Category Archives: TTW Guest Posts

DOK Delft takes user generated content to the next level – A TTW Guest Post by Erik Boekesteijn

DOK, the Library Concept Center in the Netherlands and home of the Shanachies has been working on digital storytelling tools for libraries and museums for a number of years now and have come up with new applications for Multi Touch that allow the users to bring their own content to the library.

There have been a number of articles on the earlier apps DOK has developed such as the Heritage Browser. The Heritage Browser displays archival material from the City Archive in the library’s public space via a Microsoft Surface table. DOK has linked the material of the City Archive to ClienTrix (DOK’s internally developed ILS) and use Open Street Maps to display a map of the city on the table. Users can use their library membershipcard to find photos of their own street from as early as 1910 or they can click on a street or location on the map to find images of a particular area. Navigating via easy-to-use controls, users can work together, tell stories, and share pictures (http://vimeo.com/5643953)

Since June 2009, we have tested this browsing tool at several locations in the library, each time further optimizing and elaborating on the application. Starting this year, the multitouch table has a fixed spot near the entrance of the library, within sight of visitors as they enter. It is almost continuously used, and available images are viewed over 1000 times more often on the table than they have ever been viewed on the website of the City Archive.

The next level

The succes of the Heritage Browser of course inspired the Innovators at DOK to look for new ways to use the possibilities of the multi touch tables and the challenge was to make it possible for users to bring their own photos and stories to the table to share with others. After testing several iterative prototypes and a large scale research among users they have managed to pull it off.

The next gen table allows users to add photos to the table and allows them to tag them or tell whole stories. It will be possible for libraries to work with themes on the table such as for intstance recepies to let people exchange their favorites and give advice on cooking. But of course it can also be a place where people respond and debate on political issues or local themes. Besides these possibilities this app offers  the library a great tool to work together with partners such as the archives, museums, city council or others who benefit from this rich generated content.

The library as a community storyhouse may very well be a futureproof model.(http://vimeo.com/19950127)

For more info please mail:  e.boekesteijn@dok.info

Exploring Transliteracy: A TTW Guest Post by Jessica Thomson

Transliteracy: 21st century literacy

 

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

What is transliteracy?

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

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

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

Transliteracy and the library

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

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

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

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

Solutions:

 

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

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

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

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

Citations:

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

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

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

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

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

For new librarians entering the field of academic librarianship, there is an expectation to continue and evolve the Participatory Service methodology. Luckily, it is not a forced expectation, but rather one of excitement and, dare I say, glee. The ability of academic libraries to effectively reach and engage students in the research process is palpable and librarians are responsible. Librarians entering the profession are happily challenged with continuing this new era of constant change, experimentation, innovation, and evaluation.

This group of new and future librarians is so inspired and focused on this new culture of libraries and librarians. And I must admit, it’s partly selfish. We are desperate for a career, for a purposeful and fulfilling career—one that reaches users in effective ways and offers services and methods of evaluation that will overcome the intimidating nature of the academic library. Some of us may have gotten to this place from experiences with former academic libraries. Some of us may want to overcome and change the current brand of academic libraries—but the reasons why don’t necessary matter at this point. Because now, we are part of a tribe and we do intend to make this profession our own – isn’t that the point of a career? We have made our spaces online and in classrooms and will remain supportive and collaborative through our professional careers. We intend to follow the principles of librarianship combined with innovative thinking and experimentation detailed in the Library 2.0 methodology to encourage better services for users and a more fulfilling work environment for us.

The Dark Side

There is, of course, a dark side. For a recent MSLIS graduate, who is looking for an interesting and purposeful career, and has been introduced to innovative professors, interesting theories, Web 2.0 technologies, and thinking about emerging trends, walking into a library stuck in an environment of presenting information with no viable way to reach or engage users will be an immensely frustrating experience. That combined with the intimidation and nervousness of being the new person makes for a complicated and sticky situation. Other library staff may be hostile or passive aggressive if a new employee intends to change their way of doing things—not to mention the daunting task of getting the library administration on board.

To ensure a positive discussion, I would like to add that in no way is this a demonization or negative perspective attributed to more traditional library services. It is only an adaptation that reflects changing user needs. There is no doubt that there is an immense need for academic libraries to brand themselves as a welcoming online and physical space for students to find resources, get research help, study, collaborate, learn, experiment, innovate, have fun, and enjoy a scholarly community. In the article, “A Manifesto for Our Times,” Cohen (2007) writes, “While our users are steeped in a culture that is collaborative, personalized, and open, our library culture tends to be a closed, one-way street. We expect users to accept the library on our terms—to come to our spaces to receive services, and to deal with websites and catalogs that are essentially brick walls. While some libraries are making strides in moving ahead, many other have yet to make a targeted commitment. We have not, as a profession, demonstrated a resilient response to the Web 2.0 phenomenon” (p. 49).  Therefore, to a certain degree, some academic libraries can seem like a different culture to students invested in the online world; particularly the ones that don’t offer services to match the users’ needs. Cohen (2007) adds, “Ultimately, librarians become champions of adaptability in order to meet users’ evolving needs” (p. 49).

Future Implications

Creating a “culture of constant and purposeful change” (Casey & Savastinuk, 2007, p. 5) will ensure that libraries remain relevant to their communities—whether staff, faculty, users, or administration. This culture encourages creativity, idea creation, supportive peers, and inspiring mentors. However, it does require a certain amount of buy-in and staff commitment.

Participatory Service methodology will move academic libraries toward physical and online spaces that are open, welcoming, friendly, helpful, approachable, collaborative, transparent, resourceful, strong, engaging, and fun.

For many recent grads, they may require a staff culture that promotes constant and purposeful change and a degree of embedded librarianship in both the online and physical space in future jobs. I know I will. We have seen the way that it could be—from working together on class projects, to finishing the end of the semester in one piece, to getting passionate about a research paper topic, to engaging in online spaces such as class sites, blogs, Facebook, and Twitter. This is the culture we are embedded in, enjoy, and want to continue through our professional careers—knowledge sharing, collaborative and engaging projects, mentorship, support, and a unified effort to best serve the user community. I’ve realized that collaborative and supportive peer librarians are a great asset to my professional development and my personal learning network. I don’t want to be stuck behind a desk; I want to participate in the profession.

Finally, I just want to express another desire for this tribe of new and experienced librarians focused on Library 2.0 principles and technologies. We need help! We need mentorship. We need to be taught the ropes so to speak. We are looking to collaborate with more experienced and more knowledgeable libraries in the field. Please don’t be intimidated by our eagerness. We are in this profession for the same reason you are. We want to help make the academic library a place for learning, research, and collaboration—we just want to take it up a notch.

To End…

The tribe and I intend to make this new culture of change, interaction, innovation, services, and technologies the paradigm in academic libraries where students are responsive. Librarianship will remain bright and adaptive with these principles. The users are going to feel and know our eagerness and ability to make the library their space.

There is an article that I keep returning to when I need inspiration after reading about all or any of the problems, concerns, bleak futures, and budget crises facing academic libraries.

“What are libraries? Libraries are not just collections of documents and books, they are conversations, they are convocations of people, ideas, and artifacts in dynamic exchange. Libraries are not merely in communities, they are communities: they preserve and promote community memories; they provide mentors not only for the exploration of stored memory, but also for the creation of new artifacts of memory” (Schultz, 2006).

Schultz goes on to describe Library 1.0, Library 2.0, Library 3.0, and finally, Library 4.0, the neo-library: Experience. “This will be the library for the aesthetic economy, the dream society, which will need libraries as mind gyms; libraries as idea labs; libraries as art salons. But let’s be clear: Library 4.0 will not replace Libraries 1.0 through 3.0; it will absorb them. The library as aesthetic experience will have space for all the library’s incarnations: storage (archives, treasures); data retrieval (networks—reference rooms); and commentary and annotation (salon). Available as physical places in the library ‘storefront,’ they will also be mobile, as AR overlays we can view (via glasses, contacts, projections) anywhere. Both virtual and augmented 3D reality will enable us to manipulate data via immersive, visual, metaphorical, sculptural, holographic information theatres: the research and analytic experience will merge with drawing, dance and drama…I’ll meet you there” (Schultz, 2006).

And I will meet you there as well. Librarians are charged with continuing the culture of “change and purposeful change.” The path has been carved; now, both new and experienced librarians just need to bring it to life in academic libraries.

Terri Rieck is a graduate student at Dominican University’s Graduate School of Library and Information Science, graduating in May 2011. She is also currently interning at Northwestern’s Schaffner Library on the Chicago campus.

Citations:

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

Cohen, L. (2007). A manifesto for our times. American Libraries, 38(7), 47-9. Retrieved from OmniFile Full Text Mega database.

Schultz, Wendy. (2006). Web 2.0: Where will it take libraries? Infinite Futures: To a temporary place in time. NextSpace, The OCLC Newsletter (2). http://www.oclc.org/nextspace/002/6.htm

The Conduit Metaphor – A TTW Guest Post by David Wedaman

Kurt Fischer noted (in passing, at a Mind, Brain, Education Institute) that the Conduit Metaphor of Learning is defunct. This is the idea that education is essentially a kind of pipe whereby knowledge travels from the mouth or mind of a more- to a less-learned person. That the learner is a receptacle to be filled with knowledge. Learning, it ends up, is actually much more complex. And knowledge is apparently not a paper package of data tied with string moving across the meat counter. Which is just as well, because the Conduit Metaphor taken to the extreme leads to students thinking of the “product” of their learning as a purchasable thing, like a refrigerator, and the instructor as a functionary, and they (the students) as having no role in the construction of the refrigerator, whereas in reality they must fabricate their own compressor.

The Conduit Metaphor also governs how IT and library staff interact with our communities. It’s ready to be replaced there, too.

If you scratch the surface of your representative library or IT staff member you’ll find someone who thinks they are providing a passageway for people to get to things, whatever those things might be. Information. Computer Help. Study space. What have you. That the organization is a kind of storeroom of resources or services or skills, and its customers a kind of chaotic mass of generally needy and bemused people operating according to the principles of Brownian motion, needing to be channelled into tidy streams, have their velocity restrained somewhat, and their questions and needs regulated, prior to the provision of service unto them. The channels? Your service desks or call centers or liaison staff or webpages–windows or openings or . . . Conduits.

Relegating your community to people on the other other end of a conduit, and yourselves to the role (undeserved, really) of the Guardian of the Conduit, and your services to those that are simple enough that they can actually be conduited (if you will) is generally dehumanizing. Not only does it not really win you the hearts of your people, it blocks them from you. It re-enforces the black box reputation your library and IT organization should do everything to combat. It makes your work no fun. It closes down your opportunity to hear the needs of your community and to use those needs in a pedagogical way–to teach yourself what services you should actually provide. And it doesn’t allow people to do together what they are designed to do together, which is, in my humble opinion, to learn.

The Conduit Metaphor might be OK in a static world. But the world is not that. If there was ever an age when people were willing to be pigeon-holed, it isn’t now. If there was ever a time you should be feverishly looking for ways to build community with your academic community, to be seen as people engaged in learning, it is now. Now is when your library and IT staff should use every opportunity they can to learn about how to be relevant and meaningful in the digital age. The conduit doesn’t help us do this, and so we must emerge from the conduit.

What does service in the post-conduit age look like? Efficient online help tickets? Artificial intelligence-based answering machines instead of staff? Probably not.

Here’s what I predict: we’ll wade in among the people and become them, engaging in the definition and resolution of problems that are unconduitable, because unique, complex, asymmetrical, or political. Our service provision will be indistinguishable from the normal activities of our community. We will flit happily among those teaching, learning, and doing research.

There won’t be a community over there and a service organization over here and a box office window in between with the sliding door seemingly always either closed or about to close. There will just be a community.

A few thoughts by way of postscript. I suspect some base fear is behind all this desire to protect ourselves from the community. Perhaps it’s the ubiquitous and pernicious slippery-slope fear of being overrun by a horde of ravenous users,checking out all the books! or asking for more help than we can give!, making us work too much! (For my part, I say let your users overrun you. It means you’re meaningful.) The great gift of the bureaucratic mentality is to milk the C0nduit Metaphor of Service Provision almost infinitely to stave off users from disrupting the administrator with their needs. One can even reason oneself right into wishing for what I call the “Administrator’s Dream,” which is–a sad Holy Grail–to find a way to provide a service to no users. The other day I heard it said that library staff love more the book on the shelf than the book in the users’ hand (I really don’t think this is true, but if it were, it would be an example of the Conduit Metaphor taken to a pathological extreme–the Closed Conduit).

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

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

Cross Posted here: http://wedaman.wordpress.com/2010/10/13/the-conduit-metaphor/

School Libraries in Australia – Without Librarians – A TTW Guest Post by Vivienne Taylor

Thought you may be interested in this article in The Age newspaper today - Melbourne’s main newspaper.

http://www.theage.com.au/national/education/library-specialists-being-shelved-20100806-11o9t.html?rand=1281079644026

The Australian government’s response to the Global Financial Crisis included a massive infrastructure rebuilding program for government and non-government schools, with particular emphasis on creating new school halls, community spaces and YES – school libraries! Many of these libraries are about to open or have already opened – my school library is a couple of months away from completion!  Whilst there has been some criticism of budget mismanagement for some of these libraries, the one that I have visited so far was fabulous! The Building the Education Revolution program has had a big impact helping keep down the unmployment rate in Australia to its current 5.1% (Australian Bureau of Statistics – August figures).  Australia is one of the few developed nations that did not go into recession during the GFC.

Whilst the Federal Government has held recently an inquiry into school libraries with interested parties being given the opportunity to make submissions – it was all done with a very short time frame and has now been forgotten in the current election campaign.

I am listening to the sounds of the builders working on our new Library/tech lab as I write this and will be looking forward to mid-October when we hope to “move in”. Every school in my area (and probably around the whole country) is in a similar position.  The libraries, particularly in the non-government school system where schools have a lot more input into design, are being progressively opened – much to the delight of the school communities.

The rebuilding program has also provoked a great discussion about staffing these new facilities.  In the primary school sector where I work many libraries no longer have qualified teacher librarians.  I am a library technician, working with no teacher at all in the library and despite the best efforts of classroom teachers I have seen to my great disappointment  the decline in information literacy skills of students.

Vivienne Taylor

Vivienne Taylor is a library Technician in a small Catholic primary school library in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne.

Butting In: A TTW Guest Post by David Wedaman

I stumbled across an old presentation (December 2009) and I liked it, so I thought I’d share.  It’s called “Butting In” (click here for the PPT).

“Butting in” is the idea that we in the Library and IT world are in what I call the “Cloutterdammerung,” or the Twilight of our Clout. We have a little window of time to use this clout to get ourselves inculcated into the places in our schools where the futures of teaching, learning, and research will be decided (or to help create these places if they do not already exist).

Our advantages: people mostly like us and people are looking for partners. Our disadvantages: people don’t totally understand what we do and don’t see us in the role of leaders of the future of teaching and learning and scholarship. They don’t expect us to show up in the places where this future is forged.  Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition, though, and they show up anyway; so should we.

I propose 10 ways we can get ourselves a seat at the big people table.  These are repeated below.  They read like a Political Organizing 101 sort of brochure, and that’s the point: libraries and IT should focus on (re)becoming part of the learning polis.

1. Get into the places where the future of your institution is being figured out.

Find the conversations or host them.  Talk to influential people.  Sit on Committees.  Convene committees.

2. Be unified.

Don’t let one branch of you undermine another branch of you.  Let the grass-roots knowledge from one root feed the other roots.

3. Invest in R&D.

Use your research expertise to understand where teaching, learning, and research are going.  Contribute from a position of knoweldge. Develop and propose new ways to teach and do research (someone is going to).

4. Paint a vision of your institution’s future.  Put yourself in it.

If you frame the picture, make sure you’re in the frame.  Note: being in the picture of the future probably requires you to look different.

5. Don’t use jargon.

Library and IT gobbledygook ain’t gonna cut it.  Frame your position in terms of learning, teaching, scholarship.  Adopt the institutional perspective.

6. Cause projects to be that are symbolic.

Create new, achievable things that can symbolically represent you and the institution in your future roles.  Projects that help answer the questions about where the school is headed.

7. Develop street cred and presence and allies.

Appear in all aspects of student and faculty and staff life.  Be helpful.  Do things on faith.  Help people do things that they would not otherwise be able to.  Help people who are dispossessed.  The relationships will pay off.

8.  Leverage space.

While people still come to us, let them do things in our space they can’t do elsewhere.  Things that tend to answer questions about how we will teach and learn and do research in the future.

9.  Open your books.

Don’t ask people to do your thinking for you.  But let them into your decision-making process.  Share your strategic desires and challenges.  They have desires and challenges, too.  You will likely discover you share the same desires and challenges.

10.  Learn from politics.

Pay some attention to the things that make political campaigns successful.  This isn’t necessarily bad, or disingenuous, or anti-academic.  It’s about having a clear message, making a value proposition, organizing yourselves to work together, being in the right places.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Using Netflix at an Academic Library – a TTW Guest Post by Rebecca Fitzgerald

Our academic library in New York started a Netflix subscription last Fall. We started out with one account allowing for the maximum number of DVDs, 8 at a time. By the middle of Spring semester, we had two accounts. The New Media professor took over the prior, and we made the new one for all other courses. New Media requires many movies for students to watch. Our library has a very limited budget when it comes to film purchasing, especially popular titles. Netflix has saved us an enormous amount of money (around $3,000) by allowing the physical rentals as well as instant play. The streaming movies have been a great success; instead of students waiting for the one DVD on reserve, they can go to the computer or into the library’s film viewing room, where we have a Roku player set up, and watch the movies on our flat screen TV. The amount we save just having the instant play is significant; it’s almost like having multiple copies of the movie on reserve.

The other departments are taking awhile getting used to the Netflix idea. Most professors seem very happy when they see educational videos available, especially those from PBS. There are hundreds of interesting documentaries available for instant watch, and many more offered in physical form. Even though we have this program, we have still exhausted our DVD budget. For the first time, we are able to purchase high quality educational (Insight Media and Films for the Humanities and Sciences) films that enhance the classroom experience as well. Since we are not paying for any of the popular titles and national released documentaries, we can focus our budget on these more academic materials. I hope many libraries, who are facing hard economic times, consider Netflix as a valuable option. It continues to be cost-effective and easily accessible for the students. It is very rare when you see faculty and students praising a new library program.

UPDATE – Comment from Rebecca: Thank you all for your comments. There have been no legal repurcussions involving our Netflix accounts. The Netflix is addressed to the library and paid with a college credit card. No one from Netflix has questioned this. Our library is not the first to use this program. In an article from Library Trends, Volume 53, Number 3, Ciara Healey, talks of all the benefits a Netflix subscription has to offer an academic library. The article is called “Netflix in an Academic Library: A Personal Case Study,” if any of you are interested in reading it. She does mention the fact that Netflix does not offer institutional subscriptions, so her library resorted to getting their own credit card. I really recommend you read the article. It’s great stuff!

Rebecca Fitzgerald is Acquisitions Librarian/Office Manager at the Scheele Memorial Library Concordia College, New York.

On the Zukunftwerkstatt Kultur und Wissensvermittlung – Future Workshop in Germany

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christoph Deeg

http://www.zukunftswerkstatt.org/

Music Like Water: A TTW Guest Post by Katy Hite

It is not hard to see that technology has been changing the way we access music.  In The Future of Music: Manifesto for the Digital Music Revolution, David Kusek and Gerd Leonard propose a world where music is delivered wirelessly, based on music preferences, for a fee (similar to paying for electricity, gas, or cable television).  With the growing popularity of the iPod, the prevalence of WiFi, and peer to peer MP3 file sharing of music, access to digital and internet technologies is necessary to stay current with popular music culture.  For those communities and individuals with limited to no access to computers, a significant divide is likely; libraries need to explore digital trends in music and allow access to these services in order to curb the digital music divide.

Libraries have historically offered the chance for self-education and attempt to preserve the whole of the human record while also acting as community center, gathering place, education center, and ‘hangout.’  As digital information has become more prevalent and online presence is part of everyday social interaction and communication, libraries are providing patrons with access to Internet and computer technologies to stay “in the loop.”  By providing computers, connectivity, and user instruction, libraries are (almost by default) charged with bridging the digital divide.  Unfortunately, there is a lack of literacy and provision when it comes to digital music because copyright and digital rights management (DRM) restrictions on music recordings have made library services in digital music difficult.

We seem to be moving in the right direction, as illustrated at the 2010 Public Library Association Conference:  some public libraries are exploring DRM-Free downloadable music using the “Freegal” music service, which offers library patrons access to hundreds of thousands of songs in the Sony library.  It is a good sign that Sony is willing to work with libraries to begin providing accessible, downloadable music, and that libraries are in turn consistently looking to improve services.  By promoting Web 2.0 technologies in the library, offering extended music downloading and streaming capabilities and teaching literacies in these areas, libraries will help patrons stay connected when music is truly “like water.”

Note from Michael: Katy wrote a wonderful paper on the book for LIS768. This post is an edited down version. It amazes how the future model Kusek and Leonard presented in their book has become so real.