I labored for a long time about what I would do for this project. How does one even begin to narrow down the many ideas covered in this semester? Finally, I landed on the idea of people as the center of library service. That’s why I’m here, so let me take a crack at narrowing that down. I see three main branches to that idea. 1. Make the library space safe and inviting. 2. Make people part of the library by sharing their actual stories. 3. Make libraries a place of not just inquiry but also action through makerspaces and other creative opportunities.

So, with these ideas in mind, I set about making an infographic to convey these things. I’ve made one with hyperlinks throughout that have links to some of the incredible reading we did this semester. There are also links to additional gems I think are worth looking at.

Thank you all for a wonderful semester! I’ve appreciated your thoughtful comments and feedback. I’ve also really enjoyed many of the blog posts I was able to read. This is a class of exciting and interesting people and I am glad to have been a small part of it.

Check out my infographic at the link below for a better image and access to the hyperlinks:–infographic


Director’s Brief- Unstaffed Library Hours

Image retrieved from:

Here is a link to a short presentation I’ve put together for this topic:

Objective or Topic:

There are four main objectives to this briefing:

  1. Demonstrate added value in library services
  2. Stretch a limited library budget
  3. Create an ease of access for all library patrons
  4. Meet community needs

These four objectives can be met and exceeded by offering unstaffed before and/or after-hours access to the library building and its contents. This unstaffed library service is modeled after the Open+ service used in over 800 libraries worldwide (Zulkey, 2019).


Covid-19 has flipped library services on its ear. It is the job of library leadership to make sense of the current circumstances and seek opportunities to extend service to their communities. Many libraries are closed for traditional services or have been required to modify the few operational services into curbside pick-up and virtual programming. It is so important that the health and safety of our communities not overshadow our ability to continue to meet our patron’s needs. It is imperative that we continue being mindful of the families with young children, the immunocompromised, those with shifted schedules, displaced distance learning students, the fearful. Safety has taken on a new and elevated precedence- more than ever before. Offering access to in-house library services is extremely valuable. During the current restrictions and going forward once guidelines are lifted, libraries have an excellent opportunity to continue providing access to library materials, computer access, and a respite for those looking for a safe place to spend time during unstaffed library hours.  


Libraries are constantly competing for a foothold in the minds of their communities and in the pocketbooks of their governing bodies. Libraries are constantly put in a position where they must prove their unending relevance, they demonstrate their value in services, and they advocate to best meet the needs their communities. As such, libraries have begun to think outside of the box when it comes to ease of access and meeting community needs.

Library systems have leaned into the use of book mobiles and roving reference librarians to deliver services. Many locations are testing out things like book bots and book lockers for contact-free delivery. Many are transitioning to smaller facilities that can be inserted in strip malls or used as colocations in other city, county, or state buildings; this allows to extend the reach of libraries by inserting a greater number of them into a community. Many library networks are even offering access to library materials and services during unstaffed times.

Here are a few links to exciting articles about the above-mentioned services:

Now, more than ever, libraries and library networks need to be open to and considering ideas that were once unimaginable. They need to be creative and thoughtful in the direction taken from here. Libraries need to demonstrate their capacity for fiscal responsibility. So, the rub remains; how does a library offer more without driving up the operational costs or cutting other services? The answer is that they must revolutionize the way they do business. One of the recent trends sweeping the globe, involves extending library open hours during unstaffed periods whether before or after existing operational hours. This has provided many academic and public libraries with room for “operational agility” (Tredwell, 2012).

What is the trend? Where did it originate?

The trend of providing unstaffed library access is gaining traction across the world. Reports of its implementation have been documented from Canada to England to Denmark to Ireland to the United States and beyond. Gwennett County Public Library in Georgia is a fantastic example of a successfully piloted program offering access to libraries and their services during off-hours. “GCPL installed Open+, a system that grants patrons self-service use of a library outside normal operation hours through a card reader. The technology controls and monitors building entry, self-servce kiosks, and public access computers as well as lighting, alarms, public announcements, and patron safety. Open+, a bibliotecheca product, is used by 800 libraries around the world…” (Zulkey, 2019).

Community Impact and Issues to Understand

There is a substantial challenge afoot with implementing unstaffed library access. Reports from England expose the vocal backlash that the community of London’s East Finchley received to its library’s unstaffed services. The community was dissatisfied at the lack of onsite librarians as well as raising the alarm about substantial safety concerns (Murray, 2019). As reported by Zulkey (2019), Michael Casey, GCPL’s director of customer experience, has said, “I think it’s our responsibility to find creative ways to create more value for residents’ tax dollars. If we can extend access and make it more convenient to use our library, it’s something to research and consider” (Zulkey, 2019).

One key difference worth mentioning between East Finchley and Gwinnett County’s drastically different outcomes rests in the staffing hours. Casey says, “We didn’t use it to replace any staff hours; we added it on top of staff hours” (Zulkey, 2019). GCPL did not take hours away whereas the East Finchley library branch “is staffed for only 16 hours a week…” (Murray, 2019). Marketing this as a value-added service rather than a substitute to traditional services, is the way to go.

Lalani, reporting on Toronto’s pilot of 2 libraries offering unstaffed hours writes, “I think that we’re lucky here in Ontario that we have a library culture that is willing to try new things” (2016). That same article stressed the importance of conveying that librarians are still hard at work for the community, even if their physical presence is not visible. “Shelaghy Paterson, the executive director of the Ontario Library Association, [says], ‘I think you may not actually see the librarian in your visit to the library, but there is a librarian behind the scenes putting it all together and delivering a really excellent service’” (Lalani, 2016). Whether the library staff is in a back room across town, or across the country watching on CCTV, it is crucial to the success of this program that the efforts of library staff be tangible and visible to the community.  

Implementing Unstaffed Hours

Despite the occasional opposition, unstaffed libraries are growing in popularity. Whether it is being implemented across the pond, or here in America, libraries are beginning to think favorably of the unstaffed options. Now, although there is some information about libraries going exclusively unstaffed, those situations appear to be in the minority. What is mostly written about is a trend with communities still requiring the direction and presence of librarians. The majority of the information indicates either early access or after-hours access for a set period of time are the most popular and most successful unstaffed options. Library 2.0 reminds library planners that the forward-thinking library is concerned “both about keeping our current customers satisfied and reaching out to serve the broader market” (Casey et al, 2007, p.16). During this unique time in history, libraries have the opportunity to do this very thing in a meaningful way.

It is so important to be honest and upfront with staff who will weather the most from a new implementation or alteration; especially one as substantial as offering unstaffed library access. It is also valuable to have a strong and consistent platform when patrons inquire about the changes. Stephens asked the GCPL staff what lead to its Open+ great success. They reported that “while some staff members confessed that were still working through personal responses to significant change, all agreed that library administration had been focused and communicative” (Stephens, 2016). He went on further to remind, “added to that was a willingness to listen to staff feedback and change course as needed through the process” (2016). Implementing a program like this will take time and will no doubt encounter some road bumps, but being communicative and community-minded will lead to the best chance of success.


Change is difficult for many people. Finding the right services that address the four objectives can be a tricky ordeal. By and large, communities tend to express their loyalty for library staff and worry that providing unstaffed hours may jeopardize their employment. “That’s the danger that a lot of people fear with automation, that it will replace something better with something worse, but I think it can be really useful to think about it as a step toward something” (Zulkey, 2019). Libraries must look to the changing times as an opportunity to learn, grow, and improve; unstaffed library hours are the next opportunity to do just that.


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

Murray, J., (2019). Backlash grows against unstaffed libraries: Use of key cards and self-service scanners cannot replace librarians, say campaigners. The Guardian.

Stephens, M., (2016). Open to change. Library Journal.

Tredwell, S., (2012). Managing Unstaffed Satellite Libraries. SLAW.

Zulkey, C., (2019). Automatic for the people. American Libraries Magazine.


Reflection on Kindness

Week 13 was yet another week of great reading. I love this concept of non-academic or soft skills making the difference between success and mediocrity in the workplace (Gershon, 2017). I think there is a lot to be said about having lived a little and bringing that life experience into your work. I have been married now for almost 13 years and this experience has shaped a lot about me and the way I view compromise and compassion and love and so much more. I became a mother for the first time almost 8 years ago and since then, my perspective of what parents want and need for themselves and their kids has dramatically shifted. I’m not working now, but I did before I had 2 and my understanding of being a working parent has also shaped my perspective on the needs to working parents. Not only that but I lost my dad a few years ago and since then my perspective of love and loss has been immensely impacted. I certainly am no expert in any of those things I mentioned, but experience has taught me quite a few lessons that I’m not sure I would have understood without the first-hand living of it.

Corkindale shared his personal experience of loss and the impact it had on his life which trickled into work. Getting through the sorrow allowed him to open himself up to learning and hearing from others in a way he might have missed if not for his recent experience (2011). He also writes about the “source of unexpected support came from the U.S. colleagues and friends of my relation, whose warm tributes and shared memories replenished our strength and resolve” (2011). There is good to be found in the human network of support; but it sometimes takes us opening our eyes to seeing it.

Another thing that struck me this week was in regard to the Office Hours pieces that addressed confidence. This has always been something I have struggled with and so I find it so helpful to be reminded that fears get in our way of confidence (Stephens, 2018). As I get older and especially now that I have kids who look to my example on things, I see the benefit to leaning into the things that frighten me the most. Overcoming our fears, or at least staring them down, can lead us to find confidence in our abilities.

One last little thought….I just loved this quote. It almost seems silly that something so obvious needs to be said, but it really does need to be said. “Having some autonomy, being treated decently and not being overstressed all the time might be the biggest keys to being an effective emotional worker” (Gershon, 2017).

Stay well!


Corkindale, G., (2011). The importance of kindness at work. Harvard Business Review.

Gershon, L., (2017). The future is emotional. Aeon.

Stephens, M., (2018). Champion of confidence. Library Journal.|A540851105&v=2.1&it=r&sid=AONE&asid=d66fa80e


Reflection: Learning Everywhere

Week 11, of Chose My Own Adventure, lead me to check out the Learning Everywhere section. I was very pleased with some of the ideas presented in this module. In fact, Vangelova’s article blew me away with new library offerings I had not previously considered. By flipping the quiet library model on its head, Ackroyd was able to build an exciting and energizing place of learning. She reflected on the decision to rebrand the library by pointing out that, “people no longer have to come to the library to get information, so the library has to get people coming in for different reasons” (Vangelova , 2014). She has embraced this idea of how a library needs to evolve to meet the new and ever-changing needs of her student patrons. Lauersen echoes this sentiment in his article by saying, “learning is many things, but what makes the library for a unique institution in this context is in the safeguarding of every citizen’ access to knowledge and learning linked to skills, dissemination and credibility” (2020).

By weeding out books, Ackroyd was able to transform the library space in impressive ways. Not only that but the ripples of her choices allowed teachers to use their full potential of creativity in the library space. She spoke highly about the creativity of her school’s teachers and taking advantage of being able to provide a space in which to flex their creativity muscles. Her changes also allowed students to find an inspiration and learn by doing. In her library, stuffy and unfriendly behaviors were dismissed and this opened things up to allow students to use their phones in the library. It also made building relationships a top priority.

I look at the Vangelova article and wonder about how we can foster lifelong learning in ways that do not center around books. It is, again, an opportunity to make people the focus of the library. It is important to remember that people are loud and messy; therefore, there will be times when the library is loud and messy. Conversely, there are still opportunities to have quieter times for students looking for a more peaceful environment.  As with the Idea Box instillation in the Oak Park library, “surprise and delight” should be infused in everyone’s library experience (Greenwalt, 2013). In a nutshell, the value of learning in libraries should only bested by the value of the people filling the room.


Greenwalt, R. T., (2013). Embracing the long game. Public Libraries Online.

Lauersen, C., (2020). Learning, culture, community and diversity: new library strategy for Roskilde libraries 2020-., The Library Lab.

Vangelova, L., (2014). What does the next-generation school library look like?. KQED.


Reflection- The Power of Stories

Week 10, The Power of Stories, was such a fun week of reading. I really appreciated taking some time to sit back and reflect on ways libraries are making a concerted effort to make people the center of the library. This is a step further than just making sure the library is a functional space for people, but instead turning the focus from books and computers to the actual stories and lives of the community. “One of the best ways to gain first-hand knowledge of both librarian experience and the specific stories of our community is through narrative inquiry (NI)” (Stephens, 2020).

I love the idea of the Human Library and the way it showcases the unique stories of a wide variety of people. Ray shares a conversation from Susan Lauricella who points out that, “we so frequently judge people by their appearances or their identity or their religion or gender- you name it” (2019). The Human Library has endeavored to strip away the things that divide people and replaced it with the space to make a real connection with another person (even if two people are never to communicate). It seems to share people who are just plain different than us or who we may not have even stopped to consider. It showcases people who come from different backgrounds and those who hold differing points-of-view. This provides an opportunity to peek into the lives of someone who might be different, but it’s viewed as a positive exchange of ideas.

Stephens also talked about his experience with the Next Library and I love the way he writes phrases the intention behind the event; “it’s all about: getting people together to learn and think in unexpected ways” (2019). Isn’t social inquiry something libraries should consider? In fact, the central theme for this week’s reading really aligns with the words of Doklab consultant Boekeseijn, “libraries should keep stories, share stories, and make stories” (Stephens, 2017). When libraries consider more than just the function of space, and actually invest into showcasing the unique people of the community, real magic can happen.


Ray, M., (2019). Courageous conversations at the human library. Next Avenue.

Stephens, M., (2020). Office hours: Narrative Inquiry. Tame the Web.

Stephens, M., (2017). Telling stories: Office hours. Library Journal.

Stephens, M., (2019). With a little twist: Office hours. Library Journal.


Planning Public Library Breakout Activities using Google Forms


The COVID-19 outbreak has impacted almost all industries here in California and it has left large segments of the state’s population isolated. Although many of the state-mandated shutdowns have been lifted, key community services, like that of the library, have been limited to curbside services. Improving connection with the community by means of digital services is of utmost importance. There are 4 areas (although there are probably many more) needing to be targeted: 1. Business services for job seekers. 2. Homeschool and distance learning assistance and collaborations. 3. Basic reference and technology assistance. 4. Community connections and engagement.

The issue to address today is the need for increased community connections. Google has a host of wonderful and free products to help with bringing people together while they are apart. Many public schools are utilizing Google products such as Google Classroom, Docs, Slides, and Meets features as they perform distance learning education. I purpose using another Google product, Google Forms, to build interactive Breakouts for use in the public library as a way to entertain the community and draw people together. This is a low-cost activity that can be repurposed for all patron age-ranges and in a variety of topics.

The pilot Breakout to be discussed in more detail here will be designed with teens in mind and focus on The Harry Potter Series during the month of October. Additional information and specifics are listed below in the Action Plan section.

Goals/Objectives for Technology or Service:

It is with great enthusiasm that I suggest utilizing interactive Breakouts in the library as a way for librarians to share in a fun experience with their patrons, to engage with the community, and to provide educational activities and opportunities. In a time when many Californians are dealing with an air of melancholy, offering fun, engaging, and entertaining activities is a way to draw people together (if even from a distance).

Description of Community you wish to engage:

The beauty of interactive Breakouts is that they can be applied to a multitude of topics and enjoyed by a wide variety of age ranges. I would like to see interactive Breakouts used in coordination with adult reading groups, to highlight major holidays or local events, as a means to showcase special library collections, and with younger library patrons. For the pilot Breakout, this should be used as an interactive tool for teens. Potential topics include but are not limited to “Banned book week”, well known series like “Harry Potter”/“Hunger Games”/“Divergent”, or “Local Landmarks”. I would love to see future iterations include collaborative efforts with local junior and senior high schools to cross promote library services and offer an educational complement to traditional learning.

Action Brief Statement:

This Action Brief is written with the intention of convincing the Santa Clarita Community Library Manager that by utilizing interactive Breakouts, the library will not only meet its community’s intellectual needs, but also facilitate a sense of connection and unity that has been lost during the shut-downs. Our community needs to be reminded that the library is a safe place to turn to for questions and that the library is filled with people who care and desire to stay connected, if even from a distance.  

Evidence and Resources to support Technology or Service:

Here is an example of a Breakout titled Dracula’s Curse. This was used in an English course with students who were familiar with Bram Stoker’s Dracula:

Tiffany Breyne, writing for the Public Library Association wrote a compelling article about the need for public libraries to take this unique moment of time, and use it to increase their social media and digital presence. She says, “we want our patrons and followers to continue to see us as a source of information, regardless of whether [they] can come to our building” (2020). Libraries around the world have begun to offer more community engagement through Instagram activities, by offering Spotify playlists, by conducting online book clubs, by offering Twitter trivia, and so much more (Breyne, 2020). Creating interactive Breakouts is a natural extension to the above-mentioned digital initiatives.

All Breakouts need to be designed with the ability to be viewed on a variety of devices. “Mobile devices have revolutionized the way people communicate, access, and disseminate information” (Bolorizaheh et at., 2012). Bearing that in mind, “by incorporating mobile technology into our services, we are encouraging [our community] to learn in their preferred methods and are reaching out users at their point of need” (Bolorizaheh et at., 2012).

An additional concern to be considered during this time is the need for the community to see the value of the library. This is a time when libraries, among many other industries, are needing to adapt and think of new ways to accomplish goals and connect with users. Stephens reminds us to approach change confidently. “Don’t be afraid of change: the way it’s always been done does not have to be the way it will always be done” (2010). Funding for public libraries is always a concern, and it is anticipated that by offering entertaining and engaging online programming, the community will see value in the library and the services it is providing. Schmidt also reminds us that “when we’re closed off to concepts without examining them fully, or without exploring frameworks in which they exist, we’re unlikely truly to innovate or create any radically meaningful experiences” (2014). It is for this reason that the Santa Clarita Library needs to consider digital programming that includes interactive Breakouts.

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

This plan endeavors to create stimulating, alternative programming that complements other digital services provided by Santa Clarita Library. The wide variety of potential applications makes this an ideal tech activity to employ during the library closures. Our constant mission is to positively engage the community while also creating a safe environment where people can learn, grow, and be themselves.  

For the YA Breakout outlined in this proposal, the youth services Librarians will be tasked with the construction of the Google Form. All final products should be reviewed and approved by the Community Library Manager and tested by library staff before going live. The Youth Services Librarian should be the point person to regularly monitor that there are no complications such as broken links or image loading issues. For the pilot run of the library’s interactive Breakouts plan, there should be either a Harry Potter themed Breakout just in time for Halloween.

Funding Considerations for this Technology or Service: 

Perhaps the greatest aspect of this endeavor is the low cost associated with it. Google Forms is free to use and only requires a Google account to operate. Its ubiquitous nature makes Google Forms an ideal medium as both the librarians should have a working knowledge it and many people are comfortable with working with them, as well. The only significant cost would come as a result of labor for the time taken to construct the Breakout(s) and the time needed to monitor the Breakout’s usability.

If this plan is proven to be the success that is anticipated, additional collaborations would be ideal. For educational collaborations involving specific curriculum, coordination with educators would be required. For iterations that seek to coordinate with library Digital Book Clubs, collaboration with Adult Services Librarians will also need to take place. The initial cost is low, and time is the biggest cost factor.  

Action Steps & Timeline: 

In addition to the low-cost of this plan, the turn-around time is also of great appeal. Depending on the complexity and creativity of the Breakout, roughly four (4) hours are required to build an interactive Breakout. Once a theme is decided upon, the time used to construct the Breakout would be spent creating clues. Clues could (and should) include a variation of digital jigsaw puzzles, ransom notes, newspaper clippings, images, websites, receipts, images of text messages, images of TV news headlines, and so much more to create an immersive activity.

For this action plan, the pilot Breakout should be designed for teens (13-18) The preliminary plan is to build a breakout with 4 locks based on the Harry Potter series. This needs to be completed and available to the public before Halloween. If it is preferrable by the Community Library Manager, it can be narrowed to a specific book, at which point, I would advocate for The Prisoner of Azkaban or The Goblet of Fire. The Breakout should be designed in such a way that participants who have watched the movies and/ or read the books can accomplish it with clues. The clues should include: a newspaper clipping designed to look like it came from the Daily Prophet, a jigsaw puzzle with an image clue, an image of a breaking news segment on TV, and word scramble. All clues should be original and created by the librarian specifically for this Breakout.

Once the Breakout is complete, the Community Library Manager should review the final product and share the link with library staff to be tested. Using the feedback from library staff, any kinks should be worked out in 1-3 days (depending on how quickly the desired number of staff has had time to adequately reviewed the Breakout). Keeping the concept localized should expedite the process, resulting in the entire process being completed in one week.

Staffing Considerations for this Technology or Service: 

With no in-house services required for this plan, there would need to be minimal staff required to complete it. There would need to be one staff-member tasked with building the Breakout. There would also need to be one staff member (presumably the one who built the Breakout) who can monitor that there are no broken links or failings in the operations of the Breakout.

Training for this Technology or Service:  

There should be a one-time, brief tutorial offered to all librarians who will take a direct role in building the Breakouts. This training should include the Community Library Manager, the Youth Services Librarian, and any Librarian who will oversee future Breakout topics, such as those who monitor the Digital Adult Book Clubs. There should be an hour allotted for instruction and an additional 30 minutes allotted for exploring and acclimating to Google Forms and the websites needed to complete the Breakout.

Once the pertinent staff have learned and understand how to use Google Forms, a brief tutorial screencast should be made for potential participants explaining how to navigate the Breakout and complete it. Spoilers for any ongoing Breakouts should not be used in the tutorial and an alternate template may need to be created as a demonstration tool for the video.  

Promotion & Marketing for this Technology or Service: 

Initial marketing services should include space on the library’s website. There should be a brief description on the website about the breakout, an explanation for why it was created, and this should be followed by the link to the screencast tutorial and then a link directly to the Breakout.

Social media is also a fantastic way to self-promote a program. The library’s Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts should all have a brief but visually compelling infographic with pertinent links to the Breakout.

If and when there are teen related calls in the month of October, library staff should remind callers of the current Breakout activity and where they can go online to participate. Additionally, patrons who have a significant number of requests for teen material can have a flier advertising the Breakout included in their curbside pick-up.

Future iterations can be promoted online in the same fashion. They can also be targeted to more specific groups of patrons. For example, versions that correlate to Adult Digital Book Clubs can be announced during meetings.

Versions that collaborate with schools and include specialized content, can be showcased on the library’s website, and also be included in the online component of their class content.

This might also be a great opportunity to partner with the local newspaper, radio station, and TV channel. It would be great to see library programming of all kinds highlighted on the local media sources. Even if it was not formally included in publishing, it would still be a great promotional effort to include on their social media pages. This would expand the viewer audience.


All librarians who participate in the interactive Breakout plan should determine their baseline for success. A good pilot program that is only promoted from within the library’s website should consider this a success with 10-15 completed Breakouts in the 4 weeks of October. This should greatly increase as word spreads and as future versions have targeted audiences and collaborators. I would strongly suggest that once teens complete the Breakout, they be ushered to a brief survey where they can answer candidly and anonymously as to whether they found the activity entertaining. This would be a great opportunity to also ask if there are any recommendations for future iterations.


Breyne, T., (2020). Engaging with patrons via social media. Public Libraries Online.

Bolorizadeh, A., Brannen, M., Gibbs, R., & Mack, T., (2012). Making Instruction Mobile. The Reference Librarian.

Stephens, M., (2010). The hyperlinked school library: engage, explore, celebrate. Australian School Library Association.

Schmidt, A., (2014). Exploring Context | the user experience. Library Journal.


Reflection: Hyperlinked Public Libraries

For my “choose your own adventure” into hyperlinked environments, I took a deeper look at public libraries. I was really impressed by the common thread woven in the week’s readings regarding being flexible and adapting to change. Change is often the word that makes some people shrink with dread. (I, for one, know the feeling all too well.) Then again, there are those people who feed off the churning waves of new ideas. This could look as simple as expanding and creating unconventional library collections like the Scenic Regional Library of Missouri with its fishing poles and telescopes for checkout (Hemphill, 2019). Change could also look like reevaluating how library space is used, like Laerkes writes about in his article, The Four Spaces of the Public Library (2016). It could even extend to the kinds of partnerships a library seeks out (Stevens, 2016). At the end of the day, change does not have to be a bad thing.

Change does not need to be daunting especially when we are not meant to soley focus on change. It is best summed up when Ostergard described Dokk1. He said, “we designed our libraries for people, not for books” (Stevens, 2016). This shift in perspectives is what is so important. In fact, it is more than just important…it is the whole reason for this service in the first place. When we are considering what our patrons need, libraries should be rising to meet those needs. It is in the opportunity to make people the focus that libraries can grow and expand with changes that best suit their communities.

Morehart tapped into another people-centered idea that is the perfect extension to this idea. He writes about the IFLA forum which spent time considering that libraries need to consider expanding the concept of “third place” to consider it a community gathering point as well (2016). “Marion Morgan-Binion, city librarian for Gold Coast, Australia, [said] ‘public libraries will always adapt to and reflect the communities they serve’” (Morehart, 2016).  Morehart draws the connection from Morgan-Binion’s presentation to the “importance of embracing a library’s communal nature” (2016). Hemphill brought this full circle when he wrote, “…there’s a community-driven rationale to the wide-ranging activities” her library is expanding (2019). More often than not, people want to have positive interactions with other members of their community. The library can offer a safe, friendly, and useful place for this. It can be more than just a third place but a real social community hub.


Morehart, P., (2016). Moving beyond the “third place”: IFLA forum examines library designs that embrace the community. American Libraries Magazine.

Laerkes, J. G., (2016). The four spaces of the public library. IFLA Public Libraries Section Blog.

Hemphill, E., (2019). A look at the evolving role – and shifting spaces – of today’s public libraries. St. Louis Public Radio.

Stevens, M., (2016). Dream. Explore. Experiment. Office Hours. Library Journal.


Reflection Blogging- Hyperlinked Communities

My thoughts are kind of scattered this week, but I have lots I want to share. First of all, I love the quote from the Stolls article where she writes,

“librarians and others who serve their communities are to be commended, especially when they go above and beyond their duties … But there’s also something extraordinary about the existence of libraries themselves – more than 120,000 of them in the U.S. to be exact, according to American Library Association. They’re free and welcoming and offer a safe, calming, communal space to any who enter. But it’s more than that. They’re not just empty rooms with table and chairs and white walls. They’re filled with books, stacks of them so you can walk among and between volumes, touching their spines and feel their words emanating from across the seas and across time and sometimes just across town. Books teach us to be patient in a fast-paced, quick-fix world they remind us that others have insights worth paying attention to, but there is beauty in our shared language, that in our struggles we are often not alone. They help us heal” (2015).

I so loved the tone of this article. Stolls writes with an optimistic air, and not merely as one looking through rose-colored glasses. For many people in our communities, libraries really are the quiet oasis in an otherwise chaotic, messy world. It was nice to be reminded of that libraries can be the shelter in the midst of a storm.

Next, I really loved the content this week about the Oak Park Library. I am simply smitten with the concept of the Idea Box. Not only was that a fantastic use of otherwise underused space, but it was a way to include the community in a new and inventive way. Clicking through their Flickr account, I was enthralled with the many themes they were able to showcase. I particularly loved the one they did for poetry month with magnetic paint and poetry magnets. I also loved the butterfly exhibit and how people from the community literally became part of the art as their pictures were added to the butterfly’s wings. The POW! exhibit was also a great idea. I am the mom of boys who are obsessed with superheroes. They would go berserk for the opportunity to design their own superhero. (In fact, I may steal that idea to do with them for art while we are doing distance learning.)

In all, I loved how the Oak Park Librarians work to make the Idea Box themes engaging, interactive, adaptable to a wide age-range, and most of all unintimidating. I observed this trend carried over into their “New Kind of Summer School” program. As a parent, I would be far more inclined to send my kids to a short summer school program at the library than at the school if one of my kids needed a small academic boost. This is also a library I would love to visit. They seem to have their finger on the pulse of what people want, need, and didn’t even know they wanted and needed.

That’s it for now…but more ideas to come, I’m sure.


Stolls, A., (2015). The healing power of libraries. retrieved from:

The Idea Box. Retrieved from:

The Idea Box. Retrieved from:


Context Book Report

Cognitive Surplus by Clay Shirky

Review written by Jen Ford

Have you ever picked up your phone or plopped yourself in front of the TV, then looked at the clock only to discover that several hours have passed? Clay Shirky takes a look at how people use this time-traveling phenomenon which he has coined “Cognitive Surplus”. Shirky considers Cognitive Surplus to be the free time of the educated being used to make and consume media. In his book of the same name, he takes a deeper look at the extra time that people have outside of work, school, and other responsibilities. He delves into how people are making use of this personal time. How that time has changed in recent years. He analyzes the shift taking place which involves more of people’s lives being lived out on social media. He also examines the social impact that this shift has on us as a society.

More of Something

The most common reoccurring question covered in this book is how to create value out of this otherwise wasted time. Shirky writes, “the cognitive surplus, newly forged from previously disconnected islands of time and talent is just raw material. To get value out of it, we have to make it mean or do something” (29). This pursuit of value lies in conflict with the concept that more of something lowers the quality of it. Much in the same way that the printing press and self-publishing revolutionized the publishing world by making goods cheaper and easier to distribute, the internet and social media are changing the quality of the information available online. The firewalls that publishers used to be is all but gone and that’s not all a bad thing, but it’s also not always a good thing either.

The people formerly known as the audience have started participating (64). What was once a one-way media (books and movies) has transformed into two-way media that operates from private to public. In a nutshell, the availability and affordability of content-creating devices (smartphones, computers, etc.), has made it so that every-day people are creating content of their own. Because more people can contribute to the world’s information, the bar has been lowered as to the quality of work being put forth.

Digital Sharecropping

Not only is there a glut of new content being created regularly by people simply trying to fill their spare-time, but people are often doing considerable work creating content without ever expecting to get paid for their labors. Shirky refers to this as “digital sharecropping”. Not only are people creating content for free, they often are not bothered by it. People moderate websites, edit Wikipedia pages, engage in fan groups, create and share fan-fiction, and produce memes (so, so many memes) but people are doing it without ever expecting to get paid for their time or effort. Nowhere else would you expect to spend hours per week working for free, but Shirky has discovered that financial gain is not all that motivates people when it comes to content creation; there are other “intrinsic motivations” (99). Being a part of a community and the sense of belonging that can be enough for many people. There is also a strong emotional component that unites groups (163).

The Cumulative Resource

By the end of Shirky’s book, he has reiterated repeatedly the intention people have to create value out of their spare-time. He writes, “we want our free time to be used in a way that holds value” (172). We want our efforts to mean something. We want, more often than not, to help the greater good in some way and that inspires so many people to participate in community groups online. It’s why people continue to review Amazon purchases, rate music, and organize community events.

Key Quotes

“Falling costs create room for experimentation experiment create value and that value creates an incentive to benefit from it” (179).

“What is still an open question is what benefit will eventually emerge from our ability to treat the world cognitive surplus as a shared and cumulative resource” (184).

“What matters now is not the new capabilities we have but how we turn those capabilities both technological and social into opportunities” (191).

Final Reflection

Shirky has written a thought-provoking book. I recommend it to anyone curious about user experience and the crossover taking place with technology and community involvement. Library 2.0, by Casey & Savastinuk, spends a lot of time addressing the need to be flexible and to be willing to accept change even when it is unwelcome. Much in the same way, technology has changed the way communities interact with each other. It is in the library’s best interest to open itself to the possibilities of change. People have time they are filling it in new and unique ways…why not spend that time in the library?

People want to communicate and interact. Library 2.0 encourages libraries to utilize participatory tools like blogs, to interact and participate in alternate way (75). This is a great opportunity for libraries to maximize trends to their benefit. People make time for what interests them. How about libraries harness this to build their communities?

“The single greatest predictor of how much value we get out of our cognitive surplus is how much we allow and encourage one another to experiment because the only group that can try everything is everybody” (207).


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

Shirky, C., (2010). Cognitive surplus: Creativity and generosity in a connected age. New York: The Penguin Press.

Images retrieved from:


Gone are the Days of Business as Usual

Covid-19 has been the biggest, most unexpected (and, frankly, most unwelcome) ringer of 2020. It has changed so much about our daily lives from the way we shop, to the way we educate, to the way we socialize (or how we don’t anymore), and so much more.

During this unique season of life, I’ve often pondered what the new roll of the library is. Gone are the days of business as usual when I look in my town and many public libraries nearby are still shuttered, with only a few branches offering curb-side pick-up. How do libraries stay relevant when no one can step foot in one? How do they help struggling parents and caregivers who have hastily pulled their kids out of public school to homeschool them or what about those who have been forced into distance learning situations? What about kids who have lost their “third place”? What needs to be done for the millions of Americans unemployed right now? The list could go on and on. Now, I certainly don’t claim to have the answer for this huge dilemma, but I think reevaluating the library’s role is something worth considering.

In their pursuit of addressing the recent changes, my local public libraries have done a few things I think are noteworthy. Even from a distance, they have been trying to adapt services, connect people, and tap into existing technology to offer services. Much like how Mathews discussed Creekview High School librarians turning cell phones into “instruments of learning”, my local libraries have spent the last five months promoting their digital collections, which include print and audiobooks. Their digital offerings are plentiful and viewable on cellphones and tablets with apps like Libby or Overdrive. This was a lifesaver for me in the first months of Covid when nothing was open, I couldn’t go anywhere, and I had nervous energy that needed to be channeled into a personal interest.

Another concern of mine is with education. I have two boys (ages 7 and 5) who have begun this school year online. I was impressed this Summer by our local public library posting reading suggestions on social media. This helped me find reading material for them that could set them up for success in this strange time. I’ve also observed the librarian in my children’s school wearing a new tech “hat” and taking charge of technical issues that students and teachers are having with distance learning. Stevens writes that, “to stay relevant in the 21st century, education institutions need to keep pace with the rapid changes introduced by digital media” (The Hyperlinked School Library). Covid has made this even more practical. If public libraries and school libraries can’t pivot from business as usual and transition into the previously unthinkable, they will fall behind, and students will suffer for it. (Parents will too)


Mathews, B., (2010). The unquiet library has high-schoolers geeked. American Libraries Magazine.

Stephens, M., (2010). The hyperlinked school library: engage, explore, celebrate. Tame the Web.