Module 11: Transforming Old Spaces

After reading the Vangelova (2014) article, I was reminded of my experience being a high school librarian. The one staff member I worked with was very difficult. She didn’t want anything to change and no matter how I tried to improve the space, I was met with resistance. The Vangelova article represents the creativity and transformation that needs to take place in school libraries. The staff member I worked with didn’t like teenagers and she was mean. Teachers would tell me how they didn’t want to bring their classes to the library. I thought how can I get this staff member to change? I bought a suggestion box. The staff member, knowing people would write about improvements to the library, repurposed the suggestion box so it could not be used. We had so much space that wasn’t being used. The library was dirty, dusty, and not used to capacity.

I got the book club students together and we created a presentation and took it to the school board. The school board approved a library renovation, which was exciting. Transforming the library space was the easy part, transforming people’s perspective of what a library should be is the difficult part. That staff member will probably not have that aha moment, she will take her negative attitude into retirement.

As I think about transformation, how do we encourage people to change their perspectives? I get patrons that come in to the library upset that there are teens in the library after school. The library is noisy, the kids are playing video games, and there is chaos. Often I tell patrons, we are a community center and we are providing a safe place for teens to be after school. We have a beautiful library space, but how do we change old attitudes, how do we create a spirit of kindness and not cling to old library attitudes and perspectives?

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

Plan for Robotics at The Library

Goals/Objectives for Technology or Service

Surprised by amount of excitement among teens at the Williamson Road Branch library after buying one inexpensive robotic kit for an impromptu program has led to the desire to establish a robotics program at the library.  Following the example of the Arapahoe County Library District in Colorado, we would like to purchase several robotics kits that teens can program (Hood, 2014).  Creating spaces for teens to participate, collaborate, and program robots prepares them for careers of the future.  I was excited at how engaged the teens were taking pictures of the robot as it moved and was working. They were all crowded around it coming up with ideas on how to improve the program and build the robot into a different configuration. Stephen (2011, mentions how today’s society is engaged with technology and participatory in nature. I have noticed in the library the teens are often creating snap chats, music videos and interacting with each other. Programming the robot engages them in participatory learning.

By implementing a robotics program at the Williamson Road Branch Library in Roanoke, Virginia, we will be inspiring the teens to think creatively, solve problems and collaborate together. Often, when the teens are left unengaged, they find divisive activities to participate in. This program will channel the energy of the teens into something positive. By implementing a robotics program with middle school students, we can foster the positive and also prevent negative behaviors. We will teach the middle school students tangible tech skills. Create a sense of belonging and community among the kids.  

Description of Community you wish to engage

We have a large population of middle school students that come to the Williamson Road Branch Library after school. They are kids between the ages of 7-13. We are working to provide a safe environment and create engaging programs for the kids during the afterschool hours.

Action Brief Statements

For library Administrators and Library Foundation

Convince stakeholders that by buying robotics kits they will inspire youth to learn new skills which will impact and influence the future lives of youth because they need positive experiences that will enrich their future and prepare them to be successful adults.

For Patrons (Students)

Convince middle school students that participating in the robotics program they will have fun and learn new skills which will impact and influence their future because they need to expand their knowledge base which will enrich their future and prepare them to be successful adults.

Evidence and Resources to support Technology or Service

Mission, Guidelines, and Policy related to Technology or Service

 The library director will determine the feasibility of the robotics program. She will present to the board the details of the program and establish the policies. The mission of program is to provide innovative after school programming to the Breckinridge Middle School students served by the Williamson Road Branch Library. The policies linked to the robotic technology purchased will be comprehensive. The robotic equipment will remain at the Williamson Branch and will not be checked out. A minimum of two robotic sets will be purchased so that there can be two groups of teens working simultaneously.

Funding Considerations for this Technology or Service

 There are many funding considerations necessary to implement this robotics program. The amount of funding secured will determine the number of robotics kits purchased and the scope of the program. Ideally this program will be funded with a 10,000 grant from Louise Lester Foundation. The 10,000 grant will allow for the purchase of several robotics kits for the middle school students. If the technology is purchased through a grant, the library will allocate the staff needed to facilitate the program. The staff for the program will come through the youth services department. They will come to the branch weekly and facilitate the program. The salary for one staff member will be approximately 44,000 plus benefits.

Action Steps & Timeline

The project must be approved by the library director. She must examine the budgets, goals and mission of the project to determine if it is feasible. Once she approves the project, the library grant writing team must write the grant for the program and submit it to the Louise Lester Foundation and perhaps some other agencies. If the library receives the grant, youth services can determine what robotic items to purchase. This approval process and grant writing process will take approximately six months. If the grant is not approved, other funding sources must be considered. Perhaps asking the foundation for funds may be another method to begin purchasing the robotics kits. Purchasing the kits will take a few weeks. Once the kits come in, youth services will bring the program to the Williamson Road Branch Library once a week.

Staffing Considerations for this Technology or Service

The staff will come from youth services. They have a team of five people. They will assign one of their team members to the Williamson Road Branch and they will facilitate the program once a week when the Breckenridge Middle School students are released from school. From 3:30-5:00 they will lead the robotics program.

Training for this Technology or Service

Ideally, a youth services person will be trained on the robotics equipment and someone from the branch will be trained as well. In case the staff from youth services is unable to lead the program,  a staff member from the branch should be trained as well, so they can facilitate the program.

Promotion & Marketing for this Technology or Service

The library’s communication coordinator will create flyers and add the program to the library event guided called the Spot. The branch will display the flyers on their tv screens and provide patrons with the information at the branch site. The communication coordinator will also post the event information on Facebook and Twitter. Advertising is not critical; there are about 60 middle school students that come to the library afterschool. We will probably have too many participants for the program.

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?)

We will calculate the number of students who participated in the program, as well as, utilize Survey Monkey to get feedback from the students regarding the success of the program and see if there are areas where we can approve for the next year. At the end of the school year we will complete an evaluative study to determine whether to continue the robotics program.

References 

Hood, G. (2014). Five ways Colorado libraries are going beyond books. Retrieved from 5 Ways Colorado Libraries Are Going Beyond Books.

Stephens, M. (2011). Scanning the horizon. In The Heart of Librarianship, page 37

Module 8: Anythink Libraries

The videos on the Anthink libraries were great. I related to the TED video with Pam Smith. The story she told about the boy who had been living in a homeless shelter depicted the challenges of the public library. I have kids who eat dinner everyday in the library through the Feeding America program. Many kids come to the library after school and stay until we close. There is one boy who is in the library until it closes on the weeknights and at the library all day on the weekends too.

This past week I finally caught the parent who kept dropping her small kids, ages 8, 5 and 4 off in the library and leaving. How does a parent leave their kids unattended? The library is a pretty safe place, but we have homeless people, mentally ill people and some weird adult patrons that visit the library. I would never leave my kids unsupervised like that. I feel so bad for the youth that struggle to thrive because of neglect.

The other video where the Colorado library staff were going door to door to meet the residents was something I related to as well. The library where I work is on a busy road. There are lots of small diverse businesses that I have been going door to door to promote library events in the community. A lot of the businesses are different types of ethnic foods and services. Last week I took fliers to many of the businesses to promote a salsa dance party we are having at the library. Going door to door has been a bit tough. The city is still divided by race and people are surprised when you cross the boundaries. For example, often patrons come to the library in need of a notary. There is a notary one block away from the library called Casa Mundo. When a patron asks where is the nearest notary, I say there is a notary called Casa Mundo down the street and they say “what?” I repeat myself and they look at me like I am crazy. No white person feels comfortable enough to go somewhere with a Spanish name. Being from California, I am sometimes shocked by the South and the narrow mindset. In California, Spanish businesses are common and no one would be shocked by a Latino business. Here in Virginia it is a different system filled with traditions and sort of a separate mentality.

Module 7: Participatory Programming

I enjoyed the Adulting 101 article (Ford, 2018). I think adulting 101 are some of the basic skills many patrons in the public library need. When I started working in the library, I was surprised that filling out a job application online, creating a resume, and logging in online are skills that many patrons don’t have.

One patron in particular wanted to apply for a personal loan. The loan amount was 500 dollars and the interest was 500%. I was trying to convince him that wasn’t smart to take that loan, but he was persistent. During tax season, I was surprised how many people didn’t know how to get to the IRS website or how to do their taxes. As a former high school English teacher, I spent so many hours teaching Romeo and Juliet, but my time could have been better spent teaching life skills that are often not emphasized in the curriculum.

After reading the Adulting 101 article, I think I want to try some Adulting 101 classes at my branch. I am a bit hesitant that I will get too large a response from the community. It is difficult to provide enough help for all of the patrons using the computer during the day. Offering a class where I can provide enough individualized support may be challenging, but these type of classes are much needed.

Ford, A. (2018). Adulting 101

Module 6: Allocated Library Space: How to make room for everyone

The public library where I work was renovated two years ago. During the renovation, the patrons made suggestions and helped to allocate the areas in the library. I don’t think they used the four spaces suggested by (Laerkes, 2016). Laerkes suggests that the public library should include a space for inspiration, learning, meeting and performing.

The space has a teen area, a children’s area, a quiet reading room, and an adult computer area. The adult computer area is right next to the teen area which makes for angry adult patrons. We frequently get complaints that the teens are too loud. We get about 50-60 teens after school, so every area becomes a teen area. They take over the quiet reading room, the community room, the teen area and outside on the patio. I refuse to let them hang out in the children’s area because they use profanity and then irate parents come complain to me about the teens.

I wish we had a space for inspiration. There is a wall the teens can write on in the teen area, but often their musing are not very inspiring. There are spaces for learning in the children’s area, adult area and teen area. There are also spaces for meeting and performing. We just don’t have enough room.

Now that we have this beautiful space how do we provide enough room for everyone? In the afternoon, we are at capacity. We feed the teens and kids which makes for a mess. The teens occupy all of the space and they have limited manners. They lean against the walls, sit on tables, and spread dirt on everything. The cleaning crew cleans, but that isn’t enough to hide the ware on the carpet, the dirt on the walls, and the stains on the floor.

I have created some systems to help everyone be happy in the allocated space. At 3:20 I go around the library and ask the adults if any of them would like a study room. I move the adult patrons into the study rooms. Once school lets out, I greet the teens at the door and direct them into the community room. In an effort to contain the mess, I have them eat in the community room. Then I walk around the library to check on the teens, keeping an eye on some of are transient patrons making sure they are not inappropriate around the youth. It is a balancing act.

The healing library information was amazing. It is an idea that I want to implement at the library. We get to know our patrons, and often I don’t know how to comfort those in the mist of difficult times. When patron’s experience a loss, it would be great to have a plan to assist them with their difficulties. To address some of the hunger issues with adult patrons, I have started a PB&J underground program. I smuggle sandwiches to patrons who are transient and hungry. I am afraid the library director is going to frown on my PB&J program. It is just so hard to feed all the kids and then have the hungry adults sitting there wishing they had food too.

Module 5: Empathy is better then Efficiency

In the public library everyday is a new adventure. A week ago, an elderly lady (we will call her Ms. L.) came in to the library. She is always angry and downright rude. Frequently, she yells at the staff and patrons. All the staff stand behind the counter and pretty much draw straws to see who has to deal with her. I could see the look in the other staff members’ eyes as she walked in, so I decided since I am in charge, it was my duty to serve as tribute. I sat with her in front of the computer helping her look up stuff on the computer and started asking her questions about her life. Little by little she started opening up and talking about all the places she lived. The library was slow, so I sat there for about an hour listening to her. She came in a couple of days later and I helped her again and her negative attitude had dissipated. She was just a lonely woman who for some reason is mad at the world, and her anger softened the more I talked to her. A small act of kindness, letting her talk about her life was the compassion and empathy she needed.

I have taken some criticism from the staff members on some of my approaches. I greet all of the regular patrons by name. I hold conversations (sometimes lengthy) at the desk instead of efficiently checking people out. We have about 40-50 teens that come to the library after school, and at 3:30 I stand in the doorway and greet all of them with high fives and fist pumps. I ask them how their day was and give them candy if they had a hard day. At first the staff members called me the Walmart greeter. Since I started greeting them at the door, there have been no fights, no throwing of food, and their behavior has drastically improved. The staff I supervise, have adjusted to my quirky ways. I think the behavior of the teens and the amazing change in Ms. L. have changed their minds about getting to know the patrons and serving with empathy.

I think this coincides with the Garcia-Febo (2018) article. Garcia-Febo suggests that libraries serve the vulnerable and there is an element of social justice is prevalent in the public library. The library where I work is in the most diverse part of town. There are a lot of different types of people that come into the library, and I think the library is one of the only places where they all mingle. African American people having a conversation about books with Caucasian people in the South is transformative. There are still so many railroad tracts here that divide the community.

In the Libraries in Balance (Stephens, 2017) article, I was struck by the question “When people are asking for help so their basic needs can be met, how do we balance that with emerging technologies?” This is the dilemma in the public library. I think of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Often people come to the library hungry, homeless, jobless, and alone in their struggles. Where do you begin to help them? The technology can transform a person’s life. Teaching how to build a resume or assist with an online job application is a critical component to getting the patron back on their feet. I am sometimes shocked by how complicated a job application to work at Walmart or Taco Bell can be. The patron doesn’t have an email address and they want to work, but they can’t figure out how to apply online. Stolls (2015) discusses how the library can serve to empower that patron to reflect and heal. I think the library has this capacity to transform community and be a beacon of hope in the community.

Garcia-Febo, L. (2018). Serving with love: Embedding equality, diversity, and inclusion in all that we do.

Stephens, M. (2017) Libraries in Balance.

Stolls, A. (2015). The Healing power of libraries.

Public Libraries: Meeting the Needs of the Public

Denning (2015) asks the question “Do we need libraries?” I think the answer depends on the needs of the community. I agree that the traditional business format is shifting to a what Denning’s dubbed a “creative economy.” Every library is different and each library must assess and determine what steps to take to be viable in the future. I believe technology is transformational (Stephens, 2019) and will change the systems and nature of the library. I also think the libraries will not have the financial means to create the most innovative product like Apple or Amazon, so the library should focus on the people.

Denning (2015) suggested that “delighting” users is the major goal of the new business structure. New technologies will only be new and innovative until the next technology comes along; building community is something that will continue through the waves of technological changes.

Stephens (2019) discussed the elements of community and participatory engagement as a component of the hyperlinked library. People gather at the library and they engage in activities. They meet new people and develop connections. If the library is connecting with the public, then there will always be a need for the library.

The public library is a resource to people devoid of resources. They do not have computer access, they need to print something, they don’t have Netflix and want to watch a movie. There will always be people in need of resources and people who are there to help them find resources, hence there will be a need for libraries.

The library of the future will have new technologies, but connection to the community will be essential for existence. Stephens (2019) illustrated a Pete the Cat book walk. This is the type of community engagement that will promote community.

Denning, S. (2015). Do We Need Libraries?

Stephens, M. (2019) Hyperlinked Library Lecture.

Context Book: Returning to Our Roots

I have been thinking about a book I have been reading, Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer. It is about the author’s journey as a Botanist. She receives all this education, learns all about plants, and then returns to her Native American roots. She finds value in the knowledge of her grandparents. Their simple Native American wisdom has validity and insight along with the education she received to become a Botanist.

This book has me thinking about how we have so much technology and there is so much new technology, but at some point won’t there be a moment when we pause and find thankfulness in something simple, like catching a breeze, walking the dog, or wading in the creek? I think people are going to return to some sort of simple spiritual truth, like how so many younger people are doing yoga. Yoga is some sort of trend. This need to take time away from the cellphone, the computer, and the noise of the city is becoming popular.

In Braiding Sweetgrass, the author spent so much time avoiding her roots, forgetting her Native American language, leaving her culture to be “educated” and be accepted by her non-Native American peers. After her quest to fit in to the mainstream, she started to see how although the Botany terms were different from the Native American words for the plants, there was value and significance in both. Botany is not better or more advanced from the wisdom of her family.

We come up with all sorts of terms, definitions and research to understand phenomena, but previous generations may have discovered wisdom that we have not considered. The younger generations are thinking about the environment. Plastic products and water bottles were so exciting and a new technology when they emerged, but it just created waste and pollution. At some point, we as a society will reflect and see the value in simpler living.

In reading the foundational readings Think Like a Start Up, Mathews (2012) is suggesting we become more innovative to keep the library alive. I see some validity in this thinking,. There is a real potential that the library system may perish, but there is something tiresome about it. It is this continuous chasing of the golden carrot to keep circulation up or promote more programs that annoys me. My supervisor is concerned with the numbers: how many people came through the door, how many people checked out materials, how many people used the computer and the list of the things we are calculating continues.

I think and hope the golden carrot will be we recognize our roots. The initial libraries were places of community where people shared whatever books and resources that they had. Today the library, where I work, is not really about the books. It is not really about how many DVDs got checked out last week; it is about the people. Pat came in last week twice to talk about everything and anything (she is a senior who lives alone). Lance came called three times in one day and then came in the same afternoon (He wants his own apartment and is mad that is brother will not help him; he’s schizophrenic). Lisa came in she had a good first week substitute teaching. Tom has been translating the bible into greek (He often falls asleep in front of the computer). Guido had a good vacation in Italy, he just got home a few days ago. Tully has been looking for work (I redid her resume, I have not seen her lately, maybe she got a job?)

My work day is spent with friends, some people call them patrons. I believe the public library is a lot like television show Cheers (sadly there is no alcohol), but the people who gather are there because of the relationship we built. The library is rarely quiet; we are all chatting. My patrons have made friends with other patrons and so it’s often one big party.

The library uplifts the community, and advocates for the poor. We are sort of an Ellis Island, welcoming everyone into the space. My patrons come to the library because it is a second home to them. Most would come even if we didn’t have any books, computers, or materials. They come for that connection, that smile when you see them, that conversation and relationship. The library were I work is in a diverse, lower socioeconomic community; we do check out materials and we are a source of resources, but it begins with conversation and building rapport.

As the library worries about circulation, numbers, budgets and strategic planning for the future, it is easy to lose sight of the roots of the library. The roots of the library are based in community. We have tried so hard to keep up with new technologies, buying 3d printers, VR headsets, and robots, but the novelty of these items wears off and we are back looking for something else to fill the void. Consumerism is not long lasting, because no matter how many items are purchased, it isn’t enough.

I agree that we are competing with businesses, like Amazon and Google (Casey, & Savastinuk, 2007) and it is a battle I don’t think we are winning. I don’t think we will have better technology, books, or resources than what large companies like Amazon and Google are providing. We have lost the many of the more affluent patrons. They have access to Barnes and Noble, Amazon and technology, but we have found a niche providing resources for those who have less access to resources. Although many librarians would be disagree, the public library is more of a social service agency than a library in the traditional sense. I have let go of being the gate keeper of knowledge and embraced serving as more of a social worker. I love the diversity of people in the public library. We work diligently to meet the needs of the community.

I think it is the simple programs that draws people into the library and builds up community. Making a nature journal, dance classes, creating a community garden, having a community forum, a library BBQ are the kinds of events that people feel a part of. Rather than putting pressure on the librarian for higher statistics, they should receive training on how to build rapport with the patrons. I have taken so many classes on the theories of librarianship, but some simple words on how to brighten someone’s day, support someone who is dealing with grief, or build the self esteem of someone who just lost their job would be much more useful.

It is through the simple joy of connecting with people that the library will flourish. I know we need to provide the best resources and technology to assist people. I recognize the need to stay current with resources, but I don’t think we should lose sight of building communities and enriching the lives of people.

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

Kimmerer, R. W. (2013). Braiding Sweetgrass. Milkweed Editions: Canada.

Mathews, Brian (2012). Think Like A Start Up.

Introduction

Hi Everyone,

I am excited to be in this class with everyone. This is the last semester for my MLIS degree. I have been in school forever. I love learning, but I am feeling over school. After this semester, I will receive my 3rd masters and I already have my doctorate. I never planned on taking so many classes, but I never wanted to settle. I worked for 15 years as a high school English teacher, but all of those years repeating Romeo and Juliet started to get to me. I loved teaching in inner city Los Angeles for the first ten years, but it was a struggle for the last five.

Some teachers keep teaching long after the joy is gone and I never wanted to linger for the hope of a fat retirement check. One day I walked into the office and told my boss she could make me the janitor but I was done teaching. She said there was a position open for the school library, so I applied for the position. I worked for three years managing two high school libraries in a large school district. It was freeing to not have papers to grade, lessons to plan and the same lesson to repeat 5 times a day. My students were still around me and they came into the library frequently. I enjoyed being a teacher librarian, so I went back to school to get my second Masters in Education, Librarianship. I went to the school where my supervisor had attended to get my teacher librarian credential and degree. I didn’t know anything about library schools so I just attended one near me. It was not ALA approved, and I didn’t think it mattered. My family was thinking about moving and that is when I realized that I could be a teacher librarian, but I could not work in any other library environment without the ALA approved MLIS. So hence, the 3rd masters that I never imagined I would get.

Last year I moved from California to Virginia and was offered a position as the branch manager of a public library. It was a new type of career and I thought I would see if I liked it. I fell in love with the public library and my current position. Being at the branch is amazing. There are so many different types of people. The library where I work is like the tv show Cheers, where everyone hangs out (minus the alcohol). In the afternoons we have about 50 teens from the neighboring middle school, so I get my teacher time, but we just have fun. We do programs, crafts, and mentor the kids. This summer, the staff and kids engaged in an epic squirt gun fight that lasted for weeks.

This public library job is a retirement career compared to life as an inner city high school teacher. My life has changed so much since I moved to Virginia. I live 30 minutes outside of town in the country on 30 acres. With 2 goats, 4 chickens, 2 ducks, 6 cats, 3 dogs and a rabbit, I am country now LOL. I walk my dogs everyday on the property off leash (no longer down the street via the leash in the city). I work hard, the branch is busy and there is a pile of stuff to get done, but it is not as stressful. I am so glad I made the choice to leave my job and life in California. I feel sad for my colleagues who no longer want to teach, but they stay for the sake of job security. It is better to live one day free, than a lifetime afraid of change.

Skip to toolbar