Hello all. For the Inspiration Report, I researched and reviewed sensory spaces in libraries. These have a wide range of descriptions and can be used by anyone of any age. They have been implemented in public and academic libraries and have found great success. Take a look, and I hope you enjoy!
Virtual Symposium: 5 Key Takeaways
Hi friends! Here is my Virtual Symposium recording. Thanks for listening and enjoy ٩(◕‿◕｡)۶
Reflection 5 – Learning Everywhere: Play as Learning
The idea of play as learning is a concept that’s only recently become widely adopted, and not just for children! There are many programs available for kids and adults alike who want to play and learn something in the process.
Places like the San Francisco Exploratorium host “After Dark” events once a week for those who are 18+ and don’t want to vie against children for any one of the 600 interactive exhibits. Smaller organizations like LLACE in Sacramento, California, host events like the Queer Crafternoon for anyone of any age who is interested in being crafty in a safe and welcoming space.
But for kids, play as learning is an integral part of growing up with a diverse education. In Scandinavia in the 1940s, a trend started: child-centered playgrounds meant for exploration, imagination, and foraging were built and became popular all around the world over the following decades (Dowdy, 2022). Carl Theodor Sørensen invented the idea of skrammellegepladser or “junk playgrounds” where children could dig, construct, change their environment, and make the space their own (Dowdy, 2022). These types of parks started popping up in Great Britain in the 1960s and 1970s, as well as in Glasgow, Scotland, in 2013.
In the US, there’s a play museum called the Bay Area Discovery Museum (BADM) which is home to 10 different play exhibitions, including the 2.5 acre outdoor exploration area, the mud kitchen, and the Try It Studio which boasts items like drawing arms where children can “play with mechanical variables and discover artistic consequences” (BADM, 2023).
In Granite Bay and Auburn, California, the libraries hold a Builders Club once a month for children to build Lego-themed creations or design and build their own.
And it’s not just libraries, museums, and play centers that have adopted this style of education–schools are taking this approach too. More than 60 years ago, a woman named Bev Boss founded the Roseville Community Preschool in Roseville, California. The fundamental principle of the school is learning through play. They posit that “children need to move, to touch, to hold, to take things apart, to rearrange, experiment, deconstruct, reconstruct, imagine, talk out loud, and to play” (RCP, 2023).
The school requires parent participation but the role of the adults is to “establish the play environment and provide guidance, understanding that young children learn best though self-directed, uninterrupted play” (RCP, 2023). When I was pregnant, my then-husband and I visited the school because he and his sister had attended as children. I will never forget the sign that I saw with the rules:
- Only interfere if the child is:
- hurting themselves
- hurting someone else
- or damaging property
- Only interfere if the child is:
There are many exploration areas including a small chicken coop, a tool shed and bench, musical instruments, a reading nook, a zip-line, and much more because “learning involves all of the senses” (RCP, 2023).
Leading children in learning as play is a foundation that sets them up for lifelong learning. Allowing children to explore their environments and try new things out for themselves instills the feeling of confidence and independence. And playing to learn as adults is a fantastic way to show children that learning can be fun, whether you’re 4 or 94.
Bay Area Discovery Museum. (n.d.). Retrieved April 4, 2023, from https://bayareadiscoverymuseum.org/
Dowdy, C. (2022, February 7). What the Nordics can teach us about having fun. BBC.
Exhibits – Try It Studio. (n.d.). Photograph, Sausalito, CA.
Roseville Community Preschool. (n.d.). Retrieved April 4, 2023, from https://rosevillecp.org/about
Placer County Library. (n.d.) Retrieved April 4, 2023, from https://www.placer.ca.gov/8427/Builders-Club
Reflection 4 – The Power of Stories
When thinking about what I wanted to write about for Reflection 4, New Horizons or The Power of Stories, I was drawn to the idea of storytelling, but I couldn’t pin down exactly what I felt like reflecting on.
I finally realized what I wanted to share, and be forewarned, this is a heavy post, so please prepare your heart.
My daughter was born on March 1, 2019, almost a year exactly before Covid made its way to the states. In May of 2020, my then husband, Todd, said he wanted a divorce. It was best for us and it was best for Sloane. We co-parented well and made sure that our choices were in Sloane’s best interest. Life went on for awhile, but in August 2021, Todd was in a fatal motorcycle accident. To say I was heartbroken for Sloane is an understatement.
Todd was an adventurer. Anything that led to an adrenaline rush, he was up for–mountain biking, skydiving, excessively fast sports cars, cross-country motorcycle trips. For a few years straight, he went on these thousand-mile motorcycle rides with a group of guys, and they’d go off-road and ride up and down mountains and through shallow rivers. He unfortunately did not get to make the trip in August of 2021 because he was thrown from his bike just two hours into their ride.
Sloane was not yet two and a half when her dad died. A few weeks ago she turned four and I’m sure she doesn’t really remember who he was aside from her daddy. Everything she will know about him will come from the stories his family and friends tell about him. He loved a juicy burger with a sour beer; he was an inventor and tinkerer; he could take apart a car’s engine and put it back together; he made terrible scrambled eggs; he loved playing Dungeons and Dragons; he was proud of his Scottish heritage and wore his Wallace tartan with pride; and more than anything he loved Sloane.
While browsing The Human Library and watching some of the StoryCorps videos, I wondered what Todd would have talked about if he were to be a part of it. He could have talked for hours about his motorcycle trips, or discussed the aspects of the Scottish Highland games, or about how he invented a gas gauge for motorcycles. The StoryCorps video about Kim and CJ and organ donation hit home for me, since Todd was an organ donor and was able to save the lives of many people. I hope one day we get to hear stories from those people.
Sharing stories is how we remember the ones we’ve lost. After Todd was gone, I started recording short videos of myself reading books for Sloane. I’d like to compile them along with stories and pictures and videos of her dad so she can grow up hearing about how much of a nerdy, silly, caring, adventurous guy he was.
The ability to share stories is such a huge part of librarianship, academic, public, or special. Everyone should be able to share their stories and hear stories from people who are different from us. Organizations like The Human Library and StoryCorps recognize this. I believe more libraries should give access to organizations like this, or hold their own events for story sharing.
Innovation Strategy & Roadmap: STEAM Programming in Libraries
For my Innovation Strategy & Roadmap, I wanted to dig into STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) programming for public libraries.
My partner used to run a STEAM-based program after school and during school holidays for children from kindergarten to 5th grade. I’ve seen how much STEAM activities can change how a kid thinks, plays, and problem solves. Failure is considered part of the process, and participants are encouraged to use failure as a learning opportunity. The processes that STEAM education teaches translate into life and helps kids problem solve and think in different ways.
I believe that having STEAM programming available at no cost to kids everywhere would benefit the communities they live in because they will be more likely to try new things, work harder to fix problems, and possibly even go into a STEAM field for a career.
Reflection 3 – New Models: Hygge
I first heard about the Scandinavian concept of hygge from a friend a few years ago. Even now, I’m not entirely sure I can convey exactly what it means.
Recently I got to see Frozen on Broadway (Lee, 2023) and they have an entire song and dance sequence about hygge!
Oaken, our favorite frosty forest man, tells Anna and Kristoff what hygge is and isn’t.
Finding a spider in your shoe?Not hygge Having an annoying thing to do? Not hygge (Lee, 2023)
And he stresses that what’s most important, is that you can’t have hygge without your family and friends.
Since hygge is a concept, it isn’t something that can be any one place or event or person or item. It’s a feeling that you get when you’re cozy, comfortable, safe. In Michael Stephen’s book, he describes it as, “a feeling, a vibe, a state of mind. Others say it’s about connections, conversations, and comfort” (Stephens, 2019). Stephens also asks how this could translate to serving the community and inform our practices (2019).
When I think about my local library, cozy and comfortable are not really two words that come to mind. I take my daughter sometimes to play at the train table in the children’s section, but all the seats are hard wood. If I were to make this library more hygge, I’d add items to make it feel more cozy: beanbags, soft chairs, maybe even some soft climbing structures for the kiddos.
But those are just things; hygge isn’t things, as we’ve already discussed. Creating the feeling of hygge in a community is showing that everyone is cared for and welcomed. Some activities Stephen’s recommends includes book clubs at brew pubs and travel chats (2019). More events like these, plus making the library a welcoming and open place for everyone in the community could promote a sense of hygge.
For me, curling up with a book and a warm beverage under a cozy blanket, or snuggling with my partner or daughter and watching a movie are ways to evoke hygge. What gives you the feeling of hygge in your every day life?
Lee, J. (Writer). Timbers, A. (Director). (2023, January). Frozen. Manhattan; St. James Theater.
Stephens, M. T. (2019). Wholehearted librarianship: Finding hope, inspiration, and balance. ALA Editions.
Reflection 2 – Hyperlinks are people too
Before starting this course, if you had asked me what a hyperlinked library meant, I would have thought something along the lines of a library that is connected to its community (and other communities) in unique ways. But in the last 5 weeks I’ve learned that hyperlinks are people too. Being a hyperlink means community building, like the Community Cares closet at the Capital Area District Libraries, where anyone can enter, grab what they need, and leave. Hyperlinks are kids sleepovers at the Dokk1 in Aarhus, Denmark, giving children the chance to experience the library in a new way.
When reviewing Week 5’s materials, one video stood out to me and made me appreciate librarianship that much more: the Multnomah Library’s Equity and Inclusion program in Portland, Oregon. The video focuses on multiple library employees’ experiences and shows how a diverse workforce can improve the community it serves.
Sonja Ervin, the Equity and Inclusion Manager, asks “who are we missing?” and “How do we understand the communities we aren’t serving, but need to?”
The library makes it a point to hire people from the community, like Library Assistant and Black Cultural Library Advocate, LeFoster Williams, a Black man. He believes that the system needs to be equitable and inclusive. Having a diverse staff doesn’t mean anything if the programs and services aren’t helping the marginalized communities. Williams says it makes him especially happy when a patron who is a person of color comes in and sees that the library hires other POCs; it makes these patrons feel welcome and included. “It gives me pride to know that I’m representing my community.”
Jon Worona, the Director of Content Strategy, started the Welcome to Computers program for digital inclusivity. Worona works with organizations in the community to identify marginalized groups who need these classes. It’s a series of four classes, and at the fifth class, everyone in the cohort receives a computer.
Vailey Oehlke, the Director of Libraries for the Multnomah County Library System, believes that this program spreads trust. Libraries are trusted places in the community, and while libraries are allegedly free and open to all, they haven’t always “walked that walk.” She says that acknowledging that was the first step.
It’s important to not only acknowledge when we have privilege, but to take steps to minimize the effect our privilege has on our community and use that advantage for good. It’s critical to create programs and services that help those who have not been helped in the past, to show that we care about the entire community.
American Library Association. (2019, June 17). Multnomah County Library: Creating conditions for equity to flourish [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SKGlxh-zc0Y
Assignment X – Library Automation
Is library automation the library of the future?
Some might think that automation means getting rid of librarians. On the contrary! Automation could help give librarians more time back. Libraries are meant to serve people, and it’s difficult to serve if so much of librarians’ time is being spent on non-patron-related tasks, or tasks that aren’t directly assisting patrons.
A few examples of automation include:
- Allowing staff to work remotely, which could free up available hours to assist library patrons digitally; this could also allow librarians and other staff to assist patrons at multiple locations.
- Machine learning can be utilized to cut down on time spent completing data entry.
- Outsourcing help like IT, help desk, and security can be hired so that the library can stay open longer hours without needing to be staffed directly on site.
Another item in the pro column for automation: digital interactive interfaces, like the ones I’ve linked below.
The interactive desk at the DDR Museum in Berlin is the first interface of that type that I’ve gotten to play around with. You’re able to look at files, review historical notes, and even move office supplies around! I’d love to see other interfaces like this all over the world.
(There is also a bedroom with a closet at the DDR Museum where you can choose an item of clothing to wear by placing it on a specific spot on the rod, and a camera will impose your image onto the “mirror” of you wearing the item of clothing you chose!)
Growing up as a millennial, I’ve seen technology grow and change in so many ways that I never could have dreamed of. What other ways can we automate libraries? What do you hope to see in the future?
Reflection 1 – The Heart of the Matter
In chapter 1 of Michael’s book, two items on page 2 stuck out to me: that the library is everywhere, and that we need to reach all users, not just the ones that come through the physical doors (2016). This is the heart of the Hyperlinked Library model. To focus on the heart is to be “a good, innovative librarian … taking a humanistic stance toward policy, decision-making, and experimentation,” (Stephens, 2016, p. 6).
In Stephen’s book, he asks “What can you do to encourage the heart of your library users?” (2016, p. 5).
There is a wonderful quote I return to again and again: in The Last Lecture, Randy Pausch writes, “There is more than one way to measure profits and losses. On every level institutions can and should have a heart” (Stephens, 2016, p. 26).
I read The Last Lecture years ago, but being reminded of it and reading this quote made me tear up a little. Empathy, in life as much as in librarianship, is necessary to move us along.
It’s 2023, and like it or not, “technology is part of our lives,” (Stephens, 2016, p. 25). How do we connect the heart of librarianship to technology? How do we use tech to make a difference? Being able to tour the Dokk1 library in Aarhus, Denmark, is one of the coolest library-related things I’ve done recently. It’s amazing to see what other librarians are doing with their time, space, and compassion. Librarians are looking at what users want and creating programs around that, instead of what they think would benefit the library. (My partner was amused at how excited I was to be able to virtually tour such a cool library that’s so far from home!)
“The attitudes of reflective action … include open-mindedness, responsibility, and wholeheartedness” (Stephens, 2016, p.28).
We should challenge ourselves to view things from others’ perspectives, see what will help those around us, not just ourselves, and put our entire effort into the cause.
Who am I and why am I here?
Hello friends, and welcome to my blog for INFO287! I’m excited for this course, as I had Prof. Stephens last semester for INFO200 and thoroughly enjoyed not only his class, but interacting with him and other students in the class as well. I learned a lot from everyone and I’m looking forward to another productive semester.
I chose this course because, as a millennial, I’ve been connected to the internet for most of my life and can remember finally getting a home computer. I could (and do) spend hours online connecting with others, sharing moments with friends and family, and learning what’s out there. I’ve always loved getting materials from the library, and since the pandemic, have made great use of the online resources many libraries made available.
When my daughter had Covid, we were stuck in a hotel room across the country from home with no access to any of the books in our vast home library (I’m not kidding; my kid probably has 100 books on her shelf and she isn’t even 4). What was a bored, captive mom to do!? Oh yeah, the iPad! I had already downloaded the Libby app and was able to get a decent amount of books for us to read together; some of those books even had songs, audio options, and animations!
One of the main reasons why I started my MLIS journey is to help uplift and provide safe spaces and resources for marginalized communities (LGBTQ+, BIPOC, AAPI). The internet might have a lot of mis- and disinformation, but it also has endless places for these communities to gather without fear of harm or further marginalization. I believe that libraries can have a hand in providing more resources, and also making more cultural materials available, materials that have historically been suppressed.
I’m looking forward to learning about how we can all be more connected!