New #hyperlibMOOC Article: Emerging Roles – Key Insights from Librarians in a Massive Open Online Course

Stephens, M., & Jones, K. M. L. (2015). Emerging roles: Key insights from librarians in a massive open online course. Journal of Library and Information Services in Distance Learning, 9(1-2), 133–147. doi: 10.1080/1533290X.2014.946353
Abstract:

From the cutting edge of innovations in online education comes the MOOC (Massive Open Online Course), a potentially disruptive and transformational mechanism for large-scale learning. What’s the role of librarians in a MOOC? What can librarians learn from participating in a large-scale professional development opportunity delivered in an open environment to illuminate their own practice? This paper explores the experiences and perceptions of librarians/information professionals participating in an LIS-centered MOOC taught by the authors. We will share insights gained from active participants in the course as they encounter this emerging landscape.

Background:

In September 2013, the San Jose State University’s School of Library and Information Science (SJSU SLIS) launched its first massive open online course (MOOC), the Hyperlinked Library MOOC (#hyperlibMOOC). The Hyperlinked Library course centers on key theories and concepts that merge trends in participatory culture with library and information environments. At its core, the Hyperlinked Library encourages transparent, participatory, and user-centered information services that employ emerging technologies to increase open, collaborative information experiences.

#hyperlibMOOC was adapted from an existing online graduate course of the same name created by SJSU SLIS Assistant Professor Michael Stephens, an author of this paper. The course had been previously only offered to SJSU students enrolled in the Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) program. The #hyperlibMOOC was not for credit and was intended to serve as a professional development opportunity for librarians, library staff, and professionals who work in libraries, archives, and other types of information environments.

What’s the big idea?! Incorporating Threshold Concepts Keynote (post by TTW Contributor Troy Swanson)

Amy Hofer, Sylvia Lu, and Lori Townsend’s keynote at the 2015 Information Literacy Summit (Illinois). They discuss their research and thinking about information literacy threshold concepts, which underlie ACRL’s Information Literacy Framework for Higher Education. The IL Summit is a partnership between the Moraine Valley Community College Library and the DePaul University Libraries.

Description: When introduced to threshold concepts, librarians usually ask “How do I use them?” Yet this question hopscotches another: “Do I understand threshold concepts and how they relate to information literacy?” Threshold concepts are themselves a threshold concept. They are transformative, integrative, irreversible, bounded, troublesome, and – importantly – they take time to traverse. With ACRL’s shift toward more conceptual teaching in the new Framework for Information Literacy, our profession needs to take time to deeply understand what this kind of teaching and learning is all about. We’ll talk about the theory of threshold concepts and making incremental moves towards conceptual teaching and assessment, including how to incorporate the work that instruction librarians already do in this arena and why traditional bibliographic instruction still has a place in our teaching repertoire.

What’s the big idea?! Incorporating Threshold Concepts into Your Teaching Practice

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Troy A. Swanson is Department Chair and Teaching & Learning Librarian at Moraine Valley Community College. He is the co-editor of the recent book from ACRL, Not Just Where to Click: Teaching Students How to Think About Information. You can follow him on Twitter at @t_swanson.

Building a Minecraft Community

You won’t want to miss reading about this library’s innovative experiment with Minecraft to build a community of young users.

John Blyberg, assistant director for innovation and user experience at the Darien (CT) Library has turned his “public library into a gathering spot for friends new and old, and a place to decompress” simply by running a single server for Minecraft users.

To read more about Blyberg’s innovative way to build an “afterschool sanctuary” follow this link:

http://www.slj.com/2015/04/technology/my-public-library-minecraft-community/#_

 

Making Libraries Habit-forming! — A TTW Guest Post by Susan Musson

listening

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg (2012) has been on my books-to-read list for over a year now so I was quite pleased to see it included in the list of suggestions for this Context Book assignment. My only hesitation was that I was unsure how a book on habits could be applied to the library community. I needn’t have worried. This book is not a ‘self-help’ manual, and Charles Duhigg is not a therapist or neurologist. He’s a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist which is evident in his conversational tone and investigative style. He describes how habits have destroyed and then saved people’s lives, emotionally and physically; how companies came back from the brink of bankruptcy; how one of the lowest ranked teams in the NFL turned their game around; and how oppressed, but resigned citizens came together during the Montgomery Bus Boycott. While these seemingly random case studies may not sound related, it is the recognition of habits and how using that awareness made it possible for dramatic change, individually, company-wide, and throughout an entire community. It was the focus on this last subject that made me realize what a powerful tool habits can be and how applying them to public libraries will require reforming habits of patrons as well as librarians.

Duhigg has developed a simplified model of why habits develop and how this awareness is critical in changing certain ones. “Habits are powerful, but delicate. They can emerge outside our consciousness, or can be deliberately designed. They often occur without our permissions, but can be reshaped by fiddling with their parts. They shape our lives far more than we realize – they are so strong, in fact, that they cause our brains to cling to them at the exclusion of all else, including common sense.” (Duhigg, 2012, Location 521). Identifying habits as three individual processes allows us to examine and modify each in order to change. https://duhigg-site.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Flowchart-How-to-Change-a-Habit.pdf

“Experiments have been carried out publicly in the foyer of the Main Library in Aarhus.” (transformationlab, 2007). This is a great example of how testing the theory in Step 2 of Duhigg’s flowchart works. Obviously not all libraries have resources that were made available at the Main Library in Aarhus, but that shouldn’t stop one from trying some simpler experiments. One way to find out how library patrons want to participate is by asking them, just as the L. A. Public Library did in 2013, http://magazine.good.is/articles/crowdsourced-design-why-los-angeles-is-asking-the-public-to-create-the-library-of-the-future. For many patrons, seeing their idea or suggestion brought to life is the ultimate reward. As patrons grow accustomed to being asked for input, responding to those requests will become a habit.

Participatory service is a two way street and there are so many ways libraries can contribute. For example, I would love it if my library emailed me book suggestions based on my previous check outs, and even better, offering a hold option so it would be available for me to pick up within the next 24 hours. Duhigg talks about how Target has been researching our buying habits to provide more individualized marketing material, a.k.a. coupons and catalogs. (Did you know your envelope of coupons might be completely different from that of your neighbors?) Amazon has been collecting data about our purchases and feedback for years and uses it to make more purchase suggestions, as well providing our reviews for others to help choose their own purchases. “To market a new habit – be it groceries or aerobics – you must understand how to make the novel seem familiar.” (Duhigg, 2012, Location 3285). So, by using patrons’ records, with their permission of course, libraries have the option for customizing and personalizing communications for each user. Senior events and classes could be announced by automated phone calls to the generation that might not have embraced social media. On the opposite end of that spectrum would be tweets and instagrams about after-school library programs and homework help to those that seem glued to their phones. Tracking feedback via social media and program attendance will give libraries a sense of what patrons want, and what they might not be interested in. Pretty soon, library patrons will be expecting reading suggestions and being able to register for a program through email or on their phones, and a new habit is created!

Resources:

Duhigg, C. (2012). The power of habit: Why we do what we do in life and business. Random House, New York. [Kindle version]

Mack, C. (2013, February 15). Crowdsourced design: Why Los Angeles is asking the public to create the library of the future [Web log post]. GOOD.Retrieved from http://www.good.is/posts/crowdsourced-design-why-los-angeles-is-asking-the-public-to-create-the-library-of-the-future

transformationlab [Kanal tilhørende transformationlab]. (2007, May 7). Transformation lab – Prototyping the future [Video file]. Retrieved from http://youtu.be/TpFO_L_jA1c

securedownloadSusan is a student working towards her Master of Library and Information Science at SJSU School of Information. She looks forward to joining the growing number of information professionals who are working to break down the physical limitations of libraries. Susan believes that today’s libraries are not defined by a building or a book, but rather defined as a structural or virtual space of unlimited information, that should be made available to everyone with a thirst for learning.

Upcoming Presentations Spring & Summer 2015

April 26: MOOC Workshop, Computers in Libraries 2015, Washington, DC.

April 28, 2015: Keynote – Learning Everywhere: Users, Empathy, and Reflective Practice, Connecticut Library Association Conference, Mystic, Connecticut,

May 4, 2015: Learning Everywhere, Florida Library Webinars, online.

May 29, 2015: Learning Everywhere: The Transformative Power of Hyperlinked Libraries, Prescott Valley, Arizona, for the Arizona Library Association.

June 5, 2015: Opening Keynote, Technologies and Trends Workshop, Grand Valley State University, Mary Idema Pew Library, for the Michigan Library Association.

June 24: Keynote, I LEAD USA, Springfield, Illinois.

Fall 2015:

October 25, 2015: Keynote, Colorado Library Association

 

MOOC Workshop at CIL with Wendy Newman!

Speaker Spotlight

We interviewed Computers in Libraries 2015 speaker Michael Stephens about why he thinks opportunities for learning everywhere are so important to our library community. Read below for his answers and make sure to attend the workshop he is teaching with Wendy Newman.

Dr. Michael Stephens
Assistant Professor
San Jose State University & Tame the Web

Twitter
Michael Stephens

Question 1: What key library issues are you most concerned about for the coming year?

M.S.- I think it’s an ongoing issue that each and every library find the best and most useful ways  to tap into community needs. Librarians need to be present in communities (city, town, campus, school, company) beyond the four walls of the library. Technology helps but so does getting out and being visible. How can people care about us if they don’t know what we do or who we are? And, we should all be ready with that elevator pitch about our jobs, anytime and anywhere. Please see: http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2015/02/opinion/michael-stephens/whats-your-pitch-office-hours/

Question 2: Tell us why you think MOOCs are so important to our library community.

M.S. – I think all learning – in MOOCs, in library instruction classes, in LIS programs – should be as open and connected as possible and built on collaborative experience. Instructors must be present and encourage the learning community. We can do that by providing learning opportunities that are practical, production centered, and get the learner actually doing something. I also believe we should take advantage of the fact that learning can happen ANYWHERE. Our MOOC students and my students at SJSU School of Information participate from wherever they happen to be: blogging on the go via their phones, watching a presentation while doing laundry, or working on a project with others via whatever tool suits them best.

Don’t miss this workshop at Computers in Libraries:

Sunday April 26 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. W4: MOOC Magic 101: Building a MOOC

Libraries, change, and the future — A TTW Guest Post by Jonathan Pacheco Bell

listening

You gotta see me change

See me change, Yeah I’m leavin’ town

On a midnight train, Gotta see me change

Change, change, change, Change, change, change

Change, change, change, Change, change, change

Woa, change, change, change

~ “The Changeling” by The Doors

(Rocking out to The Doors while reading this is encouraged)

Change is supposed to be temporary. We know change as that transitional, unsettling state between more reassuring times. In our imagination, and as it plays out in life, change happens but then things stabilize. Or at least that’s how it used to be. As the foundational readings underscore, our present era — the hyperlinked, Web 2.0 era — is defined by the characteristic of change. This portends substantial shifts for public libraries.

We knew change was coming. As the below Google Ngram shows, we’ve been increasingly discussing “change” over the last 200 years (Fig. 1). We shouldn’t be surprised that change is now a constant state. Yet some libraries are fairing better than others in this tumultuous time. Recall that libraries are institutions mired in traditions; they’re slower to evolve because of it. Moreover, our public libraries operate under the added burden of entrenched municipal bureaucracy. Combine traditions and bureaucracy and we see why public libraries are less responsive to change. But evolve they must, lest they be outsourced or shuttered.

Figure 1: Google Ngram for the word "change" from 1800 - 2008

How should public libraries respond to change? The foundational readings provide direction. Spanning 20 years of thought, the readings outline for librarians a change-accepting mindset and practical approaches to utilize to thrive in this time of permanent change.

Michael Buckland’s 1992 ebook Redesigning Library Services: A Manifesto lays out what’s needed for effective future public library service. Written during the beta days of online libraries, the manifesto calls out public library leaders for failing to plan for service in the coming digital age. “It seems that the relative stability of the past century is but a prologue to another period of radical change” (Buckland, 1992, Ch. 1). Change is a recurrent theme throughout Buckland’s piece. Libraries must deal with considerable change: technological change, the change from Paper to Automated to Electronic library, changes in user populations and cultures, and service delivery updates needed to respond to these changes. Digital resource delivery is championed as a way to keep public libraries relevant and effective in the 21st century.

Michael E. Casey and Laura C. Savastinuk examine the impact of social media on libraries in the 2007 book Library 2.0: A Guide to Participatory Library Service. They wrote this book on the cusp of the social web transformation. The iPhone was emerging as the dominant social web-enabling on-the-go device. Social media was transitioning from 1.0 Friendster and MySpace to 2.0 Facebook and Twitter. Blogs, social tagging, and what I call “sharing as default state” were becoming the new norm. Following Buckland, Casey and Savastinuk argue for evolving to digital services and Web 2.0 to ensure the library’s survival. Change is core to Casey and Savastinuk’s thesis. Change is part of their essential ingredients for library 2.0. Change is expected for incorporating 2.0 technologies. The authors provide a “framework for change” to secure buy-in, understanding, and implementation of library 2.0 services. Change is the modus operandi of library 2.0. As Casey and Savastinuk lay out, library 2.0 entails sharing, collaboration, participation, empowerment; it’s also attuned to the emotional needs of library users. Rooted in the social web, Library 2.0 reflects the zeitgeist of today.

Buckland told libraries to think digitally because the Information Age was coming. Casey and Savastinuk told libraries to think socially because the social Web 2.0 had arrived. Brian Mathew’s 2012 white paper Think Like a Startup naturally carries the conversation forward. In this era of exponential innovation — exemplified by tech startups — libraries and librarians must start operating entrepreneurially. In today’s environment, he says, “Change is going to be difficult, but the good news is that we know it’s necessary… In fact, this theme of change has become part of our landscape. Change is the new normal. Change is the only constant” (Mathews, 2012, p. 3). He follows with a 10-point manifesto explaining steps to become a change-ready, entrepreneurial library:

  1. Be forward thinking to anticipate user needs and desired ends. Learning delivery is no longer the purview of brick-and-mortar buildings; be digital, be online
  2. Hire innovators and encourage innovation in library culture
  3. Think like a start-up: embrace change, make the library a platform, embed innovation in library culture
  4. Learn to fail well: be daring enough to try and to learn from failure, listen to feedback, evolve, look for gaps to innovate
  5. Employ a method: Build, Measure, Learn (start-up method) or Learn, Build, Measure (UX method)
  6. Aim for 3 essential qualities: usability, feasibility, value
  7. Deemphasize assessment which limits innovation
  8. Develop a Strategic Culture instead of that boring strategic plan
  9. Use a telescope for seeing up and over. Ditch the microscope peering narrowly downward
  10. Implement, do it, make it happen!

SHHHHHHH TO CHANGEIndeed, change is the MO for 21st century libraries. Stability is ephemeral. Disruption is normal. Librarians must embrace this paradigm shift. The foundational readings make it clear that: 1) Technology will continue to advance our world and the library mustn’t fall behind, 2) The social web is upon us and libraries must adapt to it; yet libraries must also look ahead for the next era, be it Web 3.0 or some as-yet-named experience, and 3) Library survival requires innovation, courage, future-thought, and follow through.

Of course this is effortless to proclaim in the abstract. In reality, it’s going to be challenging to carry out this new way of thinking for certain public libraries whose institutional cultures, internal protocols, and operational standards resist change. How can we convince reticent library administrators to embrace change, new technologies, and future-thinking? Below are a few of my ideas premised on a plausible deliverable of a public library today:

  • Grab their interest “modestly” — Sounds oxymoronic but it works. Bureaucracies think new is scary and change is disruptive. A workaround is necessary. We can coax hesitant library administrators into supporting innovative projects, programs, and services if these offerings don’t appear all that scary or disruptive. We can show the benefits of technological change through a modest demonstration project, like a digital community history. Check out these examples from public libraries in East Los Angeles and New York City. Digital histories encompass traditional and innovative archival methods and they’re well supported by constituents.
  • Assure them it’s easy — Technology, change, and the future can appear complex to hesitant administrators. And yet we know that today’s technology is easy enough for babies to learn. We must parlay that ease. We must demonstrate to decision makers that it’s not that difficult to pull off.
  • Build a team — Managers like teams because they want staff working together to solve problems. Give them that. Enlist a group of people with a variety of skills. Don’t just focus on tech-savvy Millennials. Enlist people of all ages with project management, writing, coalition building, and people skills. A team effort sends the message that the project is widely embraced — and a team effort will help get it done.
  • Fund it — Ease management’s knee-jerk and predictable budget concerns by seeking grants to fund the project. Grant funding is available from organizations like IMLS, ALA, and the CA State Library. Decision makers are especially supportive when some other agency is paying.
  • Get buy-in — Management is always more willing to approve when the community supports the project. Gaining assistance from allied agencies bolsters your chances. Thus we must conduct outreach and get buy-in from constituents. We should enlist other agencies whose specialized knowledge helps our efforts. It would be foolish for decision makers to disregard constituents’ will, especially when assistance from partners makes the project that much easier to accomplish.
  • Do it — Whatever it is we envision, our ideas and passions must be turned into action and results. Our team must complete the demonstration project. We must implement it. The community deserves it, we deserve it, and our reticent managers who rolled the dice both expect and deserve it. We will deliver.
  • Market it — We must be cheerleaders for our demonstration project. We must sustain interest which supports longevity. We must broadcast it throughout and beyond our target communities. In addition to analog ‘word of mouth’ mentions, we must take to the social web to share the project globally via tweets, likes, forwards, Facebook status updates, Instagram pics, Snapchat and Vine video clips, tags, hashtags, Tumblr blogs, and whatever new web outlets emerge on the horizon.

Change is unsettling. It’s nerve-wrecking to be out of your comfort zone. Yet it is those moments that yield learning and growth. Public libraries have limitless opportunities for future-focused development in this era of permanent change. Librarians must embrace change as a way of life.

References

Buckland, M. (1992). Redesigning library services: A manifesto. American Library Association. Retrieved from http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/Literature/Library/Redesigning/html.html

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

Mathews, B. (2012, April). Think like a startup [White paper]. Retrieved from http://vtechworks.lib.vt.edu/bitstream/handle/10919/18649/Think%20like%20a%20STARTUP.pdf?sequence=1

 

Jonathan is a Los Angeles Urban Planner and MLIS student at SJSU’s School of Information. Jonathan’s professional interests include library design, libraries as public space, and the role of public libraries in urbanized communities of color. His work has been published in UrbDeZine, Public Libraries, Public Library Quarterly, and SJSU  SOI’s Student Research Journal. He earned his M.A. in Urban Planning from UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs in 2005 and studied political science and architecture as an undergraduate. Jonathan will complete the MLIS in 2016.
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Obstacles to Participation: The Little Free Library Edition — A TTW Guest Post by Jonathan Pacheco Bell

listeningThis Little Free Library in Los Angeles is at the center of controversy. Little Free Libraries embody community participation and action.

The Little Free Library (LFL) movement has quickly caught on across the US. The dollhouse-sized miniature libraries are found on front lawns, parks, and public squares coast to coast. LFLs house books and magazines for community members. Circulation is free and runs on an honor system. The motto: “Take a book. Return a book.” As @michael pointed out in this Module 5 article, LFLs support literacy, stewardship, and community. They’re also examples of low-tech, high value localized collections that offer community enrichment and connection in public space. LFLs are a manifestation of community participation, action, and improvement. Who could object?

Rest assured, every community has someone who relishes being a killjoy. As this recent Los Angeles Times article explains, one L.A. homeowner has been ordered to remove the LFL he built in the parkway (grassy strip between the road and sidewalk) in front of his house. An anonymous angry neighbor complained to city hall. Such complaints happen often enough that LFL leadership published this guide for dealing with code enforcement complaints.

As Michael Casey notes, participatory libraries today face difficult times given the naysayers and prognosticators of doom. The story of upheaval caused by a tiny wooden book box in L.A. resonates with #hyperlibs and participatory libraries today. It illustrates the challenges we face trying to enlist participation for library initiatives. From this episode we can glean some cautionary lessons:

  • Obstacles to participation are inevitable – Know that there will be obstacles to participation. Participation requires time, effort, teamwork, investment, motivation and sacrifice — all the things that stoke resistance in some people! The sooner we identify the inevitable obstacles the faster we can develop options to address them.
  • Obstacles may be homegrown – We may think participation obstacles will come from cowardly, cautious, listless managers talking about “Nobody will use this service.” Know that resistance can easily come from within. The angry neighbor who reported the LFL was from the same community that overwhelmingly loved this service. We rely on participation from people close [geographically and/or digitally] to the service. They’re not always allies.
  • People are obstacles – Know that the people we want to participate can be fickle, defeatist, and negative. Some just won’t commit to an initiative, or they commit half way, no matter how great it is. They share none of our enthusiasm for participatory service. They’re naysayers who stomp on ideas. Despite how cool, populist, and innovative DOK’s user-generated content is, I’m sure killjoys griped about having to provide the photos. These kind of people are not the majority, but they do exist.
  • Institutions are obstacles – Perhaps the biggest obstacle is the institutional framework in which libraries operate. Public libraries are bureaucracies. They are functions of municipal government, which is historically and colloquially equated to bureaucracy par excellence. As discussed in my Context Book Review, pervasive red tape — codes, rules, standards, policies, protocols, processes — suffocates innovation in government. The offending LFL in the parkway is a problem solely because a long-ago-written ordinance defines parkway placements as dangerous “obstructions.” The well intentioned code does not account for the LFL’s actual use or context. Codes notoriously do not evolve with the times, largely because bureaucracy makes change difficult to achieve. Know that this kind of stifling environment undercuts motivation we need for participatory service.

Knowing these lessons ahead of time makes us better prepared to respond to the inevitable obstacles facing participatory service. Leadership is needed to deal with obstacles and ensure participation. Planning ahead, forecasting challenges, developing alternatives and creative solutions, exhibiting courage — these are hallmarks of strong leadership toward these ends. It pays off, too. As this article reports, the owner of the LFL in L.A. is fighting back, as is another LFL owner in Shreveport, Louisiana. Precedent and momentum are on their side. Just check out 9-year-old Spencer’s LFL story and video!

 

Jonathan is a Los Angeles Urban Planner and MLIS student at SJSU’s School of Information. Jonathan’s professional interests include library design, libraries as public space, and the role of public libraries in urbanized communities of color. His work has been published in UrbDeZine, Public Libraries, Public Library Quarterly, and SJSU  SOI’s Student Research Journal. He earned his M.A. in Urban Planning from UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs in 2005 and studied political science and architecture as an undergraduate. Jonathan will complete the MLIS in 2016.
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People, Libraries & Technology – A Weblog by Michael Stephens