Category Archives: Librarian 2.0

Learning Everywhere: OPLN – The ‘must-have’ tool for new librarians — A TTW Guest Post by Tracy Maniapoto

Over the past few weeks I’ve been reflecting on the connections I make in a digital world.  The main purpose for the reflection was to fulfil a MIS assessment on Online Personal Learning Networks [OPLN] in Dr. Michael Stephens Fall 2012 Transformative Learning & Technology Literacies class. I think that Richardson and Mancabelli’s description of an OPLN as a unique learning environment where ‘we learn what we want or need to learn using the vast resources and people online’ is fitting (2011, p.3).  This method of informal learning complements traditional learning and helps us to function better in all aspects of our daily life: at home with family and at work.

What excited me most about creating an OPLN was that I had to figure out what information I needed and where this was going to come from.  This was a personal journey that only I could take; I set the direction and the path to follow.  I also had to think about how I would curate what I found.  Organising the information into one space or place had its benefits: ease of curation, portability and accessibility spring to mind immediately.  The end result is more than simply an assessment; it is a practical tool that I can use throughout my career as an academic librarian.

Getting started

Diving head first into the ocean of information that is ‘the internet’ works for some folk, though I needed something more structured or defined to begin with.  As my OPLN was unique to me, I asked myself two questions:

  1. What are my current information needs both professionally and with my studies?
  2. With whom, what or where do I need to connect to help me address these needs?

I used the first question to form my goals statement highlighting my main information needs for both groups as below:

Professionally, in my role as a teaching librarian at a New Zealand University, it was important for me to keep informed about:

  1. Teaching methods/styles that promote information literacy
  2. Changes affecting the NZ University and academic library environment
  3. The use of social media tools within the academic library environment
  4. Professional development opportunities for librarians/information professionals
  5. Mentors and role models within the library or information  profession environment
  6. Maori information resources and Maori world view

With my studies, and particularly in relation to my research project, it was important for me to keep informed about:

  1. Trends in digital and emerging technologies both globally and within New Zealand
  2. Trends in educational learning methods and styles

In categorising my main information needs, the scope of my resources falls broadly into the following four areas:

  • Pedagogy (21st century learning, participatory learning)
  • Technologies (mobile and emerging)
  • Relationships (social media, professional development, mentorship, NZ University and library environments)
  • Themes (information literacy, M?ori-focused resources)

Having defined my resources, the next step was to start collecting relevant information.  I needed a discovery tool and, though I hadn’t quite realised at the time, I had been using one religiously for the past few months.

My discovery tool of choice: Twitter

It still amuses me, even now, that the majority of information resources that appear on my OPLN were sourced from one tool: Twitter.  Yes, Twitter.  This would be my answer to the ‘who, what, and where’ question I raised earlier.

I had created a Twitter account in 2009 and my activity between then and mid-2012 consisted of a whopping 40-ish tweets. In hindsight, my use of Twitter and my knowledge of its capabilities were pretty, well, pitiful.  In the early stages of the LIBR 281-14 programme, each student was encouraged to create a Twitter account (if they didn’t already have one) and use it as part of the class engagement. We were encouraged to share links to relevant or interesting articles, webpages, and anything else we could find.  Within two months of starting the programme, I had tweeted more times than in the previous 3 years!  I am thankful we were encouraged to use Twitter as an information discovery tool.  It wasn’t until I began putting my OPLN together that I truly understood its value in my personal learning.

What I love most about Twitter is its ability to filter information*.  On the suggestion of a work colleague I monitored twitter feeds using first, Tweetdeck, and then secondly, Hootsuite (I actually preferred the first as the interface was more to my liking even though they look similar). Once I found people to follow, and by people I mean librarians, fellow MIS students and educators, I started to get a ‘feel’ for how information is best dispersed through this platform.  For me, Twitter is like an index to the internet and is a simple way to conduct an environmental scan on a topic of interest with, dare I say it, minimal effort on my part.  Naturally, I had to read any tweets and click through links for myself to see if the information suited my needs.  The hard part though, finding the information in the first place, was done by those I followed: brilliant individuals passionate about their interests and wanting to share them with the world.

Interestingly, since using Twitter I’ve noticed it is used in more and more places.  I used it myself as an engagement tool within my presentation slides at the LIANZA 2012 Conference.  This morning I followed live ‘tweets’ from attendees at the Ascilite2012 Conference in Wellington, New Zealand (about 190km away) using the hashtag search: #ascilite2012.  When my classmates post useful links I can find these by searching #transtech.  Just moments ago I received this tweet as I was writing:

The link took me to another Ascilite2012 attendee’s collection of notes on ‘Web 2.0 Pedagogy: Mobile Social Media’ and included a number of links to related websites and educator blogs – wow!  While it would be great to attend this conference in person, Twitter is definitely my ‘next best thing’.

Going back to the point at hand – I now have my information sources.  The next step was to find a tool for curation.

My curation tool of choice: Netvibes

I tossed around the idea of two curation tools: Symbaloo and Netvibes.

I learned about Symbaloo from a classmate’s blog and I was really impressed with the look and feel it had.  I experimented with the design online and whilst the interface looked great, I already had an idea of how I wanted my OPLN to look.  In my mind it would look similar in format to Tweetdeck but would need to encapsulate all types of information, preferably as live feeds.  As luck would have it, Netvibes was mentioned in another classmate’s blog so I gave that a try.  I haven’t looked back since.

There are many of wonderful features in Netvibes.  First of all, it’s free.  Second, it provides enough functionality (for me at least) to successfully curate the types of information sources I wanted to share: websites, blogs, twitter feeds and follows (no surprises there!), videos and links to journal and newspaper articles.

Netvibes allows you to curate your own private and public dashboards and I expect my public OPLN will continually evolve around my topics of interest at any given time.  For the new librarian or information professional, the power of connected learning through the development and curation of your own OPLN is empowering.  You won’t know what you don’t know until you come across it and an OPLN can help you find things you didn’t even realise you were interested in.

In the spirit of the Thanksgiving holiday, I am thankful to Dr. Michael Stephens, to my LIBR 281-14 classmates, and to the many individuals who have participated in my online personal learning network.

*IMHO educators and librarians are the best at collecting, filtering and disseminating valuable information in 140 characters or less.

References:

Richardson, W., & Mancabelli, R. (2011). Personal learning networks: Using the power of connections to transform education. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press

 Tracy Maniapoto is an Information Services Librarian at Massey University Library in Palmerston North, New Zealand and a distance student studying towards her MIS at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.  Tracy’s interests include mobile technologies, academic libraries and utilising Twitter to grow her PLN!  You can follow her on Twitter @libr4ry_girl

 

Exchanging business cards for library cards at the Portland Business Expo

The Portland Regional Chamber held its annual business expo on Wednesday, and booths included the usual: credit unions, hotels, sign shops, telecom companies, the Portland Public Library.

Attendance was light in the early afternoon, but began to pick up as …. — “Wait!” I know you’re all saying, astonished: “The Portland Public Library???!!

Sonya Durney, who is the Business and Government Librarian at my library just recently did something super awesome.  She took her show on the road the Portland Business Expo and talked to local small businesses about the benefits of using their local library.

Durney explained: “If we can help local businesses, it’s helping the community. It’s a very symbiotic relationship – the community thrives, the library thrives. Everybody’s happy.”

Click here for the full article and for the WONDERFUL photos our Business and Government Team took at the expo, click here.

-Post by Justin Hoenke, Tame the Web Contributor

 

 

 

Create, Play, Read – Lending Devices to Teens (PART 3)

Shirky, of course, advocates that we embrace “as much chaos as we can stand.” In this scenario, staff is encouraged to try out a new thing without regard to the way “it’s always been done.” This is messy, scary, and probably unwanted in most institutions. 

Ideas above are from:
Cognitive Surplus by Clay Shirky
Embracing Chaos by Michael Stephens

It has been a little over a month since we began our grand experiment with lending devices to teens (for the first post on this, go here.  for the second, go here) and I am here to check back in and follow up about the project with 100% honesty.

The Nook is still circulating and has a hold list.   The device has been loaned out, returned, and been taken well care of.  There hasn’t been as much interest in the Nook as there has been the iPod, but I think that’s to be expected with these types of devices and teens (for more on this, see Are Teens Embracing E-Books?)

The iPods have been lost.  They were lent out to two teens at the same time and like clockwork a week  later, they were gone.  The teens came into the library and told me about their story.  Both of them were using the device and let their friends borrow it to play a game and then their friends walked off with the iPod. I listened and explained to them that I understood where they were coming from but the fines for losing the device were staying on their card ($324).  I didn’t tell them outright that I was a bit sad by the loss (for the library, for the teens that wanted to borrow them, and for the teens that lost them…that’s a hefty fine), but I think they could see it in me.  Sometimes you don’t have to say much to get a message across.  Emotions are a heavy thing.

Am I bummed that this all happened?  Of course.  There’s a small part of me that’s sad about how it all went down, but there are two sides to every story.  The overall excitement that the teens had when they found out we’d be circulating these devices showed me that I was on the right track.  Sure, we lost two iPods, but you have to remember it’s just an iPod touch and not some one of a kind, priceless thing. I’m also happy that we tried something new, something out of the ordinary for our teens and we now have more experience for when we run this program again…and don’t get me wrong, we will try again.  I would be letting down the nine other teen patrons in the hold queue for the iPods if I didn’t.  In conclusion, this minor setback will not get me down.  I’ve seen many bigger successes – such as the one last week where one of my longtime teen patrons who just became a US citizen after being in this country for a few years – to put me down for the count.  Those are the things that matter.  An iPod touch?  Not so much.

What did I learn from this?

  • You’re gonna lose items…and it’s ok.  It’s all part of the learning process.  Libraries lose a lot of materials with high value – think about when an audiobook collection goes missing or a disc needs to be replaced in a multi item set.
  • The teens have to know that they’re responsible.  Fines may not be the best way to do this, but that’s a bigger issue for another time.
  • eBooks and teens?  There’s a limited audience.
  • Teens want to have an experience.

How will this work next time?

  • One of the observations I made with the teens that had borrowed the devices was that they were more into using YouTube and the web browser than they were using the apps.  A possible solution would be to limit access to YouTube and the web browser and limit the devices to what they were intended for: curated app experience devices
  • Credit checks/signed applications from parents/etc will not work no matter how hard you try to push this on teens.  Teens can barely keep track of what they’re going to do after school, let alone understand what signing a piece of paper means.  Perhaps a better way forward is for the people working with these teen patrons in the library to make individual calls on each lender.  It may be a good idea for those working in the teen library to take some time to sit down with the teens that potentially want to borrow these devices, show them what they can do, and explain in fuller detail what it means to be “selected” for this program.


I won’t call this program a failure.  I learned that there is a BIG demand for a specific kind of device (the iPods) and less of a demand for another (eReaders).  What the teens want is an experience they cannot get anywhere else. I plan on giving it to them.   I’ll make sure to check back in once our new iPods arrive in the next few months

-Post by Justin Hoenke,Tame the Web Contributor

Create, Play, Read – Lending Devices to Teens (PART 2)

(for the first post in this series, please click here)

Once I had the idea for lending out iPods with pre-selected apps to teens, I had to do some investigating and thinking about how these devices would be used.

I would describe the iPods as “locked down”.  By that, I mean that the borrower can’t do much other than use the iPods for their library defined purpose (play or create) and use the internet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To access restrictions, visit your settings on your iPod.  Under the General tab, scroll down to find restrictions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once in the restrictions section, you will see a number of things that you can turn off for the user.  I turned off everything except for Safari, YouTube, and Camera.  This section is locked by a 4 digit passcode which the borrower does not have access to.

I’ve also decided to use Find My iPhone app as a means of locating the device as a last resort (if it goes missing, stolen, etc).  Find My iPhone relies on the borrower being in an area that has wifi, but also has an option which will notify the Apple account holder (the library) of the next time the iPod has connected to a wifi network.  I know that this will sound a bit “Minority Report/1984/we’re watching you and your every move”, but I assure you that this is not the point of using this app.  In order to keep our investment safe for other members our community to borrow, I decided that using Find My iPhone was in our best interest.  Luckily, we haven’t had to resort to using it yet and I hope we never have to, but if the need arises it will be there for us to use.

And finally, I’ve been asked the question “Do the teens have to sign some kind of agreement to take out the iPods?”  My answer to this question is…sort of.

While we do not have a print version of a lending agreement in place that the teens/parent/guardian has to sign, we do have a spiel that we do give the teens before we check them out to them.  It’s not the same every time, but it goes something like this:

Just so you know, but checking out iPod out is kind of a big deal.  If it gets damaged, lost, or stolen, you’re going to have quite a hefty fine on your library card that you will have to pay before you can use the library again.  So, if you’re ok with that and you can be responsible with the iPod, then you should totally borrow it.

We usually end this conversation with a funny secret society type of handshake.  My hope is that it resonates with the teens a lot more than signing some piece of paper.

-Post by Justin Hoenke,Tame the Web Contributor

Create, Play, Read – Lending Devices to Teens

We can talk all day about whether or not it’s a good idea to lend out devices to patrons, but in the end action is better than any kind of talk.  After listening to both sides of the lending devices story for a few weeks, I decided to say the heck with it and buy some Nooks and iPod Touches to lend out to my teen patrons.

My approach to lending out these devices was simple: sure, anyone can go out there and buy these devices and put whatever they want on them, but what about all of the cool stuff  they may overlook?  There’s so many great apps and games out there that there’s no way you could try them all.


I approached the devices as something that the teen library would “curate”.  The librarians of the future are also our community leaders.  They not only inform their communities, but they also teach, show, and introduce their communities to new things.  I took that approach when selected the apps and ebooks that would come loaded on each of these devices.  I also came up with a “brand” for the devices….PLAY, CREATE, AND READ SOMETHING.  It is my hope with the brand that people come to see the “____ SOMETHING” idea in the library as something unique that a library does not offer traditionally.


The criteria for selecting apps and ebooks was simple.  I asked myself “what would I want to experience on these devices?” and also “what could give someone who is borrowing this device the best experience possible?”  Each iPod came loaded with $50 in iTunes store credit, and for the Nooks I purchased $100 in ebooks (you can see the complete lists of what are on the devices below).
The program rolled out yesterday, so I don’t have any feedback to give yet, but I’ll make sure to follow up on this post soon.
Here are the details of each of these programs, what I loaded onto the devices, and more, please visit:

PLAY SOMETHING
CREATE SOMETHING
READ SOMETHING

-Post by Justin Hoenke,Tame the Web Contributor

Hack A Kindle*

UPDATED ON 1/28/12 (see below)

*sort of

 

I bought a Kindle for these reasons and for the past few days, I’ve been using it in a few different ways.  I bought two books from Amazon totalling $6.99.  But most of the space on my Kindle is taken up by a collection of PDF’s.  Yes, this is how I’m hacking a Kindle.  It’s my PDF collection device.

Does your library subscribe to some databases?  Chances are, they do, and this will be where you will start your hacking.  My current topics of interest include empowering patrons to create “stuff” in the library, user experience, teens and technology, and The Beach Boys.  I dove into these topics pretty deeply one night and searched for PDF’s that interested me.

I was always happy to see this PDF Full Text icon

If I couldn’t find an article in PDF form, I turned to Google Chrome extensions to help convert that text into a PDF.

I highly suggest "Save as PDF"

Once I downloaded the articles, I sent them to my Kindle account using my Send to Kindle email address.  The next time I turned on my Kindle, I synced the device and viola!  My PDF’s showed up, ready to view, highlight, share, and cite.

At first, the process may be a bit cumbersome (and there may even be better ways to do it!), but once I got into the groove of searching/saving/uploading PDF’s, I had quite a collection in no time.  I highly suggest that if a librarian has a patron that has a Kindle and is interested in collecting their research that they at least think about using this way to aid the patron.

UPDATE!
I got an email from @verbivoria last night (thank you!) that explained how to use Instapaper to  send web articles to your Kindle:

You can use Instapaper to save web articles you like, convert them to Kindle files, and then import to the device.

The neat thing is this: you install a “Read Later” button on your browser, and when you find something that you want to peruse later, you click the button. I find this invaluable.

I found these two articles to be really helpful if you need help setting up this process: Lifehacker   Dave-Smith.org

-Post by Justin Hoenke,Tame the Web Contributor

Web 2.0 & Libraries Parts 1 & 2 Available Free on Hyperlinked Library Site

I am happy to announce the full text of both of my ALA Library Technology Reports are available now at the new TTW companion site The Hyperlinked Library.

The rest of the site is currently under construction, but for now you’ll find:

Web 2.0 & Libraries: Best Practices for Social Software (2006) – http://thehyperlinkedlibrary.org/libtechreport1/

Web 2.0 & Libraries: Trends & Technologies (2007) – http://thehyperlinkedlibrary.org/libtechreport2/

Special thanks to my SJSU SLIS grad assistant Patrick Siebold who worked very hard the past few weeks inputting the content. I know the examples from ’06 and ’07 may seem out of date and quaint in some ways, but I’m very proud of the framework we used for the works back then. Conversations, Community, Connections, Collaborations – all those great C words Jenny Levine and I used throughout our early social software roadshows in 2005 & 2006 provide a useful context for looking at Web 2.0. I hope these works are still useful to some of you. Comments are open for adding more to the chapters and I plan on doing some types of updating as time permits.

The site will also serve my course Web sites and other items related to my teaching. 

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.

 

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

The Hyperlinked Library: A TTW White Paper

Download the paper here: The Hyperlinked Library (PDF) | The Hyperlinked Library (epub) (Coming Soon)


Libraries continue to evolve. As the world has changed with emerging mechanisms for global communication and collaboration, so have some innovative, cutting edge libraries. My model for the Hyperlinked Library is born out of the ongoing evolution of libraries and library services. Weinberger’s (1999) chapter “The Hyperlinked Organization” in The Cluetrain Manifesto was a foundational resource for defining this model as are the writings of Michael Buckland, Seth Godin, and others. I’ve been writing and presenting about it for a few years – expanding and augmenting as new ideas and new technologies take libraries in new directions.

In Serials Review (2007), I defined the Hyperlinked Library model as

an open, participatory institution that welcomes user input and creativity. It is built on human connections and conversations. The organizational chart is flatter and team-based. The collections grow and thrive via user involvement. Librarians are tapped in to user spaces and places online to interact, have presence, and point the way. The hyperlinked library is human. Communication, externally and internally, is in a human voice. The librarians speak to users via open, transparent conversation. (p. 255-256)

The model incorporates recent dialogues about Web 2.0 by such authors as O’Reilly, and concepts tied to Library 2.0 and participatory service, including ideas presented by Casey and Savastinuk in their book Library 2.0.

The model is broader than just online communication and collaboration. It encompasses both physical and virtual space, as well as many types of libraries. Presenting the model to assembled teacher librarians at the Australian School Library Association conference in Perth in 2009,  I argued that school librarians could use the model as well to extend support for learning beyond the walls of the school library and engage with students, teachers and administrators in an open, transparent manner wherever the learning takes place.

Adapting to change in a positive, forward thinking manner will be important for libraries. The response to ongoing change should be constant and purposeful – based on thoughtful planning and grounded in the mission of libraries. Hyperlinked library services are born from careful trend-spotting, an application of the foundational tenets of librarianship and an informed understanding of emerging technologies’ societal and cultural impact.

Along with adapting to constant change should be a positive approach to challenges currently confronting libraries and information centers all over the world.

An ongoing challenge to libraries is public perception. In 2005, OCLC found that people perceive a narrow view of the library brand. Books was the foremost answer in a survey question devoted to what people think about when they think about libraries. More worrisome for those working in technology-related areas in libraries was the finding that 1% of those surveyed start their information needs at library Web sites. OCLC’s follow up report in 2007 noted that use of library Web sites had dropped again – to 22% of the public surveyed. Consider the resources we use developing our Web sites – the return on investment for staff time, money and technology is must be high. The use of open source software platforms / content management systems is one way hyperlinked libraries can boost their online presence ROI.

Another notable challenge currently is flagging budgetary issues. The recent global economic downturn has affected many libraries in the US and globally – some to the point of cutting staff, hours, services and in some extreme and disheartening cases to the point of closing. Making do with limited budgets and resources means we need to be ever diligent with handling our other challenges centered around technology including:

Techno-lust: This challenge is an overarching need for new technology combined with unrealistic expectations for the problems it may solve and too much techno-lust can damage a library’s public perception and internal morale. Purchasing technology without a strong connection to the library’s mission or technology plan can possibly yield less than stellar results.

Other challenges related to technology include techno-stress, when new tools seemingly arrive daily creating an uneasy feeling of anxiety related to understanding it all while techno-divorce addresses the culture of perfect in many libraries that prevents us from ending projects that just aren’t working. Techno-shame occurs when embarrassed library staff confess they are embarrassed to not be knowledgeable about emerging technologies, while techno-phobia creates an atmosphere where no new technologies are explored because of an unrealistic fear. Often, this institution is mired in a culture of perfect – where nothing is done without endless meetings, word-smithing and discussion. In 2010, there aren’t resources and time to exist in that paradigm. The Hyperlinked Library is nimble and quick.

Some newer challenges I recently added to the model include:

Techno-hesitation: This library is caught in the mindset of “Let’s wait until the next new thing comes out” to try something new. Experimentation with emerging technology should be ongoing. Trial and error and “divorcing” those initiatives that did not work so well leads to more learning and innovation.

Techno-banality: No dumb computers! This library is mired in a culture of overprotectiveness. Technology offerings for library users are so locked down and secure that access is fraught with barriers and blocks. In a time of such emphasis on user experience and library as community space, these barriers have the potential to send users to other locations for access.

Institutional challenges include embedded staff who roadblock new initiatives, silos of knowledge in which institutional memory and procedure is stored in one place/person, and institutional culture based on perfection. An underlying cause of many of this inner challenges to libraries could easily be boiled down to fear: fear of change, fear of technology (as above) and a fear of losing control of our collections in a world where Google is the go to information resource and books download seamlessly to e-readers.

What can meet these changes and challenges head on in the 21st century world of constant change and numerous challenges to the role and place of libraries in our world? The Hyperlinked Library model is meant to define a set of characteristics that when adopted by individual libraries could lead to improved perception, improved use and improved service models for our ever-changing world. Some of the characteristics of the model include:

The Library is Transparent

Transparency in organizations yields an open flow of communication, an involvement of all stakeholders and an honest approach to governance. For libraries this involves offering two communication mechanisms for user interaction and feedback. Tell your users how you are spending their money (via collected taxes, student fees or monetary support depending on the type of library).

Another aspect of transparency is welcoming anonymous feedback, in the form of suggestion box entries or via online commenting. Librarians should not be afraid of anonymous comments. There may be some negativity, easily ignored, as well as some useful insights, ideas and informative questions. One example of this type of interaction with library staff is the VBPL Talks blog, maintained by the executive leadership team of the Virginia Beach Public Library. Out on the open Web at http://vbpltalks.blogspot.com/, the site is a forum for anonymous questions from the library staff to administrators.

Library user involvement is also key to transparency and welcoming users into our spaces and virtual places is paramount. In “The Transparent Library,” Michael Casey and I urged administrators to focus “on user-driven policy not driving users away.” (2008) Understanding how policy impacts user is key as well. Does that sternly worded sign on the library door have to be there denouncing the use of cell phone technology within the library? Wouldn’t it be better to encourage considerate behavior and let go of banning devices that connect our users to the world. You might find that a mobile phone interface for the library catalog or “text a citation” features might be more in line with user needs or wants. Michael Casey and I noted: “Focus on understanding those folks who might be breaking your rules by listening to their needs. Then act. You and your users will benefit.” (2007)

The Library Learns and Plays

Henry Jenkins defined play in Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture as “the capacity to experiment with one’s surroundings as a form of problem-solving.” The concept has seen a resurgence in organizations as a means to encourage learning and engagement. As part of the Hyperlinked Library model, an organization focused on experimentation and play encourages all staff to learn. That learning will lead to a more informed, engaged staff. A culture of play replaces a culture of perfect.

Play was foundational to the creation of the original Learning 2.0 program – a self-directed emerging technologies course conceived in 2006 by Helene Blowers at the Public Library of Charlotte Mecklenberg County in 2006 for a system wide, all staff included endeavor. Also known as the “23 Things” method, the program has been adopted by libraries, consortia, state systems and national libraries in the United States, Canada, Australia, the Netherlands and beyond.

The global success of Learning 2.0/23 Things programs in libraries is a notable example of an emerging “learning culture” in our institutions. “I believe that this has been one of the most transformational and viral activities to happen globally to libraries in decades,” argued Abram (2008) in a blog post at Stephen’s Lighthouse.

Self-directed, empowered learning based on the concepts of discovery and play within the context of how libraries might use emerging technologies may lead to more innovative uses of those technologies for library services. Currently, I’m conducting an ongoing research project in Australia, measuring the value and impact of the program in libraries. Early conclusions point to the fact that the lasting impact of participation in a Learning 2.0 program can lead to more informed staff discussions and problem-solving with tools highlighted in the learning modules. A stronger awareness of the tools and their use on a personal level – RSS feeds for keeping current as a prominent example – is another lasting result of the program. See the research site at Tame the Web online for more, including a recent conference paper.

The Library Connects with Users

Creating connections and community for library users is paramount in the Hyperlinked Library model. Peter Block defines community as “human systems given form by conversations that build relatedness,” while Rheingold defined virtual community as “social aggregators that emerge from the Net when enough people carry on those public discussions long enough, with sufficient human feeling, to form webs of personal relationships in cyberspace.” Both of these definitions – years apart – have one thing in common. The connections are formed via conversation

Seth Godin’s Tribes explores the idea of interconnected community as well. Godin argues that businesses fail because “they forgot to embrace their tribe” and offers a roadmap for creating a tribe, which he defines as “a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea.” Social Media sites break down geographic barriers and allow groups to form via various communication mechanisms. A tribe can be global or simply based in the library’s community.

Notable examples of creating a library tribe include the social networks created by Hennepin County Library, Roselle Public Library (a Ning site for library card holders) and the community of users who actively comment at Ann Arbor District library’s Web site. Dublin City Libraries One Book program recently created a community for readers of Dracula. One commonality of these sites is that conversation is encouraged between all users, including responses from library staff.

From the Netherlands comes another fascinating example of connecting with users. Patrons of the DOK library in Delft will soon be able to record their memories of the town and family for sharing via a wall of monitors called the Agora. Digital images, audio, and video will make up the tapestry of local history available in this high tech setting. Here they transcend the role of library user and become active creator in the collections of the library. Watch for this model to make inroads in other libraries around the world.

The potential to interact online with a community of library users is promising as we find our way through Facebook fan pages, library twitter accounts, and communities built in sites like Ning or with Drupal. Godin warns, however, that some organizations are stuck: bound by archaic rules or not only avoiding change but fighting against it. This echoes the aforementioned dangers of technophobia as well.

The Library is Everywhere

Beyond creating community, the Hyperlinked Library seeks to put its collections everywhere – available to all outside the walls of the library. As institutions such as Duke University libraries develop mobile applications for accessing their digital collections on the move, we are fast approaching a landscape of ubiquitous library access.

I was recently in Columbia, South Carolina, where I found myself in the hotel bar after a presentation about the Hyperlinked Library model. The bartender was fired up about his brand new iPod Touch. He was playing the bar’s music from it via a cable attached to the sound system, and surfing the Web via the hotel’s free Wi-Fi. He praised the access to the Web and his apps and held up the shiny new device and said:

“I have the whole world of information in my hand.”

What does it mean in 2010 for a young man – a typical consumer of information – to believe he has the world in the palm of his hand? What does it mean for the role of librarians? For libraries? This will be an important consideration for libraries – how can we compete with ubiquitous Wikipedia/Google access? One solution: making the collection, services and personnel of the library available wherever library users happen to be – in the palm of their hand. The Hyperlinked Library, we might say, has streams of information and knowledge that flow like water to where inquisitive users are thirsty.

The Library Encourages the Heart

The defining element of the Hyperlinked Library model is that the library should seek to encourage the heart of users via every mechanism and every channel possible. Rules and outdated policies fall away in favor of breaking down barriers to service and collections.

Encouraging the heart is satisfying the needs and wants of our users – something libraries have always done. The need for self-actualization, inspiration, basic human curiosity, and support for learning are all part of this concept. Encouraging the heart might mean beautiful artwork in the library space, a welcoming, engaged staff ready to explore with users and a physical/virtual space that is easy and FUN to use.

When asked what I see for the future of libraries – all kinds of libraries – I imagine a space where users will connect, collaborate, create and care.

Connect: Users will connect with each other and with library staff to follow their dreams and get what they want/need. Access to information sources will be unfettered. Support for technology and managing the ever-growing flow of information will be readily available no matter where users are.

Collaborate: Users will meet in groups. Tribes will form based on projects, interests, community need. Spaces will offer the best in collaborative technologies. Learning will occur here as well.

Create: Users will find the tools they need to share their own stories with their family, friends and the world if they so choose. The best technologies and support for these endeavors will be a part of library services. Library staff will become guides and co-creators. Local content will reign as one of the most unique offerings of the library.

Care: Users who interact with a transparent, playful institution grounded in learning, experimentation and play will surely care about the library. Those who actively participate will remember the library when funding issues occur or needs for more space or more technology must be met. The library is part of the community and the community holds the library in its heart.

These characteristics are just some of the facets of what I believe will make libraries truly innovative, useful and needed in the 21st century.

This article was adapted from a presentation given by the author at the 4th Leipziger Kongress für Information und Bibliothek, Leipzig, Germany in March 2010.

References

Block, P. 2008. Community: The structure of belonging. San Francisco: Berrett- Koehler.

Casey, M., and M. Stephens. 2007. Ask for What You Want. Library Journal 132(13): 29.

Casey, M., & M. Stephens 2008, November 15. Six Signposts on the Way. Library Journal 132(13): 21.

Jenkins, H. 2006. Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture. Chicago:MacArthur Foundation.

Rheingold, H. 1993. The virtual community: Homesteading on the electronic frontier. New York: HarperPerennial.

Stephens, M., M. Collins, 2007. Web 2.0, Library 2.0, and the Hyperlinked Library. Serials Review 33(4): 253-256.

Links

Ann Arbor District Library: http://aadl.org

DOK: http://www.dok.info/

Dublin City Libraries: http://www.dublinonecityonebook.ie/

Hennepin County Library’s Bookspace: http://www.hclib.org/pub/bookspace

The Hyperlinked Library: http://tametheweb.com/the-hyperlinked-library/

Research at Tame the Web: http://research.tametheweb.com/

Stephen’s Lighthouse: http://stephenslighthouse.com/

Further Reading

Casey, M. E., & Savastinuk, L. C. (2007). Library 2.0 : a Guide to Participatory Library Service. Medford, N.J.: Information Today, Inc., 2007.