Librarianship has long been informed by ideas outside of the profession that are then brought into it. One of the intersections that has always interested me is libraries and film. Some areas of this overlap have been well documented, while others represent very new terrain. The portrayals of libraries and librarians in movies, and more broadly librarian stereotypes, as the recent title The Librarian Stereotype addresses, has been of continued interest to the profession–entire books and films have examined the topic. These representations have interesting things to tell us about how others conceive of librarians and what that means for our work (see, for example, Nicole Pagowsky and Erica Defrain’s excellent article on how librarian stereotypes and faculty perceptions impact our instructional roles). But apart from the questions of our professional identities as represented in popular culture, I have found a lot of ideas worth exploring on other aspects of film, TV, and media as applied to libraries.
Like a number of other librarians who provide information literacy instruction, I often incorporate media into the classes I teach. This can mean anything from to asking students to look at different news sources covering the same topic and critique the source’s biases, to using search examples that draw attention to problematic representations of women and people of color in pop culture. One of my best-received approaches to using media in the classroom was showing students three short clips from TV shows that related to libraries or information sources such as Wikipedia, and using these excerpts to start a discussion about how students use the library and other information sources. Some really interesting and enjoyable discussions were spurred by these 1-5 minute clips. I found that examples from movies or TV shows illustrating information literacy concepts can resonate much more with students than talking about these topics generally, and allow for a way for learners to express their own knowledge and understandings in relation to the library’s own sometimes confusing rules and expectations. This article has more details on my use of TV clips in library instruction.
The ways that libraries and librarians are represented on-screen provide alternately frustrating and funny insight into the ideas that others have about our profession. But when we think more deeply about these representations they express complicated positions that can bring up important questions about our collective identity. I have looked at the ways libraries are portrayed in two acclaimed comedy series, Parks and Recreation and Community, and how library anxiety is represented in them. The catch phrase from Parks and Recreation describing the fictional town’s librarians, “Punk ass book jockeys,” is part of the show’s tongue in cheek characterization of librarians, yet an undercurrent of distrust and unease with libraries is present within this satirical take. Film and libraries have a long history together, but relatively little research has been done in this area. Contemporary movies appear in the library literature more often, including an analysis of Party Girl, the classic 90s take on one young woman’s turn from the club scene to pursuing a library degree, and the information seeking habits manifested in The Big Lebowski. What many of these library/film studies combinations have in common is an interest in critically evaluating the media’s conceptions of libraries and using film analysis as a lens to examine larger issues of professional identity.
While these are just two areas of the intersection between libraries and film that I have considered, there is lots of great work being done in the realm of applying visual and popular media to aspects of librarianship. Joel Burkholder’s This Is Info Lit tumblr focuses on real world examples of information literacy, while Stephanie Alexander’s recent LOEX presentationdescribed how she used satirical news sources in her classes to teach aspects of the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy. These creative projects make apparent that there is no shortage of ideas to be explored within librarianship to meaningfully improve the work that we do, whether through theoretical approaches or everyday practices.
Eamon Tewell is a Reference and Instruction Librarian at Long Island University in Brooklyn, NY. Eamon has published and presented on the topics of popular media and active learning in library instruction, televisual representations of libraries, and critical information literacy. He tweets at @eamontewell.
As part of Michael Stephens’ Hyperlinked Library course offered through San Jose State University, I reported on the book Now you see it: How the brain science of attention will transform the way we live, work, and learn, by Cathy N. Davidson. We were encouraged to use creative means to convey our reports, so I took the book’s central theme to heart and utilized several free and available web tools to comment across platforms.
Part 1: TameTheWeb – “Introduction”
The main thrust of this book is the notion that we are using outdated criteria to measure our educational progress. This is a crucial idea for information professionals to understand, because it attempts to call our attention to the largely invisible shift in how we find, absorb, and utilize information, which could be changing the very idea of what we consider valuable.
Given that much of the book is dedicated to questioning and possibly dismantling the argument that distractions and periodic attention shifts are a bad thing, I’ve decided to create a distraction-heavy presentation with different points presented on separate formats. If the author is correct in her assessment of how users absorb information, then anyone reading this book report will likely be checking Twitter and Tumblr (among other things) before getting to the end of it anyway. By appearing on all of these platforms, I hope to stay a step or two ahead of you!
(For you traditionalists who prefer to have everything in one place, the entire script is available at the very bottom of this post, in one big text-heavy entry).
William Bejarano has worked as Information Specialist at the Rutgers Center of Alcohol Studies Library since 2013. Prior to that, he worked in Technical Services at the Rutgers University Libraries for eight years. He holds a Masters in Employment and Labor Relations and will complete his MLIS degree in July 2015. You can email him at [email protected].
This past semester I had the opportunity to take part in Michael Stephens’s Hyperlinked Library course. The course, especially the readings and discussions on reflective practice, teaching, and learning brought together for me the professional and the personal. A little bit about my background: my previous career was in German Studies, but a couple years ago my contract as an Assistant Professor wasn’t renewed. My wonderful, supportive colleagues said again and again that it was due to budget pressures, but deep down and for quite a while I felt I had failed. What the experience offered me, though, was a chance to reflect on where I had been and where I wanted to go.
From Germanist to Librarian
What drew me to LIS is the emphasis on helping others. I realized while reading the Rubin (2010) textbook for one a core MLIS class that the professions—teaching, librarianship, medicine, etc.—are about service. And several of those are the careers that have appealed to me. Yet something that had always bothered me about German Studies was my perception of its relevance. Certainly, some of my former students use their language and cultural competency skills (or become more open-minded and critical) because of what they learned in German classes. However, I still cannot articulate the purpose of the research I was doing (except, formulated a bit cynically, to get tenure). It was enjoyable and interesting to me, and perhaps a handful of other people read it. But that turned out not to be enough for me. In fact, being laid off brought this reality into relief because I could acknowledge my doubts more directly.
It seems much clearer to me that LIS careers have the potential to change people’s lives for the better and perhaps even to transform them. I see this in my work as a volunteer at the public library, teaching mostly older folks computer skills. An hour of caring, engaged conversation and guided play on the computer can change their mood and attitude and help them to begin overcoming their fear of technology. What matters most is that someone cares about their lives, needs, and problems and will take time to listen. They often tell me that the people in their lives won’t or can’t do that—or that they don’t have anyone they can turn to. Working at the public library is the best part of my week because I can often see its positive impact. And people often return repeatedly so that we get to know one another. This is the sort of work I can pour my heart and life into.
Learning across Disciplines
One aspect of changing careers that has caused me to grieve, however, is the notion that I had wasted over 20 years on a field that is no longer a part of my daily life. However, the readings on teaching and learning in the Hyperlinked Library course showed me the many connections between LIS and language teaching and learning. It has taken me time to understand and believe this, but no learning is wasted time or effort. Here are some connections between the two fields that will inform my work in LIS:
Engaging in the practices of a given field leads to real learning. Contrary to traditional approaches, learning (actually, acquiring) a language is not primarily about memorizing grammatical structures or wrapping one’s mouth around strange sounds. Rather, it’s about communication of ideas and feelings among people, no matter how “imperfect.” Proof of this is that speakers of a language usually don’t correct a learner’s errors unless they interfere with comprehension (Shrum & Glisan, 2010). Learners need to use a language, not just learn to analyze it. The same emphasis on real practices applies to LIS education, as Michael points out (Stephens, 2011). We LIS students need to use the actual tools of the profession and engage in dialogues with practicing professionals, not just learn procedures and facts from a textbook. This is also something to keep in mind whenever we encounter teaching situations in our work as LIS professionals.
In order for such practice to happen, learning cannot remain within the classroom, nor can communication be restricted to each individual student speaking with the teacher. In language learning, learners need to communicate with a wide variety of people about a range of topics, not just listen to canned dialogues, parrot preset responses back to the teacher, and fill in the blanks of a verb-ending worksheet. Again, Michael addresses this issue (Stephens, 2011) when he talks about LIS students sharing their learning products beyond the classroom on an open platform. It is within a conversation that learning happens.
Learning is a lifelong endeavor. People frequently ask me how long it takes to become fluent in a second language. (First of all, what does fluent mean?) My stock answer is “forever” because one is always learning language, even a first language. Continuous learning in the LIS field is crucial as well, especially because of the constantly changing nature of what we do. As Grant and Zeichner (2001) argue so eloquently, if we aren’t reflective in our professional practice, we simply follow inherited practices and unquestioned routines, which can have horrible, oppressive consequences, such as fixating on procedures and forgetting our mission serving people’s needs. Reflective practice means being open to learning new ideas that may upset our longstanding way of doing things.
Mistakes are a good thing. Research in language acquisition shows that errors are a sign of learning. A common example is the over application of the -ed ending to mark the past tense in English. Children go through a stage in which they produce forms like “goed” or “eated.” Why? Because they have correctly understood that “-ed” is the marker for the past tense, so they apply it everywhere despite the fact that they hear adults saying “went” and “ate” instead. This proves that children are applying rules, not just repeating what they hear (Lightbown & Spada, 2006). Frequently, errors are evidence of the learning process. Along the same lines, Michael writes (Stephens, 2010, March 2) that the new gaming generation shows us that learning is fraught with errors. Instead of a negative, errors offer rich opportunities for learning. We can impart this attitude to our library members as well. It’s one of the main things I want the folks at the public library to take away from computer instruction sessions with me. I model for them problem-solving strategies when things go wrong. Equally important is the modeling of affect: “If things go wrong, let’s look around for ways to fix it or find someone who can help.” It’s my way of combating the tendency stare at the monitor, afraid of making a mistake. Being open to risk is a crucial component to learning.
So I’m going to take my own advice. Nothing was lost in my career change, and I didn’t fail. In fact, something was gained. Ending one career has enriched my life and helped me find a field I can devote my efforts and heart to.
I know that many folks come to LIS from previous careers and other fields. I wonder what your experiences have been.
Grant, C. A., & Zeichner, K. M. (2001). On becoming a reflective teacher. In J. H. Strouse (Ed.), Exploring socio-cultural themes in education: Readings in social foundations (pp. 103-115). New York, NY: Pearson. Retrieved from http://www.wou.edu/~girodm/ foundations/Grant_and_Zeichner.pdf
Lightbown, P. M., & Spada, N. (2006). How languages are learned (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Rubin, R. (2010). Foundations of library and information science (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Neal-Schuman Publishers.
Shrum, J. L., & Glisan, E. W. (2010). Teacher’s handbook: Contextualized language instruction (4th ed.). Boston, MA: Heinle.
Stephens, M. (2011). Beyond the walled garden: LIS students in an era of participatory culture.
Student Research Journal, 1(2). Retrieved from http://scholarworks.sjsu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1067&context=slissrj
Stephens, M. (2010, March 2). The hyperlinked school library: Engage, explore, celebrate [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://tametheweb.com/2010/03/02/the-hyperlinked-school-library-engage-explore-celebrate/
Darren Ilett is currently in his third semester in the MLIS program at San José State University. At the moment he is enjoying an internship at the Fine Arts and Design Library at the University of New Mexico where he is helping to create online instructional materials. Upon graduation he hopes to work as a subject librarian in an academic context and with a focus on instruction. In his spare time he likes to play Scrabble, read Patricia Highsmith novels, and watch old German movies.
A big AHA! moment about 21st century participatory librarianship came from an unlikely source: a book about ancient pueblos of the American southwest. The author observed that each pueblo was comprised of a collection of living spaces surrounding a large common area – first, the Great Kiva, and later, the plaza. Every living space faced into this common area, which was the hub of pueblo life and ceremony, because, as the author noted, every community needs a center (Scully, 1988).
That’s it! I thought.That’s the 21st century library. The 21st century library is some combination of physical and virtual space that serves as the hub of its community. It is the community’s place to participate in, contribute to, and experience conversation, information exchange, companionship, debate, leisure, entertainment, shared history, and yes, even ceremony. Stephens (2011) argues that library school programs should teach future librarians to create such spaces for constituents to gather and collaborate – not just to work on their own projects but to collaborate on the library’s content as well.
The identity of a 21st century library can and should be as unique as its community. Rather than limiting itself to building a standard collection, the library can be a place where community members contribute to the creation of a local collection of their most unique things (Stephens, 2011). This is being done at the DOK Library in the Netherlands, for example (Boekesteijn, 2011), where patrons are not merely users but also collection builders, adding their own photos, personal stories, town memories, and even recipes to the library’s material.
How wonderful that, for the first time in hundreds of years, a non-commercial space can once again be the epicenter of its community. Not the downtown shopping district. Not the mall. The library is not trying to sell anything; it is just trying to be. To be the place where everyone interacts, where everyone feels at home, where everyone can contribute, and where everyone feels they are right at the heart of things – even if it is by Internet connection. The library as 21st century pueblo.
Paul Kaidy Barrows is a MLIS candidate at San Jose State University. A web and information services professional for more than a dozen years, his passion is empowering seekers and learners through technology and education.
Context Book Assignment: Net Smart: How to Thrive Online
Critics of modern social media and our emerging hyperlinked culture are abundant. So are cheerleaders and utopians, who praise the potential of new media and our always-on, always-connected, society.
Critics warn us that Google might be “making us stupid,” as Nicholas Carr put it. They wonder, as Sherry Turkle has, “Why do we expect more from technology and less from each other?” They worry that we are becoming overloaded with information, unable to focus on sustained chains of reasoning, and “driven to distraction.” They express concern at the tendency for Facebook to make us depressed. They point out that—like junk food, pornography or drugs—the Internet has a great potential to be addictive. Critics often emphasize that the Internet has become over commercialized and is robbing us of our privacy.
At the other extreme are the cheerleaders. Excited by the possibilities that the Internet has created, these cheerleaders are often guilty of wishful thinking that leads to vast exaggeration of Web 2.0’s possibilities. They see it as overturning existing government and business hierarchies, flattening the world, and doing away with the necessity for information authorities and taxonomies. They emphasize its “power of organizing without organizations.” On the extreme edge of this utopian realm of modern communications, are those who see us evolving into an eventual “singularity” with our digital devices—where artificial intelligence will allow us to escape the limitations of our biological bodies.
Until I read Net Smart: How to Thrive Online, I thought its author, Howard Rheingold, was a cheerleader. He is often credited with inventing the term “virtual community,” was advocating for the power of computer networks to create new forms of community long before the World Wide Web was invented, and has long toyed with the idea that computer technology can enhance our ability to work cooperatively and amplify our creativity.
However, in this book, Rheingold’s position is much more nuanced, and indeed helpful, than that of either the critics or the cheerleaders. His goal is to help us use social media well. He sees its potential to do tremendous good. He recognizes the legitimacy of many of the critics, but wants to figure out how to overcome these challenges, rather than simply give up in the face of the problems the critics identify. He wants us all to use the Internet mindfully and wisely, so that we are each able to expand our own personal potentials and at the same time unleash collaborative efforts that could enrich all of our lives.
Rheingold’s thesis is that the Internet can make us either smart, or stupid. It can help us build communities, or isolate us. It can be a great way to learn, or an unproductive waste of time. It depends on how we use it.
The author proposes to show us five key information literacies that are essential to this task. He gives each of these literacy skills a full chapter. The five literacies are:
1. Attention. In my view this is the most important chapter in the book. Attention is a skill that can be trained. Social media can be incredibly distracting. But we can take a “meta-cognitive” approach to it: Paying careful attention to exactly how we are deploying our attention. (Yes, I do mean to say “paying attention to attention.”)
Should we be clicking on the Facebook icon? Or would our attention be more skillfully used in continuing to write a report for our boss?
The answer to such a question is not always obvious. Here is a similar choice: Perhaps you are doing a Google search. Several of the results have nothing to do with the subject matter that you were researching. Should you avoid them? Maybe. Chances are it would be a waste of time to focus your attention on something that isn’t the question at hand. However, it is also possible that serendipity will lead you to uncover something new that you can use in a different context. Yes, answers to questions like this are not formulaic, therefore the point is that you will be better able to make such choices if you are paying careful attention to where your mind is focused—rather than drifting from link to link in a trance-like, mindless, manner.
Similarly, should you be focused on your Smart Phone or watching your kid play soccer? It may depend of the circumstances. Taking a mindful approach, being aware that you are a faced with a choice, and choosing consciously, is a skill that can be learned.
Anyone who has ever tried meditating discovers that their “brain has a mind of its own.” The essence of mindfulness meditation is sitting quietly and paying attention to your thoughts. The most common technique involves focusing on your breath. Almost immediately, your mind will wander off from your breathing. You practice, over-and-over, bringing your attention gently back to your breath. With extended practice, your brain becomes much more able to pay attention, and your mind becomes much more aware of what it is doing. Emerging evidence from neuroscience may confirm that practicing meditation increases our attentive skills.
This kind of meditative practice is one of many suggestions Rheingold makes in this chapter. Most of his tips are similar in that they teach you “to be aware of being aware” and to pay attention, while using social media. They help you to be intentional about your focus, instead of drifting. He also points out that trying to multitask is almost always futile because the attentional energy, in switching rapidly from one task to another, comes at a cost of lost focus and increased cognitive effort.
2. Crap Detection. This chapter will probably be the most familiar to librarians. It is about effectively seeking accurate information on the Internet. He discusses how to sort out true from false or misleading information. Again, he circles back to the subject of attention, advising readers to learn to use disciplined attention while focusing on their many sources of information, and to make sure that their attention is where they intend it to be while digesting information
3. Participation. Rheingold puts a lot of emphasis on knowing how to actively participate in web culture, rather than just passively consuming web content. He says that, “Every PC as well as smart phone is a printing press, broadcasting station, political organizing tool, and site for growing a community or marketplace” (p. 249). Knowledge of how to participate in this arena, which is still in the process of emerging, will be a key form of literacy in the future. He discusses a range of participatory activities—from simply tagging or “liking,” all the way up to curating, blogging or community organizing.
Rheingold emphasizes that this kind of participation is both personally rewarding as well as contributory to the common good. He has a number of tips for being aware of your risks (to privacy, for example) and your impact on others as you participate in online activities. He is aware of the capacity of the profit motive to skew online motivations and warns that you may think you are just playing online, but someone else could be growing rich from your actions by harvesting information about your choices.
4. Collaboration. This chapter discusses emerging technologies and activities that encourage coordination, cooperation and collaboration. Subjects such as crowdsourcing, crowdfunding, virtual communities, non-market social production (for example open source software), and collective intelligence, are discussed. Again this is a chapter that is directly relevant to many of the ideas that we have discussed concerning creating hyperlinked libraries.
5. Network Smarts. This chapter is about how to participate wisely and effectively in networks. The author discusses academic theories about how human beings have participated in networks, and how this has affected our evolutionary development. Even though modern social media has roots going back to the dawn of our species, modern communications technology expands this and creates new types of relationships among people with innovative social possibilities. Rheingold shows us how to bond, how to build social capital and how to enable reciprocity in these new networks. He advises us how to expand interpersonal trust and form bridges that interconnect people from diverse networks. He places a lot of emphasis on contributing. “Paying it forward,” is a key factor in effective individual participation in networked culture.
Again he also warns about the risks. He understands the necessity of paying careful attention to what you are sharing. He wants us to be mindful about protecting our individual privacy and the privacy of others.
Relevance to Libraries and the Hyperlinked Library Model
This is just a taste of the rewarding banquet available to readers of this book. What can libraries and librarians learn here that is applicable to their work?
First, the book has a lot to say about concepts familiar to readers of TTW: Participation, community, the web as a platform, emerging technologies, social information and knowledge production and so forth. It could easily be used as a text or supplementary reading for a course on the hyperlinked library model. It is filled with valuable references and sources that every emerging hyperlinked librarian would find useful. The author knows his stuff. He has taught, lectured and written on these subjects since the dawn of the Internet. In addition, he has interviewed many leading experts on the topics he discusses. He shares that knowledge.
Second, Rheingold has provided librarians with a useful road map to life in the hyperlinked world. I think this map should be added the standard information literacy curriculum. What could be more important to today’s students than learning how to be “net smart?” I think we already make many efforts in this regard, especially concerning what he calls “crap-detection.” But his notions on participation, collaboration and networking, would provide much useful material for information literacy instruction. His understanding of how mindfulness and attention skills interact with these topics is of great value. All of the skills he discusses could be adapted to make valuable additions to library instruction, from the elementary level through college.
Finally, I think this book is a goldmine of useful ideas for librarians looking for ways to expand and improve upon the practice of their craft as information intermediaries. Furthermore, Rheingold does not merely teach specific skills useful to librarians who want to better understand these emerging technologies, he has suggestions about how to build your own learning techniques and personal learning networks, so that you can stay on top of this rapidly changing world as the future unfolds.
In short, if you are finding this course to be useful, and think that librarians should know more about the ideas presented by Michael Stephen’s in The Hyperlinked Library, then I am sure you will feel similarly stimulated and inspired by this book.
As an additional treat, the book is accompanied by occasional drawings by Anthony Weeks. Weeks commendably summarizes some of the main points that the author is making.
Here is an example:
Rheingold, H. (2012). Net smart: How to thrive online. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.
Bob Lucore is a student in the School of Library and Information Science at San José State University, where he works as a graduate assistant maintaining the School’s Drupal-based web site. For 25 years he worked as an economist, teaching at Colorado State University and Centre College and working for various labor organizations, before serving as Director of Research and Policy for the United American Nurses. He blogs on library issues at Attentive Librarian and on economic and public policy issues for Americans for Democratic Action.
Note from Michael: Valarie Kingsland delivered the SJSU SLIS Outstanding Student speech at our convocation She graciously allowed me to publish her remarks here.
Thank you, Dr. Hirsh, for your generous introduction.
It’s a pleasure to be here with you and your loved ones. To share in the celebration of this special day, when we reflect upon our time as students, delight in our new titles as archivists, librarians, and information professionals…and contemplate our future.
It’s an honor to have been chosen to represent you and share our story.
Remember when you found out you were accepted to SLIS? From the excitement of acceptance, through the anxiety of registration and planning, through each semester, each course, paper, project, assignment, all of the group work and the discussion posts, through each technological hurdle…
We have assembled a versatile toolkit and amassed skills, including traditional library skills,
But, we also enjoyed innovative coursework that pushed the envelope of librarianship, information science, and research into new and exciting possibilities.
We cultivated a strong commitment to service, literacy, learning and intellectual freedom. …all of which equips us to meet the challenges of the future.
We exercised our independence and colossal self-discipline as we sacrificed sleep, finances, vacations and time with friends, family and co-workers, all in order to make time to complete our academic obligations.
Though we took pleasure in the challenge of learning, and digging deep into topics of interest…
We also sacrificed small pleasures that make life vibrant, as we book marked a wish list of reading material, television shows, and movies. We gave up gaming, yoga and other hobbies, and still battled the guilt that washed over us as our loved one’s also sacrificed on our behalf.
We survived lost internet connections, corrupted files, untimely updates, crashed computers and furious efforts to meet our deadlines.
We reveled in both small and large accomplishments. Many of our fellow grad students celebrated weddings and growing families. And many endured hardships through life events, such as moving, heartbreaking loss, military deployment, unemployment, and inconvenient and life-threatening health issues.
Successful completion of a rigorous online program required total immersion while working, interning and volunteering as we managed our time to complete the impossible…even as we squeezed in webinars and traveled to conferences.
Yet, we did not get here on our own. We relied on virtual support groups as well as family, friends, teachers, mentors, role models and coworkers…for advice, encouragement, support, understanding…and especially love, because love does not hold us back, it lets us shine.
We learned from our mistakes and conflicts. We learned to persevere. We are tenacious. We do not forget where we come from…even as we look forward to the future.
However, we are not done. True lifelong learners, as we librarians tend to be, continue to grow, and to contribute to our communities of practice, and the communities we live in.
I didn’t expect that I would learn so much from you, fellow grad students, or the many group projects and leadership opportunities.
Nor, did I expect to develop such a broad geographical network, with students and instructors from all over the world. Or, the many opportunities to connect to diverse and generous professional communities outside of SLIS.
Since the beginning, libraries have been about accessing ideas, information and knowledge, and they’ve weathered significant cultural and technological changes through time.
We are entering a profession with a deep historical and social tradition. Yet, we look forward to an exciting future, where traditional librarianship intersects with new ways of expressing, creating, accessing and sharing information and ideas.
As Dr. Stephens asked: “What will you create that will make the world more awesome?”
Libraries transform lives, and, we each have an opportunity to contribute to the history of libraries and how they evolve to meet information needs at a critical time when the information landscape is incredibly dynamic and prolific,
…and, in which our communities need us, as Sarah Houghton simply states, to “democratize information and expertise.”
Build Your Community
Communities are where we belong, care, connect, and share. We’ve established many connections throughout the SLIS program, but I’d like to encourage you to continue to build your community.
This includes a community of practice made up of those we work with.
I encourage you to carry the torch to light the way for students coming behind us, and to be their mentors.
I encourage you to be generous of spirit and expertise with other professionals and coworkers.
I encourage you to participate, serve and build genuine relationships within professional organizations.
Build the community. Build the community of those, whose unique needs we seek to fulfil, empower and serve. Be human…see the people… and connect with them.
Many have already done so, but if you haven’t…it’s never too late. I happened upon an African Proverb that embodies the value of community. If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.
I offer my gratitude to those who helped me get to this moment…and to the awards committee and amazing SLIS faculty for this opportunity to tell our story, and share our accomplishments.
Today, I extend my admiration to each of you in person, and virtually, as champions of librarianship. You have achieved your goal through hard work and sacrifice.
Prepare to celebrate, look forward to a bright future, and reap the rewards of your hard work. I wish each of you peace and prosperity.
Context Book Assignment: The Shallows by Nicholas Carr
For my context book assignment I admit that I picked my book solely based on its title. The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr was my first choice as I found the title very thought provoking and I immediately asked myself “What is the internet really doing to my brain? Has it really done anything at all? How do I know if it has? I knew it was the book for me when it got me thinking before evening reading the first page.
After reading The Shallows, I was left both in awe and horror over how much influence the Internet has had over my ability to concentrate, contemplate, and engage with both print based and online information. I can remember back to a time when reading was a luxury I treasured. I could immerse myself within the confines of a book for hours, never tiring, and always craving the words on the next page. However, that voracious love of deep and meaningful reading has slowly given way to adult bouts of ADD where reading the contents of a lengthy article or book in now more of a chore than a pleasure. I ask myself ‘has my love affair with the Internet sacrificed my ability to engage in more than surface level reading? Is the quick, disjointed, and distracted information so readily available at the stroke of a button worth the slow demise of my ability to engage in the act of reading wholeheartedly, not distractedly and fragmented, impeded by my need to “stay connected?” These are questions I believe many of us have asked ourselves or should begin to ask ourselves. As information professionals we need to start thinking about how the Internet driven brain impacts our profession and more importantly how can we support the idea of tradition versus innovation when today’s brains seem to be wired for instant access not technologies of days gone by. This has been an issue at the forefront of the profession and library’s have responded and will continue to respond to this shift in user ability, demand, and need facilitated by rapidity of the Internet.
What I loved most about Carr’s book is that he raises the question of how have “tools of the mind” which have been in a progressive state of evolution over the last few centuries, altered and reshaped the way we think and interact not only with information but with each other? From the creation of the alphabet, to Gutenberg’s printing press, to the Internet today, Carr charts an evolutionary course which transcends the human mind past the realm of intellectual engagement, connection, and community, into what he calls the “intellectual shallows.” I ask myself and others, how do we navigate our way through these so called “intellectual shallows?” I don’t think there is a one size fits all answer to this question.
I think today’s librarians can glean a lot from The Shallows in terms of how a patron’s rewired and remapped “Internet” influenced brain impacts library service and ways in which they can as library professionals support this “mental evolution” while still holding true to traditional values such as deep reading and fostering of a user’s deep level knowledge and understanding. Today’s libraries have already embraced and adapted to this change in numerous ways, as most public library’s today are no longer synonymous with the term “oasis of bookish tranquility” instead becoming buzzing hubs of information and constant connectors between users and information via the Internet, “The predominant sound in the modern library is the tapping of keys, not the turning of pages” (Carr, 2010, pg. 97). By providing access to the Internet, digitizing materials for easier access, and facilitating and nurturing online communities, hyperlinked libraries are continually working to appease brains that are in a constant state of flux. The DOK library instantly comes to mind as they have been able to fuse this love of tradition with the need of innovation spurred by the Internet. Their use of technology as a means of reinforcing community and culture is important as it does so in a way that meets the needs of Internet wired brains where immediacy, relevancy, and innovation is key in keeping them connected not only the library but to their community. The demise of the “human elements” Carr speaks about is kept very much alive at DOK as technology and the Internet are not seen as opposing forces to a library’s humanness rather a companion that helps foster communication, interaction, collaboration, and community.
“To remain vital, culture must be renewed in the minds of the members of every generation. Outsource memory, and culture withers” (Carr, 2010, pg. 197). This quote resonated with me and got me thinking about how through hyperlinked libraries and participatory service, community culture is cultivated, fostered, and celebrated by engaging patrons in storytelling, sharing, and collaboration through the use of technology which works to digitize, preserve, and share a community’s cultural fabric and memories. I think one very important aspect of hyperlinked libraries is that they strive to keep communities connected to culture through the use of various technologies none of which work to supplant the beauty and power of a tangible, personal, and heartfelt interaction, but rather serve as a supplement. Much of Carr’s book focuses on the idea that “human elements are outmoded and dispensable” and that the Internet has the power and capacity to make the human mind in some ways obsolete and a “slave to the machine.” But I argue that this form of enslavement is somewhat self induced. We as a society love the seductive allure of the Internet and its ability to keep us connected and relevant. I believe the Internet has changed the way I think but not necessarily for the worse. Yes I may not be able to read as in-depth as I once did, but I have access to a plethora of information I can utilize for the good of others and as a library professional can help use that “rewiring and reprogramming” to help guide and support the information needs of my users who also find themselves trying to navigate the unchartered waters of the “intellectual shallows.”
I could write pages upon pages about my thoughts on Carr’s book but instead I decided to create a brief Animoto video which highlights key points, quotes, questions and ideas I pulled from the text and its connection to hyperlinked libraries and the library profession in general. This video is for those of us whose brains no longer read lengthy paragraphs with ease! Its purpose is to get you thinking about how the internet has changed your brain (whether positively or negatively) and how this rewiring, remapping, and reprogramming of the mind impacts your role as a library professional. I hope you enjoy!
Carr, N. G. (2010). The shallows: What the Internet is doing to our brains. New York: W.W. Norton.
Dayna currently resides in Northern California and is currently in her last semester of San Jose State University’s School of Library and Information Science. Her program focus has been academic librarianship and she hopes to integrate her love of social media and technology into future positions. In her spare time she loves reading, hiking, and spending time with her husband and their five cats!
After completing Dr. Stephens SJSU online course in Fall of 2012, I was inspired to develop a personal blog on library innovations and social media in libraries. In many of our course assignments and projects, we explored and played around with Web 2.0 tools, and using templates developed by Professor Stephens, we trained on how to implement these tools in our libraries and personal lives. We learned how to talk about them with others, from our patrons to our administrators. Blogging about my two loves – social media and libraries – would become a worthwhile cause.
One of my favorite assignments in The Hyperlinked Library was the social media plan. Imagine a strategic plan, marketing plan, bibliography and road map that can be implemented tomorrow, and you have Dr. Stephen’s social media plan. I immediately saw the appropriateness and applicability of the social media plan in developing a professional blog, and approached Dr. Stephens in the Summer of 2013 to be my faculty advisor for an independent study project (LIBR 298) entitled “Library Currents.”
In the planning phase, I determined a general concept for Library Currents (www.librarycurrents.com), which was to create a blog that reviewed social media technologies and included them in a directory that librarians could assess for reference work. But I had to keep my mind open to other avenues of content, if the audience for social media in libraries wasn’t there. My first order of business was to create listening posts using RSS feeds and social network news feeds, such as those found on Facebook and Twitter. I added feeds of authoritative blogs and library-related organizations to not only listen to what they had to say about emerging technologies, but also to converse with them as well.
In the research phase, I read papers provided by Dr. Stephens on his research in social media and Web 2.0 technologies, while also listening to the RSS and social media feeds that I set up in the planning phase. I followed Pew Internet Research data and reviewed the recent literature both online and in scholarly journals to determine if a library blog focused on social media would have any legs. What I discovered was eye-opening.
I learned that social media doesn’t necessarily stand on its own. In my research, I discovered that social media was intertwined with other types of innovations, such as emerging technologies, augmented reality, and informational trends. With this information, I knew that Library Currents would focus on broader library innovations combined with social media.
In my research during the implementation phase, I discovered that WordPress, Drupal and Joomla were the top three open source content management systems (CMS) internationally. I decided to try out and create demos of each CMS, grading them on a 100-point scale in areas such as user experience, functionality, and development capability. WordPress scored the highest among the three CMS platforms, and a clean copy was installed for use as the CMS of Library Currents. A cost analysis was performed in time and finances, which is detailed in the implementation report, found at https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B2OLXz0nbffdc0dIazRLVGJWM28/
In the final phase of the Library Currents blog project, I created content using the new WordPress interface, and populated the Library 2.0 Directory with web 2.0 and LIS resources. The resources uploaded into the directory would be the subjects covered in my blog postings, making the directory complementary to the blog. For evaluation of the new blog’s design and content, I created a poll using Survey Monkey, and would create more assessments going into 2014. Future posts will discuss results of the surveys and implications for site improvement.
Riding Library Currents into the Future
When I started the Library Currents project, I wondered what the blog development process would look like if I left no stone unturned. I knew that the social media plan would be an excellent way to do this. The plan works into the future five years, and includes personal investment in networking at conferences and other important activities to grow conversation on the website, such as inviting guest bloggers on Library Currents.
When you learn about and apply the concepts of The Hyperlinked Library, you become an advocate. You turn towards many of the key ideas in this philosophy to develop library service, whether the service is in a building or on a blog. The plan I created holds true to the value of The Hyperlinked Library, from creating conversations about the role of innovations in library service, to avoiding technolust by researching software and doing your homework before going out on that limb. And I do get to play around with new technologies and have some fun, too! With the newly launched Library Currents blog, I feel like I can begin my true work in advocating for participatory library culture.
Mickel Paris is a third-year MLIS Graduate student at San Jose State University and dreams of world travel. He is the creator of the Library Currents blog and dabbles in web development and social media strategies for Los Angeles area clients. To keep up with his future posts, you can add him on Twitter @librarycurrents
A few weeks ago, I wrote about attending a seminar in San Diego put on by the Special Libraries Association. The theme was connecting the dots of creativity and innovation and since we’re on the topic of maker spaces this week, I found my mind repeatedly flashing back to one speaker in particular. Her name was Kathlin L. Ray and she’s the Dean at the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center at the University of Nevada and she represented a really cool space.
Mentioned by the American Libraries Magazine in an article earlier in the year to be one of the top 3 makerspace models that “work”, the Knowledge Center (or DeLaMare as is more affectionately known on campus), was built with this goal in mind: “To create a pioneering information environment designed to nurture creativity and stimulate intellectual inquiry”.
“Recognizing this critical interplay between knowledge and innovation, the U of Nevada, Reno has established one of the first centers in the nation built specifically to embrace these dynamics of the 21st century.” – Steven Zink, VP for IT Dean of Libraries at University of Nevada
Space Redesign: From “Oh” to “WHOAH!”
Kathlin attributes most of the changes to change agent, Tod Colgrove, who transformed the once sleepy library into a modern, collaborative learning environment beginning with relocating the library’s print periodicals and journals to a storage and retrieval facility in the main campus library, which opened up nearly 18,000 square feet in DeLaMare. Colgrove brought in repurposed furniture and computer workstations to expand the space on the cheap.
The extra room more than quadrupled the computers from 39 to 130. Special whiteboard paint was applied to the walls, which students now use to take notes and exchange ideas.Stephen Abram mentions in his blog that 20% of the library’s walls are covered in IdeaPaint to cover more than 1,000 square feet of floor-to-ceiling workspace on 13 walls of the four-floor library.
Tables were set up to allow science and engineering students to tinker with analog controllers, electronics kits, and soldering irons and crimpers. The library even checks out kits like robotics. Kathlin’s images of the transformation were stunning. There were neon signs, a production lab, data works, dynamic media. This is a real maker space where people really can experiment and play.
During the redesign, the circulation desk (once an impenetrable fortress) was relocated and literally chopped down to a fragment of its original size. The staff was relocated to public areas to make them more accessible to the community. Old staff offices were reconfigured into group study rooms. What was really interesting was the fact that DeLaMare was the very first academic library to make 3-D printing available to all students and the community. Check out the images of some of the things they’ve printed, and look at the fun they’re having with it.
Prior to the redesign, hourly headcounts of students in the library were at about 24. Now it’s closer to 200 on any daily basis, and nearly double that during midterms and finals weeks. DeLaMare focuses on co-creation, not consumption but collaboration. Librarians there want you to think of it as a “knowledge center” and NOT a library. Imagine that.
Collaboration, Discussion & Engagement
Tod Colgrove, speaks at TEDxReno on the topic of how can libraries of the present be influenced by those of the past. Check out this video where he talks about images of the Great Library at Alexandria—where you see more people than books in the space. People engaging in conversation is at the heart of where knowledge happens, NOT in the dusty scrolls. What a striking image when talking about libraries as places where knowledge happens through community, not simply library space—as repository for books.
To some, librarians seem so afraid of change and trying new things because we make it our profession to know where to find answers. We are the go-to-people if you need-to-know. But sometimes… just sometimes… it’s OK to try a few new things and here’s an example of a library that was willing to do just that in favoring the students over the collection and look at the fun they’re having.
Ray, K.L. (2013, October 4). Knowledge creation and the expanding role of the 21st century library. Connecting the Dots of Creative Innovation. Symposium conducted at the meeting of Special Libraries Association: San Diego Chapter, San Diego, California.
Zemirah Lee is a graduate student at the San Jose State University School of Library and Information Science, graduating in May 2014. She also works as a Project Manager on an IMLS grant-funded research project studying young adult spaces in public libraries. Zem lives in San Diego, California with her husband and three children.
Note from Michael: I posted about Megan’s work here: http://tametheweb.com/2013/09/26/if-you-like-it-put-a-badge-on-it/I remember my exact reaction the first time I heard about Digital Badges. “Hey, these could replace performance reviews!” I exclaimed. Maybe it was due to upcoming performance reviews I didn’t want to complete, maybe it was my deep love for quest based learning, or maybe it was just one of the many things I exclaim in excitement during any given day, but for some reason it stuck. I couldn’t get badges out of my head.
This was several years ago and my excitement over badges has only continued to grow. I’ve experimented with different badge platforms, I’ve earned badges myself and I’ve attended several conference sessions and trainings about badges. The only piece of the puzzle that needed to fall into place was I needed a Director that would say YES. I lucked out when we landed Gretchen Caserotti (the Queen of saying yes) as our new Director.
Although I had originally dreamed of badges replacing performance reviews, I did realize that is a huge overhaul that would take time, testing, and some research behind that type of decision. I decided that a great place to start would be to see if badges could increase our staff’s use of continuing education or professional development.
Step 1: I created this video. When it received a lot of attention I realized I better actually act on this idea.
Step 2: I utilized our staff intranet (which is a Google Page) to create a discussion board for Badges.
Step 3: I started creating badges in Credly based on professional development or continuing education topics that I was aware of, or that pertained to our specific library. I specifically chose Credly because it is very easy to use and there is no design or coding knowledge required. I believe this will allow more staff members to get involved in the process later on.
Step 4: I decided to pilot the project with a small group of staff members (our branch library staff) so I could survey them on the process. I presented the idea to them at their staff meeting and it was received with a lot of enthusiasm.
See the survey questions here.
Step 5: As I learn about different opportunities I create a corresponding badge and then post it to the discussion board like this.
Each time I tell them what they need to respond with in order to get that specific badge. Sometimes it is something as easy as testing out a new database (create an account, check something out, report back). Sometimes it is more involved, like with #23MobileThings. This is a wonderful opportunity for staff to share what they are learning too. For example, we just subscribed to Zinio. I offered a badge to anyone who would create an account and test it out (which will lead to us being able to better help patrons with it.)
Here is the response from two of the participants.
Step 6: I encourage other staff to create Credly accounts so they can issue badges as they ?nd opportunities that could enhance job performance.
What I’ve learned
This is all still very new. I only began piloting it with the branch library staff a few weeks ago. However, already the feedback has been very positive. Three of the six staff members have already participated and others have expressed interest. Many of them quickly bought-in to the ideas since it serves as a personal tracking tool for them (records dates, accomplishments, and pushes badges to outside resources like LinkedIn).
One unforeseen challenge is because the Google Page pushes new posts to people’s email, they often times respond to my challenges through the email instead of on the discussion site. It still works but doesn’t allow for group knowledge sharing about questions or challenges. I’m trying to encourage them to respond via the site even when they get an email noti?cation.
So far nobody has posted opportunities that they have found, they have only responded to mine. I really don’t want this to be a top down project, but I think it will take some time before they get used to the discussion board and then I hope they will post opportunities.
I am going to present the project to all staff in late November. I want it to be a way to make learning fun, interactive, and available for everyone while also sharpening everyone’s technology skills. I’m hoping to continue to iron out any kinks before then, so I would love to hear suggestions/feedback!
Megan Egbert is the Youth Services Supervisor for the Meridian Library District in Meridian, Idaho. Previous to her two years in this position she was a Teen Librarian. Her interests include STEAM education, digital badges, makerspaces, and funny puppets. She can be found at @meganegbert or [email protected]