdon, Virginia, a small town that is caught between wanting to preserve it’s historicity yet expand with the growing trends and development of nearby cities. With the heavy influence of history, primarily the Revolutionary and Civil wars, that dominate the interests of the majority, it is of no surprise that I majored in History as an undergrad, before making my way to library science. I was raised and encouraged in my interests of history and book reading and spent most of my time in the library.

My hobbies include writing, currently an historical-fiction novel about a German soldier and his friends during the Second World War, as well as poetry when inspiration strikes. I also enjoy bird watching and spent several years of extensive field research with my younger brother (“real life” got in the way and we have since stopped). I also have an extensive collection of primarily Star Wars memorabilia but have expanded to include Marvel items and Anime (we all have that one, or several, quirky things we enjoy).

Currently I am employed at a small, private college, Emory and Henry, and just this week received my five year recognition pin! It has been an enjoyable experience and is the very reason I find myself in iSchool. I work as a Tech Service and Circulation Assistant and, with the change in Director and also a new Tech Service Supervisor, I have been able to get experience in many areas of the library’s services. I am currently working with a fellow librarian in trying to gamify strategic planning in the library. I can now attest to how difficult and time consuming it can be to make a game, but the participation we have seen so far, and the more open communication has been, has been worth it.

This is my second year at SJSU, I just finished up my Summer courses and am excited for this semester. While my focus so far has been the duties of Reference and Collection Development librarians, it would be a mistake not to take a course addressing the ever-changing nature of the library, and information. I am hopeful that this class will present new ways to provide library service and that I will find myself using these new techniques at my own place of work.

I look forward to this class and wish everyone the best.

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