Category Archives: TTW Guest Posts

DeLaMare: Making Fun Spaces Work – A TTW Guest Post by Zemirah Lee

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.

DeLaMare in 2010
DeLaMare in 2010

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.

Students at play
Students at play

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.

Nontraditional Learning: Bots to quadracopters!
Nontraditional Learning: Bots to quadracopters!

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.

3D Images
3D Images

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.


American Library Association. (2013, February 6). Manufacturing makerspaces. American Libraries Magazine. Retrieved from

Colegrove, T. (2013, June). Libraries of the Future: Tod Colegrove at TEDxReno [Video File]. Retrieved from

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.

Zurier, S. (2013, May 8). College libraries transition to high-tech learning centers. EdTech Magazine. Retrieved from

Zemirah Lee 2013Zemirah 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.

Badges at the Library – A TTW Guest Post by Megan Egbert

Note from Michael: I posted about Megan’s work here: beginnerI 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.

Google Group

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.

Row of Badges

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.

Badge 23

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.

Looking Forward

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 EgbertMegan 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]

Don’t You Forget About Me: Reimagining the Shermer High School Learning Resources Center for the Hyperlinked World – A TTW Guest Post by James Yurasek

Saturday, March 24, 1984. Shermer High School, Shermer, Illinois 60062.

Although we only saw it for that one day, one of the greatest collaborations took place in a library.A brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess, and a criminal each assigned to write an essay of no less than a thousand words describing who they thought they were. One of the things that always struck me when watching the John Hughes classic The Breakfast Club, even long before I started the MLIS program, was how advanced the Shermer High School library was. Hopefully adding to what Jenkins (2006) calls the “Collective Intelligence” of media fans, I hope to explore what detention in this library would look like in 2013.

ShermerThe school comes equipped with fire exits at either end of the library.

In order to do so, we must first look at what this library looked like in 1984. As is traditional for public schools, the library is essentially rectangular (however, it has been given various structures and moldings to suggest a more rounded shape). The majority of the library’s physical holdings are along the perimeter of the two story space. In the center we see a group of six tables. For detention, these are all arranged to face forward (for orientation purposes, we will call the corridor out of the library and towards Dick’s office as the front of the library). However, if we look closer, we can see that some of these desks have rounded edges, suggesting they were meant to be arranged together to form a larger, round table suitable for collaboration. Behind this area, the library has a artwork, a lounge area, and a small bank of computers. Towards the front there is a media center housing audio equipment. The second level also hosts several little rooms that can be used for small meetings.

All of that was way ahead of the times…even more advanced than my high school library in 1990. So we can imagine that, in creating a space for 2013, this library would still remain cutting-edge. I would actually imagine it very similar to the way it was nearly 30 years ago: sans card catalogs, with updated art and architecture, and a much larger complement of computers. We would still see a large area to gather for collaborative efforts (though likely the tables would be the bar-height modular ones), and the media center would boast production equipment for creating video and audio presentations.

I would also like to imagine the administration being creative about how detention is managed. No longer would there be no talking, no moving, and everyone ordered to write their own Saturday morning essays about who they think they are. No, these students in detention would collaborate to blog about it. The computers would not suffer from the techno-banality we heard about in our lecture. They would be fully linked, and these blog posts, from everyone who served in detention, would be accessible to all who wished to see. The blog posts of all who came before, and all who would come after would serve as learning experiences, a means of acknowledging whatever it was that was done wrong, and a reflection of how to not repeat those actions.

In the simplest terms, the most convenient definitions.

So it is here that is probably important for us to stop and think about who we think we are. As librarians, are we the ones who will post threatening “no beverages” signs? Are we the ones who will deny access to social media? The ones that waste time sitting around planning? Or are we the ones who will be forward thinking, allowing for as much chaos as we can stand, and letting our communities help us provide the services they want? Let’s hope for the latter.

Bender - The Breakfast Club

Jenkins, H. (2006). Fans, bloggers, and gamers: exploring participatory culture. New York, NY: New York University Press.

Tanen, N. (Producer), & Hughes, J. (Producer & Director). (1985). The breakfast club [Motion Picture]. United States: Universal Studios.

James Yurasek


James Yurasek received his BA in Literature from Sonoma State University. He is currently pursuing his MLIS from SJSU School of Library & Information Science, where he is focusing on emerging technologies.

Making mistakes in our daily work: A TTW Conversation between Warren Cheetham and Justin Hoenke

Warren: Hi Justin! I found this weird avant garde art video online that you’re featured in! I didn’t realize you were into that – tell me more!

Justin: No, not an art video…I was actually testing out On Air Google+ Hangouts with my co-worker James McNutt. We’re using the On Air Hangouts to record the guest speakers we have for our DEV DEV:<summer of code/> camp at the Chattanooga Public Library.

W: So it was just a test? Why put it online?

J: Yah, just a test.  We put it online because that’s the whole point of the on air hangout…to record a conversation and share it online.  Plus, it was kind of neat to watch how we worked through any trouble we had.

W: When I visited Chattanooga Library a few weeks ago, Nate Hill explained the concept of staff working in the public area on the 4th Floor, being visible to everyone, showing the library work processes on the big public white-board wall etc. – is sharing this video an extension of that thinking?

J: Yes. What we’re doing on the 2nd Floor of the Chattanooga Public Library (our space dedicated to ages 0-18) lines up really well with what the 4th Floor is going for.  We want to try neat things and see if they stick.  We’re happy to show our successes, failures, and the road we took to get there.

W: Can you share any other ways you’re putting your tests and trials out there?

Photo by Warren Cheetham, June 2013.
Photo by Warren Cheetham, June 2013.

J: Sure!  We’ve got a bunch of extra tables just sitting around as we remodel/reshuffle how the 2nd Floor looks.  Instead of them just sitting around collecting dust, we’ve made them into what we’re calling creation stations.  One has a button maker sitting on it that kids and teens can use to make buttons.  Another has a whole mess of art supplies.  Another has a bowl in the shape of a bear that I found sitting in a closet.  That bear is now the AWESOME BEAR. Anyone can come up to it, write something awesome on a slip of paper and put it in the AWESOME BEAR.  The AWESOME BEAR will then share all of the awesome things kids and teens see around their community!  Somedays it works, other days it doesn’t.

W: But isn’t that embarrassing putting all the errors and mistakes out there for the public to see?

J: Not at all. Part of the fun is trying out new things and seeing how the community reacts.  If they don’t respond to something we do on the 2nd Floor, all that says to me is “keep on thinking, keep on trying.”  It’s actually pretty exciting.

W: That’s very cool. I think it’s good for us to remember that while we might be good at librarianship, and a few others things, there are people in our community who use our libraries who are much better at certain things, and their input and observations on our library processes and trials can help build better services.

So I see you’re doing a summer coding camp at Chattanooga – what is that teaching the teens about keeping your mistakes open and public? Software development is a wonderful example of how something (like computer code) can get better and better the more it’s distributed and developed by many people.

J: When I was a teen, I used to think that adults never made mistakes.  They were the ones in power and they never messed anything up.  Boy, I was wrong.  That way of thinking had a big impact on me as I grew into adulthood.  I put a lot of pressure on myself to be that “perfect adult” but what I was doing was something that I could not keep up with.  No one is perfect.  We all make mistakes and you know what?  We grow from those mistakes.

I think making these mistakes and keeping them public is a great thing.  It shows that we’re all human and that we’re all learning and growing.

W: We’re messing around with a 3D printer here, and one of my first pieces was dodgy so we finished the print before it was complete. I was going to throw it out but Neal my co-worker stopped me and pointed out that the print actually showed the insides and structure of a 3D print. Turns out, it’s a piece that other staff look at and are intrigued by the most!

3D print

J: That’s so rad to hear! When we create something, of course we want it to be perfect.  But our colleagues and friends will see things a different way.  Your idea of something that is junk may be someone else’s idea of gold.

A few weeks ago when you visited Chattanooga, you talked about how Australia is planning and implementing a country wide fiber optic system.  With a project that big, there’s gotta be some mistakes that are made along the way.  How has your country been managing this project and any mistakes that are made?  I can imagine that if there are any bumps along the way there may be a huge public reaction.

W: Such a big, expensive project comes with a lot of scrutiny, and every mistake or misjudgment can easily get blown out of proportion by the project’s critics. One thing that this and other technology related projects has taught me is the economic concept of ‘opportunity cost’. Some of the criticisms leveled at Australia’s National Broadband Network include the idea that we should wait until the relevant technology gets cheaper, more reliable, etc. The opportunity cost is that while we’re waiting for that time, we miss out on the benefits that implementing that technology now could bring.

I think this thinking helps to round out the idea of ‘making mistakes’ in our daily work. By not making mistakes, by not taking responsible risks, by waiting until someone else makes it perfect before can adopt it, we miss an opportunity to benefit from any success of the project now.


Post by Warren Cheetham  and Tame The Web Contributor Justin Hoenke


 Warren Cheetham is the Coordinator of Information and Digital Services at CityLibraries Townsville. He has worked in public libraries for twenty-one years, and his professional interests include the application of technology to public libraries, and how to best deliver information services, reader engagement, corporate research services and training to library staff and customers in an online environment.

A Whole New Mind or Using Your Whole Mind: A TTW Guest Post by Terri Artemchik

awholenewmindA Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future by Daniel Pink explores the capabilities of the brain and spirit in this conceptual age where high touch and high concept aptitudes are gaining serious ground. Emotional intelligence is becoming just as important as IQ due to abundance, outsourcing, and automation. People are now required to use both sides of their brain. L-Directed Thinking pertains to sequential, literal, functional, textual, and analytic thinking. R-Directed Thinking is simultaneous, metaphorical, aesthetic, contextual, and synthetic. No longer can we just be knowledge workers. We must be attuned to the big picture, how things work together, patterns, and above all, the synthesis and meaning of life.

Daniel Pink details six concepts, which he calls The Six Senses, that will help people survive and thrive in this adapting and often uncertain world.

The Six Senses


The British Museum Whether a building, a toilet bowl cleaner, or a website, design affects our day-to-day lives. Pink describes the ideal design as beautiful, whimsical, or emotionally engaging. Function is no longer enough. Librarians have a plethera of design issues to consider every day – interior design of the library, website design, marketing materials design, message design, and instructional design- to name a few. Library websites play a huge role in getting users to use the library resources and take advantage of librarians’ expertise. In many ways, we’re competing with Google. That’s tough competition! The more intuitive and attractive the site is, the better the experience for the library community. Pink’s Portfolio section provides useful activities you can do to increase your design palette, from keeping a design portfolio to help you stay attuned to design that works to the C-R-A-P-ify method which can come in handy when creating promotional materials for libraries.


Pink expresses the concept of story perfectly with this quote, “When facts become so widely available and instantly accessible, each one becomes less valuable. What begins to matter more is the ability to place these facts in context and to deliver them with emotional impact” (p. 193). Stories live at the library through books, video, and people. The reference desk is often the place where students and community members tell their stories. Listening to peoples’ stories is one of my favorite things about my job and often necessary in order to glean what they need help doing/finding/getting. “I need information on ethics,” for example, usually comes with a story. It’s a librarian’s responsibility to figure out the story.


SymphonyThe ability to relate concepts, make patterns, and synthesize embody the symphony aptitude. Relationships are at the core of symphony. Boundary crossers, inventors, and metaphor makers are able to pull ideas together from seemingly unrelated concepts. Librarians must be boundary crossers in their profession. They are often called up to bridge the gap between faculty departments, communities, and concepts. Seeing the big picture comes into play when we think about information literacy. Yes, we want students to know how to search in databases or how to do an advanced Google search, but really, our goal is to make them independent, self-directed lifelong learners. More importantly, our goal is to inspire them to be curious about the world around them. Pink’s Celebrate Your Amateur section revels in the idea that we are all learners, forever. Marcel Wanders writes, “I am best at what I can’t do. It has become my ability to feel strong and confident in these situations. I feel free to move, to listen to my heart, to learn, to act even if that means I will make mistakes” (p. 157). It reminds me of Char Booth’s comment recently in a lecture for our TransTech course, “Stay brave and vulnerable.”


The ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes is paramount in libraries and in life. It ties with the story aptitude in so many ways. Just listening to someone’s story can put you in the position of understanding their perspective. Subtle clues like facial expressions can tell you how someone is feeling- if they’re overwhelmed or confused. In teaching, it’s necessary to read people’s faces to gauge their level of engagement, their comprehension, and their annoyances. A librarian can learn to adapt their sessions based on these reactions. Empathy also comes into play when it comes to workplace relations. Learning to work collaboratively with colleagues takes openness and delicacy. Being open to your colleagues’ perspective can sometimes make all the difference in how you interact.


playPlay is monumental and necessary. It adds a joyfulness and positive spirit to any learning process. Just the fact that it’s called play provides a light-hearted mindset. Introducing play into a library instruction can be freeing for students. There is no right or wrong way when it comes to research. Every topic will lead you in a different direction and having the openness of mind to follow a topic through all the tangents, nooks and crannys, and caveats should be fun – not a chore. Pink mentions laughter as one of the key elements in having a spirit of play and I am a firm believer that trying something new and knowing that you will most likely make a fool of yourself – but everyone else will too – inspires laughter and openness. On the right is an image of me trying flying trapeze last fall, and yes, it was slightly terrifying the first time. But the second and third time, pure excitement and freedom! My friends and I laughed and played during the entire experience. When teaching or learning new things, play can make all the difference in the experience of learning.


meaningThe This Emotional Life series on PBS recently took on the topic of Happiness. It relates so well to Pink’s section on Meaning. We are all looking for the key to happiness and it comes from our social relationships – whether that’s parent/child for an infant, friends, colleagues, or partners. We want to feel fulfilled and supported in our lives. So, it seems, relationships are also the key to meaning, in addition to symphony. When a relationship is off at work, at home, in your life, it affects you. Meaning and mindfulness also go hand in hand. Simply being more mindful through labyrinths, through empathy, through perspective from gratitude, by giving yourself the permission to play and rest, dedicating your work, and re-claiming your priorities as Pink suggests, can create a framework for what you want your life to look like. At some point, it will become second nature and you’ll be living the life you seek.


As the words flow through my mind after writing this, I stop on these. Openness. Mindfulness. Vulnerability. Heart. Relationships. Empathy. Perspective. Life. Going through your life, your career, it is necessary to reflect on yourself, your relationships, your career, and your contribution to society. Even if you lead a small life, like me, you can glean little things every day that serve to enrich your life and fire up both sides of your brain.



Terri at Westminster Abbey
Terri at Westminster Abbey

Booth, C. (2011) Reflective teaching, effective learning: Instructional literacy for library educators. Chicago: American Library Association.

Pink, D. (2006). A whole new mind: Why right-brainers will rule the future. New York: Riverhead Books.

Terri Rieck Artemchik is an Adjunct Librarian at the College of Lake County in Grayslake, Illinois. She is currently enrolled in the Post-Master’s Degree Certificate Program at San Jose State University’s School of Library and Information Science and received her MLIS from Dominican University in 2011. Terri’s interests include emerging technologies, digital services, information literacy, and Learning 2.0. 

Note from Michael: This is an example of the “Context Book” assignment from #hyperlib.

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.


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.

Learning Everywhere: OPLN – The ‘must-have’ tool for new librarians — A TTW Guest Post by Tracy Maniapoto

Over the past few weeks I’ve been reflecting on the connections I make in a digital world.  The main purpose for the reflection was to fulfil a MIS assessment on Online Personal Learning Networks [OPLN] in Dr. Michael Stephens Fall 2012 Transformative Learning & Technology Literacies class. I think that Richardson and Mancabelli’s description of an OPLN as a unique learning environment where ‘we learn what we want or need to learn using the vast resources and people online’ is fitting (2011, p.3).  This method of informal learning complements traditional learning and helps us to function better in all aspects of our daily life: at home with family and at work.

What excited me most about creating an OPLN was that I had to figure out what information I needed and where this was going to come from.  This was a personal journey that only I could take; I set the direction and the path to follow.  I also had to think about how I would curate what I found.  Organising the information into one space or place had its benefits: ease of curation, portability and accessibility spring to mind immediately.  The end result is more than simply an assessment; it is a practical tool that I can use throughout my career as an academic librarian.

Getting started

Diving head first into the ocean of information that is ‘the internet’ works for some folk, though I needed something more structured or defined to begin with.  As my OPLN was unique to me, I asked myself two questions:

  1. What are my current information needs both professionally and with my studies?
  2. With whom, what or where do I need to connect to help me address these needs?

I used the first question to form my goals statement highlighting my main information needs for both groups as below:

Professionally, in my role as a teaching librarian at a New Zealand University, it was important for me to keep informed about:

  1. Teaching methods/styles that promote information literacy
  2. Changes affecting the NZ University and academic library environment
  3. The use of social media tools within the academic library environment
  4. Professional development opportunities for librarians/information professionals
  5. Mentors and role models within the library or information  profession environment
  6. Maori information resources and Maori world view

With my studies, and particularly in relation to my research project, it was important for me to keep informed about:

  1. Trends in digital and emerging technologies both globally and within New Zealand
  2. Trends in educational learning methods and styles

In categorising my main information needs, the scope of my resources falls broadly into the following four areas:

  • Pedagogy (21st century learning, participatory learning)
  • Technologies (mobile and emerging)
  • Relationships (social media, professional development, mentorship, NZ University and library environments)
  • Themes (information literacy, M?ori-focused resources)

Having defined my resources, the next step was to start collecting relevant information.  I needed a discovery tool and, though I hadn’t quite realised at the time, I had been using one religiously for the past few months.

My discovery tool of choice: Twitter

It still amuses me, even now, that the majority of information resources that appear on my OPLN were sourced from one tool: Twitter.  Yes, Twitter.  This would be my answer to the ‘who, what, and where’ question I raised earlier.

I had created a Twitter account in 2009 and my activity between then and mid-2012 consisted of a whopping 40-ish tweets. In hindsight, my use of Twitter and my knowledge of its capabilities were pretty, well, pitiful.  In the early stages of the LIBR 281-14 programme, each student was encouraged to create a Twitter account (if they didn’t already have one) and use it as part of the class engagement. We were encouraged to share links to relevant or interesting articles, webpages, and anything else we could find.  Within two months of starting the programme, I had tweeted more times than in the previous 3 years!  I am thankful we were encouraged to use Twitter as an information discovery tool.  It wasn’t until I began putting my OPLN together that I truly understood its value in my personal learning.

What I love most about Twitter is its ability to filter information*.  On the suggestion of a work colleague I monitored twitter feeds using first, Tweetdeck, and then secondly, Hootsuite (I actually preferred the first as the interface was more to my liking even though they look similar). Once I found people to follow, and by people I mean librarians, fellow MIS students and educators, I started to get a ‘feel’ for how information is best dispersed through this platform.  For me, Twitter is like an index to the internet and is a simple way to conduct an environmental scan on a topic of interest with, dare I say it, minimal effort on my part.  Naturally, I had to read any tweets and click through links for myself to see if the information suited my needs.  The hard part though, finding the information in the first place, was done by those I followed: brilliant individuals passionate about their interests and wanting to share them with the world.

Interestingly, since using Twitter I’ve noticed it is used in more and more places.  I used it myself as an engagement tool within my presentation slides at the LIANZA 2012 Conference.  This morning I followed live ‘tweets’ from attendees at the Ascilite2012 Conference in Wellington, New Zealand (about 190km away) using the hashtag search: #ascilite2012.  When my classmates post useful links I can find these by searching #transtech.  Just moments ago I received this tweet as I was writing:

The link took me to another Ascilite2012 attendee’s collection of notes on ‘Web 2.0 Pedagogy: Mobile Social Media’ and included a number of links to related websites and educator blogs – wow!  While it would be great to attend this conference in person, Twitter is definitely my ‘next best thing’.

Going back to the point at hand – I now have my information sources.  The next step was to find a tool for curation.

My curation tool of choice: Netvibes

I tossed around the idea of two curation tools: Symbaloo and Netvibes.

I learned about Symbaloo from a classmate’s blog and I was really impressed with the look and feel it had.  I experimented with the design online and whilst the interface looked great, I already had an idea of how I wanted my OPLN to look.  In my mind it would look similar in format to Tweetdeck but would need to encapsulate all types of information, preferably as live feeds.  As luck would have it, Netvibes was mentioned in another classmate’s blog so I gave that a try.  I haven’t looked back since.

There are many of wonderful features in Netvibes.  First of all, it’s free.  Second, it provides enough functionality (for me at least) to successfully curate the types of information sources I wanted to share: websites, blogs, twitter feeds and follows (no surprises there!), videos and links to journal and newspaper articles.

Netvibes allows you to curate your own private and public dashboards and I expect my public OPLN will continually evolve around my topics of interest at any given time.  For the new librarian or information professional, the power of connected learning through the development and curation of your own OPLN is empowering.  You won’t know what you don’t know until you come across it and an OPLN can help you find things you didn’t even realise you were interested in.

In the spirit of the Thanksgiving holiday, I am thankful to Dr. Michael Stephens, to my LIBR 281-14 classmates, and to the many individuals who have participated in my online personal learning network.

*IMHO educators and librarians are the best at collecting, filtering and disseminating valuable information in 140 characters or less.


Richardson, W., & Mancabelli, R. (2011). Personal learning networks: Using the power of connections to transform education. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press

 Tracy Maniapoto is an Information Services Librarian at Massey University Library in Palmerston North, New Zealand and a distance student studying towards her MIS at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.  Tracy’s interests include mobile technologies, academic libraries and utilising Twitter to grow her PLN!  You can follow her on Twitter @libr4ry_girl


Autism speaks… and we should listen – A TTW Guest Post by Pamela Hawks

Note from Michael – Pamela is a WISE student from Rutgers taking my Hyperlinked Library course. This is a companion post to Holly’s previously published post on serving the hearing impaired.

(**names have been changed for anonymity’s sake**)


My education began with an eye-roll.


The library worker standing next to me behind the circulation desk added a heavy sigh and a series of tut-tuts to the eye-roll.  The troubling cause of this facial display?  The child having a mild fit 15 feet away from us in the children’s section of the library.  ”Do you know Stephen?” she asked me, as if to sum-up the whole annoyance we librarians suffer with this one question.  “Yes, I know Stephen,” I thought to myself.  He’s autistic.


And that’s when it happened.  I live in a small town, and so I knew Stephen because I knew his parents.  But, I also suddenly began to notice the behavior of some of our other patrons that previously I would have written off as “difficult” or “problems” and my viewpoints changed.  I vowed I would not become like the eye-roller of my story.  But how?  I knew little to next to nothing about this extremely misunderstood segment of our population.  And then another piece of serendipity fell into my lap.  I attended a talk about under-served populations in libraries and two of the keynote speakers were Dan Weiss and Meg Kolaya.


Dan and Meg are two New Jersey librarians who answered the call for libraries to respond to this growing population by developing a program calledLibraries and Autism: We’re Connected.  It is an extraordinary program designed for educating librarians about patrons with autism and other developmental challenges, and how best to serve them.



But it is simply too easy to just say that we should be inclusive of everyone.  What Meg and Dan do is provide real live situations one might encounter with a patron with autism and show methods of handling behavior through interactive video presentations.  The underlying message in these videos is that “all behavior is a form of communication.”  I think that is a wonderful statement that gives librarians a stepping off point for connecting with people who have autism.  The program also gives many useful suggestions on how to develop programs for different age groups on the autism spectrum, as well as discussing how libraries can make their physical environments help patrons with autism feel safer and more comfortable.


One of their key points that really opened my eyes was that children with autism grow up into adults with autism.  The behavior of these adults can often be easily misconstrued since they operate in public life sans a caregiver, and adult tantrums or disruptions are not as tolerated as they are in children.  But, it is a fact that these adults are part of every community and that their numbers are rising significantly.


Public libraries should be at the forefront of developing strategies for making our institutions welcoming environments for them, as well as developing programs and resources to help families cope with this often overwhelming disability.  I believe that every library that develops a strategic plan should make an effort to include a goal of widening the inclusivity of their institutions in regards to members of the community who fall into the category of the developmentally challenged.


This short training video gives you an idea of how simple, but important learning these skills are for anyone working with the public:





As I thought about reaching our users this week, I kept returning to the problems I see with customer service models.  Check out a wonderful program from Minnesota called the Wakanheza Project ( that teaches people how to react to others in stressful situations by treating everyone as if they were a sacred being.  It actually provides a list of methods for helping people who deal with the public create welcoming, healthy environments – a perfect place to orient library staff in customer service training.






Pamela Hawks, who has nearly completed her MLIS from Rutgers University, School of Communication and Information, hopes to play a role in the changing landscape of transformative and innovative library service.  She lives in the beautiful Hudson Valley of New York State with her family. 

Makerspace Lawsuits – A TTW Guest Post by Rick Thomchick

Monica Harris, a librarian from Oak Park, Illinois, recently posted a great article to the MakerSpaces and the Participatory Library group on Facebook about 3D printing and intellectual property in which Chris Anderson declared, “we’re going to get sued.”

I wryly replied with a link to a Wired article that the lawsuits had already begun. Michael Weinberg, an attorney with Public Knowledge who was interviewed for the article, characterized 3D printers as a “disruptive technology” that is raising many intellectual property issues, and Monica pointed out that 3D printers have exposed the differences between copyright and patent law.

Physical objects such as figurines, models, or Lego building bricks, are subject to patent law. And unlike copyrights, patents have a limited lifespan (20 years, sometimes more). In fact, Weinberg believes hobbyists should worry more about copying artistic patterns or designs on an object. “That violates copyright law,” claims Weinberg.

Weinberg ominously warned of the risk that Games Workshop and other toy manufacturers would lobby politicians to enact patent “reform” laws similar to SOPA. Which brings us back Chris Anderson’s proclamation of impending litigation against the Maker movement. So what’s to be done? Another member of the Facebook group shared some helpful links including the EFF’s efforts to keep 3D printing open, and a discussion of legal issues (scroll to bottom of page) on (wow, there’s already a website for that!).

It’s not hard to envision yet another incumbent industry fighting the tides of technological change. But I can’t help but think that there is an opportunity for Games Workshop to market their own brand of 3D printers and charge for access to official design patterns, or to partner with MakerBot. Such a move could help them extend their brand, reduce their operational costs (labor, shipping, packaging, etc.) and engage their customers with the thrill of on-demand mass customization. It might sound crazy, but then again, how many libraries were using 3D printers when I first started my MLIS studies in 2009?

Reaching All Users: Deaf and Hard of Hearing Patrons in the Library – A TTW Guest Post by Holly Lipschultz

For those of you who already know me, I’m profoundly deaf and wear a cochlear implant and a hearing aid. For those of you who don’t–now you know! Many don’t, particularly if I wear my hair down. I talk quite normally thanks to the cochlear implant, and I hear well enough to “pass” for hearing. However, I struggle in some situations, and people get frustrated and say, “Never mind, it wasn’t important,” or assume I’m stupid or rude.

Deafness is an invisible disability. It’s easy to remember to make sure that there are ramps and elevators for people using crutches or wheelchairs. It’s easy to be aware of the blind person navigating the library with a cane or a seeing eye dog. But it’s not so easy to be aware that someone is deaf unless they have short hair and colorful, clearly visible earmolds.

Fortunately, it is fairly easy to accommodate the needs of deaf and hard of hearing people, making them feel more welcome in the library. I can write at length on the subject, but for now, I’ll give you tips on two things: communication and accessibility of library programs and services.


First, you DON’T have to know sign language, either ASL or SEE, in order to communicate with the culturally Deaf people who communicate primarily through sign. Is it useful? Undoubtedly yes. But not every library branch has an employee that can sign. And unlike, say, finding Spanish speakers for predominately Hispanic neighborhoods, there are no “Deaf” neighborhoods to relocate these signing staff to. It probably wouldn’t be feasible to be sure to train at least one staff member at each library location to know ASL.

And besides, not every deaf person knows sign language. I didn’t learn it in any real, systematic way until I started college; my parents raised me as hearing. Many others are late-deafened (think about your grandparents) and still prefer to communicate aurally and verbally. And many others are only mildly to moderately deaf, and have had little difficulty with hearing.

So, how can you communicate with deaf people?

First, get their attention. Don’t flap around like a crazy person, or else we’ll ignore you out of embarrassment. But if you don’t have our attention, waving your hands is okay. Light touching on our arms are okay. Then start talking. Normally. Oh, please don’t try to move your lips in an exaggerated manner. It’s like trying to listen to someone who is talking while his mouth is full of marshmallows. Yelling doesn’t help either. It’s hard to understand overly loud speaking, the same way it’s hard to drink from a fountain if it’s shooting at your mouth like a fire hydrant geyser.  Just talk normally. Easy, right?

Background noise freaking sucks. I’ve heard that hearing people can somehow “pick out sounds” and focus on it even if there is some background noise. It’s a mythical concept to me. So, if it gets temporarily loud in the library, pause during the loud noises, and repeat what you said as needed. Sometimes you might repeat things two or three times, so be patient. A trick some people use after the second repetition is to rephrase the sentence. Use synonyms. Reorder the sentence. “Are you looking for a specific breed?” can become, “What dog breed are you looking for?” and it can finally help make the sentence click in our minds.

If verbal communication is exceedingly difficult, or if you’re talking to a completely deaf person, use writing tools. The traditional means of communication can be a pencil and paper, though it can be annoying to both sides. Here’s another idea: Use Word on your computer. Turn the screen around so both of you can see it. Bring up Word or Google Docs in a separate window. Type what you need to say. We’ll tell you verbally in return. Or if they are completely deaf, let them use the keyboard to type what they need to say. Turning the screen around during reference and circulation transactions helps anyway.

Other communication tips

Hopefully your library has a TTY number and if you’re more forward-looking, chat assistance. Some deaf people use a relay service when calling, so be aware of that. Though, personally, relay SUCKS anytime there is a phone tree, so please have other contact options. Be sure to provide email addresses on your library websites for reference and circulation, or have an online contact form. Some deaf people do call. I do, with great reluctance. So please be patient and ready to repeat and rephrase things.

Library Programs/Services Accessibility

Now that we’ve covered the basics of communications, can you see where some of the problem areas might be for library programs and services? How you accommodate the deaf and hard of hearing can greatly depend on the library’s budget and grant income. Here are your options, from cheapest to more expensive:

Priority seating. Save some seats near the front where us deaf and HOH folks can read the speaker’s lips. Be sure to remind the speaker to always face the audience when talking, otherwise it doesn’t help at all. Make sure we know that those seats exist.

Printed transcript. If at all possible, procure and print some copies of the transcript, speakers’ notes, etc, and have them on hand for when people ask, so they can read and follow along during the program.

Captioning for online video/audio resources. It is possible to do this yourself thanks to YouTube. If you can’t afford the staff time, post the transcript. If you can afford the time, have someone upload the transcript to YouTube’s automatic caption-fier. Then go through and correct the text, since YouTube uses a combination of your transcript and it’s voice recognition to create the caption file, and voice recognition isn’t the best. Another option is to outsource the captioning to a company for video posted elsewhere that does not have caption service. There are many companies, big and small, but here’s a couple of examples to give you an idea: VitacAmeriCaptionCaptionMax.

CART captioningCourt reporters often make a little extra money using their equipment and skill to create real-time captioning. The downside to this is that, as far as I know, it serves only one or two deaf people at a time.

Sign language interpreter. In contrast to CART captioning, sign language interpreters can help a larger group of people. Although if you do have a large group of deaf people, getting an interpreter makes more sense than the other options.

There you go! I hope this helps make reaching out to deaf and hard of hearing people less daunting.

Holly Lipschultz is a graduate student in the San José State University School of Library and Information Science and works at the University of Chicago Library.  She lives in Chicago, Illinois, with her husband and three cats.