John Kirriemuir and Phil Bradley rock!
John Kirriemuir and Phil Bradley rock!
For new librarians entering the field of academic librarianship, there is an expectation to continue and evolve the Participatory Service methodology. Luckily, it is not a forced expectation, but rather one of excitement and, dare I say, glee. The ability of academic libraries to effectively reach and engage students in the research process is palpable and librarians are responsible. Librarians entering the profession are happily challenged with continuing this new era of constant change, experimentation, innovation, and evaluation.
This group of new and future librarians is so inspired and focused on this new culture of libraries and librarians. And I must admit, it’s partly selfish. We are desperate for a career, for a purposeful and fulfilling career—one that reaches users in effective ways and offers services and methods of evaluation that will overcome the intimidating nature of the academic library. Some of us may have gotten to this place from experiences with former academic libraries. Some of us may want to overcome and change the current brand of academic libraries—but the reasons why don’t necessary matter at this point. Because now, we are part of a tribe and we do intend to make this profession our own – isn’t that the point of a career? We have made our spaces online and in classrooms and will remain supportive and collaborative through our professional careers. We intend to follow the principles of librarianship combined with innovative thinking and experimentation detailed in the Library 2.0 methodology to encourage better services for users and a more fulfilling work environment for us.
The Dark Side
There is, of course, a dark side. For a recent MSLIS graduate, who is looking for an interesting and purposeful career, and has been introduced to innovative professors, interesting theories, Web 2.0 technologies, and thinking about emerging trends, walking into a library stuck in an environment of presenting information with no viable way to reach or engage users will be an immensely frustrating experience. That combined with the intimidation and nervousness of being the new person makes for a complicated and sticky situation. Other library staff may be hostile or passive aggressive if a new employee intends to change their way of doing things—not to mention the daunting task of getting the library administration on board.
To ensure a positive discussion, I would like to add that in no way is this a demonization or negative perspective attributed to more traditional library services. It is only an adaptation that reflects changing user needs. There is no doubt that there is an immense need for academic libraries to brand themselves as a welcoming online and physical space for students to find resources, get research help, study, collaborate, learn, experiment, innovate, have fun, and enjoy a scholarly community. In the article, “A Manifesto for Our Times,” Cohen (2007) writes, “While our users are steeped in a culture that is collaborative, personalized, and open, our library culture tends to be a closed, one-way street. We expect users to accept the library on our terms—to come to our spaces to receive services, and to deal with websites and catalogs that are essentially brick walls. While some libraries are making strides in moving ahead, many other have yet to make a targeted commitment. We have not, as a profession, demonstrated a resilient response to the Web 2.0 phenomenon” (p. 49). Therefore, to a certain degree, some academic libraries can seem like a different culture to students invested in the online world; particularly the ones that don’t offer services to match the users’ needs. Cohen (2007) adds, “Ultimately, librarians become champions of adaptability in order to meet users’ evolving needs” (p. 49).
Creating a “culture of constant and purposeful change” (Casey & Savastinuk, 2007, p. 5) will ensure that libraries remain relevant to their communities—whether staff, faculty, users, or administration. This culture encourages creativity, idea creation, supportive peers, and inspiring mentors. However, it does require a certain amount of buy-in and staff commitment.
Participatory Service methodology will move academic libraries toward physical and online spaces that are open, welcoming, friendly, helpful, approachable, collaborative, transparent, resourceful, strong, engaging, and fun.
For many recent grads, they may require a staff culture that promotes constant and purposeful change and a degree of embedded librarianship in both the online and physical space in future jobs. I know I will. We have seen the way that it could be—from working together on class projects, to finishing the end of the semester in one piece, to getting passionate about a research paper topic, to engaging in online spaces such as class sites, blogs, Facebook, and Twitter. This is the culture we are embedded in, enjoy, and want to continue through our professional careers—knowledge sharing, collaborative and engaging projects, mentorship, support, and a unified effort to best serve the user community. I’ve realized that collaborative and supportive peer librarians are a great asset to my professional development and my personal learning network. I don’t want to be stuck behind a desk; I want to participate in the profession.
Finally, I just want to express another desire for this tribe of new and experienced librarians focused on Library 2.0 principles and technologies. We need help! We need mentorship. We need to be taught the ropes so to speak. We are looking to collaborate with more experienced and more knowledgeable libraries in the field. Please don’t be intimidated by our eagerness. We are in this profession for the same reason you are. We want to help make the academic library a place for learning, research, and collaboration—we just want to take it up a notch.
The tribe and I intend to make this new culture of change, interaction, innovation, services, and technologies the paradigm in academic libraries where students are responsive. Librarianship will remain bright and adaptive with these principles. The users are going to feel and know our eagerness and ability to make the library their space.
There is an article that I keep returning to when I need inspiration after reading about all or any of the problems, concerns, bleak futures, and budget crises facing academic libraries.
“What are libraries? Libraries are not just collections of documents and books, they are conversations, they are convocations of people, ideas, and artifacts in dynamic exchange. Libraries are not merely in communities, they are communities: they preserve and promote community memories; they provide mentors not only for the exploration of stored memory, but also for the creation of new artifacts of memory” (Schultz, 2006).
Schultz goes on to describe Library 1.0, Library 2.0, Library 3.0, and finally, Library 4.0, the neo-library: Experience. “This will be the library for the aesthetic economy, the dream society, which will need libraries as mind gyms; libraries as idea labs; libraries as art salons. But let’s be clear: Library 4.0 will not replace Libraries 1.0 through 3.0; it will absorb them. The library as aesthetic experience will have space for all the library’s incarnations: storage (archives, treasures); data retrieval (networks—reference rooms); and commentary and annotation (salon). Available as physical places in the library ‘storefront,’ they will also be mobile, as AR overlays we can view (via glasses, contacts, projections) anywhere. Both virtual and augmented 3D reality will enable us to manipulate data via immersive, visual, metaphorical, sculptural, holographic information theatres: the research and analytic experience will merge with drawing, dance and drama…I’ll meet you there” (Schultz, 2006).
And I will meet you there as well. Librarians are charged with continuing the culture of “change and purposeful change.” The path has been carved; now, both new and experienced librarians just need to bring it to life in academic libraries.
Terri Rieck is a graduate student at Dominican University’s Graduate School of Library and Information Science, graduating in May 2011. She is also currently interning at Northwestern’s Schaffner Library on the Chicago campus.
Casey, Michael E. & Savastinuk, Laura C. (2007). Library 2.0: A guide to participatory library service. Medford, NJ: Information Today, Inc.
Cohen, L. (2007). A manifesto for our times. American Libraries, 38(7), 47-9. Retrieved from OmniFile Full Text Mega database.
Schultz, Wendy. (2006). Web 2.0: Where will it take libraries? Infinite Futures: To a temporary place in time. NextSpace, The OCLC Newsletter (2). http://www.oclc.org/nextspace/002/6.htm
I’m updating some slides and prepping for spring classes today. I was pleased to find this wonderful staff directory page for the Todd Library at Waubonsee Community College:
Not only do I get a photo of the staff member, I also get access to their social media presence as well. Frankly, I’d like to see more libraries do this. Wouldn’t clicking through to a staff listing such as the one above paint a clearer picture of the PEOPLE running the library beyond just a name and email address? I understand if some individuals were not interested in participating, but I’d rather such a page be opt in for those who want to – with the understanding that their social media presence becomes part of the story the library is telling.
Speaking of marketing, isn’t this type of endeavor – that glimpse into the social presence of those folks who you might see behind a service desk or those ordering/processing materials – is a million times more real than the latest crafted message from the PR department? Kudos to the folks at Todd Library!
TTW readers – do you have other staff bio pages to share like this one? Can you do such a thing at your library?
-Post by Justin Hoenke, Tame the Web Contributor
Social media allows us to be more transparent than ever. We can check in at every place we visit, we can tweet quotes from conversations we’re having, we can share pictures at the tap of our screen. Blogging/Video blogging makes it super easy and quick just to share your thoughts/actions for the day. To some folks, this transparency is scary. Most everything you say or do can be found on the web. Here’s where I burst your fun bubble. THIS ISN’T ABOUT YOU. I’m just as guilty of this as you are, so I’m not pointing fingers. We have to remember that when we’re working in a public library that we are public employees. Our salaries and benefits are graciously paid for by public taxes paid by the people we serve. Living in the era of the Tea Party and slashed library budgets, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that our country is pretty darn upset about taxes and will do anything to get rid of what they consider unnecessary spending.
Have a UStream feed running in your office all day as well as during meetings. What have you got to hide in these day to day meetings? If you’re talking about people behind their back, you probably shouldn’t be doing that anyway.
Opening up your office and your meetings to the public will give your community the primary resource they will need to understand your direction and vision. Instead of hearing half true rumours from other employees and around your town you’ll be giving the information to the public as it was meant to be heard.
*Yes, I understand that some meetings are meant to be private. These meetings should totally stay that way.
Check into every place you’re visiting in the community. Give us a little info about why you’re there.
I don’t have a solid example for this recommendation, so instead I’ll point you to my Foursquare account (http://foursquare.com/justinlibrarian). Just imagine that all those restaurants I checked into are different meetings and locations I’m out scouting for possible collaborations.
In my own opinion, this is the perfect tool for the director who is on the go to use. Tweet quotes from meetings you’re attending. Give your followers a brief 140 character synopsis about what’s going on.
Don’t think you have enough time to tweet? That’s a lame and outdated excuse that everyone uses. Look at Newark, NJ mayor Cory Booker’s Twitter stream for inspiration. He’s running a whole city and he can still tweet! http://twitter.com/corybooker
Fire up your webcam (chances are that your laptop already has one. If not, get this one) and start talking. If you’re a director, you should be well spoken and ready for the cameras. A quick 1-3 minute videoblog about your day that can then be uploaded to your library YouTube account will give your staff and patrons always valuable face time.
I couldn’t find any specific library directors already doing this (although I clearly remember seeing one out there a few years ago) so instead I turn your attention to teen author John Green and his brother Hank. They run the Vlogbrothers channel on YouTube where they just talk about…stuff! It keeps them connected to their rabid fan fan base and provides quick and easy updates to keep them relevant and interesting.
Jenny Levin’s blog is a beautiful example of how a lifestream can be used to keep people up to date with what you’re tweeting/blogging/sharing. It’s easy to set up and use once you get the ball rolling and it will provide your community with more than enough information about what you’re doing while you work.
There shouldn’t be this communication breakdown in libraries anymore. Starting at the top and leading by example, directors who embrace social media can show their staff and the public they serve just what they’re doing to keep their libraries relevant.
-Post by Justin Hoenke, Tame the Web Contributor
It’s very easy to dismiss people who don’t share our views. It’s harder to find common ground. Even harder is saying “I can learn from you.”
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