[soundtrack] Horn intro. to Europe’s “The Final Countdown”
(*salmon pink satin curtains lifting, light crackles alive from stage right to left that illuminates me in a dark-sequined tuxedo bowing low to the audience. Behind, a grand staircase brightens along its side in spherical bulbs*)
[s] “TFC”’s main melody soars on instrumentally.
[Vida] Good evening, INFO 287!
(*at my fist pump, sparks explode, at a polite volume, from up high*)
(*lit-up sign hanging from stage top-left flashes “APPLAUSE”*)
[V] Who had a good Spring? Who saw the brightest, most compassionate librarian/information professional begin to blossom inside themselves?
[s] “TFC” fades into the opening bars of Lee Ann Womack’s “I Hope you Dance”
[V] Myself, I’ve –for most of this semester’s start to well past halfway- been mostly confused about exactly what our Professor was teaching. What exactly makes something (*mimes quotation marks*) ‘hyperlinked’? Who does participatory service include? Can the power of stories truly reach other people and connect both the teller and their audience to the community?
(*a billboard-sized projection screen lowers from stage top-right, displaying a color-bar that on closer inspection represented books stacked together*)
[V] But in good time, through blogging and discussing the course readings with as many people who’ll listen in my everyday life, I’ve found myself most drawn to these 5 things I’ve encountered this semester.
[s] “IHYD” morphs into Fun.’s “We Are Young (feat. Janelle Monae)”
(*stage lights dim. I’m put under a spotlight. Book-stacked color-bar on projection screen explodes to a drawing, in the DC comic book-style, of schoolchildren taking a rowdy class portrait in a library*)
[V] Participatory services can be how we, as librarians, meet our users where they are most receptive, not where we happen to feel like we can contribute our best. The Media Center at Creekview High School in Georgia understood this, and planned their 9,000-square-foot space for all sorts of active and passive interactions, where even eating and drinking are allowed. Both students are teachers enthusiastically use this place to the tune of contests, performances, exhibits, and 100+ classes, at over 45,000 student interactions. And despite districtwide budget cuts that had them lose a media clerk, library staff continue to collaborate with teachers to provide their students optimal ways to use the media center.
(*stage lights return, as does the book-stacked color bar on the projection screen*)
[s] “WAY” morphs into “Hollaback Girl” by Gwen Stefani
(*a co-ed chorus line dressed in assorted professional outfits, all with exaggerated cats-eye glasses on, dances their way down the glittering staircase into formation behind me*)
[V] (*I join in a few of their basic moves*) What a paradigm shift it was for me, and also for my many friends who were not of the library life.
(*dancers snap to a hip twist, miming an exaggerated laugh before moving back with the beat*)
[V] But as my librarian/information professional friends celebrated my newfound understanding, one of them, an administrator for the San Francisco Public Library remarked on how such opportunity was not a given for every schoolchild, and it reminded me of Danah Boyd’s 2016 article, “What World Are We Building?”
[s] “HBG” morphs into “Don’t Go Chasing Waterfalls” by TLC
(*dancers throw arms up and flatten themselves to the stage under a dim, aquamarine-blue light, their gyrations seeming like waves. Projector screen flashes to an drawing of young adults under a Facebook glaring at another group of their peers under a MySpace banner*)
[V] Inequity in technology development is expressed across all levels of society, the most telling when privileged young white-Americans can view a former social media app, MySpace, as ‘ghetto’ because, as the girl Boyd interviewed had expressed, the people who use it are more hip-hop/rap loving, eventually confessing her view that ‘black people use MySpace and white people use Facebook’. Another privileged white youth, this time a boy bluntly stated ‘the higher castes of high school moved to Facebook… the lower class usually were content to stick with MySpace’.
[V] Opinions such as these, that divide rather than bring us together, are what libraries are well-situated to educate and advocate against. Through kindness and encouraging minds to stay open, we can teach people of all ages and backgrounds with our formidable resources to see past petty prejudices, and in that way keep our technology developing for the benefit and enjoyment of all.
[s] “DGCW” key-changes into “Hey There Delilah” by Plain White T’s
(*lighting blooms into tones of neutral yellow and orange. Half of the dancers pirouette off stage, while remaining put on hats like daisies and step in place*)
[V] But it’s not all dire and gloomy in the future of technologies, or even now, because the Internet of Things is already here!
(*at my arms thrown wide, the stage flashes also in blue and the other half of the dancers return dressed as clumps of grass to step in place with the daisy-heads. Projection screen shimmers an image of a handwritten sign saying: The
Internet Data of Things*)
[V] Wojtek Borowicz, in his 2014 article “Why the Internet of Things narrative has to change”, pressed the points that it’s not about ‘things’, but how processing all that data can bring organizations together to collaborate on bigger collections, that all of this data means nothing if people, particularly developers, can’t access it, and most importantly the world needs to understand that IoT systems are already in place and running. I know this article is three years from being a decade out of date, but I have some friends who’re still asking for directions or currency conversion rates while scrolling through Instagram feeds on their smartphones.
(*dancers facepalm as the music stops for a beat before returning*)
[V] Which leads me to the next impactful topic: digital literacy.
[s] “HTD” changes into “Give Me Everything (feat. Ne-yo, Afrojack, and Nayer)” by Pitbull
(*shedding daisy hats and grass costumes, dancers pop and lock in formation to a lighting scheme in bright red and dark brown*)
[V] Digital Promise’s 2016 article “The Library as a Gateway to 21st Century Skills” put the Chicago Public Library’s Learning Circles on display for their adult education classes, particularly their Digital Skills Initiative.
(*projection screen displays adults sitting at a long table, all watching one gesturing at the middle*)
[V] And this goes back to solving inequity as related to technology. Many people are left behind from participating in modern society because of a lack of technical skills or access to hardware. With the latter steadily surmounted by opportunities to buy secondhand and companies putting out cheaper models of popular electronics, like laptops and tablets, the former can now be solved by libraries taking the initiative to support those needing to learn. Because the library is here to even playing fields; everybody gets a chance.
[s] “GME” changes to “Battle Symphony” by Linkin Park
[V] (*walk to mid-stage*) And I’d like to end by mentioning something not many people know is an issue.
(*lights flowing into lights shades of purple, dancers range around me, sitting with legs crossed like children at school*)
[V] Service working burnout is real, that it’s important for our users to realize their librarians can’t be bottomless reserves of emotional availability.
(*projection screen changes to title page for Kelsey Simon’s May 2020 article “Emotional Labor, Stressors, and Librarians Who Work with the Public”*)
[V] No matter how big our hearts, how much we’ve always and/or still want to be librarians, or how good we try to be as human beings, performing emotional labor will eventually wear anyone down. It’ll go a long way holding the line in each library staff worker’s resolve, keeping us all open to professional development, looking forward to participating and providing for our stakeholders each day, if we’re provided with support from our administrations and communities. Because without educated, trained, and earnest librarians to put everything together, there is no hyperlinked library, no putting it all in touch with the Internet of Things, nor provision for library users’ lifelong learning.
(*lighting flashes to multi-colored and disco-worthy*)
[s] “BS” changes to “Can’t Hold Us (feat. Ray Dalton)” by Macklemore.
(*Dancers rise, forming a chorus line behind me to the beat, every four measures someone breaks rank to present a signature move*)
[V] And there we have it! (*shoots up fist*)
(*sparks fly from glittering staircase to across the stage front*)
[V] Hope you were all as high-flying through this semester as I was! Thank you for watching! Goodnight! (*moves along with dancers as I exit stage right*)
(*Dancers continue until song ends while projection screen delivers a slideshow of my cheering, laughing, crying, and eating while doing INFO 287 coursework throughout the semester, ending with me sitting here finishing the end of this stage play, smiling into the camera and giving a thumbs up*)
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