Yesterday morning (Tues 17th June 2013) I found myself at the Urbana Free Library, which is the focus of a lot of attention in library land at the moment. I count it as a professional privilege to have spent two hours with some of the most inspirational public library staff I have ever met. Here I offer a few observations and opinions based on my visit to the library.
Warren Cheetham is the Coordinator of Information and Digital Services at CityLibraries Townsville. He has worked in public libraries for twenty-one years, and his professional interests include the application of technology to public libraries, and how to best deliver information services, reader engagement, corporate research services and training to library staff and customers in an online environment.
This post was cross posted at Warren’s blog: http://stainedglasswaterfall.blogspot.com/2013/06/a-personal-visit-to-urbana-free-library_20.html
For more about his study tour: http://broadbandlibraries.net
The Smile Politely blog has posted Freedom of Information Act documents related to the Urbana free Library weeding kerfuffle.
A snippet: ”She also reminded me that our mission was no longer lifelong learning.” I am having trouble processing such a statement. What will happen next?
Note: This post has been updated with Carol’s updated percentages!
Please follow LIS professor Carol Tilley for more on what’s been weeded at The Urbana Free Library! https://twitter.com/CarolGSLIS
Follow #bookgate too!
Barbara Fister writes about the kerfuffle at Insider Higher Ed: http://www.insidehighered.com//blogs/library-babel-fish/throwing-books-each-other
This blows my mind!
Both UFL staff and the public (who were alarmed at the rapidly emptying shelves) spoke out, but the weeding continued until a library board meeting (and Mayor Laurel Prussing) was called. JP Goguen, a university library employee, was at the meeting, recorded it, and sent the recording to me (the board normally does not record meetings). The conversation at this meeting is alarming. Urbana Free Library’s director, Deb Lissak, made a unilateral decision to weed books in the print collection by date alone. It seems that the Adult Services staff’s expertise and knowledge of the collection was neither consulted nor welcomed. In fact, Anne Phillips, Director of Adult Services, was not even in the country when the project began and was unaware that it was happening at all.
Bolding mine. Read the comments after the full article.
The breakdown in communication and lack of transparency in the process is concerning to me. In the comments on both articles it’s reported that resolutions have been initiated. I hope the outcomes are positive: some books returned, better policies, and a much more open and collaborative process of communication.
Follow #bookgate for more: https://twitter.com/search?q=%23bookgate&src=hash
Johnson County Library contracted the services of Mindmixer for their strategic plan in March of 2013 and by April 9, 2013; the www.jocolibraryconversation.com site was live and active with input from members of the community. The goal was to expand the number of Johnson County citizens the library would be able to engage with during the strategic planning process.
By May 15, just a little over a month from the launch date, 1,213 people visited the library site and in addition to responding to the topic questions, they submitted 117 ideas for the library staff and the strategic planning committee to take into consideration. Ideas ranged from bringing a book mobile back to Johnson County to having library desks and furniture made out of recycled books. The topic that received the most comments and generated numerous new ideas was the topic of technology. Many Johnson County residents requested more comfortable, “living-room” like seating near outlets so they could utilize their own devices to access library materials such as eBooks, eMusic, and of course, library databases such as EBSCO and Demographics now. The Johnson County community also sent comments requesting that the library be at the forefront of new technology and perhaps develop a “technology bar” where they could try the newest devices prior to purchase.
Director of Communications, Kasey Riley has responded personally to all of the people who submitted unique ideas using Mindmixer’s quick and intuitive interface. Riley says, “I have been so pleased with every aspect of the project so far. It has truly been easy to track the user-ship, run reports and respond to the community and the staff of Mindmixer are so helpful and quick to respond to questions.”
The library’s Mindmixer site will be live through June 30, 2013 and the library’s administrative team, led by County Librarian, Sean Casserley, will take the Mindmixer data and cross-reference it with information gleaned from face to face meetings with staff and the community planning committee. The administrative team will look for trends and commonalities in the data as they develop the strategic plan for the library. Casserley says, “Information has value. Libraries have always known that. Now we have the opportunity to use data that better represents the county as a whole. I want the community to know we are listening to them and working to provide the programs and services they want and need.”
Thanks Kasey and Sean for sharing this intriguing means to engage the community for strategic planning.
Nice post by recent SLIS grad Lisa Hubbell about the interview process at the Two Librarians and a Blog blog:
The last assignment for library school is complete, and I am waiting for graduation ceremonies in a week, and a diploma in the mail in the coming months. I am applying for jobs, as I have for some time, but now paying more attention to advice about interview questions and resumes.
When I hear something two or three times in the same week, I tend to take it as a lesson. I heard one question raised by other students, both in my final class meeting and in a Career Center webinar: Should I be myself in a job interview? It’s so easy to get trapped in second-guessing what the hiring committee is looking for, trying to fit into the right mold to be the one they will want. But professor Aaron Schmidt and SJSU SLIS Career CenterLiaison Jill Klees were both very clear on this
- Yes, be yourself.
- You’re interviewing them too.
- You need to find out if this is a job you can live with and even love.
- If they can’t tell who you are, you might end up miserable in the wrong job.
Click through to read the rest.
Note from Michael: Elaine takes us through her work on the #transtech group project for Huntington Beach Public Library and connects to our course texts. i am happy to share this insightful reflection!
This report outlines the unique experiences, challenges, and opportunities in developing a Learning 2.0 program for the diverse community served by the Huntington Beach Public Library. This project – called Links to Literacy – was accomplished virtually as a group assignment in Dr. Michael Stephens’s Transformative Learning and Technology Literacies course in Spring 2013. It involved seven learning technology modules aimed to introduce communication, job searching, and internet literacy skills to the patrons in HBPL’s Literacy Program. While this report reflects my own views regarding the project, I offer acknowledgement and gratitude to the dynamic group of students, as well as the staff at the HBPL, who offered the dialogue, critique, technical expertise, and dedication to make this project a great success. I also offer thanks to Dr. Stephens and Char Booth, author of Reflective Teaching, Effective Learning, for their support, guidance, and insight to the project’s development and objectives.
“Links to Literacy” – A Unique Learning 2.0 Experience:
The Huntington Beach Public Library (HBPL) has a dedicated program focused on literacy which includes tutors, training for tutors, and special programs such as adult and family literacy. They serve a highly diverse community where many of the residents do not have access to computers, internet, smartphones, etc. which significantly impact their social, language, technical and job-searching skillset. The HBPL literacy program aims to serve its community by providing tutors, classes, and group and individual activities that build upon these essentials skills for successful living.
The Links to Literacy program became a unique Learning 2.0 project in that it actually incorporated both synchronous and asynchronous learning. Most Learning 2.0 programs foster the idea of asynchronous learning where the learner is approaching learning on their own. For this project, based on the needs of the diverse community needing guidance, language interpretation, and motivation, much of the learning was done synchronously in small groups of tutors and students – but fostered the application of play, personal exploration, and continued learning outside of the program. It presented an interesting blend of synchronous learning that hoped to develop into more extended learning activities asynchronously. Examples of “extended learning” activities include:
- Patrons using their new email accounts to communicate with each other and family
- Patrons using JobScout, setting up profiles that will help them search for
- Patrons building comfort with the Internet and using search engines to explore their own interests.
Learning outcomes will extend beyond my assessment here. This presents another unique aspect of the Links to Literacy project. The fact that the patrons had to come to the library to access the modules via library computers made it more challenging for students to stick to a “one-module per week” model. They got sick. They got busy. They forgot. In a sense – life got in the way and the lack of access made it challenging to adhere to a particular “schedule” for learning. This presented a unique experience for us as developers/instructors as we had to adjust to the learning environment of HBPL library staff and tutors to create an engaging, useful, and instructional program for the patrons. In the end, it was a success – even if it did not quite go as we had originally planned.
Project Implementation – Personal Evaluation:
My primary role in the project was developing the Pinterest Module. I really valued the process of sharing a social and learning technology that I personally enjoy using for both personal and professional learning and tagging. Developing the Pinterest Module for the unique literacy group at HBPL was a great learning experience for me as I had to take off my “expert” hat and bring my thinking to that of that user. This become challenging for me.
Challenges in targeting the Pinterest Module for this group included several components:
- The students were bilingual with some having very little English. While the program needed to be built in English and would have bilingual tutors to assist, the language needed to be simplistic and easily understood between the English and Spanish translation.
- Many of the patrons have an education level based at the 6th grade level. This further complicated the language barrier and required simplicity in the instructions.
- Learning of the Pinterest Module was based on successful completion of prior modules such as Email, Search Engine, and Facebook. It required that I understood the learning objectives of prior modules in order to confirm the learning of those modules and offer opportunity to advance upon that learning.
- The Pinterest Module had the challenge of offering “WIIFM” (what’s in it for me) factor (Booth, 2011). I had to instill the desire to use Pinterest. I purposely used food as the example where patrons could explore recipes and build boards based on their interests, favorite recipes, etc.
All of these challenges resulted in learning opportunities that expanded my knowledge of developing an online learning platform, gaining additional skills in WordPress, opening up my concept of diversity in libraries as well as in the learning environment, and how to take myself out of the expert mode to transforming my knowledge to fit the specific needs of a target learning group.
My secondary role as the communicator with the site liaison was the most rewarding experience of this process as it allowed me to engage with the library, identify with its real-life application for the patrons, and build connection with my group members as I shared the feedback with them. The most intriguing conversation I had with the library staff was on how to incorporate photo sharing into the modules. This really pushed the understanding – on their part as well as mine – on the limitations of the served community based on its lack of technological resources, application of use, need for additional learning, and time. In one sense, it seemed a lost opportunity as photo sharing is applicable to many of the other modules – Email, Facebook, Pinterest, JobScout (uploading a profile picture), Tumblr, and even YouTube (expanding the photo sharing to video sharing). On the other hand, we had to come to the realization that to offer this learning despite the barriers of technology access could result in frustration and inability to complete a module – both things we were aiming to avoid. In the end, we decided to eliminate the photo uploading/sharing component within the modules and hope that as the patrons take advance in their learning, they will adopt these skills on their own.
Developing Learning 2.0 Program – Group Evaluation:
The Literacy and Students Learning 2.0 group overall worked well together. We had a slow start and it was challenging to assess roles and responsibilities to begin with but once we all logged in and connected, it smoothed out quite effectively. We had two synchronous meetings where brainstorming, structure, format, and constructive criticism were both encouraged and effectively executed.
I give compliments to the group in their effective communicative strategies. So often in online communication comments, criticism, and even suggestions can be interpreted incorrectly. Our group seemed to keep in mind the objectives of the program and pulled together a sense of exploration and inquiry that helped facilitate a continuous flow of ideas. The group was also honest about their frustrations, open about their challenges, helpful in offering solutions, and highly encouraging to each other. Having started the communication process on several online course group projects and often taking on a leader role, I often get involved with bickering, complaints due to lack of fair work, etc. I compliment this group on working together as a whole towards a main goal throughout the whole project!
The one main thing I think we as a group missed out on was better program assessment. In thinking (and teaching) as an assessor, Wiggins & McTighe (2005) ask the question: “What specific characteristics in student responses, products, or performances should we examine to determine the extent to which the desired results were achieved?” (p. 150). This was challenging as we had expected better interaction with either the tutors or the students (or both!) as they made their way through the modules. In reality, due to the structure of classroom learning and the use of tutors to help guide the patrons through the modules, we missed the opportunity to interact with the patrons, to learn from their challenges, and assist in their learning. This, according to Wiggins and McTighe (2005) is where rubrics, products of learning, and evaluation come into play. While we did review each other’s modules before launching the program and even though some of us opted into trying out the modules as a “learner”, we should have considered developing a rubric or some other structured assessment of each other’s modules. By doing so, we may have been better able to identify how well we met our learning – and teaching – objectives despite the lack of learner feedback.
This really highlighted the challenges of teaching in an online format. Instructors need to develop methods of obtaining feedback from their students. It need not be elaborate (although sometimes that may be needed), but it does need to provide information on how learning is being achieved, whether learning objectives are being met as well as the valuable insight to the challenges and new applications that arise from the learning. I think this was the real challenge in our group not getting feedback from the learners themselves – we lacked that engagement to learn how the program impacted them and also missed feedback on how we could enhance/adapt the program for future use.
Conclusion – Understanding the New Culture of Learning:
The experiences within this project really brought to life the “new culture of learning”. Thomas and Brown (2011) indicate that “the primary difference between the teaching-based approach to education and the learning-based approach is that in the first case, the culture is the environment, while in the second case, the culture emerges from the environment – and grows along with it” (Kindle version, loc. 369).
Learning 2.0 programs offer tremendous opportunity to demonstrate this new culture of learning. By understanding where the needs are within any community, learning programs can be developed to offer value, incentive, opportunity, and motivation for learning. The Links to Literacy program could not have succeeded without first understanding its community, its limitations to access, the patron’s lack of understanding and experience, the barriers of language, and opportunity created by need (need for job skills, technology, and communication).
Thomas and Brown (2011) also indicate that “a second difference is that the teaching-based approach focuses on teaching us about the world, while the new culture of learning focuses on learning through engagement within the world” (loc. 381). This is the beauty of Learning 2.0 programs – without engagement, learning simply doesn’t happen.
Similarly, the Links to Literacy project also brought hands on application to the Four Processes for Learning (aka Transformation) presented by Mezirow (1997). Below I demonstrate how the Links to Literacy project fits into this model:
Process 1 – Elaborating Existing Frames of Reference
The Links to literacy project could not have been developed successfully without fully understanding the targeted community the program was aimed for. Fortunately, our communication with the site liaison at HBPL was very effective. The fact that the library was just as excited about this program as we were facilitated enthusiasm, effectiveness, and collaboration in fully understanding both the environment of learning for the patrons as well as diverse frames of reference the patrons would be demonstrating.
Process 2 – Learning New Frames of Reference
Char Booth (2011) says that “learners pay more attention, try harder, and understand more clearly when they see the personal benefit of an instructional scenario or object” (Kindle version, loc. 742). This was an important process behind what modules our group presented. We wanted to attract and engage with the use of simple language (ease of understanding clearly), presenting fun activities (all activities were to encourage personal interests and applications), and offering examples of additional applications for those who wanted to explore a module/technology even further. It is no surprise that the JobScout Module was so well liked by the patrons! The program solidifies the benefit of prior learning (emails and search engines) while presenting a much needed online resource for creating resumes, searching for jobs, and applying and tracking applications. The JobScout Module also encouraged participation through the use of digital badges as motivators for learning. Patrons benefited from immediate personal gratification by achieving a new badge while also achieving more long-term benefits of learning job searching and application skills.
Process 3 – Transforming Points of View
While the engagement of exercises and the development of new learning has transformed the points of views of the HBPL patrons in their experience and comfort in using new technologies, the biggest impact on transforming points of view, in my opinion, for this project is demonstrated through the staff’s perspective…
”This has been such a beneficial project for us! Of course I had the idealized picture of everyone moving from module to module each week with no problems and I have had to adjust, but people are really learning a lot and we are learning how to do this type of project with our students. I think this will be a huge help overall to our program and to our students. It is just taking a lot of patience.”
Amy Crepeau, Huntington Beach Public Library
Where our target was presenting Learning 2.0 programs to HBPL patrons, transformative points of view became evident in library staff who led the program. They too had to realize the unique learning needs of their patrons, the opportunities and disadvantages of attempting a Learning 2.0 program both as a collective class experience as well as an individual learning experience, and the value of being open to change and flexibility to make learning effective. Ironically, these same lessons were learned by us – the Literacy and Students Learning 2.0 group – throughout the program.
Process 4 – Transforming Habits of the Mind
The further process of transforming habits of the mind is individualistic for the patrons, tutors, and even staff at HBPL. Just as valuable are the transforming habits of the mind that occurred during our group’s own learning. We learned that teaching needs to be flexible, assessments are critical to evaluate learning outcomes, and learning needs to be centered on the user’s individual engagement and experience.
“Links to Literacy”: Project and Module Links
Links to Literacy: https://litlink.wordpress.com/
Email Module: https://litlink.wordpress.com/module-1/
Searching Module: https://litlink.wordpress.com/module-2/
JobScout Module: https://litlink.wordpress.com/module-3/
Facebook Module: https://litlink.wordpress.com/module-4/
Tumblr Module: https://litlink.wordpress.com/module-5/
Pinterest Module: https://litlink.wordpress.com/module-6-pinterest/
YouTube Module: https://litlink.wordpress.com/module-7-youtube/
Booth, C. (2011) Reflective Teaching, Effective Learning. American Library Association: Chicago.
Mezirow, J. (1997), Transformative learning: Theory to practice. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, no. 74, p 5-12.Retrieved from http://www.ecolas.eu/content/images/Mezirow%20Transformative%20Learning.pdf
Thomas, D., & Brown, J. (2011). A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change. CreateSpace: Charleston, SC.
Wiggins, G., & McTigue, J. (2005). Understanding by Design (Expanded 2nd Edition).Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Elaine Hall is a MLIS student at San Jose State University studying and working in the field of Library and Information Science with special focus on research, academic libraries, and information technology.
Malcolm Gladwell famously defined the “tipping point” as that magic moment when an idea or practice crosses some invisible threshold, tips, and spreads widely throughout a culture or society. Lately I’ve been wondering if the practice and benefits of mindfulness meditation are hitting that tipping point.
The many benefits of mindfulness meditation have been known to Buddhist monks and western scientists alike for many years. But it is only recently that mindfulness seems to be recognized in the workplace as a valuable practice worth promoting and fostering among employees. In the past few months there have been a flurry of articles in publications ranging from Forbes and the New York Times, to The Chronicle of Higher Education, reporting on the benefits of mindfulness and the increasing adoption of the practice in businesses and organizations across the country.
Show me the Research
Some of the recent media coverage was generated by a study published in March, 2013 in the journal Psychological Science, by researchers who found that a two-week mindfulness training program resulted in decreased mind-wandering and improved memory. Likewise, a study published by the National Science Foundation (NSF) in 2012 reported that meditation could increase one’s focus and ability to deal with distraction. The NSF research showed that those who received meditation training were more focused in their work, switched tasks less frequently and spent more time on each discrete task, while also seeing a reduction in stress and an improvement in memory.
These experiments only added to the growing body of neuroscientific studies that show that meditation improves emotional regulation, attention, and other aspects of what is known as emotional intelligence, or “EQ.” And it is this demonstrated improvement in emotional intelligence that has attracted the attention of mainstream businesses and opened the door to more widespread acceptance of mindfulness meditation in the workplace.
Search Inside Yourself: A new kind of leadership institute
Google is perhaps the most notable company to embrace mindfulness meditation, citing improvements in employee EQ and the attendant benefits to the teamwork, creativity, and productivity in the workplace. To what extent has Google embraced mindfulness? So much so that they’ve created a leadership institute cheekily dubbed, “Search Inside Yourself”, which focuses on developing five key aspects of emotional intelligence: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills. Originally conceived as in internal leadership offering, Google is now offereing their institute to the world, putting videos of the curriculum online, and publishing “Search Inside Yourself: The Unexpected Path to Achieving Success, Happiness”, authored by Chade-Meng Tan, Google’s very own “Jolly Good Fellow (which nobody can deny).” How’s that for a job title!?
Keep in mind that Google, for all their California new-age vibe, is at heart a company of engineers; of scientists. They are trained to be highly skeptical, focus on data, and care only about obervable results. As Tan points out in Search Inside Yourself, Google has gone all-in on mindfulness for one reason: It works. And it’s not just super-rich, California-new-agey, “do no evil” Google that has wrapped its organizational arms around the benefits of mindfulness. In a wide-ranging article published in March, 2013, the Huffington Post reported that one quarter of U.S. companies, including General Mills, Aetna, Apple, Nike, Procter & Gamble, Target, and AOL have instituted mindfulness programs. William George, Harvard Business School professor and former CEO of Medtronic, explains why businesses across the country are adding meditation rooms and fostering mindfulness. George says, “The main business case for meditation is that if you’re fully present on the job, you will be more effective as a leader…you will make better decisions.”
Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy
So why is mindfulness meditation so effective? Why does it result in improved emotional intelligence, and therefore improved work relationships, creativity, and problem-solving ability?
In a word, happiness.
In his book, Search Inside Yourself, Google’s Chade-Meng Tan writes, “What I really care about is happiness for my coworkers. That is why emotional intelligence excites me. It doesn’t just create conditions for stellar success at work; it also creates the conditions for personal happiness for everyone.” In his book, The Happiness Advantage: Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work, Shawn Achor reviews a decade’s worth of research suggesting that happier employees are more also more productive AND more accurate. (Achor also gives a pretty mean Ted Talk.)
And happy employees are not only more productive and accurate, they are also… wait for it… contagious. Yes, we actually catch happiness from each other. Research from the Harvard Medical School and the University of California suggests that happiness spreads through social networks “like a virus” finding a “statistical relationship not just between your happiness and your friends’ happiness, but between your happiness and your friends’ friends’ friends’ happiness.” (Researchers find that sadness is contagious too, but not as contagious as happiness. Yay!)
Since mindfulness meditation leads to happiness, and happiness makes us more focused, productive, and accurate, AND happiness is contagious, it easy to see how a positive, reinforcing loop of happiness and productivity can easily be set in motion by a few people sitting quietly for a few minutes a day. And I think that’s pretty cool.
Of course, all of this research around the benefits of happiness will likely come as no surprise to librarians considering that as far back as 1899 none other than John Cotton Dana was sharing his view (in A Library Primer) that the public library is a “center of public happiness first.” And I think that’s pretty darn cool too.
Peter Bromberg is just a simple librarian trying to make it in this crazy world. He is also the Associate Director and the Princeton Public Library in Princeton, NJ. He has meditated on and off for 25 years (currently on.) He occasionally tweets at @pbromberg and blogs at CuriousKind. His website is http://peterbromberg.com/
For information about the beneficial physical effects of meditation on the brain see:
- Growing the Brain Through Meditation, On the Brain: The Harvard Mahoney Neuroscience Newsletter, Fall 2006, Vol. 12, No. 3.
- Re-Wiring Your Brain for Happiness: Research Shows How Meditation Can Physically Change the Brain, ABC Nightline, April 28, 2011.
Two years ago, I created the Circulating Ideas podcast, where I talk to cool, innovative librarians about the work that they’re doing to move the profession forward. Ultimately, I’d love if non-librarians listened and learned about all the great work that we do, but I’m thrilled with the fact that most of my audience are my fellow librarians, gleaning ideas and inspiration from my guests.
I do the show on my own time, on my own dime, so upgrading and improving the show takes a personal investment, but I couldn’t do the show on my own. Without my guests, the show is nothing and there is equipment and software I need to make the show happen. So investing in a new mic, purchasing a domain name, and upgrading the software on my machine, among other thing, are all things I’ve done in the past and will continue to do in the future. However, I have goals for the show that I cannot achieve in the timeframe I’d like because I’ve got other things I need to be spending money on (for instance, my children enjoy having food to eat).
So what to do?
Though I’d vaguely considered the idea of doing a fundraiser of some kind for awhile now, I never really felt comfortable with it until I saw Amanda Palmer’s TED Talk, “The Art of Asking”. I’m not going to take the time here to just repeat what she says, but basically, it helped me become okay with the idea of asking for financial assistance for the show. The rise of crowdfunding sites has put the power to fund the creative projects they want to see into the hands of the people. It’s not quite the second coming of patronage, as the artists still maintain most of the control of their product, but it’s empowering nonetheless to cut out the middleman and give funding directly to the source of the creative energy.
So, I created a Kickstarter campaign for the show, and it’s been successful beyond my wildest dreams. I reached full funding for the initial goal in less than two days, but I’ve got lots of other plans for expansion beyond that initial ask, which are laid out in the stretch goals.
If you enjoy the show, I would appreciate any help you can give, even if it’s just passing on the word about the campaign, writing a review on iTunes or just listening to the episodes as they come out. I hope you learn and grow as much as I do from every episode. Our profession is filled with so many interesting people doing such fantastic work. I can’t wait for you to meet more of them through the show.
Note from Michael: Please support Circulating Ideas if you can!