Using low-tech to teach high(er) tech: Emerging Technology Planning

A creative art and social media project

Goals and Objectives for Service:

For patrons:

  1. Patrons will be reminded that our library is about them, not shiny technology.
  2. Patrons will see our team’s fun side with our using low-tech Shrinky-Dinks.
  3. Patrons will understand books will remain an important part of their library experience.
  4. Patrons will learn a way to connect through social media, helping to pace their way to more robust forays into what the Internet has to offer for self-enrichment.
  5. Patrons will meet others who could also use help navigating technology.

For staff:

  1. My team will have more reason to treasure patrons over the technology our site can offer.
  2. My team will remember that low-tech can be just as effective as high-tech when providing services.
  3. My team will get experience building teaching programs.
  4. My team will meet the self-professed technologically-challenged of our flock and learn how to approach helping them.
  5. My team will learn how to control crowd flow between seating patrons for the presentation, then lining them up to make the Shrinky-Dinks, bake them, then helping them post pictures of them on Instagram.

Description of the Community we wish to engage:

Despite how high-tech gadgetry and social media seem to control our society’s future, not everyone is comfortable learning to explore the Internet or understand the benefits of being part of the online conversation. The Community my library’s team wishes to engage are those who want to have a social media presence but don’t realize the library can help them through creative arts accessible to all ages.

Action Brief Statement:

For patrons:

Convince technologically-challenged/social media-shy people that by attending the library-hosted tutorial on making Shrinky-Dinks of self-imagined book covers then registering for and using an Instagram account to post pictures of their creative endeavors (a video and transcript of the presentation will be made available attached to a blog, post-event, on the library’s website) they will realize that though the library is still about books (and the knowledge within them), the institution is ready to provide services such as teaching and facilitating social interaction which will remind those seeing the library become shiny in technology that we’re willing to open every opportunity for them to participate because the library is about inclusion; everybody gets to play.

For staff:

Convince my staff that by writing, presenting, recording and posting a video, attached to a blog on our library website, of this one-day tutorial on making Shrinky-Dinks then teaching people how to register for and use an Instagram account to post pictures of their creative endeavors they will get an idea of how our technologically-challenged patrons could be appreciative of any help and fun we can provide which will energize their love of service and, thus, also their creativity in building other programs because being a librarian is about firing up hearts and minds.

Evidence and Resources to support Technology or Service: 

History and technicalities of designing book covers:

The History and Evolution of the Book Cover

History behind and method of making Shrinky-Dinks:

a la Carnegie Mellon University

Benefits of being socially connected:

a la Mayo Clinic

Personal benefits of social media:

For youth:

Benefits of Internet and Social Media

For seniors:

Benefits of Social Media for Seniors

For everyone, in general:

Advantages of Social Media

Social media can be positive for mental health and well-being

Benefits of creating art:

The benefits of arts and crafts

The Connection Between Art, Healing, and Public Health: A Review of Current Literature

Benefits of meeting new people in mass social settings:

5 Benefits of Meeting New Friends As An Adult

How to make new friends and improve your quality of life as you age

Using Instagram could be good for mental health:

Experts Explain Why Instagram’s Effects on Mental Health Aren’t All Bad

Sensitive Self-disclosures Responses, and Social Support on Instagram: The Case of #Depression

… or fun:

8 Fun Things to Try on Instagram You Probably Haven’t Thought of Before

9 Instagram post ideas to spice up your account

Mission, Guidelines, and Policy related to Service: 

Our Directors of Community Outreach and of Technology Implementation and Education will oversee my team’s creating a tutorial that will explain to patrons:

  1. the day’s theme,
  2. the benefits of participating socially and through social media,
  3. a history of book cover designs (possibly invite the help and/or input of local artists),
  4. how to make Shrinky-Dinks (could do a trial run with middle-high school art class),
  5. how to open, upload, comment, share pictures, and message others on an Instagram account (another reason to run the Shrinky-Dinks process by students, because they can also give insight on how to best explain these IG concepts),
  6. how we would like patrons to queue up after designing alternate covers to their favorite books with colored permanent markers on a hole-punched 4”x6” piece of polystyrene, so our technicians overseeing 6 toaster ovens can bake them hard into trinkets (a trip to the neighborhood Target/Ace Hardware/Home Depot/Lowes/anywhere we can get a donation in exchange for setting a large display appreciating them for gifting us the materials and machinery),
  7. how to prepare usernames and passwords for their new Instagram accounts (if they don’t already have one) and where to find paper to write it all down along with any questions they may have for our 4 (or so) IG experts (if possible, procure volunteers from local city college or learning annex),
  8. and help them with uploading pictures of their Shrinky-Dinks and anything or –body else (possibly set up a photo-booth).

For example policies we can look to:

  1. Grade schools, especially middle to high schools with at least a commendable social calendar, will give ideas on how to corral 100+ people going through a party-like event.
  2. Vocational and adult schools, and city college lower division technology classes for how they make social media concepts and connecting through there understandable.
  3. Reach out to IG influencers for their take on how to curate a page that’d encourage connection and information sharing.

In our guidelines for use, we’d want to include:

  1. Presenters should only take questions from patrons after the tutorial.
  2. No patron will be allowed near the toaster ovens working the Shrinky-Dinks.
  3. All 4”x6” polystyrene sheets will be pre-cut and hole-punched the day before.
  4. 6 egg timers, and 6 spares, must be checked the day before to see if in working order.
  5. 6 fire extinguishers, and 6 spares, must be checked for safety the day before.
  6. Guest speakers, volunteers, or anyone not on library staff must not be asked to participate further after their agreed upon involvement. However, if they ask to help some more, they can in any capacity outside of operating the toaster ovens.
  7. Offers of donations and volunteering should be secured/agreed upon on paper/email by a week before the event.
  8. Anyone attending under the age of 12 should be chaperoned by someone at least 16 years old.
  9. Abandoned Shrinky-Dinks at the event’s end will be photographed and uploaded on both the event’s debrief blog and the library’s official IG page.

Briefly outline how your technology or service’s grant, allocated funding, budget, available free-space, etc. will be distributed: 

My team are library staff, and those we procure from outside our ranks will be volunteers so it is unlikely we will have to allocate funds to hire them. However, we will draw up contracts to clearly identify what their roles are for the event.

Even though we will draft a budget for the polystyrene sheets, permanent markers, hole punch (because I doubt there’s any still lying around in contemporary libraries), and toaster ovens, we will still reach out to the community for the items to be possibly donated. That way, whatever funds leftover we can set up/hire a cool photo-booth and/or provide refreshments.

Action Steps & Timeline: 

The event can be given a trial run at a rec center to no more than a dozen attendees, after which data and notes will be used to scale the real thing up to 100+.

Reasonably, the event prototyped, students brain-picked, materials procured, space reserved to be cleared, and personnel trained could be done in two months, as it takes a few good weeks to organize something into any educator’s set curriculum, most donation schemes take about two weeks to finalize, same with housekeeping accounted for concerning furniture and equipment in proper repair, and storage prepared for materials and refreshments.

I’ve identified two project flow dependencies. First will be running the event at a smaller scale at a rec center, or similar casual information-seeking setting, and getting middle-high school student input before we begin gathering materials and planning library space. Second is after the above, then we can consider how much value we, as a team, are able to provide for the event and therefore how many more and what kinds of people we can ask to volunteer or hire.

If we cannot find a rec center or school to provide us with people to prototype the event or students to mine information about throwing a good party or building a commendably-trafficked IG page, we will ask regular patrons, those who visit the library every day if they can take an hour off one afternoon to test drive our scaled-down version of the event.

Staffing Considerations for this Technology or Service: 

This event requires a considerable number of staff to make up my team. They will be members of our Community Outreach Program, the Technology Implementation and Education Department personnel, and those interested from our Volunteer Corps.

The boring way to generate hours would be to conference with the Outreach Programs’, TI&E Department, and Volunteer Corps heads and plead my case for them to consider consolidating their people’s tasks so we may cull at last 2 hours a week of preparing for the event from each individual, with one half-hour hybrid in-person/Zoom (for those unable to be at our library) check-in a week. An outside-the-box way could be to host a ‘pub’ quiz after-hours for staff, during which I’ll float the idea of using Shrinky-Dinks to inspire the technologically shy to join Instagram. In (hopefully) playful spirits, my colleagues and volunteers will give feedback and through that will give themselves a stake in the venture, making it less difficult to find a way to free the time for them to participate.

Training for this Technology or Service: 

Once personnel have signed up, we will boot camp in designing book covers, making Shrinky-Dinks, and take turns ‘teaching’ each other how to start and maintain an Instagram account. Instructors will be myself and the heads of Community Outreach, of Technology, and Volunteer Corps after lightly researching ourselves the subjects and other related matters, ie. how to safely put out a toaster oven fire.

Like the proposed weekly half-hour check-in, this training can be done in slots through Zoom and/or in-house, depending on personnel’s availability.

Promotion & Marketing for this Technology or Service: 

The event can be promoted on our library’s blog, website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and MySpace for those who wished their friends/family members could have more help being less intimidated/less clueless about social media. We can also reach out to popular media, news and entertainment sites like Buzzfeed to help craft an ‘article’ to explain our hoped outcomes for the event.

Low-tech promotion would involve posters within the library, displayed out from our windows, at nearby businesses volunteering their spaces, and by word-of-mouth to our extended network of friends, families and acquaintances.

The art for the online promotion and paper posters will come from pictures of our prototype events featuring the Shrinky-Dinks made.

As for promoting to my staff, I’ll make a presentation with data supporting how fun Shrinky-Dinks are, creating art strengthens social bonds, it’s easy to use and therefore open and maintain an Instagram page (there has to be a few of my people who wouldn’t have one yet), teaching others a new way to connect socially will be rewarding, and it’s time to remind our patrons books will always be a part of the conversation at our library. Ideally, by the end there’ll be a few standing on their tables reciting Rudyard Kipling (=D), but I’ll claim success if at least ¾ of the attendees fill out the survey I’ll provide that asks their opinion on the event’s viability, their level of interest, time they’re willing to invest, and suggestions.


We’ll record (with permission) patrons’ new –or existing, if they came just to have fun or learn more about/revive their dormant Instagram accounts- and match it up to the guest list. Also, before the presentation, we’ll distribute a paper survey (that’s also available through a link in our blog reporting on the event, most likely a Qualtrics one) to ask:

  • On scale of 1-5, if they’d recommend future library-teaching-social-media-apps events? Or any of our teaching programs?
  • Also 1-5, was the teaching-Instagram event fun? Informative?
  • Did they meet new friends? Gain Instagram followers?
  • What’ll they do with their Shrinky-Dinks?
  • 1-5, are they excited about sharing pictures on Instagram? About making new friends?
  • 1-5, would they like a follow-up event to discuss safely sharing themselves on social media?

I can definitely see my team producing a series of teaching events creating accounts like for online dating (Hinge), checking one’s credit score (Experian), or uploading digital movie codes in order to stream online (Vudu). One for online banking could be extremely useful for moneymakers of all ages, but not until we consider all the different banks patrons use, and definitely inquiries to these banks’ customer service departments are in order. 

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