Category Archives: The Hyperlinked Library

Johnson County PL MindMixer: Engaging the Community for our Strategic Plan – A TTW Guest Post by Kasey Riley

johnsoncountycommJohnson 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.

You are not alone in a hyperlinked world – A TTW Guest Post by Joyce Monsees

“I am “, I said

To no one there.

And no one… heard…at all… not

Even the chair.

“I am”, I cried.

“I am”, said I.

And I am lost and I can’t

Even say why.

Leavin’ me lonely still

 

(Neil Diamond, 1999)

Lost image

 

It use to be that being physically isolated meant being alone. But now, internet access allows us to be connected to the world. As information professionals, we can create thriving communities that are face to face, site to site, app to app. I am a teacher without barriers and a humanitarian aid volunteer without borders. Why can’t a librarian create such freedom?

 

I am a hyperlink. A road sign. A matchmaker. A synapse.

 

My students think that information starts and ends with me. (They are 12 and younger!) I would rather that they see me as a vessel that guides them to find the answers themselves. Weinberger tells us that people would rather find information themselves by using the Web. Fantastic! This is the goal of teachers! We want students to read directions and try on their own first before seeking help. As librarians, we should continue this encouragement of self-motivation. We shouldn’t be offended if young people don’t seek our direct assistance, we’ve been guiding them toward independence since birth!

If library patrons come to us through a database search engine that we’ve created, we’re still as useful as if they physically walked up to our desk. But now, we can reach more people, even beyond our borders, at the same time. We can be roadsigns and hyperlinks at the same time. We’re a bigger community of researchers.

Teachers can be gateways to the world, not only by teaching search techniques, but by creating student-lead web-conferences, blogs and book reviews. Our school has a news program each Monday morning completely lead by 5th and 6th graders. Our library has featured web-conferences with NOAA Hurricane Hunters and famous authors.

Students can check their progress, download worksheets and find missing assignments on Edmodo, a learning management system with a social network vibe. A chat box allows students to ask others about homework, due dates and anything else that will help them. Since the site is monitored by the school, conversation remains positive and appropriate. The students don’t just learn to communicate better, they strengthen their grade level community which enriches their relational and learning environments at school.

As a digital humanitarian, I am a hyperlink between victims of disaster and relief organizations. Their message does not end with me. It is categorized and defined, then sent to those who can help them best. Am I ever the end of the information chain? Nope. Good thing. What a heavy burden that would be! Our team talks through Skype chat while we geo-locate the tweets and posts. We aren’t alone while we face pleas for help and people describing such personal tragedies that sometimes make us cry. My fellow volunteers are in Vienna Austria, Darwin Australia, Bergen Norway, Washington DC and many other places. We use GMT time instead of our own timezones.

Check out this Hurricane Sandy Twitterbeat Map created by Kalev Leetaru. It shows the emotions felt through Twitter during Hurricane Sandy. This map is a hyperlink to the world that shows how people felt.

 

“I am”, I said… to all my communities everywhere.

photo

Joyce Monsees is an instructional assistant at a public elementary school. She teaches 3rd, 4th and 6th grade students. She is a former school librarian clerk and a City of Orange Library Trustee and she volunteers with the Standby Task Force, a digital humanitarian group who examines messages sent through social media during a global crisis then maps their exact locations and type of need to assist the United Nations or other disaster relief agency send aid. She is a student in LIBR287 The Hyperlinked Library at San Jose State University SLIS.

Hanging Out, Messing Around, Geeking Out: A TTW Guest Post by Maria Papanastassiou

A Brief Synopsis

The book, Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out: Kids Living and Learning with New Media, is based on the findings of a large-scale collective of ethnographic studies conducted by y over 20 researchers at MIT from the Digital Youth Project on youth and their social/friendship-driven and interest-driven practices producing, consuming, and sharing media and technology.   The case studies offer pretty fascinating insights into youth culture and voices.  The authors of the studies concluded that youth often engage in three genres of participation with tech/media: hanging out, messing around and geeking out.    It is a participatory cultural progression in intensity and complexity both in terms of development (first social, then personal, and finally an enriching of both of those areas) and of learning.  Other topics addressed in the book include gaming, media production, and how media/ technology usage and access are impacting friendships, families, privacy, and dating.

The Three Genres of Youth Participation with Technology and Media

Hanging Out

In the hanging out phase, youth are often driven socially to interact with media based on extending their already existing friendships.   The primary focus here is on social development, usually conducted without adult supervision.   Youth are almost always “on” digitally even when physically with others, and may not have much time for reflection and introspection when dealing with others digitally as they do face-to-face.   The exchanges take place both privately (IM, texting) and publicly via social media outlets, with the public forum often leading to interpersonal and intrapersonal lessons that often have highly visible consequences.   Adults often place many judgments on this particular stage of media/tech interactions and will often attempt to dictate access.  Youth, however, are creating and dictating their own digital social norms.  As Thomas and Brown note, the question for this stage is “What is my relationship to others?” (2011).

Messing Around

During the messing around stage, youth are often independently and open-endedly experimenting with technology, exploring media, and seeking information to pursue more personal interests.  They are self-directedly acquiring new transliteracy skills and learning how to construct queries.  The level of involvement and investment is dictated individually.  They often share their creations with others to assess and provide feedback on, or to seek out technical assistance from.    Access to technology and media tools is essential for this phase, along with the autonomy to delve into their own interests and seek out information or to create/customize using media. They may experiment with repurposing tech tools or creating work-arounds for tech/media issues.    Regardless of whether there is an end-product or goal fulfilled, the tinkering aspect allows youth to gain new skills and knowledge.

Geeking Out

In the geeking out stage, youth focus in on interest(s) more intensely that develop both their personal and social agencies while building deep knowledge and proficiencies.  Whether this takes the guise of online gaming, fan activities, or media creations, youth are deeply involved in manipulating technology, creating and/or remixing media and collaborative knowledge-building/sharing  via specialized knowledge networks based on their personal interests.   This involvement often centers on online communities of experts, often dealing with peers (and sometimes adults) to seek out and provide information and assistance to others.   Peer-based feedback and sharing are essential and reciprocity is expected in this phase, especially when it helps establish authority or expertise.  This stage develops more deeply a youth’s personal and social personas and interests.

Youth and Transformative Learning

Youth are practicing their own form of transformative learning via their progressive acts of hanging out, messing around, and geeking out.  They are often engaging (often unknowingly) in deep learning, extending themselves beyond gaining explicit knowledge and instead dealing in tacit knowledge while they take greater ownership of their personal and social roles (Thomas & Brown, 2011, & Transformative Learning Theory, 2007).  They have embraced that learning processes can be fun, messy, challenging, and potentially intimidating/scary, but  create the opportunity for subjective reframing (Mezirow, 1997, p. 7). Youth are most often turning to each other to build knowledge and connect with media and technology instead of school or the library, probably because they aren’t finding validation for their interests via these venues or their methods of learning; this is unfortunate as it most definitely supports their personal and developmental needs.  When not under the direct guidance of parental or educational authorities, students are seen to assume more adult-like roles and increased ownership of how they present themselves, and their learning and peer evaluation (Mizuko et al, 2009).

What can librarians and trainers glean from these works?

Librarians and trainers can aptly take much from this large-scale study.  Dr. Pinkard of the Digital Youth Network notes that literacy (and illiteracy) are defined by the technology of the time so to be “literate in 2020 will mean being multi-literate: the ability to critically consume and produce media such as print, video, sound and screen” (Pinkard, 2011, Rethinking Our Definitions of Literacy). Because we as librarians are concerned with literacy, we need to offer opportunities for literacy development and promotion in all different medias.  Although the research for this book was conducted on youth, I think providing patrons regardless of age with a venue for play and examination with media and technology is crucial.  For the “Hanging Out” stage, I don’t think libraries should be afraid of social media (which many seem to be).  I think they should embrace it.  Engage with patrons, whether via Facebook, Goodreads or Twitter.

For “Messing Around”, it would be wonderful to provide patrons with access to tools to experiment and play with tech without set learning goals, but rather an open venue.   It was emphasized repeatedly in the book that youth needed to have the opportunity for open-ended tinkering in order to transition to a more in-depth involvement with learning and engagement.  Effective examples of youth media programs are centered on the youths’ own passions and interests and allot sufficient unstructured time so youth can fiddle around and explore without the need to heed direct instruction (Mizuko et al, 2009).   In the place of classroom teachers, lab teachers/leaders do not assume traditional authority roles in which their job is to assess youths’ abilities, but instead should aspire to be co-conspirators and collaborators (Mizuko et al, 2009).  An excellent example of a media lab that has been quite successful is the YOUmedia lab at the Chicago Public Library.

There have been other successful media labs that have been created for adults as well, such as the Skokie Public Library’s studio’s media lab which has served as a model for other libraries.

For “Geeking Out”, youth provide an excellent example of the types of deep learning and collaborative knowledge-building that can transpire in a Learning 2.0 program.  They have modeled the need and expectation for play as a means of deep learning, a concept that not all adults are comfortable with.   Libraries can offer programming that allows for in-depth play with librarians embracing the role of guide on the side. As Thomas and Brown point out, a fusion of information and experimentation lead to a new culture of learning, which youth exemplify (2011, p. 117).  We would do well to heed the cultural change that youth are creating and embracing and consider this in our library programming and services.

REFERENCES

Ito, Mizuko (ed.).  (2009).  Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out: Kids Living and Learning with New Media.  Cambridge, MA : MIT Press.

Mezirow, J. (1997), Transformative Learning: Theory to Practice. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education. Retrieved fromhttp://www.ecolas.eu/content/images/Mezirow%20Transformative%20Learning.pdf

Pinkard, N.  (2011, February).  Rethinking our definitions of literacy.  Ex?ert Q & A [weblog].  Retrieved fromhttp://www.pbs.org/parents/experts/archive/2011/02/rethinking-our-definitions-of.html#

Transformative Learning Theory.  (2007, January).  “Core Principles of Transformative Learning Theory”.  Available at http://transformativelearningtheory.com/corePrinciples.html

Thomas, D., & Brown, J. (2011). A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change. Charleston, SC: CreateSpace.

 

shot_1312681777670Maria Papanastassiou is a graduate student at San Jose State University’s School of Library and Information Science.  After her graduation in May 2013, she will be pursuing her certification in order to become a teacher librarian in Illinois.  Maria’s interests include young adult literature, emerging technologies, and promoting transliteracy. 

Taming Technolust: Ten Steps for Planning in a 2.0 World (Full Text)

Stephens, M. (2008). Taming technolust: Ten steps for planning in a 2.0 world. Reference and User Services Quarterly, 47, 4, 314-317.

Note: This article was originally published in RUSQ and on the RUSQ Blog. Permission has been granted to share it here as well. I’ll be using it for a workshop next week at the 11th Southern African Online Information Meeting, Sandton, South Africa.

Back in 2004 when I started writing and speaking about technology planning, I urged librarians to be mindful of letting a desire for flashy, sexy technology outweigh conscious, carefully planned implementations. Over the years, I’ve returned to the topic of wise planning and technolust on my blog and in various publications. Simply, technolust is “an irrational love for new technology combined with unrealistic expectations for the solutions it brings.”(Stephens, 2004)

While the emerging technologies of 2004 seem quaint when seen through the lense of 2008, the issue of technolust remains.  Call it a 2.0 world, the age of social networking, or whatever you’d like, but now more than ever librarians are finding themselves in a position to make decisions about new and emerging tech – when everything is in beta and “nimble organizations” are the words of the day.

A fact: new technologies will not save your library. New tech cannot be the center of your mission as an institution. I’m still taken aback when I hear of libraries spending money for technologies without careful planning, an environmental scan of the current

landscape,and a complete road map for training, roll out, buy in and evaluation. When the latest technology hits, are you keen to add it to your library, boosting the coolness factor? For example, buying every  librarian on your staff an iPhone as a way to improve reference services is probably not going to be a wise solution. You may have some happy librarians, but that type of technolust does not well serve the organization.

I believe these days we’re dealing with a lot more than just lust. Consider the following other states, if you will:

Technostress:  New tools and web sites come at us daily, easily creating a feeling of unease or anxiety about how much technology we can take on or even understand. How do we keep up? How do we stay in the know, when it seems that those cutting edge libraries we always hear about are launching yet another social tool or widget on their blog-based, RSS-equipped, Meebo’d to the hilt Web site? This anxiety can lead to poor decision making and knee-jerk reactions. It might also lead to multiple irons in the 2.0 fire at one time, spearheaded by individuals and departments all over your library. Which, in turn, leads to more stress.  More stress aggravates bad decisions for technology which means more Technostress…well, you get the idea.

Technodivorce: It’s hard to admit we’ve made a mistake – especially in our profession. The culture of perfect in many libraries at times prevents us from cutting the cord on projects that just aren’t working. Did they really work to begin with? Many things: that IM service for young adults, the reader’s advisory wiki, RSS feeds sometimes just die on the vine from lack of use, promotion or upkeep. Found a few months later, a dead library blog speaks volumes about project management and buy in at all levels of the organization.  Who is watching this?  Maybe potential new hires who are now running for the hills.

Technoshame: The librarian who steps up after one of my presentations and whispers “I don’t know anything about this stuff and have no idea how to begin…” might be experiencing a bit of embarrassment. The world is moving just too fast. Fear not! And feel no shame. It’s never too late to kickstart an institutional learning program or learn on your own. See the tips below for more.

Technophobia: This librarian is frozen with fear about new tech.  Often the reaction is to oppose vigorously. In the right position, this person can infect a good portion of the organization. Tech projects stand still until any light of day vanishes. Is it really the technology or is it rapid change that causes the fear? Sometimes I think it’s more a fear of the open, transparent times we’re moving into more than blog software or a wiki for planning the new branch or department.

This begs the question then: How do we plan in this shiny new world when anyone in your library can create a library blog at a free hosting site, develop an online presence at sites such as Flickr or Facebook for the library or launch the institution’s own social network with a few mouse clicks? Submitted for your approval, Ten Steps for the 2.0 Technology Plan:

#1 Let go of control. ACRL offered this as a means of examining the evolving roles of academic libraries: “the culture of libraries and their staff must proceed beyond a mindset primarily of ownership and control to one that seeks to provide service and guidance in more useful ways, helping users find and use information that may be available through a range of providers, including libraries themselves, in electronic format.” I believe it extends farther – to all types of libraries and way beyond the “electronic format” only. The culture of perfect is based on control. Is your library guided by a department or an individual who holds the reigns too tightly? Often times, it’s the marketing department that feels the need to control the library’s story – in an age where the message has long since passed to the people. PR speak, filtered voices and stifled projects lead down the wrong path for open libraries. Think of all the staff, all their enthusiasm, and all their creativity being set aside because none of it was in a pre-arranged marketing plan. Or it’s the IT department holding tight to any technology initiatives. I’ve heard this statement more than a few times: “IT doesn’t allow that.”  Balance is key here: all departments need to come to the table. No one area or agency can control planning and implementation. This leads to the idea of the Emerging Technology Committee: a team made up of stakeholders from all over the organization. Techno-planning is best done in open, collaborative space where everyone has a voice and can share their expertise.

#2 Let “beta” be your friend. Let your users help you work out the bugs of that new service. Admit openly that whatever you are planning is new and there may be a few kinks. Share plans and prototypes. Be sure to interact and reply/respond. Make changes accordingly. This goes for technology projects as well as other new initiatives that might not be solely tech-based. Michelle Boule explored this at ALA TechSource blog, stating: “Building beta is more about flexibility and allowing the participants—not the creators—to redefine the meaning of the service. Planning beta is about allowing for failure, success, and change.” Technolust does not survive when users are cooperating to build the service. Maybe instead of system-wide RFID, your library users might be better served with laptops or other devices for checkout. Tap into your user base to plan effectively.

#3 Be Transparent. Communicate and make decisions via open meetings and weblogs. Michael Casey and I advocate for transparent libraries based on open communication, a true learning organization structure and responding quickly and honestly to emerging opportunities. “Transparency—putting our cards on the table—allows us to learn and grow, and it lets our community see us for all we are, including our vulnerabilities.” (“The Open Door Director”) This is incredibly important for management and administration. You are the ones that need to set the standard for open communication within your institution – walk the walk and talk the talk. I’m reminded of a talk I did at a larger, well-known library system, where five minutes in, the director stood up and slipped out the back door. The staff took me out for drinks the night before and one said “We hope she stays to hear you. We can’t do anything without her approval and everything we put out on the web is vetted through three departments.”

Pilots and prototypes are great if they are just that. Don’t call it a pilot project if it’s already a done deal: signed contracts, “behind the scenes” decisions to go forward or a “this is the way it’s going to be” attitude will crush any sense of collaborative planning and exploration for the library. It’s a slippery slope to losing good people to other institutions.

#4 Explore emerging tools.Try various paths or tools to find the best fit. Don’t just say “we must have a library blog because Michael says so”, or “an article in American Libraries says many other libraries are doing great things with a blog.” Your purposes may be better served with other technologies or tools. Prototype new sites and services and ask for and respond to feedback. Try out a blog or wiki on a limited basis. Learn from your successes and failures. Tech decisions cannot be made in a vacuum. What failed a year ago offers a learning opportunity and might help you make a better plan today.

#5 Spot trends and make them opportunities. Scan the horizon for how technology is changing our world. What does it mean for your AV area if iTunes and Apple are offering downloaded rental movies? What does it mean for your reference desk if thriving online answer sites are helping your students? What does it mean when Starbucks or Panera Bread becomes the wifi hangout in town for folks looking for access? Read outside the field – be voracious with Wired, Fast Company, etc. Monitor some tech and culture blogs. Read responses to such technologies as Amazon’s Kindle and ponder if it’s a fit for your users and your mission. Being a successful trendspotter is one of the most important traits of the 21st Century librarian. Be aware, for example, that thriving, helpful virtual communities, open source software platforms and a growing irritation with what ILS and database vendors provide libraries could converge into a sea change for projects like Koha and Evergreen. Who know how close we are to that tipping point – but trendspotting librarians will be far ahead of the game.

#6 Offer Opportunities for Inclusive Learning. One of the first steps of successful planning is learning the landscape. We can’t deny the unparalleled success of the Learning 2.0 model of staff education as a means to inform and engage all levels of staff. Created by Helene Blowers at the Public Library of Charlotte Mecklenburg County in the summer of 2006, the system has been replicated all over the world. It works when staff are encouraged to explore and learn on their own and communicate that learning via blogs. Such a program will not fly if managers and administrators don’t support it or participate as well. Middle managers: please realize that you set the tone for your department or silence it. You can make it or break it when it comes to participation in training or planning activities. One librarian recently told me that Learning 2.0 failed for her because her manager saw no use for it. Library administrators: even more rests on your shoulders. The staff know if you don’t care about emerging technologies and the opportunities they bring or if you don’t see the value in learning new things. Set the stage with your own participation. Mess up and learn from it. Be the poster child for the change you want for your institution. Also, create a physical and virtual sandbox for staff to play with the technologies and tools that figure into your plan. Hands-on experience equals an understanding a path toward buy in.

#7 Overthink and Die! Don’t get hung up on preparation and first steps. Planning in this shiny new world needs to happen faster than ever before – without losing quality. How do we do this? We gather evidence from our professional literature, the  library blogosphere and other librarians. We ask our colleagues “How’s that vendor treating you.” Spending valuable time coming up with witty acronyms and writing FAQs anticipating any and every thing that might happen can kill a project.

#8 Plan to plan. Instead of willy nilly emerging technology projects, plan to plan. Create timelines and audit progress. This takes project management skills, something LIS educators (like me) should be teaching in depth!  We need expertise in bringing projects to completetion. Your “Digital Strategies Librarian” or “Director of Innovation and User Experience” should have impeccable management skills and be able to see the big picture. How do you find that person if you don’t have one? Evaluate current jobs and duties of your library staff. What can be done to streamline workflows and free up hours for new duties and new titles.  Find who is suitable, then, guide projects and people well. Have effective meetings with action items and follow up. I spent more time in meetings when I became a manager in my former job than practically anything else.  Planning projects focuses creativity.  Meandering meetings sap creativity.

#9 Create a mission statement for everything. A mission statement and vision of your tech implementation will help guide development, roll-out and evaluation. For your tech plan, create an overarching mission and vision. Are you well-funded and well-staffed? One goal might be to experiment with emerging tech — testing the waters if you will. Tighter budget? Limited staff? Create your mission with that in mind: our institution may move a bit slower, (could it be faster?), but the decisions will be wise and based on evidence from what those folks out at the cutting edge of our marketplace are doing.

#10 Evaluate your service. This is the next step in all the 2.0 talk. Sure, we’ve rolled out the library blog, IM reference service, wiki and more but the final part of the anti-technolust, on-the-money technology plan is a detailed, ongoing means to gauge the use and return on investment for these new technologies. This will be the next wave of discussion you’ll probably be hearing by the time you read this. How do we track use? How do we prove the usefulness of the virtual branch and digital librarian to governing bodies, boards, trustees and those who make the funding decisions? For this, we need new models of tracking statistics and gathering stories. In my mind, the return on investment for many of the emerging technologies will be proven with qualitative data such as positive stories from users and an increased amount of participation via commenting and content creation.

We have a great opportunity to harness emerging technologies and create engaging and useful services, deeply connected to the core mission and values of librarianship. Balancing technolust in this shiny new world and planning mindfully and openly can certainly lead to success. I wish all the libraries on this road much success! Please keep us informed as it goes!

References:

Technoplans Vs. Technolust  http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2004/11/ljarchives/technoplans-vs-technolust/

The Open Door Director   http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2007/07/ljarchives/the-transparent-library-the-open-door-director/

Building a Better Beta http://www.alatechsource.org/blog/2006/09/building-a-better-beta.html

Changing Roles http://tametheweb.com/2007/03/a_messy_future_changing_roles.html

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Hyperlinked Library: A TTW White Paper

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some newer challenges I recently added to the model include:

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

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

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

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

The Library is Transparent

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

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

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

The Library Learns and Plays

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

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

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

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

The Library Connects with Users

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

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

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

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

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

The Library is Everywhere

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

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

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

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

The Library Encourages the Heart

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

References

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

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

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

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

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

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

Links

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Further Reading

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

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

Video: “The Hyperlinked Community Library” from Leipziger Kongress für Bibliothek und Information

Michael Stephens “The Hyperlinked Community Library” from Zukunftswerkstatt on Vimeo.

Thanks to my colleagues at the Zukunftswerkstatt for posting their video of my talk last year in Leipzig while I was in Germany speaking at the US Embassy. I’ve been reflecting on 2010 this week and the two back to back trips I took to Europe – one to Switzerland/Germany sponsored by the US Mission in Geneva and the Embassy in Berlin and the other for U Game U Learn – were highlights for me on many levels. Not only did I meet library folk from all over  but the travel itself was filled with learning and experiences of all kinds.

Danke an meine deutschen Kollegen für dieses wunderbare Video. Bitte entschuldigen Sie meine Sprache gebrochen.