I know it’s trendy to fight the system and cry that we are all becoming slaves of technology, but this attitude overlooks that computers and phones are tools for communicating. When someone thinks I’m an idiot smiling at a machine, I’m actually smiling at my girlfriend who is 10000 miles away and whom I would have never met if not for these newfangled electronics. As they say: when the wise man points to the moon, the fool looks at the finger.
The winner of the #YLibrary of the Future Writing Competition is Sophie Manion. Sophie will receive an iPad mini. Congratulations Sophie!
Here is her winning entry:
I want to hear the voices of a million lives. I want to brush their hearts with the tips of my fingers and feel as they feel, with their skin and their lungs and their ears. It takes a moment – a light on a screen, a battery cord plugged in – but then I can. In a moment I am timeless. The library is a passport to worlds that exist only in the mind. I am lost amongst these places with my greatest friends, my most treasured heroes. Words can transport me. I can listen or I can read but I will always experience. It doesn’t matter whether I can touch the ink, smell the fresh pages or instead, scroll down the electronic page with a gesture of my hand. The future is a grand place but it is those words, the magic that I can only find in a library, that can teleport me away to somewhere I’ve never been. Whether I walk through those open doors from my computer, or on my phone, or physically – I will always find a new world waiting in that maze of books. There are some things that will never change.
This isn’t a new idea. The Melvil Dewey quote that I used to open this essay resonates with me. “The time is when the library is a school and the librarian is in the highest sense a teacher…” He wrote that in 1876, and as librarians, we are evolving, and it is still true. Librarians should seek every opportunity to be teachers in their communities. Library users should look to the library for opportunities to experience new things, new ideas, and new technologies
Click the link to read the whole thing. And here’s a link to all of the essays:
Don’t miss this article about “23 Things for SLIS Students & Alumni” that Elaine Hall wrote for Alki, Washington Library Association Journal. Elaine Hall is a Washington Library Association (WLA) member and a MLIS graduate student at San Jose State University. She lives in Arlington, Washington and is pursuing interests in academic libraries, emerging technologies, information literacy, and research.
The students and alumni of San Jose State University’s School of Library and Information Science (SLIS) have developed a Learning 2.0 pro-gram, “23 Things for SLIS Students and Alumni: Essentials for Success,” to build alliance among students and alumni for lifelong learning and professional development. Hosted by SLISConnect, SLIS’s student and alumni association, this program is unique in that it is created for SLIS students and alumni by students and alumni, fosters solidarity as well as asynchronous learning, offers digital badges as rewards for module completion, and involves more than thirty-five student and alumni volunteers. With three target audiences–new students, current students, and new LIS professionals–the modules presented in this program offer a mix of technologies, resources, and tools for social networking, time management, presentation development, career development, research, and more. Other library or LIS schools can also build a collaborative and sustainable Learning 2.0 program as a way to engage the community on multiple levels and foster lifelong learning.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about attending a seminar in San Diego put on by the Special Libraries Association. The theme was connecting the dots of creativity and innovation and since we’re on the topic of maker spaces this week, I found my mind repeatedly flashing back to one speaker in particular. Her name was Kathlin L. Ray and she’s the Dean at the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center at the University of Nevada and she represented a really cool space.
Mentioned by the American Libraries Magazine in an article earlier in the year to be one of the top 3 makerspace models that “work”, the Knowledge Center (or DeLaMare as is more affectionately known on campus), was built with this goal in mind: “To create a pioneering information environment designed to nurture creativity and stimulate intellectual inquiry”.
“Recognizing this critical interplay between knowledge and innovation, the U of Nevada, Reno has established one of the first centers in the nation built specifically to embrace these dynamics of the 21st century.” – Steven Zink, VP for IT Dean of Libraries at University of Nevada
Space Redesign: From “Oh” to “WHOAH!”
Kathlin attributes most of the changes to change agent, Tod Colgrove, who transformed the once sleepy library into a modern, collaborative learning environment beginning with relocating the library’s print periodicals and journals to a storage and retrieval facility in the main campus library, which opened up nearly 18,000 square feet in DeLaMare. Colgrove brought in repurposed furniture and computer workstations to expand the space on the cheap.
The extra room more than quadrupled the computers from 39 to 130. Special whiteboard paint was applied to the walls, which students now use to take notes and exchange ideas.Stephen Abram mentions in his blog that 20% of the library’s walls are covered in IdeaPaint to cover more than 1,000 square feet of floor-to-ceiling workspace on 13 walls of the four-floor library.
Tables were set up to allow science and engineering students to tinker with analog controllers, electronics kits, and soldering irons and crimpers. The library even checks out kits like robotics. Kathlin’s images of the transformation were stunning. There were neon signs, a production lab, data works, dynamic media. This is a real maker space where people really can experiment and play.
During the redesign, the circulation desk (once an impenetrable fortress) was relocated and literally chopped down to a fragment of its original size. The staff was relocated to public areas to make them more accessible to the community. Old staff offices were reconfigured into group study rooms. What was really interesting was the fact that DeLaMare was the very first academic library to make 3-D printing available to all students and the community. Check out the images of some of the things they’ve printed, and look at the fun they’re having with it.
Prior to the redesign, hourly headcounts of students in the library were at about 24. Now it’s closer to 200 on any daily basis, and nearly double that during midterms and finals weeks. DeLaMare focuses on co-creation, not consumption but collaboration. Librarians there want you to think of it as a “knowledge center” and NOT a library. Imagine that.
Collaboration, Discussion & Engagement
Tod Colgrove, speaks at TEDxReno on the topic of how can libraries of the present be influenced by those of the past. Check out this video where he talks about images of the Great Library at Alexandria—where you see more people than books in the space. People engaging in conversation is at the heart of where knowledge happens, NOT in the dusty scrolls. What a striking image when talking about libraries as places where knowledge happens through community, not simply library space—as repository for books.
To some, librarians seem so afraid of change and trying new things because we make it our profession to know where to find answers. We are the go-to-people if you need-to-know. But sometimes… just sometimes… it’s OK to try a few new things and here’s an example of a library that was willing to do just that in favoring the students over the collection and look at the fun they’re having.
Ray, K.L. (2013, October 4). Knowledge creation and the expanding role of the 21st century library. Connecting the Dots of Creative Innovation. Symposium conducted at the meeting of Special Libraries Association: San Diego Chapter, San Diego, California.
Zemirah Lee is a graduate student at the San Jose State University School of Library and Information Science, graduating in May 2014. She also works as a Project Manager on an IMLS grant-funded research project studying young adult spaces in public libraries. Zem lives in San Diego, California with her husband and three children.
Note from Michael: I posted about Megan’s work here: http://tametheweb.com/2013/09/26/if-you-like-it-put-a-badge-on-it/I remember my exact reaction the first time I heard about Digital Badges. “Hey, these could replace performance reviews!” I exclaimed. Maybe it was due to upcoming performance reviews I didn’t want to complete, maybe it was my deep love for quest based learning, or maybe it was just one of the many things I exclaim in excitement during any given day, but for some reason it stuck. I couldn’t get badges out of my head.
This was several years ago and my excitement over badges has only continued to grow. I’ve experimented with different badge platforms, I’ve earned badges myself and I’ve attended several conference sessions and trainings about badges. The only piece of the puzzle that needed to fall into place was I needed a Director that would say YES. I lucked out when we landed Gretchen Caserotti (the Queen of saying yes) as our new Director.
Although I had originally dreamed of badges replacing performance reviews, I did realize that is a huge overhaul that would take time, testing, and some research behind that type of decision. I decided that a great place to start would be to see if badges could increase our staff’s use of continuing education or professional development.
Step 1: I created this video. When it received a lot of attention I realized I better actually act on this idea.
Step 2: I utilized our staff intranet (which is a Google Page) to create a discussion board for Badges.
Step 3: I started creating badges in Credly based on professional development or continuing education topics that I was aware of, or that pertained to our specific library. I specifically chose Credly because it is very easy to use and there is no design or coding knowledge required. I believe this will allow more staff members to get involved in the process later on.
Step 4: I decided to pilot the project with a small group of staff members (our branch library staff) so I could survey them on the process. I presented the idea to them at their staff meeting and it was received with a lot of enthusiasm.
See the survey questions here.
Step 5: As I learn about different opportunities I create a corresponding badge and then post it to the discussion board like this.
Each time I tell them what they need to respond with in order to get that specific badge. Sometimes it is something as easy as testing out a new database (create an account, check something out, report back). Sometimes it is more involved, like with #23MobileThings. This is a wonderful opportunity for staff to share what they are learning too. For example, we just subscribed to Zinio. I offered a badge to anyone who would create an account and test it out (which will lead to us being able to better help patrons with it.)
Here is the response from two of the participants.
Step 6: I encourage other staff to create Credly accounts so they can issue badges as they ?nd opportunities that could enhance job performance.
What I’ve learned
This is all still very new. I only began piloting it with the branch library staff a few weeks ago. However, already the feedback has been very positive. Three of the six staff members have already participated and others have expressed interest. Many of them quickly bought-in to the ideas since it serves as a personal tracking tool for them (records dates, accomplishments, and pushes badges to outside resources like LinkedIn).
One unforeseen challenge is because the Google Page pushes new posts to people’s email, they often times respond to my challenges through the email instead of on the discussion site. It still works but doesn’t allow for group knowledge sharing about questions or challenges. I’m trying to encourage them to respond via the site even when they get an email noti?cation.
So far nobody has posted opportunities that they have found, they have only responded to mine. I really don’t want this to be a top down project, but I think it will take some time before they get used to the discussion board and then I hope they will post opportunities.
I am going to present the project to all staff in late November. I want it to be a way to make learning fun, interactive, and available for everyone while also sharpening everyone’s technology skills. I’m hoping to continue to iron out any kinks before then, so I would love to hear suggestions/feedback!
Megan Egbert is the Youth Services Supervisor for the Meridian Library District in Meridian, Idaho. Previous to her two years in this position she was a Teen Librarian. Her interests include STEAM education, digital badges, makerspaces, and funny puppets. She can be found at @meganegbert or email@example.com.
Saturday, March 24, 1984. Shermer High School, Shermer, Illinois 60062.
Although we only saw it for that one day, one of the greatest collaborations took place in a library.A brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess, and a criminal each assigned to write an essay of no less than a thousand words describing who they thought they were. One of the things that always struck me when watching the John Hughes classic The Breakfast Club, even long before I started the MLIS program, was how advanced the Shermer High School library was. Hopefully adding to what Jenkins (2006) calls the “Collective Intelligence” of media fans, I hope to explore what detention in this library would look like in 2013.
The school comes equipped with fire exits at either end of the library.
In order to do so, we must first look at what this library looked like in 1984. As is traditional for public schools, the library is essentially rectangular (however, it has been given various structures and moldings to suggest a more rounded shape). The majority of the library’s physical holdings are along the perimeter of the two story space. In the center we see a group of six tables. For detention, these are all arranged to face forward (for orientation purposes, we will call the corridor out of the library and towards Dick’s office as the front of the library). However, if we look closer, we can see that some of these desks have rounded edges, suggesting they were meant to be arranged together to form a larger, round table suitable for collaboration. Behind this area, the library has a artwork, a lounge area, and a small bank of computers. Towards the front there is a media center housing audio equipment. The second level also hosts several little rooms that can be used for small meetings.
All of that was way ahead of the times…even more advanced than my high school library in 1990. So we can imagine that, in creating a space for 2013, this library would still remain cutting-edge. I would actually imagine it very similar to the way it was nearly 30 years ago: sans card catalogs, with updated art and architecture, and a much larger complement of computers. We would still see a large area to gather for collaborative efforts (though likely the tables would be the bar-height modular ones), and the media center would boast production equipment for creating video and audio presentations.
I would also like to imagine the administration being creative about how detention is managed. No longer would there be no talking, no moving, and everyone ordered to write their own Saturday morning essays about who they think they are. No, these students in detention would collaborate to blog about it. The computers would not suffer from the techno-banality we heard about in our lecture. They would be fully linked, and these blog posts, from everyone who served in detention, would be accessible to all who wished to see. The blog posts of all who came before, and all who would come after would serve as learning experiences, a means of acknowledging whatever it was that was done wrong, and a reflection of how to not repeat those actions.
In the simplest terms, the most convenient definitions.
So it is here that is probably important for us to stop and think about who we think we are. As librarians, are we the ones who will post threatening “no beverages” signs? Are we the ones who will deny access to social media? The ones that waste time sitting around planning? Or are we the ones who will be forward thinking, allowing for as much chaos as we can stand, and letting our communities help us provide the services they want? Let’s hope for the latter.
Jenkins, H. (2006). Fans, bloggers, and gamers: exploring participatory culture. New York, NY: New York University Press.
Tanen, N. (Producer), & Hughes, J. (Producer & Director). (1985). The breakfast club [Motion Picture]. United States: Universal Studios.
James Yurasek received his BA in Literature from Sonoma State University. He is currently pursuing his MLIS from SJSU School of Library & Information Science, where he is focusing on emerging technologies.