Category Archives: LIS Education in the 21st Century

What is “Social Reading” and why should Libraries care? – A TTW Guest Post by Allison Mennella

Part 1:  Defining “Social Reading”

“Social reading,” as a concept, is actually quite simple:  people want to share what they have read with other people and receive feedback about their thoughts and ideas.  Technology is the great enabler for social reading, and the natural place for this activity to cultivate.  Social reading has several key characteristics.  First, social reading is an extremely public activity.  Gone are the days of “selfish,” private reading: reading alone in the bathtub, alone under the covers, alone on the couch, alone in the park, etc.  Social reading exists because of the interactions between two or more persons and the text, whether in-person or digitally.  Second, social reading extends the reader’s experience.  It takes the reader out of the book and encourages the reader to make connections, draw conclusions, summarize thoughts, and ask questions in conversation with others.  Social reading helps a book become memorable; it can be a conversation starter between two new friends, or a way to develop online skills like reviewing, recommending, communicating via social media platforms, and exploring what it means to be part of a community of shared interests (both on and off line).  

In that sense, it is important to point out that user-added content is also a crucial aspect of social reading.  Readers must be willing to express their points of view and leave a lasting “impression” on the work whether it is by posting comments on a review board, or leaving notes in the margins of a text, then loaning that book to a friend to read.  Social reading also leads to shared writing and shared thoughts which fosters better idea formation and explanation, than solitary, deep-focus reading (Johnson, et. al, 2011, p. 8).  Finally, social reading “[allows] journeys through worlds real and imagined, undertaken not alone, but in the company with other readers” (Johnson, et. al, 2011, p. 8).  In short, social reading is a way to connect with others and explore thoughts and ideas that might have gone unnoticed in a solitary reading of the text.

Part 2:  Describing “Social Reading” in its various forms

It is now time to examine the various forms of social reading.  The first is the traditional book club.  A traditional book club consists of a group of readers who meet in person, typically once per month, to discuss a specific book in-depth (Book-Clubs-Resource.com, 2007).  The demographics of book club members do vary, but typically club members tend to be almost exclusively females and a majority of book club goers are either over sixty-five years old and retired, or mid thirties and forties, and stay-at-home-moms (AuYeung, Dalton, & Gornall, 2007, p. 1-2).

There are numerous reasons why people join traditional book clubs.  Perhaps the main motivation is for the social interaction between group members over a common interest (AuYeung, Dalton, & Gornall, 2007, p. 3).  People are constantly looking for ways to connect with one another, and the traditional book club setting offers a chance to be part of a real “community” of people who share similar hobbies (Hoffert, 2006, p. 37).  Social reading in a traditional book club has a number of other advantages such as the ability to meet new and interesting people, the opportunity to read things outside of one’s typical repertoire of works, and to receive recommendations and reviews from other avid readers (Lloyd, 2010)

The next form of social reading is the online book club.  An online book club offers several advantages over the traditional book club model.  One advantage is the variety of book clubs available online, many dedicated to a specialized interest, genre, author or series.  Also, online book clubs tend to be more convenient as participation can take place at any time of day (Book-Clubs-Resource.com, 2007).  Online book club participants tend to be younger and more varied in demographic than traditional book club attendees.  The description of an online book club participant can often be described as:  “adult reader, primarily female, but also including men, twenty to forty years old, Internet savvy, with at minimum, a medium reading level” (AuYeung, Dalton, & Gornall, 2007, p. 7).

People join online book clubs because they are often a motivating and convenient environment to encourage voluntary book reading (Scharber, 2009, p.433).  Joining an online book club can be a great way to ease people into the book discussion format as there is less pressure to participate and participants have the option to remain anonymous until they are comfortable with joining in the discussion.  The 24/7 environment is also more convenient for people who have busy schedules and cannot always make it to a scheduled meeting, or for those who live too far to travel to the meeting destination.  Online book clubs are also great for those who want to have in-depth analysis and discussion about a particular book, genre, author, topic, etc because the online format gives every member ample time to express their points of view without running into the time constraints of a more traditional book club setting (AuYeung, Dalton, & Gornall, 2007, p. 3).

Of course, online book clubs are not without flaw.  One major con of online book clubs is the idea of “membership.”  Membership in online book clubs can often be unpredictable and less interactive.  In fact, a majority of readers prefer “to read others’ messages and get reading suggestions without commenting themselves…the majority of online book club members might be looking for readers’ advisory rather than participatory activities” (AuYeung, Dalton, & Gornall, 2007, p. 4).  While membership commitment may be an issue for the online book club reader who is looking for stability, many people are perfectly content with the “revolving door” atmosphere of the online book club, and value the ability to come and go as they please.

A healthy mixture of the traditional and online book club has manifested itself through social media platforms designed for cataloging, recording, discussing, recommending, reviewing and searching books that anyone from anywhere is currently reading, has read, or wants to read. “While some readers still get their book recommendations from newspaper reviews or Oprah’s Book Club, increasingly book lovers are turning to their friends and social media contacts for recommendations” (Hartley, 2010).  Social media “has taken reading and sharing literature to the masses, catalyzing conversations and perspectives from eager readers who want to share their thoughts to a broader world” (D’Andrea, 2010, p.11).  Users can post updates, comment on other’s reviews, show appreciation or dissatisfaction for a book through a ratings system or build conversations inside the book itself on these social media sites designed specifically for books (Johns, 2010).

The latest form of social reading is experiencing unprecedented attention from readers and publishers alike and deserves extensive attention. EBooks and eReaders are beginning to challenge the very definition of what constitutes as “reading.”  For example, eBooks are visual, audio, interactive, extremely social, and a relatively new phenomenon that will no doubt begin to see magnificent and significant changes and additions to newer additions.  EBooks have the ability to extend the reader’s experience into the larger world, connect readers with one another, and enable deeper, more collaborative explorations and interpretations of the text (Johnson, et. al, 2011, p. 8). However, it is important to note that eBooks, while wonderful inventions, are only as “social” as the eReader device they are read from.

In order for an eReader to fully maximize the potential of an eBook and promote the concept of social reading, the eReader itself must be fully social.  A great example of an eReader manufacturer that has accounted for the more “social” aspects of eBook reading is the Amazon Kindle.  The Kindle has recently introduced several new features that encourage readers to share their thoughts with other Kindle users around the globe.  The most popular and most controversial feature is called “popular highlights.”  Popular highlights appear as dotted lines under phrases in books that multiple Kindle readers have highlighted (Johnson, 2010).  Popular highlights appear when Kindle users have turned on their “Public Notes” feature.  This feature lets Kindle users choose to make their book notes and highlights available for other to see.  Now, any Kindle user can choose to share their thoughts on book passages and ideas with friends, family members, colleagues, and the great Kindle community of people who love to read.  This is a new way for readers to share their enthusiasm and knowledge about books and get more from the books they read. (Dilworth, 2011).

Another newly added social feature is called “Before you Go.”  This application prompts users to not only rate a finished eBook on a 5-star scale, but to share their thoughts on the book with their social networks (Facebook and Twitter).  Recommendations for future eBook reads are also provided at this stage (Dredge, 2011).  Finally, the Kindle has also introduced a “lending” function that allows readers to share the book with a friend after completing it (Cain Miller, 2011).  Friends that borrow the book will be able to see the previous readers’ notes, comments and ratings, making the read a more personal, social experience.

Of course, not everyone is touting praises for the Kindle’s new social updates.  Many argue that features like public notes take the privacy out of reading, because “not only is the e-book not yours to be with alone, it is shared at Amazon which shares with you what it knows about you reading and the readings of others.  And lets you know that you are what you underline, which is only a number in a mass of popular views” (Codrescu, 2011).  Others worry that popular highlights will perpetuate “compulsive skimming, linking and multitasking” that will “undermine the deep, immersive focus that has defined book culture for centuries” (Johnson, 2010).  Finally, some accuse eBooks and eReaders of stripping the reader of a nostalgic and valuable experience that occurs with physical books, claiming “books that we’ve known and handled often have a personal, physical connection to the past that e-books won’t be able to capture” (Ng, 2010), noting that connections are made between reader and book based on components like the cover, spine, colors, paper type and fonts.  Because the Kindle is so much less personalized, in their opinion, some worry that the purpose of books and the reading experience itself will be lost.

No matter which side of the argument a reader falls on, the popularity of the Kindle, and other eReader devices like the Barnes and Noble “Nook,” the Sony eReader, and the Kobo are certainly worth noting.  With consistent additions and improvements being made to the eReading experience, libraries are and should continue to monitor the ways in which eReading and its social capabilities will affect current and future aspects of the patron-book relationship fostered through the library.

To conclude this section, my ideal social reading experience would encompass all four of the above mentioned forums.  I would create a book club that met in person once a month.  I would use GoodReads as an online portal for the book club to facilitate structured dialogue about the book as the readers progressed through the story.  I would encourage the book club members to create and maintain profiles on the social networking site, GoodReads, so that members of the group can get to know one another and receive recommendations, reviews and ratings from the fellow members.  Also, I would encourage members to read the book via the Kindle or eReader, highlighting passages along the way and making their notes public so other members of the group could read the “instant,” thoughts of other readers.  I would also pick a Twitter hashtag for the book so that members can tweet relevant passages, discussion points, thoughts, or questions in real-time.  The physical book club meeting would focus more on overall impressions of the book and discuss questions that members brought up through the month that may have gone unanswered.  Mixing these four mediums would absolutely create the ultimate social reading experience.

Part 3:  Discussing Libraries and Social Reading

Libraries are in a unique position as they have the ability to both encourage and stifle social reading depending on their openness to the concept.  In order to avoid the later scenario, libraries must take a greater look at what makes social reading a successful and necessary component of the reading experience.

One of the biggest factors for successful implementation of social reading in the library is the participation of librarians and the willingness to adopt, work with, and, in some cases, develop Web 2.0 tools to assist in facilitation of social reading scenarios.  There are essentially three steps that librarians can follow in order to promote and create thriving social reading experiences in their libraries.

Step 1:  Develop a social network, online, so that the social reading experience can continue away from the physical building

To increase both the library’s appeal and stress its value to users, libraries should consider implementing customizable and participatory services for social reading.  There are a number of ways to accomplish the creation of this social space from designing blogs, podcasts, a wiki or even using an existing social media platform like GoodReads.  The key is to build and maintain a site that uses moderated trust to give patrons a voice in this social space.  If possible, libraries should give patrons the opportunity to design and manage their own “space” within the library’s broader social platform.  In doing this, libraries will encourage user participation, a crucial component in Library 2.0 and the backbone of successful social reading.  Ways to encourage user participation includes allowing: “customizable interfaces, tag creation, and the [ability to] write reviews, or provide ratings of materials…” (Casey & Savastinuk, 2007, p.14).  The creation of this online space and the presence of user participation will help create a strong foundation for online social reading to occur in the library.

Step 2:  Encourage patrons to start book clubs of their own that use both the physical library and/or the library website or social network as a meeting space

As Michael E. Casey and Laura C. Savastinuk (2007) point out in their book, Library 2.0: A guide to participatory library service, patrons enjoy a mix of the traditional and newer services of Library 2.0 (8).  There is much to be said about the ability to meet in person to discuss a book versus “meeting” strictly online.  Libraries must be willing to hold on to the more traditional elements of their service models while supplementing these features with electronic resources and updated ways of thinking about and promoting reading.

Step 3:  Encourage participation from everyone

Book clubs traditionally provide a place for people to discuss “the hits,” in other words, the books that are very popular.  The social reading experience, however, aims to include the “long tail” of readers—those who enjoy the “non-hits”—which will always be great than those who prefer the “hits” (Casey & Savastinuk, 2007, p.64).   Social reading, especially in an online space or via an eReader like the Amazon Kindle, allows people who are part of the long tail to connect and discuss their niche subjects in more depth (Casey & Savastinuk, 2007, p.67).  Librarians must be willing to encourage participation from all users—new, existing, inactive and unfamiliar—in order to provide a wide variety of social reading groups for readers to join.

One way of accomplishing this is to allow everyone the ability to create a reading group for virtually any topic within both the physical and virtual library setting.  Likewise, the long-tail aspect of social reading could be maintained through the purchase and lending of eReader devices like the Amazon Kindle that allow readers to follow their favorite books and see the highlights and notes from other people who have also read the book and have similar shared interests.  Providing patrons with appropriate and varied ways to connect with others to discuss a text should be a main goal of libraries seeking to enhance and enrich the social reading experience for their patrons.

Part 5:  Determining the future of social reading

To conclude, social reading has been predicted to develop drastically over the next five years.  One of the biggest changes in development is that literary content will become more dynamic and retrievable, especially through the use of eReaders and eBooks.  With the eBook in high demand, libraries need to recognize that social reading is not just a trend, but rather a shift in preference.  In order to stay abreast of this cultural shift, libraries will need to play an important role in the distribution and promotion of social reading via traditional, online, and eReader spaces in order to enhance the user experience and evaluate the staying power and usefulness of different forms of social reading.  With the ubiquity of technology, libraries have many tools at their disposal to create, maintain and develop new and existing avenues of social reading.  While no one can predict the future of the book, or new forms of social reading, libraries can “maintain the momentum of change” (Casey & Savastinuk, 2007, p.xxv) and prepare themselves and their patrons for what’s to come.

References

AuYeung, C., Dalton, S., & Gornall, S. (2007). Book buzz: online 24/7 virtual reading clubs and what we’ve learned about them. Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice and Research, 2(2), Retrieved from http://journal.lib.uoguelph.ca/index.php/perj/article/view/237/527

Book-Clubs-Resource.com. (2007). What is a book club? Retrieved from http://www.bookclubs-resource.com/book-club.php

Cain Miller, C. (2011, February 7). Kindle books get page numbers and social features. The New York Times (Gadgetwise), Retrieved from http://gadgetwise.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/02/07/kindle-books-get-page-numbers-and-social-features/

Casey, M.E., & Savastinuk, L.C. (2007). Library 2.0: A guide to participatory library service. Medford: Information Today, Inc.

Codrescu, A. (Producer). (2011, March 7). E-book tarnishes the reader-book relationship [Audio Podcast]. All Things Considered (National Public Radio). Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/2011/03/07/134342235/E-Book-Tarnishes-The-Reader-Book-Relationship

D’Andrea, D. (2010). Reading 2.0: From Solitary to Social. School Librarian’s Workshop, 31(1), 11-12. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Dilworth, D. (2011, February 7). Amazon updates Kindle software [Web log message]. Retrieved from http://www.mediabistro.com/ebooknewser/amazon-updates-kindle-software_b5699

Dredge, S. (2011, February 8). Kindle gets more social with public notes and sharing features  [Web log message]. Retrieved from https://www.mobile-ent.biz/news/read/kindle-gets-more-social-with-public-notes-and-sharing-features

Hartley, M. (2010, December 9). Social media invades book world. National Post, Retrieved  from http://www.nationalpost.com/arts/Social+media+invades+book+world/3950884/story.html

Hoffert, B. (2006). The book club exploded. Library Journal, 131(12), Retrieved from  http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA6349024.html

Johns, J. (2010, August 16). The meaning of social reading and where it’s headed [Web log message]. Retrieved from http://e2bu.com/the-meaning-of-social-reading-and-where-its-headed/

Johnson, L., Smith, R., Willis, H., Levine, A., and Haywood, K., (2011). The 2011 Horizon Report Retrieved from http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/HR2011.pdf

Johnson, S. (2010, June 19). Yes, people still read, but now it’s social. The New York Times  (Online), Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/20/business/20unbox.html

Lloyd, D. (2010, February 25). Five reasons to join a book club. Huffington Post, Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/delia-lloyd/five-reasons-to-join-a-bo_b_476162.html

Ng, C. (2010, May 14). When we go digital, what happens to the flyleaf? [Web log message]. Retrieved from http://fictionwritersreview.com/blog/when-we-go-digital-what-happens-to-the-flyleaf

Scharber, C. (2009). Online book clubs: bridges between old and new literacies practices. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 52(5), Retrieved from Academic Search Premier doi: 10.1598/JAAL.52.5.7

Thanks to Allison for sharing this paper she wrote for LIS768. Download the full length paper for LIS768 here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/57754227

Allison Mennella currently works for the Naperville Public Library in the Community Services Department.  She will receive her MLIS from Dominican University in December 2011.  Allison’s is interested in library advocacy and promotion as well as community engagement.  She hopes to use her passion in Social Media Marketing for creating new and innovative ways to connect community members to the public library.

Exploring Transliteracy: A TTW Guest Post by Jessica Thomson

Transliteracy: 21st century literacy

 

It is clear that technology is creating a large change in the ways we communicate and get information within our culture.  This great change affects not only individuals, but also the institutions that make information available, such as libraries and universities.  For a very long time, the essential modes of human communication remained unchanged. Having the ability to read, write, and speak more or less ensured that one possessed the necessary tools to communicate effectively within our culture.  With the explosion of new technologies that affect the way in which we accomplish so many of our daily tasks, a communication divide is occurring between those who communicate across many platforms seamlessly and those who do not.  While the behavior of transliteracy has been around for a long time, the study of it as a concept is new.  Many reports and articles have been written about the need for transliterate behaviors to become the norm in order to keep lines of communication open and keep the exchange of information flowing.  Researchers are also trying to understand how learning and comprehension are affected by this shift to a highly digital lifestyle.  Librarians need to be invested in the spreading of transliteracy because it affects their ability to assist patrons and provide information.  A new divide is emerging in the 21st century. It is no longer the divide between those who can read and those who cannot; it is now a divide between those who can access and understand digital information and those who cannot.  The library has a role in bridging this new literacy divide.

What is transliteracy?

Transliteracy is defined  by Sue Thomas, a professor of new media at De Monfort University, as “the capacity to read, write, and interact across a range of platforms, tools, and media from signing and orality through handwriting, print, TV, radio, and film, to digital social networks.” As a behavior, transliteracy is not a new phenomenon.  However, the identification of transliteracy as a concept to be studied is a recent development, largely due to the new ways in which the Internet and other technologies allow for communication in ways that were not previously imagined.  It is a broad term that encompasses and transcends many existing concepts.  Some of these existing concepts include media literacy and digital literacy, which are contained within the definition of transliteracy.

The term transliteracy comes from the verb “transliterate,” which is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as “replacing (letters or characters of one language) by those of another used to represent the same sounds; to write (a word, etc.) in the characters of another alphabet.”  This is an apt definition for the ways in which new technologies are replacing the traditional ways and means of communicating and learning.

It is no longer enough to only be able to read and write in order to communicate effectively.  Individuals need to be able to access and understand digital information across many different and continually-evolving platforms in addition to the traditional formats we are all accustomed to.  Transliteracy is concerned with the social meaning of literacy and the participatory nature of new means of communicating.  Additionally, transliteracy is unique in combining and democratizing communication formats, expressing no partiality for one over another, while stressing the social construction of meaning via diverse media. However, it should be noted that no group has yet to publish a definition of what specific skills are necessary to be transliterate.

Transliteracy and the library

Transliteracy is a relatively new term, and while many library professionals may not be aware of the term per se, it does not mean that librarians are not participating in transliterate practices during daily interaction with patrons.  While the concept of transliteracy is evolving and the definition may therefore shift over time, transliteracy is about understanding the ways and means of communication interaction and the skills needed to navigate from one medium to another.  It is about the convergence of media types and the experience of engaging with the world in a multi-modal manner.

The lack of a list of skills needed to be transliterate leaves librarians without an understanding of the relationship that libraries will have with transliteracy.  Libraries have information literacy standards, but it is uncertain whether these will be enough to support the growth of research regarding the means in which people communicate and produce content across various media.

The library can add value to existing resources by allowing patrons to contribute to knowledge bases.  Social construction of knowledge can take place in many different ways, from allowing tagging of additional terms in the library catalog to consultation of under-identified objects in special collections.  The transliterate world changes the assumption that authority is unidirectional and comes only from established channels.

Librarians should keep abreast of future developments concerning transliteracy because it concerns many of the concepts at the heart of librarianship.  Librarians can incorporate new ideas about transliteracy into the ways that they help patrons access, understand, and create information.  Additionally, these social networks and other forms of multi-media can create a means of knowledge sharing to enhance the user experience.

Solutions:

 

For libraries to be able to assist users with transliterate needs, the library and librarians need to be active in a transliterate manner.  A new digital divide is emerging in the 21st century between those who can access and understand digital information and those who cannot.  The library has a role to play in bridging this divide.  Computers need to be accessible, and access, especially to social media sites, cannot be blocked.  Libraries cannot look upon social media sites as bad; they are a means of communication and information exchange.  Libraries should offer the ability to access and create across a broad range of platforms and networks.

This means that librarians must keep abreast of ever changing technologies and the newest and latest ways to interact digitally.  Librarians will need to create personal learning environments that allow for the exploration of new and unknown platforms and tools.  Librarians will have to be flexible enough to learn new tools, experiment with social media sites, and try out new technologies.  This is a tall order.  But it is not insurmountable.

For example, librarians could meet formally or informally to share information about personal gadgets, such as e-readers, so that they will understand when users approach with issues in downloading e-books from the library collection.  The learning group could create accounts on social media sites to test out the many tools within the site.  Testing out social media sites in this way could assist librarians in explaining privacy settings, or additional features for the site.  Understanding the applications available on the computers in the library could help librarians assist users with creating content.  This is a natural extension of learning the library’s print collection or offering of online databases.

As the concept and understanding of transliteracy and its impact on humans is being researched and developed, it is important for librarians to remain aware of new research and reports.  This will ensure that libraries are equipped to assist patrons with this new form of literacy for the 21st century, transliteracy.

Citations:

Ipri, Tom. 2010.  Introducing transliteracy. College & Research Libraries News 71(10), 532-567.

Newman, Bobbi L.  2010. Libraries and Transliteracy Slideshow. [Slideshare slides]. Retrieved from Libraries and Transliteracy Web Site:   http://librariesandtransliteracy.wordpress.com/2010/02/09/libraries-and-transliteracy-slideshow/

Thomas, Sue, Chris Joseph, Jess Laccetti, Bruce Mason, Simon Mills, Simon Perril, and Kate Pullinger. 2007.   Transliteracy: Crossing divides.  First Monday. 12(12).

Jessica Thomson is a graduate student at Dominican University’s Graduate School of Library and Information Science, graduating in May 2011.  She is also the Metadata Assistant with the Digital Collections Department at Northwestern University Library.

A Burgeoning Librarian’s Perspective : A TTW Guest Post by Terri Rieck

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).

Future Implications

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.

To End…

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.

Citations:

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

Thoughts on the Fall Semester by an LIS PhD Student

Kyle Jones shares some reflection on his first semester at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the Library and Information Studies (LIS) doctoral program:

http://thecorkboard.org/a-reflection-on-the-fall-semester/

With good timing, a friend recently contacted me about his own interests in pursuing a PhD in library and information studies.  Knowing that I had just wrapped up my first semester and wanting to hear specific parts of my reflections, he sent me a few questions to answer.  Happily, he allowed me to turn these questions in to a reflective post for all to read.

What has taken you by surprise?

I was very much used to a study schedule that could be done last minute, to readings that could be skimmed, and to writing papers the night before on a pot of coffee.  Non of this works now and it would be amateurish to try it.

My assignments require close reading and constant reflection.  It’s quite easy to see well over 100 pages a week assigned, if not more.  And writing responses, while they vary in length depending on the professor, are always supposed to be critical and insightful – no summaries here.

Would you do anything different to prepare for your first semester?

I did try to prepare for my first semester by catching up on academic journals, honing my close reading, and picking up texts of a difficulty level that I thought I might be presented within my first term.  In hindsight, I would read much more about theorists that pertained to my research interests and begin to create an extensive reading list in advance.  Doing so would have saved me valuable time in research for my longer papers and cut down on some stress.

Also, I would emphasize the need to get into a strict schedule.  Over the semester, I struggled to discipline myself, which led to times of sleep deprivation and, again, increased stress.  If you can get yourself into a very controlled schedule for reading, writing, meal times, and relaxation it will most definitely help you to succeed.

Have you found anything (really anything) to be expected of you that took you by surprise?

I knew my program would be challenging.  Pursuing a PhD is not something you should compare to some minor in your undergraduate experience.  That being said, I really got blindsided by the amount of reading.  It took me several weeks to understand that I was entirely responsible for all of the reading and to be ready to respond to minutiae of the texts.

Congrats to Dr. Steven MacCall, Winner of LJ’s 2010 Teaching Award

Please see:

http://www.libraryjournal.com/lj/home/887460-264/steven_maccall_winner_of_ljs.html.csp

“He transforms what could be a cold and impersonal experience into one that is filled with enthusiasm, humor, and intellectual rigor, possibly even transcending an on-campus experience.” That description of Steven L. MacCall’s online teaching comes from the student nomination that earned him the 2010LJ Teaching Award, sponsored by ProQuest.

An associate professor at the School of Library and Information Studies (SLIS) at the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, MacCall was nominated by Kathie Popadin, known as “Kpop” to the members of her cohort in the online MLIS program at SLIS. Sixteen of those students banded together to urge Kpop to write and submit the nomination. The contagious enthusiasm and pride of that squad, the fourth in the history of the SLIS online program, is strong evidence of the spirit MacCall imparted to its 40 members, who call themselves the Fantastic Fourth Regional Cohort.

A well-deserved honor! Congrats Dr. MacCall!

OPPL Virtual Services Manager

http://www.oppl.org/about/jobs.htm

The Oak Park Public Library has an exciting full time opportunity for an experienced librarian to provide visionary leadership of our virtual services efforts. The Virtual Services Manager will manage the design and implementation of the library’s website and ensure that all online services and resources are integrated and designed for the ease of use and convenience of the public. The Manager will identify and implement emerging technologies to enhance the delivery of services.

In the coming year the Virtual Services Manager will lead the Library’s efforts to launch a new website in Drupal. On an ongoing basis, the Manager will lead and train staff and provide direct customer service both in person and online. The Manager will serve on the Library’s Senior Management Team to develop and integrate virtual services efforts into the overall strategic plan of the Library.

Innovation, collaboration, strong communication skills, and strong project management skills will be keys to success in this position. The successful candidate must possess a Masters degree in Library and Information Science (ALA accredited) and a minimum of 2 years current public library experience. The preferred candidate will demonstrate strong working knowledge of HTML, XHTML, CSS, and Drupal as well as working knowledge of web-related technologies including blogs, wikis, online gaming environments, podcasting, and RSS. Relevant experience leading collaborative projects and experience with technology training, website development, programming, or electronic resources is desired.

I’ll be sharing this job description with my classes as an example of one that’s tech-focused but also includes important skills such as project management, trend spotting, collaboration, etc.

Look Like your People – A TTW Guest Post by David Wedaman

People used to need the help of library and IT staff to do things like find articles, edit videos, create databases, install a VOIP phone system, etc. This is changing. People are increasingly sophisticated users of digital media and computers. Third-party software applications and web-based services (read: not made or vetted by your local library and IT staff) are increasingly accessible.  Obvious, I know, but it bears repeating.

People don’t need us as they used to; yet we librarians and IT staff sense we can still be helpful (good for us!).  Our challenge is therefore this: we have to A) figure out new ways to be helpful and B) let our users see us being helpful in those ways (they won’t buy into the idea until they see it).

This is easy enough to say, but how do we do it?  I’m not sure.  Here’s a proposed rule of thumb: If you want to understand what someone needs, you can’t go to far astray if you start by doing what they do.  Look Like your People.

To put it another way: in a world of change our compass is the things that aren’t changing: people will still need to learn, teach, do research, and produce scholarship. How they will do these things is evolving. How we will help them do these things should be evolving, too. We need to be involved to evolve.  Not involved as external supports doing mystical things inside an organizational black box but as integral partners shoulder-to-shoulder with teachers and learners in the trenches.  We need to “embed [our] resources and expertise into the systems and tools students and faculty use in their daily lives,” to quote library visionary David Lewis.

If we engage in things that look and feel like teaching, learning, research, and scholarship, we’ll be ok.  If participating in these activities doesn’t immediately solve the problem of how we’ll be helpful to the academic mission, it will at least help us be much more familiar with and engaged in the core of that mission, and being present is the first step.  Opportunities will follow.

Some examples from our own work place.  Trying to figure out how to teach the academic use of multimedia, we partnered to develop a semester-long, hands-on course carefully integrated with an established Journalism course. Eventually our media course was recognized as a legitimate product on its own, added to the course bulletin, and our “teacher,” to that point a regular old Library and IT staff member, was honored with a faculty appointment, and is now an actual teacher. This would be an example of us looking like a teacher.

Another: trying to learn how to engage students meaningfully at the point of need — their class project — we’re testing out what we call a “project studio:” our staff join opt-in work teams with students, and the team decides what its learning goals will be and how it will go about meeting them.  We’re a partner and we learn with and from the students, adding library and IT know-how where necessary, learning new know-how constantly.  Result–we’re looking like a student.

Do these two projects solve the question of how IT and library organizations can be relevant to their communities in an era of change?  Not fully, of course. But they are helpful now and they might grow into something bigger.  And the staff involved at the very least will be in a wonderfully preferable position as we slouch further into the digital era–that of seeing teaching, learning, and scholarship from “within” those activities.

David Wedaman is Director of Research and Instruction Services, Brandeis University, and sits on the board of NERCOMP (the NorthEast Regional Computing Program) and on the advisory board of the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative.

He blogs at http://wedaman.wordpress.com

On the Zukunftwerkstatt Kultur und Wissensvermittlung – Future Workshop in Germany

From Michael: Christoph Deeg of the Zukunftwerkstatt in Germany agreed to do a guest post for me outlining the origins and philosophies of this group. I spent an incredible day with the group in Berlin – and learned so much from them.  I was honored to be asked to participate as a founding member last March and am pleased Christoph agreed to write for TTW – in English!


The Zukunftwerkstatt Kultur- und Wissensvermittlung e.V. is a non-profit-organisation that brings people together who are active in public institutions or private enterprises dealing with future possibilities of mediating of cultural and scientific topics. It is the aim of our organisation to develop and realize concepts that will make knowledge society come true.  We are open to people and their ideas and consider ourselves mediators between institutions, enterprises, people and products, while not pursuing any financial interests. We are guided by the desire to find and support people of vision who believe – as we do – that cooperation at all levels will unfold new and exciting possibilities for all participants and hence for all customers or users.

Dividing lines between learning and playing, between education and entertainment are breaking down. New virtual worlds and leisure time options are evolving. Interaction, multi-optional, individual and global communication systems are gaining ground. Negotiation and utilization of knowledge in the fields of science and culture will become essential. If we acknowledge the overall scheme of things, a new means in communication will emerge with new networks and unique possibilities of cooperation: Users will gain global access to cultural and scientific subject matter. Enterprises and institutions, if cooperating closely, will gain access to millions of interested, creative and openminded users and customers. Never before have so many opportunities been better for such complex cooperation at all levels between public institutions such as libraries, museums or private enterprise as for example the games industry. And never before were we closer to realizing a knowledge and culture society, without the partners in cooperation having to give up any of their own goals.

We believe that libraries will play an important role in conveying knowledge and culture in the future. But they won`t be able to define themselves as simply providing access to knowledge, because nowadays they compete with a whole range of alternative suppliers. Libraries depend for their legitimization on the advantages, which the society that finances them draws from their services: preserving cultural heritage, promoting literacy and serving as mediators and managers of media and information.

We also believe that computer games and Web 2.0 will have a huge influence on the way cultural and scientific content will be imparted in the future. Therefore it is important to understand the culture behind these new media which is based on cooperation, transparency, interaction, trust, sharing, and having fun.

The best way to describe the modern internet is to show a picture of an soccer-stadium like the one here. The stadium itself is useless. What makes it alive are the people, the teams, the fans. All the different platforms that you can find in the internet like Facebook, Myspace, Twitter and Youtube are useless without the people that upload and share content. It is all about people not about software and it is not possible to understand anything of these new platforms only by a theoretical discussion. To understand the people the way they work and communicate, they way they care and having fun we have to become users and gamers.

While at the moment most of the libraries are trying to follow and understand trends and technologies they have to become their designers not in a technical but in a content and service orientated way.

We do not think that there is any kind of “rat race” between the traditional and the future library or between the books and the computers. There is neither a competition between gaming and seriousness. But we found out that if you start this exciting journey you will have to work hard, learn a lot and you will have fun.

Our story began in 2008 in Mannheim where we (Julia Bergmann, Jin Tan and Christoph Deeg) met at the celebration dinner in the occasion of the Bibliothekartag which is the biggest library conference in Germany and probably in Europe. We all have different backgrounds. Julia is a librarian and works as a trainer for information literacy. Jin is also a librarian. After working in a huge library in Berlin he is now on his way back to china where he amongst other things will develop new intercultural projects for the Zukunftswerkstatt. Christoph is not a librarian. After studying Jazz drums he worked  in the range of marketing and sales for the music – and the games industry. All together we come from different worlds and cultures and we still believe that this interdisciplinary background is very helpful for our work. But lets go back to that evening 2008 in Mannheim. After we had dinner we we started talking about libraries, gaming, the web 2.0, the future a.s.o. And while we where exchanging our experiences the idea was born to do something at the Bibliothekartag 2009 in Erfurt. And so the story went on.

The first idea was to create a little space for the visitors of the Bibliothekartag 2009 conference in Erfurt to try out the Web 2.0 and the world of computer games. We wanted the librarians to try out these new technologies and to discuss their experiences and ideas. From our point of view most of the librarians in germany did and still do not have much experience with gaming and the web 2.0. This is by the way not only a problem in libraries. You can find the same situation in institutions like museums, operas, universities and even private enterprises. And this is probably comparable to most of the countries worldwide. We started to present our idea to librarians, companies and institutions and we were happy to see that we got a lot of support. Companies like Electronic Arts, libraries like the ETH-library in Zürich, universities like the University of Applied Science in Potsdam and last but not least a huge number of librarians helped us. The result was a bit different to the first idea but in positive way.

We had our own exhibition stand where we introduced our visitors to the world of opportunities and possibilities arising from the use of computer games and Web 2.0 applications. Everybody was invited to try out the aspects and possibilities of new media, computer games and diverse web tools and to gain a better idea of the vast potential of these devices for the development of their libraries. Our visitors had also an opportunity to learn from best-practice models so far in use in libraries worldwide, where Web 2.0 applications were enhancing their services to their customers. The librarians could also experience the chances of including computer games, internet communities and social media into their services and of course we shared our enthusiasm with all the visitors at our exhibition stand. We had speeches and a very successful panel discussion with librarians, game-developers and futurologists about the future of libraries. To get an little insight about Erfurt 2009 we created a little trailer. Enjoy yourself :-)

After one year successful voluntary working together we found ourselves again at the celebration-dinner of a Bibliothekartag. And while we where celebrating our success we where asked to go on with our work. Today we have an legal form that goes with our activities. We started a research programme and we are teaching librarians how to use the Web 2.0 and computer games as part of their daily work. At www.zukunftswerkstatt.mixxt.org you can find our interdisciplinary online-community which is open for everyone who wants to think about the question how we will impart cultural and scientific content in the future. We are also talking to companies and politicians to make them understand how important it is to support the libraries on their way in the future. Beside this we started to found an own research-institute. Furthermore we are realizing a roadshow which is a mobile-future-library. But the most important thing is we are activating people to try out these new technologies.

In 2010 the library-conference was located in Leipzig. Prof. Dr. Hans-Christoph Hobohm from the University of Applied Science in Potsdam who had been with us from the first activities in Erfurt 2009 told us that there was the possibillity for the Zukunftswerkstatt to present Michael as speaker at the library-conference in Leipzig. It was the Embassy of the United States that made this possible. Prof. Dr. Hobohm also  had an great idea. As mentioned before we found a legal form for the Zukunftswerkstatt that goes with our activities and structure. Our legal form is an registered non-profit association. We wanted to found it officially during the libraryconference in Leipzig. In Germany you need 7 people to found such an association. Generally who can ask everyone to become a founder. But we wanted to have founders that identify to our project and our activities and that will support us. Prof. Dr. Hobohm asked Michael to become the 7th founder. Michael accept our invitation and so he became and he still is a founder of the Zukunftswerkstatt Kultur- und Wissensvermittlung e.V.

From left to right: Jin Tan (Zukunftswerkstatt), Christoph Deeg (Zukunftswerkstatt), Dr. Rudolf Mumenthaler (ETH Zürich) , Julia Bergmann (Zukunftswerkstatt), Michael Stephens, Prof. Dr. Hans-Christoph Hobohm (University of applied science Potsdam) und Hans-Jürgen Schmid (librarian emeritus)

We are very happy that we were able to gain Michael Stephens as a founder of our association. During the day that we spent with him in Berlin we were able to learn a lot. Sharing and discussing ideas and visions is important. It was fascinating to find out the similarities and the differences between our two cultures. But we also found out that we had much more similarities than expected. We believe that the future of libraries is not based on countries or areas. Everyone can learn from each other. Our little association has founders in the USA, China, Germany and Switzerland.

We would like to invite you to become part of our interdisciplinary and international community. Talk to us! Talk about us! Lets have fun…

Christoph Deeg

http://www.zukunftswerkstatt.org/