Month: September 2019

Reflection Blog #2 : Hyperlinked Communities and the Future

Module 5 – Hyperlinked Communities Lecture

A major tenet of Hyperlinked Communities I wanted to bring up is that libraries should reach all users.

In the lecture, Dr. Stephens explains that “the library reaches ALL users – we reach out beyond the people who come in through our doors, we reach out beyond the people who use our online resources, to make sure that anyone and everyone that is a part of our constituency may find something that will engage them, will excite them, will teach them something, or whatever it might be. We want everyone.”

But what are communities?

Peter Block is quoted, with a definition that “communities are human systems given form by conservations that build relatedness.”

The lecture looked at what conversations can mean in this concept of the hyperlinked community, of bringing people together.

Something that truly resonated with me was a TED Talk video by a young 16 year old Swedish girl named Greta Thunberg. I had the opportunity to watch one of her recorded TED Talks titled, “The disarming case to act right now on climate change.” She stated that for 30 years, all we do is talk and idly speak of the positives that could happen in the future. She stated that we really never took the actions to prove it to the community and to the society at hand. We have the scientific evidence but we refuse to acknowledge them. She brought about an awareness of how dire the future could become for the youths of today and called to action, inspiring many similarly aged children to support her and to rally in support. 

I thought if she could do that, then what could we do to act now and prove to the community that we truly meant that libraries were for everyone? How could we communicate this best? 

With that, I wanted to look at my library’s efforts to support the Libraries are for Everyone statement that we proclaimed so proudly.

Our past and present efforts were made of 3 components :

  1. Multi-language Welcoming signs outside the library
  2. Having staff wear Libraries are welcome shirts in the official library logo colors of blue and white.
  3. Displaying this statement on all of our online platforms such as FaceBook, Instagram, the official webpage, the Library app, and Twitter.

But sadly, those attempts weren’t enough. We meant well, but we never thought that these efforts could be perceived differently.. I could understand how parts of our community felt that their languages weren’t important enough to be included in the displays and outdoors welcome signs. They were naturally upset and hurt by that. 

We forgot that it’s important to involve your users or your community in every step of the way when it comes to communication and to providing excellent services and programming content.

Dr. Stephens explained that we should “give them something to do when they come in the library. Give  them something to feel ownership over, be it putting something up on the wall or knowing that they can reserve a space in the library for their group to come together and engage and learn from each other.”

Let’s think about how we might engage with various groups inside of our communities. 

Dr. Stephen’s lecture brought about several questions to keep in mind.

Who do you want to serve?

  • What populations do you want to serve? How do we reach them?
  • Who isn’t being served? That’s another thing to think about, and then consider, how do we reach them? How do we promote engagement? 

Is it participatory, interactive things going on at the library? Is it space for people to come together? Is it that welcoming, all are welcome attitude?

This reminded me of how our library’s move forward to book and promote the Drag Queen Storytime event was a push to celebrate diversity and self-expression while also being family-friendly. Vernon Area Public Library worked together with the Pinta Pride Project to bring these glamorous storytellers forth. I had never heard of any programming that involved the LGBTQ community and I was happy that we did so. Of course, we did receive some pushback when news first spread that were planning this event. Even now, a mere week before the event, we received a few letters of disagreement that requested cancellation of the event. 

But my library director, Cindy Fuerst,  responded politely to these letters of concern and disapproval and she wanted to explain why the library wanted to have the Drag Queen Story times. This simple act showcased how the library acted in favor of inclusion, creating awareness and support of a community that truly deserves to belong and receive equal service. Libraries are taking the actions they need to become spaces where everyone can participate and communication spreads. Library staff of a hyperlinked library should work in support of diversity and reach out to service the underserved. 

“If we can offer that space for people to come together in an environment where you don’t have to pay to belong, that’s a big deal.” – Dr. Stephens

References:

Module 5 – Hyperlinked Community Lecture

https://sjsu-ischool.hosted.panopto.com/Panopto/Pages/Viewer.aspx?id=bdb39d41-e4a7-4b33-9da4-aab40117c7e8

Thunberg, G. (2018, August). Greta Thunberg : The disarming case to act rigth now on climate change [Video File] Retrieved from 

Cain’s “Quiet” and Participatory Culture

Cain’s novel, “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” (2012) drew me in from the beginning. It was like hearing that finally someone understood the world of introverts and was looking at the way that introverted people communicate and learn in a whole new light. I felt welcomed as I read through Cain’s insights. In addition, I also learned about the accomplishments and even benefits of being an introvert. Cain turned the common misconceptions about introversion being a hindrance to socializing into a way of innovation and further explained that introversion was also a way to help inspire creativity in society. 

It’s all about perception. It is how people view information as categories of ‘useful’ or ‘interesting’ versus ‘boring’ or ‘useless’. I could see a slight gleam over of traits people associate with being introverted through quizzes on popular sites such as buzzfeed.com. Cain writes that “we perceive talkers as smarter than quiet-types even though grade point averages and SAT and intelligence test scores reveal this perception to be inaccurate. We also seek talkers as leaders. The more a person talks, the more other group members direct their attention to him, which means that he becomes increasingly powerful as a meeting goes on.” (Cain, 2012, p. 51). This is associated with the Bus to Abilene theory, in which we are inclined to follow people with initiative. 

Being the first person to speak up in a presentation makes them more charismatic, giving the impression that they’re capable and confident to the audience. Contrary to popular belief, the business world revealed many effective and well-known CEOS as introverts. One of which is one we all know was Bill Gates. But what makes them so successful and well-known in the business world, a world of communication and interconnected-ness? 

Cain addresses this question in her book. She mentioned her interview with the  management guru, Peter Drucker. Peter Drucker stated, “The one and only personality trait the effective ones I have encountered did have in common was something that they did not have: they had little or no’ charisma’ and little use for either the term or what it signifies.” (Cain, 2012, p. 53). We hold charisma in such high value, admiring those who are sociable, effable, and that draw you in with that energy. But here, we learn it is the lack of use for that ‘charisma’ we value, that is commonly held by the CEOs. We could go on and review what we believe the value is behind charisma, but that is not the point. Cain brings this example up not to do that. In fact, she does not disvalue the appeal of being introverted nor does she disvalue being extroverted. Rather than that, she simply states each personality’s strengths as objectively as possible. 

Cain brings into consideration that there is a place for both introverts and extroverts, where their strengths can complement each other rather than upend one another in this new age. Cain provides an example using real life innovators from The Leadership Development for the Gifted and Talented. Cain quotes the writers, Jane Farrall and Leonie Kronborg, who takes an unconventional approach in which they highlight that “while extroverts tend to attain leadership in public domains, introverts tend to attain leadership in theoretical and aesthetic fields.” (Cain, 2012, p.78). Leadership can be applied both socially and solitarily such as developing new techniques, new philosophies, and making astounding breakthroughs in the arts and sciences. She turns apart the idea that one personality can stand over the other. 

Libraries and other research communities are always working to contribute altruistically. This is for the public, who can use it to learn, to improve upon their own skills, and thus distribute information further through emails, links and social media. But to do so, you must understand the public and the user experience, and learn their background and their personality and strengths which can play into their informational needs. Bivens-Tatum (2010) poses this question, “What would we want if we were in the place of the user? What can we do to make that happen? The choices are often easy, even if acting on them is sometimes hard.” It is very important to learn from various sources to show understanding to the users themselves and express our interests as well.

Michael Casey invokes several critical questions that we really should be asking ourselves. One of which asked, “why haven’t we moved beyond the idea of just talking to our community to actually engaging them?” To emphasize this point, he quotes Tim O’Reilly, who states “How do we get beyond the idea that participation means ‘public input’ (shaking the vending machine to get more or better services out of it), and over to the idea that it means government building frameworks that enable people to build new services of their own?” Casey (2011) continues by arguing that, “The participatory library is open and transparent, and it communicates with its community through many mechanisms. The participatory library engages and queries its entire community and seeks to integrate them into the structure of change.” 

But, how could Cain help us delve into the future of libraries and participatory service? Cain discovered, “we fail to realize that what makes sense for the asynchronous, relatively anonymous interactions of the Internet might not work as well as inside the face-to-face, politically charged, acoustically noisy confines of an open-plan office. Instead of distinguishing between online and in-person interaction, we used the lessons of one to inform our thinking about the other.” (Cain, 2012, p. 79). We need to realize the ways we interact online may not work for the pace of in-person interactions which are common in library reference and information services. We should take the time to consider how we are currently communicating with our patrons, whether or not we are requesting and actually making use of the community’s feedback, interests, and experiences. We need to ask ourselves if we are being as open and transparent as possible with our community in all aspects of the library. If not, then that is when we really need to re-evaluate what we are currently doing and improve our communication methods to become a more engaging participatory library. We need to find ways for the community be as involved as possible in the creation and evaluation of new programs and services. By having the community be as involved as possible with the creation and evaluation process of new programs and services, libraries can move towards an integration of change which will prove beneficial for everyone.


References

Bivens-Tatum, W. (2010). Imagination, sympathy, and the user experience. Library Journal, 8. Retrieved from http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2010/11/ljarchives/imagination-sympathy-and-the-user-experience/#_

Cain, S. (2012). Quiet: the power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking. New York, NY: Crown Publishers.Casey, M. (2011). Revisiting participatory service in trying times. Retrieved from https://tametheweb.com/2011/10/20/revisiting-participatory-service-in-trying-times-a-ttw-guest-post-by-michael-casey/

Reflection Blog #1: Hyperlinked Library – Module 3

I decided to look at the presentation on the hyperlinked library model shown in Module 3. From this, I felt it quite inspiring to look at how the past carried forward into the future. Libraries have had a past image of being traditional, solitary, and quiet. And I admit, when I was growing up, I simply saw libraries as a place for reading and quiet where we could find new books.

But that changed for me when my childhood library changed from having the youth and adult sections separated with pairs of doors to an all open space where you could see both sides from the entrance to the library. Gone were the old colors, the closed doors, and in came comfortable seating, a fun cafe for people to use, colorful furniture and decor, and people of all ages and all races coming in. That was just a little over 6 years ago. I was amazed how beautiful it was. The library wanted to work on those external factors such as how the library was perceived, and its overall ambiance created by the effects of the older physical spaces. 

I wanted to think about the year of 1993. The year when Howard Rheingold began the discussion on how social aggregators formed. It came about when enough people were there to carry on public discussion long enough, with enough human feeling, to form webs of personal relationships in cyberspace. What drew me in was the emphasis on human feeling.

Now I thought this was resonating because it shows that people when they are passionate about something will carry on a discussion through and through and that discussion takes its own life and breathes life into new discussions. Now even though I was just born in that year, I think it’s still incredible to find that passion is in every generation. We get truly involved and passionate about things we care about in all platforms. 

I could see this passion come to life in everything that my coworkers did and said. They wanted to provide the best service they could to everyone. They all clearly loved what they did. I think it’s wonderful to have that passion and have that love. Their love spurred on creativity. They thought of fun new events, classes, and programs. As someone who had grown up previously, with a librarian for a mother, I suppose that doesn’t really help the bias, but I have always grown up a library kid and found it dear to my heart. Working for one did nothing to diminish that endearment I had. 

            I wanted to note the challenges that were posed. These are challenges that libraries often face. They can be external, and they can also be internal. External factors included funding, finding the community that really cares for and wants the growth of the library, the public perception of what the staff does at the library, and a change averse public. Books for one is an image that is quite commonly associated with libraries. Sometimes, even how a library’s brand or perception can be deceptive and perhaps even limiting.

I also wanted to share some of the internal challenges libraries faced were discussed. 

  1. Staff mindsets of “We’ve always done it this way.” 
  2. “Something might happen” – the thought that all the worst outcomes that could possibly happen could happen about this new service or new platform. 
  3. Archaic rules that haven’t been revisited for a long time (such as revisiting policy, lockdown procedures)
  4. Silos of information (of libraries too) where one department knows all this new information but doesn’t share with others
  5. Institutional (administrative) culture gone wrong (superior stating you don’t need to disturb me to a new person)
  6. A staff member who builds a fortress around their jobs
  7. When people like something we get rid of it (make a rule about something that gets popular and well loved).
  8.  Finally, there is an organizational chart that might go up to a pinnacle. Ideally this chart should flatten out from the pyramid shape. 

Now what could we do differently?

I wanted to relate this to my experience. My home library, Vernon Area Public Library, met the external challenges of funding and transforming the image of the library brought upon by its physical appearance and overall ambiance. A few months ago, the library displayed plans that the library had that would transform the library over a 10-year period. There was a collage of suggested ideas to add to the library like that of a Pinterest board. This demonstrated the visuals of what was possible, of what could happen should we choose to do it. In addition, there were forms for patrons to fill out so that we could gain feedback on these new potential changes and see what else they would like to see happen to the library. We also made sure to be transparent about the potential costs (roughly 8.5 million) that this could cost and that indeed taxes may increase as a result to raise that funding. It certainly gave cause to public discussion and people were divided on this. But I could tell that they appreciated the honesty so that they could make a more informed decision.

The library capitalized on the idea of the patrons being the focus as evident by the highlight of the year 2006 in the presentation. 2006 was really a time where we came to the realization that people can help shape the way the information age develops. I particularly thought it was interesting to see magazines such as Newsweek and Time Magazine highlighted during that time.

Newsweek’s cover and Time’s person of the year cover page were transformative. Newsweek stating, “Putting the ‘we’ in the web” and Time stating “‘You’ are the person of the year. Yes, You. You control the information age. Welcome to your world.” I think that it is important that libraries continue to put the interests of the people at the forefront. I would love to see more community-library collaborations on new programs, new services, and the new technology being offered at libraries.

I wanted to talk about some of the other notes on the hyperlinked library model and how my library is taking the step to creating more hyperlinked library services. Below I listed them.

It all began when I had sat down for a staff in service last month. My home library’s director had stated that in September 28th we would introduce Drag Storytime of which I am excited that we are doing. She had mentioned hiring some police in case ‘something should happen.’ From what I had heard, there had been only one complaint in comparison to the overwhelming support from the community in favor of this program. 

I had discussed casually with two youth services librarians at the library I first started out at. It was a discussion with a librarian that had finished library school 1-2 years ago versus a librarian staff that had been at the library for a few decades. I had told them how excited I was for the drag queen story time and how jealous I was of the youth services staff that would be helping. I still am just to let you know. 

The most interesting question came from the older librarian who was genuinely curious, if that program would work for their community? Immediately, the younger librarian said that wouldn’t happen. The two librarians had differing views and experiences with the community. One saw them as friends and shared experiences with them since she had been in the library far longer and belonged in the same age class. The other librarian saw them as a new face to the community. She believed that it would be too much for this community believing in less polite terms but that I will sum up here that it would be a bit too progressive and too abrupt too include a program like that. She stated that it would be wonderful, but she also didn’t believe that the public would be willing to accept this new change. 

  1. We must reach all users, not just those who come through our doors. *We must reach everyone, not just those who come to us. 
  2. The most powerful information services to date are probably found in the palm of everyone’s hand.
  3. The path forward will always be an evolutionary one.
  4. Inevitably, there will always be some amount of chaos.

Personally, I was thrilled that we were beginning to offer drag queen story times. I believed that the drag queen story times would be meeting the goal of the hyperlinked library. We were beginning to partner with other organizations to produce a program that would be beneficial to the families and it would also create awareness from a early age on a topic that still divides even adults. I was inspired to share this when I noted the statement on hyperlinked libraries that states, “our goal is that the library helps people make sense of the world. That can start early on from K-12, university and then when you are out into the world.”

I think it’s important to offer programs to people of all races, all sexualities, all genders, and all backgrounds regardless. It’s wonderful to hear and know that libraries are starting to create more diverse programming, beginning that evolution. We were also working to become more accessible and moving from being word of mouth, to the website and now to a library app which people could use on the go. I realize now that this truly does mean that our library was becoming less static and taking on more of the hyperlinked library model tenet that the “library is everywhere.” People look for the latest news and keep themselves informed using more mobile formats of technology. Information is traveling and discoveries are begin made each and every day. Libraries need to make services and programming that offer that information at the fingertip. Perhaps these decisions may create chaos, but what it does is inspire that discussion and that passion that I think its important to offer opportunities for.

References:

Lecture on Hyperlinked Library Module

https://sjsu-ischool.hosted.panopto.com/Panopto/Pages/Viewer.aspx?id=a0569381-4d66-4e0a-a7fa-aab3010a8f3e

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