Category Archives: Salzburg Global Seminar 2011 – Participatory Culture

Revisiting Participatory Service in Trying Times – a TTW Guest Post by Michael Casey

Note from Michael : I am honored to have written over two years of The Transparent Library with Michael Casey. I am pleased he took me up on an offer to do a guest post about participatory service for the Salzburg Global Seminar week. I asked him to explore where we’ve come from 2005 and where we are headed. This was the topic of a blog he started in 2005 and a book he co-authored in 2007. But the world has changed a great deal since 2005. Perhaps the biggest change has been that of the economy derailing many initiatives and services in public libraries. In the end, however, I think you will see that Michael still has a lot of optimism regarding the strong future of public libraries, especially those that embrace a participatory service model.

 

Participatory library services have come a long way over the past six years. You don’t have to look far to see libraries participating in social media outlets, interacting with their community through blogs and SMS, and polling their users with online surveying tools. Entire industries have grown up around the idea of the participatory library, just take a look at Springshare.

We see many great examples of public libraries using services like Facebook to reach out to, and engage, their community. The New York Public Library has almost 42,000 Facebook fans, Hennepin almost 6,000. Many other libraries around the world have created a presence on Facebook.

But in those two examples, as in so many other library Facebook pages, you see some interaction between the library and the individual library user, but most of what you see is one-way. Most library Facebook pages are used for announcements and events notification, not true communication.

Yet this is just one example. Take a look at the Blogging Libraries Wiki and click through to a few library blogs. Many of them are no longer active. Others are gone and the URL simply redirects to the library’s homepage. And when was the last time your local library sent you a survey link that asked you for your ideas? For many of you, the answer is either “never” or “not for a few years”.

Over the past six years we’ve seen and heard a lot of push-back regarding the use of new social tools in the library. One quote that comes to mind is from 2007, “Right now people are enamored of blogs and wikis and Facebook and this sort of thing.  But that’s this year’s set of technology.  Five years from now we’ll be talking about a whole different set of things.

Ironically, the world still uses those same tools today. The only difference is that in late 2007 there were 50 million active Facebook users, today there are over 800 million.

So with this huge audience available to us, why haven’t we made greater use of the tools at hand? Why haven’t we moved beyond the idea of just talking to our community to actually engaging them? Or, to quote Tim O’Reilly, “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?

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. The community should be involved in the brainstorming for new ideas and services, they should play a role in planning for those services, and they should definitely be involved in the evaluation and review process.

These are not new ideas. I put them to paper in my 2007 book. Some critics of that book argued that libraries have been doing these things for ages. I wish I could say I agree.

The economic downturn has created very difficult times for libraries in this country. We’ve seen many public libraries struggling to stay open and remain relevant in their community. Many libraries have had to reduce hours and lay-off staff. Some have reached out to their communities, not only for short-term help in raising badly needed cash, but also for long-term help with planning.

The importance of this participation cannot be overstated, especially in these difficult economic times. Taxpayers are more and more reluctant to part with any percentage of their diminishing paychecks. Getting them to participate, at any level, will go a long way towards gaining their buy-in.

With limited resources, public libraries need to struggle for every dollar, and with limited tax revenue, funding agencies will part reluctantly with every dollar. It’s up to the library to be heard, to get its community of supporters to be heard. When faced with the question of who to cut, those funding agencies must know that a cut to the local public library can not be done quietly Public libraries are a core and critical resource in the community, and public library supporters are vocal and they vote.

Take a look around your library. Is there someone in charge of your social networking presence? Better yet, do you have a group of librarians charged with reaching out on Facebook and Twitter and, soon perhaps , Google+? You take reference questions over the phone and via text, why not through those other social outlets? And how are you involving those Facebook fans in your library’s planning process? Are you asking them to participate?

Your library’s blog may be shuttered for good reason — maybe your Facebook page has far more readers. Or, perhaps your blog went dormant simply because you didn’t assign someone (or some group) with the responsibility to keep it going. Whatever the case, spend a little bit of time reexamining all of the ways you’re reaching out to your community and reallocate resources in order to most efficiently talk to, and talk with, that community.

There are far more tools available to us today than there were in 2005. And our communities have grown over these past six years. Kids and adults of all ages are now far more involved and engaged through social networking outlets. The ideas of participation and transparency are no longer new — many in our community now expect these things as a standard part of organizational operations. By taking advantage of those available tools you may find that renewed efforts by your library are met with much greater success today than ever before.

It’s far from the end for public libraries. It’s easy, in these tough times, to only listen to the naysayers and prognosticators of doom, to only hear those in our community calling for the elimination of libraries. But limited tax revenues, the Internet, and eBooks are not burying the public library. Limited tax revenues will force us to become more efficient, the Internet is part of our future, and eBooks are simply another delivery vehicle. We control this future, and we can make it a successful one by making full use of the tools at hand.

 

This post is a reflection/response to questions posed at the Salzburg Global Seminar program Libraries and Museums in an Era of Participatory Culture, exploring the challenges, solutions and potential for participatory services within libraries and museums.

Special Thanks to the Salzburg Global Seminar  and IMLS for the invitation to participate in this event.

 

Working Groups Convene

As part of the process here at the seminar, participants self-selected into five working groups based on the identified key areas of the topic. Each group is responsible for producing a set of recommendations for each area articulating a plan for the future of museums and libraries.

1. CULTURE AND COMMUNITIES

FACILITATOR: Jack Lohman, Director, Museum of London, United Kingdom

2. LEARNING TRANSFORMED

FACILITATORS: Michelle Hippolite, Kaihaut?, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington, New Zealand & Sirje Virkus, Director, Digital Library Learning, Institute of Information Studies, Tallinn University, Tallinn, Estonia

3. COMMUNICATIONS AND TECHNOLOGY

FACILITATOR: Sarah Thomas, Bodley’s Libraian, Bodleian Libraries, Oxford, United Kingdom

4. BUILDING THE SKILLS OF LIBRARY AND MUSEUM PROFESSIONALS

FACILITATOR: David Lankes, Professor, Director, Masters in Library and Information Science, Syracuse University, School of Information Studies, Syracuse, United States

5. DEMONSTRATING PUBLIC VALUE

FACILITATOR: Luis Herrera, Director, San Francisco Public Library, San Francisco, United States

Saturday morning, each group will present their report for feedback and discussion.


Special Thanks to the Salzburg Global Seminar  and IMLS for the invitation to participate in this event.

Participatory Culture: Learning Transformed

Learning Transformed: Technology, advances in neuroscience, and research are changing our understanding of effective learning environments and experiences. The boundaries between in-school and out-of-school learning are blurring, and the importance of early and lifelong learning has been recognized. What knowledge and skills do our publics need and want, and how are museums and libraries responding to these needs? How do libraries and museums tap the knowledge and skills that their publics can bring to their institutions?

The next plenary session was centered on Learning Transformed. Pablo Andrade, Studies Department Manager BiblioRedes, DIBAM, Santiago, Chile, opened the session with a presentation on participatory management mechanisms and the thriving virtual community created for residents of Chile. A key phrase impressed me in the video above  about the community Andrade shared: “community of local content.”

Elaine Heumann Gurian, Consultant/Advisor to Museums in the US, then shared some ideas about education reform. Sharing examples that exists “under the radar” in schools across the US, Gurian forecasted six elements of a future landscape of learning:

Incremental content instruction
Group problem solving
Individual chosen in depth mastery (we all become experts)
Civility
Skills proficiency (working with hands)
Workplace experience

“In the future it will take a village to raise AND educate a child,” she said and it also will include libraries and museums playing a role as extenders of the learning process. Services become disaggregated as a result of technology and other cultural changes.

This post is a reflection/response to questions posed at the Salzburg Global Seminar program Libraries and Museums in an Era of Participatory Culture, exploring the challenges, solutions and potential for participatory services within libraries and museums.

Special Thanks to the Salzburg Global Seminar  and IMLS for the invitation to participate in this event.


Participatory Culture: Culture & Communities

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Culture and Communities: How can libraries and museums use their many resources and strengths, including their collections, spaces, and people, to reflect cultural and demographic shifts and bridge cultural differences? How do they select the stories they tell and the services and experiences they offer?

Gabriela Aidar, Coordinator of the Social Inclusion Program, Sa?o Paulo State Pinacoteca, Sa?o Paulo, Brazil, opened this discussion by sharing some thoughts about combating social inequalities – how can museums take a stand in this arena? Aidar urged museums to get involved and take action through the development of specific programs and shared a case study designed to promote access to museum objects held at the museum by non museum goers. Programs include outreach to street dwellers, drug addicts, those living in poverty. Training programs for social workers is just one example of the outreach methodology for the museum.

Next up, Mats Widbom, Director, Museum of World Culture, Go?teborg, Sweden, made some intriguing points about museums breaking down barriers to access and creating an inviting atmosphere. Widbom discussed his museum’s programming and touched on reaching out to hybrid cultures. One example: the exciting “invasion” of hundreds of youth for a successful Manga festival at the museum.

Part of the museum’s mission:

The museum wants to be an arena for discussion and reflection in which many and different voices will be heard, where the controversial and conflict-filled topics can be addressed, as well as a place where people can feel at home across borders.

“A place where people can feel at home….” Nice! It was at this point where I realized how similar our goals are in pursuing a sustainable future for libraries and museums. It means engaging Ina level we might not ever have considered before. A level that might even seem scary to some in the profession. One audience member noted these actions are courageous and filled with risks: honestly involving our users, breaking down barriers to our collections and inviting our guests to create and intact with us. Bring it on!

This post is a reflection/response to questions posed at the Salzburg Global Seminar program Libraries and Museums in an Era of Participatory Culture, exploring the challenges, solutions and potential for participatory services within libraries and museums.

Special Thanks to the Salzburg Global Seminar  and IMLS for the invitation to participate in this event.


Jenkins on Participatory Culture

It’s good to revisit this definition in light of this week’s work:

“A participatory culture is a culture with relatively low barriers to artistic expression and civic engagement, strong support for creating and sharing one’s creations, and some type of informal mentorship whereby what is known by the most experienced is passed along to novices.A participatory culture is also one in which members believe their contributions matter, and feel some degree of social con- nection with one another (at the least they care what other people think about what they have created).”

From page 3 of Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century http://www.newmedialiteracies.org/files/working/NMLWhitePaper.pdf

This post is a reflection/response to questions posed at the Salzburg Global Seminar program Libraries and Museums in an Era of Participatory Culture, exploring the challenges, solutions and potential for participatory services within libraries and museums.

Special Thanks to the Salzburg Global Seminar  and IMLS for the invitation to participate in this event.

The Nature of Participatory Culture

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Our evening session featured discussion and debate on what defines participatory culture. Here are the questions explored from the seminar documents:

The Nature of Participatory Culture: What are the societal changes that are shaping the future of museums and libraries? How do these changes affect and transform their roles in their communities? What are the expectations of their different publics, and how do they create meaningful relationships with them that meet changing needs for knowledge, skills, and information? How do they remove actual or perceived barriers to access and inclusion? What is the definition of “participatory” in this context?

Discussion centered around definitions of participation, and the impact of technology. One key point: has there always been participation in creation and dissemination of knowledge, object and artifacts or is it a result of the new technologies I’ve been writing about here at TTW for a few years?

Greg Hayton, CEO of Cambridge Libraries and Galleries in Canada, shared a story about a library director in Finland moving her office into the public area in a stage-like setting to be more visible to the staff and the public. “Enlightening,” Greg said. I would agree. It takes a certain type of administrator to be that transparent.

Dawn Casey, director of the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, gave a short talk exploring the nature of participation at her institution. Sharing stories about installations and public programs, Dawn’s remarks bright to mind how important inclusion, transparency can be to administration of institutions. “It’s not just about using digital media, it’s about engaging with everyone: staff, visitors, school children – everyone,” Dawn said.

One very interesting theme that rose to the top was the concept of institutional attitudes toward participation and technology. This is where it becomes more about people and less aout technology or even the institution. The discussion was as diverse as the assembled group, with museum folk taking the lead on the discourse. I would have liked to hear more from my colleagues in libraries as the points played out. There will more time for that over the next three days.

Serhan Ada, head of the Cultural Management Program of Istanbul Biligi University, summed it up the discussion well in a final comment: “Participation occurs when someone welcomed as a guest feels as though they have become a host.”

 

This post is a reflection/response to questions posed at the Salzburg Global Seminar program Libraries and Museums in an Era of Participatory Culture, exploring the challenges, solutions and potential for participatory services within libraries and museums.

Special Thanks to the Salzburg Global Seminar  and IMLS for the invitation to participate in this event.


Participatory Culture and Teens

Teen Librarianship has a unique place within libraries.  It’s not quite a new idea for libraries to provide dedicated services to teens, yet it doesn’t still have the same kind of rich history we have with other populations.  This gives teen librarianship a unique place within libraries today; it allows the librarians that serve these groups the chance to experiment in regards to how we approach library services.  Teen librarians are not exactly bound by the same rules and programs which have held public libraries together for many years.  Librarians working with teens have the chance to fully embrace participatory culture and help build a community of patrons who participate just as much as they consume.
THE LIBRARY STAFF IS THE COLLECTION
Librarians can act as the teachers for guiding their community towards being more active in sharing.  This is one of the ways libraries in the 21st century can show their public value to their communities.  The role of the librarian is transformed when librarians help their communities create content instead of merely just consuming it.  We become teachers for our community, guides who help patrons learn and experience in new ways.  This also adds value to the library staff.  No longer are library staff just “there to help”, but they are there to help you experience.  This added value re purposes libraries; the staff has become as important as the collection.  Much like the reference book that helps you repair your car, the staff and their unique skills can help patrons navigate the 21st century.

LET’S BUILD SOMETHING
The use of technology has changed the way our community members can communicate with other.  Patrons are no longer restricted by geography, forms of communication, or channels to publish their communication.  Libraries now have a vast array of tools in our utility belt that we can call upon to engage patrons, build unique collections, and more.  For example, take Historypin, which allows users to upload photos and pin them to a Google Map.  With photos added, the true power of Historypin becomes clearer, as it creates a visual map of your community.  The best part about it?  It’s free to anyone that wants to contribute and share.  Our communities now assist in building collections, and librarians become the curators of those collections.  Better yet?  Teen are learning new ways of communication which will no doubt aid them in their own search for identity but also give back to the complex fabric of the community in which they live.

(check out this and this for examples on teens creating unique content for their local public libraries)
This post is a reflection/response to questions posed at the Salzburg Global Seminar program Libraries and Museums in an Era of Participatory Culture, exploring the challenges, solutions and potential for participatory services within libraries and museums.

Special Thanks to the Salzburg Global Seminar  and IMLS for the invitation to participate in this event.

 

-Post by Justin Hoenke, Tame the Web Contributor

Join the Conversation Libraries & Museums in an Era of Participatory Culture

There are a few ways to add your voice:

Twitter: #SGSculture

@salzburgglobal

Follow posts at these blogs:

IMLS Up Next Blog: http://blog.imls.gov/

IMAMuseum Blog: http://www.imamuseum.org/blog/

Seminar: http://www.salzburgglobal.org/current/Sessions.cfm?IDSPECIAL_EVENT=2961

This TTW category gathers posts from the Salzburg Global Seminar program Libraries and Museums in an Era of Participatory Culture, exploring the challenges, solutions and potential for participatory services within libraries and museums.

Special Thanks to the Salzburg Global Seminar  and IMLS for the invitation to participate in this event.

Exploring the Museum Side

Joining me as a blogger for the Salzburg Global Seminar focused on participatory culture and libraries and museums is Robert Stein from the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

Here is a post he did last week in preparation for the seminar:

http://www.imamuseum.org/blog/2011/10/11/please-chime-in-the-challenges-and-opportunities-of-participatory-culture/

Robert tweets @rjstein

Special Thanks to the Salzburg Global Seminar  and IMLS for the invitation to participate in this event.