Category Archives: TTW Guest Posts

Pinterest and the New Meaning of Curation – A TTW Guest Post by Rick Thomchick

I have read quite a bit lately about the concept of social curation and sites such as Pinterest, a “virtual pinboard” for organizing and sharing images. ”Curation” is very much the nom en vogue these days for a number of disparate activities, and I imagine many librarians roll their eyes when they see this term used to describe RSS news aggregators, search filters and even brand strategy. Nevertheless, the rise of Pinterest has been nothing short of meteoric, and even Syracuse University’s iSchool is getting into the act, so I decided to try out the site and see for myself just how “curative” it really is.The first thing to know about Pinterest is that it is currently by invitation only, at least for now. You can be invited by another user, or submit an invitation request (I submitted a request and was granted an invitation 3-4 days later). Once you’ve signed up and logged in, using the site is relatively straightforward. Simply find an image you like on the Web or your own computer, and “pin” it:

creating a pin

The site asks you to select a category and briefly describe the image you’re pinning. Once you create your pin, the site automatically adds the time, date, and source, and adds the image to your user stream. Other users can then “like”, “re-pin” (repost) or comment on your pin, or follow your posts to view new pins as you make them.

Curating Your Aesthetic Interests

After using the site for a couple of weeks, my impression is that much of the user activity on Pinterest can legitimately be described as digital curation, at least as it is defined by theDigital Curation Centre. At the very least, users are engaging in rudimentary cataloging when they categorize a previously miscellaneous image. Describing to a pin can further enhance image discovery. And comments from other users may also constitute a form of curative content—especially if they provide additional insights about the pin.

But to truly “curate” an image, you’ll want to organize your pin into thematic collections (“boards”). For my first board, I organized a set of images from stories about Pinterest that I’ve read over the last few weeks while learning to use the site. These images (and the articles they are from) wouldn’t all show up in a single search query, and together they form a narrative about Pinterest that goes beyond the content of each individual pin. What’s more, I can allow other users to add new pins to my board, which introduces the possibility of true “social” curation and group storytelling.

Sharing: Caring, or Copyright Infringement?

Pinterest has drawn a lot of criticism about the legal issues around pinning and re-pinning copyrighted images. Some of the most poignant comments have come from Pinterest users like Kirsten Kowalski, a lawyer and professional photographer, who recently deleted all the pins she felt she didn’t have permission to use. The issue for Kowalski and others is that people may be indadvertedly committing copyright infringement and exposing themselves to lawsuits because Pinterest copies full-resolution images to its servers instead of just linking to them or creating thumbnails (which is what Google Images does).

Based on my own experience with the DMCA process, I am dubious as to one’s chances of getting sued out of the blue with no prior warning. But the more larger point raised by Kowalski is still valid: It’s not okay to use someone else’s work without permission. Unauthorized use of photography cuts across the same grain as music and file sharing with Napster and BitTorrent, and I have never heard anyone refer to BitTorrent seeding as “curation.” Respect for authorship, whether it means obtaining permission or attributing sources, must play a central part in this burgeoning culture of curation, lest the term fade into a faddish euphemism for piracy and plagiarism.

I think there is a growing awareness of the responsibilities that come with curation, as evidenced by sites like Curator’s Code, a project put together by Maria Popova (contributor to the Atlantic Monthly and author of the blog, Brain Pickings) as a way to ”honor and standardize the attribution of discovery across the web.” Some librarians I’ve spoken to have expressed a healthy skepticism about whether people will actually use this system, and attribution is certainly no substitute for obtaining permission to use an image. But I hold out the hope that Popova’s ambitious experiment could someday pave the way for a future where chains of attribution are as much a part of the Internet as hyperlinks.

Teach Them How to Fish

I have a feeling that someone is going to call 2012 “The Year of Curation,” if they haven’t already. Heck, by the end of summer, I will probably be thanking the employees at Cold Stone Creamery for “curating” my ice cream cone. And perhaps I will discover upon graduation that, as John Farrier exclaims, digital content curation is a career for librarians.

Sarcasm aside, there is a unique opportunity to seize the moment and “grab the public’s interest” while the coals are still hot. In fact, one could argue that engendering a culture of curation is of critical importance if libraries are going to adapt to the age of participation. As Michael recently pointed out in his Office Hours column, “preserving a community’s digital heritage is the work of both libraries and museums, but involving the community in these efforts is imperative as we move forward.” Initiatives such as theLubuto Library Project are living proof that this approach can be wildly successful, and I hope it’s the kind of thing I get to read more about in years to come, regardless of how we label it.

 

Revisiting Participatory Service in Trying Times – a TTW Guest Post by Michael Casey

Note from Michael : I am honored to have written over two years of The Transparent Library with Michael Casey. I am pleased he took me up on an offer to do a guest post about participatory service for the Salzburg Global Seminar week. I asked him to explore where we’ve come from 2005 and where we are headed. This was the topic of a blog he started in 2005 and a book he co-authored in 2007. But the world has changed a great deal since 2005. Perhaps the biggest change has been that of the economy derailing many initiatives and services in public libraries. In the end, however, I think you will see that Michael still has a lot of optimism regarding the strong future of public libraries, especially those that embrace a participatory service model.

 

Participatory library services have come a long way over the past six years. You don’t have to look far to see libraries participating in social media outlets, interacting with their community through blogs and SMS, and polling their users with online surveying tools. Entire industries have grown up around the idea of the participatory library, just take a look at Springshare.

We see many great examples of public libraries using services like Facebook to reach out to, and engage, their community. The New York Public Library has almost 42,000 Facebook fans, Hennepin almost 6,000. Many other libraries around the world have created a presence on Facebook.

But in those two examples, as in so many other library Facebook pages, you see some interaction between the library and the individual library user, but most of what you see is one-way. Most library Facebook pages are used for announcements and events notification, not true communication.

Yet this is just one example. Take a look at the Blogging Libraries Wiki and click through to a few library blogs. Many of them are no longer active. Others are gone and the URL simply redirects to the library’s homepage. And when was the last time your local library sent you a survey link that asked you for your ideas? For many of you, the answer is either “never” or “not for a few years”.

Over the past six years we’ve seen and heard a lot of push-back regarding the use of new social tools in the library. One quote that comes to mind is from 2007, “Right now people are enamored of blogs and wikis and Facebook and this sort of thing.  But that’s this year’s set of technology.  Five years from now we’ll be talking about a whole different set of things.

Ironically, the world still uses those same tools today. The only difference is that in late 2007 there were 50 million active Facebook users, today there are over 800 million.

So with this huge audience available to us, why haven’t we made greater use of the tools at hand? Why haven’t we moved beyond the idea of just talking to our community to actually engaging them? Or, to quote Tim O’Reilly, “How do we get beyond the idea that participation means “public input” (shaking the vending machine to get more or better services out of it), and over to the idea that it means government building frameworks that enable people to build new services of their own?

The participatory library is open and transparent, and it communicates with its community through many mechanisms. The participatory library engages and queries its entire community and seeks to integrate them into the structure of change. The community should be involved in the brainstorming for new ideas and services, they should play a role in planning for those services, and they should definitely be involved in the evaluation and review process.

These are not new ideas. I put them to paper in my 2007 book. Some critics of that book argued that libraries have been doing these things for ages. I wish I could say I agree.

The economic downturn has created very difficult times for libraries in this country. We’ve seen many public libraries struggling to stay open and remain relevant in their community. Many libraries have had to reduce hours and lay-off staff. Some have reached out to their communities, not only for short-term help in raising badly needed cash, but also for long-term help with planning.

The importance of this participation cannot be overstated, especially in these difficult economic times. Taxpayers are more and more reluctant to part with any percentage of their diminishing paychecks. Getting them to participate, at any level, will go a long way towards gaining their buy-in.

With limited resources, public libraries need to struggle for every dollar, and with limited tax revenue, funding agencies will part reluctantly with every dollar. It’s up to the library to be heard, to get its community of supporters to be heard. When faced with the question of who to cut, those funding agencies must know that a cut to the local public library can not be done quietly Public libraries are a core and critical resource in the community, and public library supporters are vocal and they vote.

Take a look around your library. Is there someone in charge of your social networking presence? Better yet, do you have a group of librarians charged with reaching out on Facebook and Twitter and, soon perhaps , Google+? You take reference questions over the phone and via text, why not through those other social outlets? And how are you involving those Facebook fans in your library’s planning process? Are you asking them to participate?

Your library’s blog may be shuttered for good reason — maybe your Facebook page has far more readers. Or, perhaps your blog went dormant simply because you didn’t assign someone (or some group) with the responsibility to keep it going. Whatever the case, spend a little bit of time reexamining all of the ways you’re reaching out to your community and reallocate resources in order to most efficiently talk to, and talk with, that community.

There are far more tools available to us today than there were in 2005. And our communities have grown over these past six years. Kids and adults of all ages are now far more involved and engaged through social networking outlets. The ideas of participation and transparency are no longer new — many in our community now expect these things as a standard part of organizational operations. By taking advantage of those available tools you may find that renewed efforts by your library are met with much greater success today than ever before.

It’s far from the end for public libraries. It’s easy, in these tough times, to only listen to the naysayers and prognosticators of doom, to only hear those in our community calling for the elimination of libraries. But limited tax revenues, the Internet, and eBooks are not burying the public library. Limited tax revenues will force us to become more efficient, the Internet is part of our future, and eBooks are simply another delivery vehicle. We control this future, and we can make it a successful one by making full use of the tools at hand.

 

This post is a reflection/response to questions posed at the Salzburg Global Seminar program Libraries and Museums in an Era of Participatory Culture, exploring the challenges, solutions and potential for participatory services within libraries and museums.

Special Thanks to the Salzburg Global Seminar  and IMLS for the invitation to participate in this event.

 

Supercharge your CPD: 23 Things for Professional Development – A TTW Guest Post by Maria Giovanna De Simone

What is it?

23 Things for Professional Development, also known as cpd23, is a self-directed, self-paced, inclusive, practical and free online programme open to librarians and information professionals at all stages of their career, in any type of role, any sector, and from any part of the world.  It encourages information professionals to explore and discover social media ‘Things’, including Twitter, RSS feeds and file-sharing, as well as other ‘traditional’ CPD routes, such as gaining qualifications, presenting skills and getting published.  Participants will be asked to assess how each Thing can assist them in their professional development, and then to blog about each Thing and share their thoughts, views and expertise.  The programme is completely informal and no prior knowledge or experience is expected or assumed.

What will I have to do?

Each week, details about one or more of the Things will be posted on the central cpd23 blog (http://cpd23.blogspot.com).  We’ll then invite you to explore the Thing in question – and don’t worry, we’ll provide lots of guidance and support – and then to record your response on your own personal blog.  Please don’t worry if you haven’t already got a blog as we’ll cover that in Thing 1, but feel free to use an existing blog if you’ve got one.  We’ll ask you to register your blog with us as part of Thing 2, just so we know that you’re taking part and can say hello!  And we’ll list all the participants-about 280 so far, from all over the world, and rising all the time-on a Delicious page and in an RSS bundle so you can find other people taking part.  We think each Thing will take about an hour to complete, so there’s no major time commitment involved.  There are also plenty of ‘catch-up’ weeks built in, and you can complete the course at your own pace.

What will I gain from it?

23 Things for Professional Development is a great way to supercharge your CPD, no matter what stage of your career you’re at, what role you have, or how professionally involved you already are.  It aims to assist participants to explore their own professional development and to reflect on it.  We hope that it will enable participants to learn about the different ways to enhance their careers and to equip them with the tools, skills, knowledge and confidence to boost, underline or kickstart their CPD.  We also hope that it’ll be a lot of fun and a brilliant opportunity to meet and get connected to other information professionals, as well as an incentive and an excuse to think about-and talk to others about-your career advancement.

I’ve done a 23 Things programme before.  What’s different about cpd23?

The 23 Things framework is tried, tested and trusted, and there have been lots of other programmes.   If you’ve already done one, that’s great!  We still think there’s a lot to gain from taking part in cpd23, and you’ll have a headstart because you know what to expect.  With cpd23, we’ve used the existing framework, but given it a bit of a twist, and it differs in two ways.  First, unlike other programmes, it’s not just about social media, but includes plenty of offline Things too, and some of the social media Things which we’ve included might be different from those used by other programmes.  Second, it’s got a different focus: it isn’t about whether or how you could integrate each Thing into your working life, but about how you could use it for your professional development.  Cpd23 is a little more personal and more reflective than other programmes.

How do I join in?

23 Things for Professional Development starts officially on 20th June, 2011 and it runs until October.  To join in, just visit the central cpd23 blog and get started!  The list of Things is already available online, as well as plenty of other information.  On 20th June we’ll post some guidance and instructions about how to set up and register your blog.  And if, at any time, you’ve got any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to contact the team either by leaving a comment on our blog, or by tweeting us @cpd23.  Please use the hashtag #cpd23 so we can see how you’re getting on.

Anything else?

One last thing is that while we will offer you as much support and guidance as we can, nothing at all can beat the face-to-face support of your colleagues, so encourage them to take part too. So spread the cpd23 message!

Acknowledgements

Our 23 Things for Professional Development programme was inspired by 23 Things Cambridge, and is based on the original 23 Things programme at the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County in the USA in 2006.

 

Maria Giovanna De Simone, Information Assistant, Careers Service Library, Cambridge, UK,  is one of the  CPD23 organising team members.

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

Part 1:  Defining “Social Reading”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part 3:  Discussing Libraries and Social Reading

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

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

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

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

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

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

Step 3:  Encourage participation from everyone

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

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

Part 5:  Determining the future of social reading

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

References

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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