This is the Chatham-Kent Public Library. This is the story of Dipti Patel and the library as a gateway of resources for newcomers.
Note: This is a draft of a chapter for the upcoming book An Introduction to Today’s Information Services edited by Dr. Sandra Hirsh. Dr. Hirsh, Director of SJSU SLIS, graciously allowed me to publish the draft here for feedback and comment. Special thanks to my research assistant Margaret Jean Campbell for her help editing and formatting the piece.
Download a PDF of the chapter here: Stephens_ServingtheUser_HyperlinkedLibraries
Michael Stephens, Assistant Professor, SJSU SLIS
Emerging mechanisms for global communication and collaboration are changing the world and the way the world works. Businesses no longer demand employees and customers to be in any particular physical location to provide and receive premium services. Organizational charts are becoming flatter and more team-based. Individuals are constantly engaged in conversation and expect to have their information needs satisfied immediately, on any device, and wherever they happen to be. Information is no longer bound to a form or a place. Libraries housing unique and valuable collections, works and artifacts of local significance, and information sources not yet digitized must find ways to reach out to a public that will never have the opportunity to visit their buildings and who may never easily happen upon their websites. Libraries that are already providing online services and digital materials must constantly watch for innovative solutions that could be included in their information center processes, designs, and Web presences.
Historically, libraries have been advocates for the protection and expansion of information access, but now libraries have become one of the only inclusive spaces for the public to experiment with and use technological tools. Librarians must extend their knowledge and training into the hyperlinked online space—sharing, collaborating, and reflecting. Librarians must think and act outside their library, community, and even national boundaries to seek inspiration and support.
In a report by Wells (2014), industry analysts predict that by 2020 more than 50 billion mobile devices will be connected worldwide. In the next few years, the world will be using mobile services and devices we cannot imagine today. The library that builds value and thrives will be fluid enough to anticipate and quickly respond to new technologies and user expectations. The hyperlinked library model is welcoming, open, participatory, and incorporates user input and creativity. The hyperlinked library is human, and its communications and conversations, externally and internally, are in a human voice. It is a playful model emphasizing collections and spaces that evolve via user and staff participation in a transformational anytime, anywhere service dynamic.
This chapter will discuss the hyperlinked library model qualities of transparency, openness, and participation; the current landscape of digital connectivity; influences of mobile technologies on libraries and library services; examples of hyperlinked library technologies—cloud computing, professional development on demand, mobile apps, and processes on the horizon.
The Hyperlinked Library
The author has worked for several years researching, refining, and teaching a model of library service called “The Hyperlinked Library.”This model is synthesized from data collected on emerging societal trends and burgeoning technologies used in library service as well as the writings of such authors as David Weinberger, Clay Shirky, and Seth Godin. Glenn (2003) calls the methodology used to build the evolving model “futures research,”which is a blend of horizon scanning, trend research, and scenario planning. In an article for Serials Review (Stephens and Collins, 2007), I defined the hyperlinked library model as “an open, participatory institution that welcomes user input and creativity. It is built on human connections and conversations. The organizational chart is flatter and team-based. The collections grow and thrive via user involvement. Librarians are tapped in to user spaces and places online to interact, have presence, and point the way” (p. 255). In my numerous scholarly and professional presentations, I discuss the model as well as the foundational research.
Hyperlinked library services are born from the constant, positive, and purposeful adaptation to change that is based on thoughtful planning and grounded in the mission of libraries. Librarians embracing the hyperlinked model practice careful trend spotting and apply the tenets of librarianship along with an informed understanding of emerging technologies’societal and cultural impact. Librarians communicate with patrons and potential users via open and transparent conversations using a wide variety of technologies across many platforms.
The hyperlinked library model flourishes in both physical and virtual spaces by offering collections, activities, trainings, and events that actively transform spectators into participants. In participatory cultures, everyone is in the business of advancing knowledge and increasing skill levels. The community is integrated into the structure of change and improvement.
The hyperlinked library is transparent when it talks and listens, practices inclusion, and keeps no secrets. The library activates processes to gather as much input from the entire community as possible, which heightens in patrons the expectation that communications with the library will be open and equitable. The hyperlinked library encourages all types of conversation and feedback about the organization. It is a move toward greater transparency when users are invited to share their opinions about how a library is performing, and when the library listens and responds. Library management shows evidence of active listening and responding to users and staff by implementing requested changes and launching new services, using careful testing as part of the plan for solid, incremental growth.
Because of the easy and ubiquitous communications possible with mobile devices, these technologies make transparency more attainable than ever. Libraries can share information about current plans and solicit feedback on social networks, which utilize the more naturally transparent and trusted conversation channels developed among peers and families. Published updates, calls for community input, and beta tests of new services delivered to the devices in users’ hands enable the hyperlinking of all stakeholders anytime and anywhere.
Continuous Computing and Participation
The current landscape is one of continuous computing and of always being in conversation. Information has an active social life; creating and sharing ideas plays out across networks and social sites. World populations are moving toward this ubiquitous digital connectivity with anytime, everywhere access, mainly via mobile devices, such as tablets or phones. Organizations no longer have a monopoly on packaging information, and information control is decentralized and distributed. Anyone can curate information and publish collections from anywhere, deliver content anytime, and share on a wide selection of devices in many different formats and in multiple languages. User preferences for particular technologies are unpredictable; the heavily promoted complex nano-computers, head-mounted displays, and other experimental devices may never make it to mainstream adoption, but handheld devices of all kinds have become the norm for connectivity. ITU, the UN agency that collects telecommunications data from 200 economies, estimates the number of mobile-cellular subscriptions at seven billion (ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau, 2014). According to CTIA Wireless Association CEO Baker (2014), an average of 3.6 million text messages and almost 183,000 video and photo messages were sent every minute in 2013, which is an increase of 120 percent over the previous year.
In addition to the increases in personal messaging on handheld devices worldwide, groups, institutions, and businesses are increasingly publishing and distributing communications via mobile apps. Information professionals who establish free, open, and well-publicized communication channels on mobile platforms and who build these channels for user interactivity, will be rewarded with a growing, engaged community base. With patrons and potential users thinking and interacting on the move, librarians must constantly study how library services are discovered, accessed, and used. Communications have evolved from simple two-way interchanges into interconnected, multi-layered flows. Adopting a hyperlinked library model and collaboratively designing spaces for these new information sharing practices, calls for a flattening of organizational structure. Adopting the hyperlinked library model means inviting library patrons to partner with library professionals to revisit mission and values statements, set revised goals and objectives, and discuss the big ideas behind library services and librarianship.
Throughout Too Big to Know, David Weinberger argues that the smartest person in the room isn’t the biggest brain or the whole group of people in room, but the room itself. A poorly constructed room can result in echo chambers and groupthink, while a well-constructed room can enable constructive conversations and continuous knowledge discovery. In chapter 9, Weinberger (2012) suggests five foundational concepts to “help make the networking of knowledge the blessing it should be:”
Open up access
Provide the hooks for intelligence (metadata)
Leave no institutional knowledge behind
Teach everyone (p. 183).
These tenets should guide the building of new outreach services with mobile technologies as well as participatory online spaces created by information professionals for their constituents.
Influence of Mobile Technologies
A few years ago, I did a presentation for a library group in South Carolina. The night before the talk, the hotel bartender chatted with me about his mobile device. He said, “I have everything I need here: I have my web, I have my email, I have my text, I have my video, and I have my music: I have the world of information in my hand.”His remark resonated with me, and I have told the story in many presentations and articles ever since, because it’s indicative of the way that people think about their devices. Pew Research Internet Project (2014), in a survey with 2008 adults, found that 29 percent could not imagine living without their cell phones; 44 percent sleep with their phones; and 67 percent regularly check for notifications without being alerted. The main findings by Duggan and Smith in “Cell Internet Use 2013” provide further evidence that mobile devices are ingrained in our lives. Maeve Duggan and Aaron Smith, senior researchers at Pew Research Internet Project, reported that younger adults, non-whites, less-educated, and less affluent Americans, use cell phones as the primary device for accessing online content much more often than older, white, college educated, or the more affluent—a development that has particular relevance to organizations seeking to reach these groups.
A joint study by AOL Inc. and advertising firm BBDO (AOL, 2012) reported that 68 percent of individual mobile phone use happens within the home and also found seven primary motivations. The descriptors include self-expression, discovery, preparation (planning a trip, etc.), and accomplishment of a task (mobile banking, etc.). The highest use, however, at 46 percent, is what the researchers call “me time,”or accessing relaxing or entertaining content that will help to pass the time. The study, aimed at marketers, should also inspire librarians and information professionals to offer virtual experiences in which users can indulge and enjoy themselves.
The NMC Horizon Report 2012 explored mobile access to learning, and authors Johnson, Adams, and Cummins noted that mobile apps make it possible for people to work, learn, study, and play whenever and wherever they want to. When services and opportunities for learning are not available on the go, the term place-based is used to describe the limitations that confront both students and library users. For example, administrators might ask: “How many of your processes require people to visit your location?”How many could be accomplished via the web or mobile technology?” Delivering learning opportunities and access to collections and services on mobile devices seamlessly and without barriers is a positive response to this trend.
The Hyperlinked Library Gone Mobile
When exploring the hyperlinked library model, the current state of continuous participatory computing, and the affordances of mobile technologies, we must turn our attention to what libraries and information centers could develop as strategies for mobile access and participation. What avenues should be explored in relation to hyperlinked mobile services? How can we find a place inside these emerging environments?
A few years ago, I exchanged emails with a university library that has a unique artifact from a songwriter in its special collection. I discovered only one page of lyrics is digitized and showcased on the library web site. The rest is only available if I travel to this distant institution. The school cited concerns about preservation and copyright as reasons why I could not access these documents digitally. Counter that unfortunate barrier to access with the impressive collection-focused apps from the British Library and the work done at New York Public Library highlighting various parts of the collection via iPad apps. The hyperlinked library offers collections and access anywhere—especially a library’s most unique and interesting offerings. Mobile apps expand the process of discovery into virtual worlds, and library collections need to be where the users are exploring.
As users spend more computing time on mobile devices and become increasingly familiar with saving and sharing content on cloud-based services, the emerging participatory culture will need the traditional foundations of literacy—research skills and critical analysis—along with skills in networking, problem-solving, and exploratory play. Librarians and information professionals can expand their practice by becoming knowledgeable guides in these new cloud landscapes. They can teach others to build and maintain personal learning networks (PLN) and exploration spaces (Stephens, 2012). They can harness the power of the data stored in the cloud to answer questions, share information, and collaborate with users. Huge amounts of data—images, status updates, reviews, and more—become a set of resources at our fingertips. The groups and collections thriving at the image and resource sharing communities Flickr, DeviantART, Instagram, and Pinterest are examples of environments that hold opportunities for cloud content curation and management.
Professional Development On Demand
With the continuing evolution of cloud resources and mobile technologies, many libraries and information centers must provide opportunities for staff training before expanding services and initiating programs with the public. The 23 Mobile Things program, spun off from the incredibly popular Learning 2.0 programs that originated in libraries in 2006, cultivates an enthusiasm for experimenting with emerging and unfamiliar technologies by providing a simple, adaptable framework of exploration, one app at a time. The program’s clear focus on immersion into mobile technologies allows 23 Mobile Things participants to use the learning and practice for all aspects of library service. 23 Mobile Things program adaptations by the international library community can introduce administration and staff to variations in practices and technologies that will spark more experimentation. This participatory platform also brings professionals together from all over the world to explore and discuss the future of mobile and the technologies that will expand and enrich communications.
I have researched the efficacy and success rates of Learning 2.0 and Mobile 23 Things programs, concluding that those staff who participate experience more comfort and confidence with emerging technologies. For more, please see my cumulative analysis of programs from 2009 and 2012 in Reference & User Services Quarterly (Stephens, 2013) and forthcoming Mobile 23 Things study.
On The Horizon
Hyperlinked and Hyper-Local
An increasing number of the new social sharing apps on mobile devices incorporate geo-location in surprising and innovative ways. The interfaces can be messy, weird, and kind of silly, but mapping content to location offers a promise of discovering hidden relationships within content that can be used to spot trends and expand library services. With the most rudimentary location-based apps, I can easily find specialty menu restaurants within a mile of a conference hotel via localized search. I can tap into the wisdom of nearby hikers while exploring a national park via app services like “Find Twitter users near me.” However, deciding how much information to share about personal location and situation on open platforms is an important privacy consideration. We need to develop more understanding about how much is too much and how little is too little.
The NMC Horizon Report: 2014 Higher Education Edition placed the time-to-adoption for applying gaming dynamics to learning and research environments at two to three years. Game-play has become a portable activity, which utilizes the combination of particular elements, mechanics, and frameworks to increase productivity, creativity, and problem solving. Libraries can take advantage of gameplay’s ability to increase engagement by creating online environments with level-up properties that reward users. Library users can interact in experimental gamified spaces or become involved with larger regional, national, or even international gaming groups in library-designed environments. Information professionals can participate as on-demand expert scouts and guides. In a discussion of gamifying library experiences in ACRL TechConnect, Kim (2012) reported that applying game dynamics has the potential to raise levels of engagement with library services, especially when the objectives of games are not particular outcomes, but fun and enjoyable experiences.
Second Screen Sharing
Social sharing apps related to television, movies and other popular cultural interests have led to the use of mobile devices while consuming entertainment. Second screen sharingdescribes a participatory process in which users might tweet, post to social sites, or interact while watching broadcast programs and events. This process might also involve active searching for information related to the content of the show, movie, or event. Sharing entertainment experiences becomes easy and fun with apps such as Get Glue,and participation will only become more immersive with new apps that are certainly in development. Closely related to the entertainment sharing apps are social sites devoted to readers in conversation about books and other textual material. Social reading and second screen computing are trends that will only increase over time.
Geo-Social Curation and Stewardship
Within immersive, participatory environments, who is better equipped to curate and manage content associated with geographic locations than the information professional or librarian? And who is better prepared to organize historical information linked to specific geographic locations than local history librarians? Who might best oversee a hyperlinked tour of data-rich points of interest around town, a campus, or corporate headquarters? Information professionals and librarians aware of mobile app development requirements and versed in information architecture concepts fit the bill nicely. Partnering with museum and historical society staff would bring even more depth and range to app contents and user experiences.
Embedded Local Experts
Is it too far out to imagine a time when we might be able to link up with a local expert via a geo-social Twitter-like app, such as Localmind, and ask research questions in addition to making requests for simple recommendations? What if, for example, while using the National Park Service Independence Mobile App (http://www.nps.gov/inde/planyourvisit/app.htm) to explore points of interest near the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, PA, we could directly link to Revolutionary War experts chatting live during scheduled times and ask them questions? What if we could stand in Independence Hall and listen to live debates about pressing constitutional issues and participate in the dialogue?
Learning via mobile devices happens in an entirely new landscape, infinite in every direction. Access to information through mobile devices has unbundled learning from the traditional forms imposed by time and space. It has made anytime, anywhere collaboration and feedback possible. It has fostered impromptu conversations without concerns for language and cultural differences. Knowledge networks form and expand that can directly connect all levels of participants, from beginning learners to experts. These virtual exchange spaces can offer endless opportunities for future-thinking librarians, who develop skills as online learning experience curators and engagement developers.
Libraries continue to evolve and adapt as socio-technological changes occur. Exploring the hyperlinked library model as a mobile platform for discovery, interaction, and participation is just one facet of the rich and varied possibilities for our future. Delivering easy-to-use, unique, and just-in-time services to the palm of a user’s hand, however, may be one of the most important goals we take on as information professionals.
- What are the challenges to experimentation and adoption of mobile technologies?
- What collections and services should be available to users anywhere?
- How must libraries adapt to the concept of learning everywhere?
- How do we decide which mobile technologies to adopt?
- What apps do you use? What apps should libraries make available?
- How do we plan when we don’t know what is going to happen?
- Can libraries play a role in “second screen” participation?
AOL. (2012, October 3). Joint study from AOL and BBDO turns traditional view of mobile space on its head. AOL Press Release. Retrieved from http://corp.aol.com/2012/10/03/joint-study-from-aol-and-bbdo-turns-traditional-view-of-mobile-s/
Glenn, J. C. (2003). Introduction to the futures research methods series. In J. C. Glenn & T. J. Gordon (Eds.), Futures research methodology, V2.0 (pp. 1-61). AC/UNU Millennium Project, American Council for the United Nations University. Available from The Millennium Project website:
ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau. (2014). The world in 2014: ICT facts and figures. Report of the ICT Data and Statistics Division. Retrieved from http://www.itu.int/en/ITU-D/Statistics/Documents/facts/ICTFactsFigures2014-e.pdf
Johnson, L., Adams, S., & Cummins, M. (2012). The NMC Horizon report: 2012 higher education edition. Austin, TX: The New Media Consortium.
Johnson, L., Adams Becker, S., Estrada, V., & Freeman, A. (2014). NMC Horizon report: 2014 higher education edition. Austin, TX: The New Media Consortium.
Kim, B. (2012). Harnessing the power of game dynamics. College & Research Libraries News, 73(8), 465-469.
Stephens, M. (2012). Learning everywhere. ACCESS, 26(4), 4-6. Retrieved from http://www.asla.org.au/publications/access/access-commentaries/learning-everywhere.aspx
Stephens, M. (2013). Exemplary practice for learning 2.0. Reference & User Services Quarterly, 53(2), 129-139.
Stephens, M. & Collins, M. (2007). Web 2.0, library 2.0, and the hyperlinked library. Serials Review, 33(4), 253-256.
Weinberger, D. (2012). Too big to know: Rethinking knowledge now that the facts aren’t the facts, experts are everywhere, and the smartest person in the room is the room. New York, NY: Basic Books.
Wells, M. [CTIATheWirelessAssoc], (2014, May 5). A growing world of connected devices [Video file]. May WOW Insider Interview. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HxK46CFsJeM&list=PLE53CB584A01349B5
Expert Series – Mobile and Web Technologies
Date(s) – 07/21/2014
9:00 am – 12:00 pm
Mobile and Web technologies are creating a world of everywhere and anytime learning opportunities, and libraries can play a key role in this future. Imagine the emerging hyperlinked library as an active creation space, magnetic community space, new tools and resources space— a practical anything space. Imagine this library available everywhere and at anytime via mobile devices and tablets. How will services change? What training, skills, and support will staff require? What does this future look like going forward as we encourage “edgeless” learning as a means for transformative change for ourselves and for our users?
Michael Stephens, Assistant Professor in the School of Library and Information Science at San Jose State University, will explore the culture of “Learning Always” and the emerging models of connected, open, and free instructional environments that offer great potential for staff and the public. Can we support students of all kinds in Massive Open Online Courses? Can we create spaces in our institutions for discovery, play and knowledge creation? What’s the potential for professional development and lifelong learning when courses can be designed to present the latest from the best of the best in every discipline and offer experiences and exploration anywhere and anytime? This session will explore the creative ideas and thinking behind the momentum toward learning everywhere, and how our libraries can be at the forefront for supporting and taking advantage of this new learning culture.
Biography ~ Michael Stephens
Dr. Michael Stephens is Assistant Professor in the School of Library and Information Science at San Jose State University. He was the 2009 CAVAL Visiting Scholar in Australia, consulted and presented for US Embassies in Germany, Switzerland, and Turkey, and presents to both national and international audiences about emerging technologies, learning, innovation, and libraries. Since 2010, Dr. Stephens has written the monthly column “Office Hours” for Library Journal exploring the issues, ideas, and emerging trends in library and information science education. To review Dr. Stephen’s archive of work, visit his Tame the Web website and blog http://tametheweb.com.
Embassy Suites Hotel – Brandon Meeting Room
The Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) program at the San José State University (SJSU) School of Library and Information Science was recently granted reaccreditation by the American Library Association (ALA). The school’s MLIS program has been continuously accredited by ALA since 1969, and the recent decision by ALA extends the program’s full accreditation another seven years, through 2021.
“We are elated to receive full reaccreditation from ALA,” said Dr. Sandra Hirsh, director of the SJSU information school. “Over the past year, our faculty and staff have worked extremely hard to demonstrate our adherence to ALA standards and represent the excellence of our MLIS program. I am grateful to everyone who played a role in the reaccreditation process.”
Hirsh also noted that the school’s MLIS program was the first exclusively online master’s program to undergo ALA reaccreditation. According to Hirsh, during the reaccreditation process, “we were able to demonstrate our school’s technology-rich, collaborative online learning environment.” Members of ALA’s external review panel explored online courses and interacted virtually with students and faculty, as panelists reviewed the program.
Every seven years, all ALA-accredited library and information science master’s programs must be reaccredited. The reaccreditation process for the MLIS program at the SJSU information school took more than a year, including submission of an extensive written report to ALA in January 2014, a site visit during March 2014 by a six-member external review panel, and a meeting with ALA committee members in June 2014.
The school’s students, alumni, and advisory board members, as well as employers of MLIS program alumni, were instrumental in the reaccreditation process. “Many individuals stepped forward, participating in interviews with the external review panel and providing information we included in our written report,” said Hirsh. “We value their contributions.”
According to the report from the ALA external review panel, the school’s students and alumni “are enthusiastic about both the program’s offerings and their choice of careers. They spoke warmly of the access that they have to the faculty, of their capacity to collaborate with colleagues, and of the support that they receive from the school’s staff.”
In their report, the panel also noted the commitment of the school’s faculty members “to adopting and promoting innovative online teaching and integrating technology into distance education.”
The ALA Committee on Accreditation made the decision to grant reaccreditation for the maximum possible term of seven years to the school’s MLIS program on June 29, 2014. The next comprehensive review of the school’s MLIS program by ALA is scheduled for 2021.
- See more at: http://slisweb.sjsu.edu/about-slis/news/detail/master%E2%80%99s-program-san-jose-state-university-reaccredited-american-library#sthash.B9WjKBmf.dpuf
“…why, in spite of evolving efforts, does racial and ethnic diversity among librarians remain virtually unchanged within academic libraries?”
The chapter, “Unpacking Identity: Racial, Ethnic, and Professional Identity and Academic Librarians of Color,” written by Isabel Gonzalez-Smith, Azusa Tanaka, and Juleah Swanson, can be found in the recently published book The Librarian Stereotype: Deconstructing Presentations and Perceptions of Information Work.
The discussion around ACRL’s new Information Literacy Framework for Higher Education is quickly growing and deepening. As a member of the Task Force that created the Framework, it is heartening to see. (As I have noted in the past, I am a member of this Task Force but I do not speak on behalf of the Task Force here.) One area of discussion that interests me has arisen from librarians interested in critical pedagogy and critical information literacy (the application of critical pedagogy to information literacy instruction). In response to the second draft, a group of librarians has issued a call for a stronger statement within the Framework on civic engagement and social justice.
I have written on critical pedagogy and information literacy several times over the last decade (starting with A Radical Step: Implementing A Critical Information Literacy Model, portal, 4:2, 2004). From my perspective, critical information literacy is a meaningful avenue for understanding information and connecting to the authentic experiences of students. Critical information literacy provides the opportunity to discuss the power structures behind the information ecosystem, the privilege that some voices have over others, and the existing possibilities to diversify participation in the larger scholarly and civic dialogue.
Thus, as I participated in the work of the Task Force, I kept the values championed by critical pedagogy in mind, and I know that many on our Task Force did the same. I believe that these issues came through in the draft document and I’d like to point out how the new Framework connects with critical information literacy in several places:
Information has value: by acknowledging the privilege of some voices over others and by noting some of the pitfalls of the commodification of information;
Authority is Constructed and Contextual: by noting that meaning forms around and through communities;
Research as Inquiry: by noting that inquiry can focus on society and personal needs;
Scholarship is a conversation: by noting that the scholarly record is not made up of uncontested knowledge but that meaning is negotiated and difficult;
Searching as Exploration: by recognizing that understanding search systems is a form of empowerment.
During our process in creating the Framework, the Task Force drafted a potential frame called, “Information as a Human Right.” The heart of this draft frame viewed information and access to information as necessities for freedom of expression, healthy communities, the right to education, and universal human rights. We spent quite a bit of time considering and debating whether this idea would count as a threshold concept for information literacy. Personally, I considered this frame as counter to the view of information as a commodity and as intellectual property which is emphasized in “Information has Value”. However, as we worked on “Information as a Human Right,” it essentially vanished before our eyes.
While the Task Force recognized a degree of overlap within all of the frames, this frame heavily crossed over into the other frames (as named above). The recognition of “Information as a Human Right” echoes many of the philosophies and values expressed by ALA, ACRL, and IFLA. However, I am not convinced that this particular frame is as transformative in the way that the other frames are transformative. In other words, it is not clear that one must cross this threshold in order to grow toward information literacy. Threshold concepts define areas of knowledge required for mastery of a subject. This frame felt more like an application (knowledge practice) within the other frames. This seemed like an approach that one would use through assignments to advance the threshold concepts, “Information Has Value” or “Scholarship is a Conversation.”
Additionally, a frame that emphasized social justice issues would make (or appear to make) a political statement for the sake of being political. When compared to the other six frames, this one stood apart. It felt less like a definition of interaction within the information ecosystem and more akin to a values statement. Considering that its key components were part of the other frames, “Information as a Human Right” didn’t fit the Framework.
As I noted previously on this blog, I believe that this Framework should be a living document and that part of its value is the opportunity to create a research agenda for information literacy. With this in mind, I would like to see librarians within ACRL take up “Information as a Human Right” (or a related concept) and write it as a frame. Perhaps, it exists and a broader conversation would better define it?
I (speaking for me and not the Task Force) would like to see this discussion move forward. How would such a frame be written? What are the knowledge practices and dispositions that would make up such a frame? This would be useful for the discussion and practitioners who could utilize it. The Task Force is recommending that an online sandbox be created to pull together examples of curriculum that use the new Framework. The online sandbox will provide an excellent opportunity for those working with critical pedagogical approaches to share their outcomes, sample assignments, and other materials.
Troy A. Swanson is Department Chair and Teaching & Learning Librarian at Moraine Valley Community College. He is the co-editor of the upcoming book from ACRL, Not Just Where to Click: Teaching Students How to Think About Information. You can follow him on Twitter at @t_swanson.
The Dark Matter of the Internet
According to Michael, history is defined by periods in which we thought we had a pretty good idea of what was going on, punctuated by brief moments when we realised we really didn’t have a clue – we’re going through one of those moments right now, and it’s all wrapped up with the internet and scale. Like dark matter, the internet has a force, a mass, and a capability that is often unseen or undetected. For today’s organisations, success comes down to how well we harness the dark matter of the internet and the collaborative, social, peer-to-peer and read/write opportunities it presents. Join us to hear Michael’s thoughts on how the internet’s dark matter is the future of our libraries and information environments.
At the forefront of digital transformation in the cultural sector, Michael Edson has worked on numerous award-winning projects and has been involved in practically every aspect of technology and New Media for museums. He helped create the Smithsonian’s first blog, Eye Level; the first alternative reality game to take place in a museum, Ghost of a Chance; and he leads the development of the Smithsonian’s first Web and New Media Strategy. Michael serves on the Open Knowledge Foundation’s OpenGLAM advisory board and was a member of the National Endowment for the Arts “Art Works” task force, which mapped the relationship between the arts and the quality of life in American communities. Michael is an O’Reilly Foo Camp veteran and was named a Tech Titan: Person to Watch by Washingtonian magazine.
Photo: Lars Lundqvist, CC-BY
Our college’s design team has been doing a series of videos to highlight their awesome work on our library’s upcoming Graphic Novel Symposium. (I posted on this back in May here.) Our library is fortunate to have such talented individuals who make us look good.
My new May column is available at LJ:
I’d argue that our libraries of all kinds also serve as creative classrooms, supporting learners by employing the building blocks mentioned above. Just explore some of the notable examples of academic, public, and K-12 library spaces shared here in LJ over the past few months. You’ll find community learning spaces that help people achieve, game-focused initiatives that make the library a laboratory for exploration, creation zones with requisite digital and 3-D hardware for building things, and potentially endless opportunities to connect virtually with people worldwide.
This past semester I had the opportunity to take part in Michael Stephens’s Hyperlinked Library course. The course, especially the readings and discussions on reflective practice, teaching, and learning brought together for me the professional and the personal. A little bit about my background: my previous career was in German Studies, but a couple years ago my contract as an Assistant Professor wasn’t renewed. My wonderful, supportive colleagues said again and again that it was due to budget pressures, but deep down and for quite a while I felt I had failed. What the experience offered me, though, was a chance to reflect on where I had been and where I wanted to go.
From Germanist to Librarian
What drew me to LIS is the emphasis on helping others. I realized while reading the Rubin (2010) textbook for one a core MLIS class that the professions—teaching, librarianship, medicine, etc.—are about service. And several of those are the careers that have appealed to me. Yet something that had always bothered me about German Studies was my perception of its relevance. Certainly, some of my former students use their language and cultural competency skills (or become more open-minded and critical) because of what they learned in German classes. However, I still cannot articulate the purpose of the research I was doing (except, formulated a bit cynically, to get tenure). It was enjoyable and interesting to me, and perhaps a handful of other people read it. But that turned out not to be enough for me. In fact, being laid off brought this reality into relief because I could acknowledge my doubts more directly.
It seems much clearer to me that LIS careers have the potential to change people’s lives for the better and perhaps even to transform them. I see this in my work as a volunteer at the public library, teaching mostly older folks computer skills. An hour of caring, engaged conversation and guided play on the computer can change their mood and attitude and help them to begin overcoming their fear of technology. What matters most is that someone cares about their lives, needs, and problems and will take time to listen. They often tell me that the people in their lives won’t or can’t do that—or that they don’t have anyone they can turn to. Working at the public library is the best part of my week because I can often see its positive impact. And people often return repeatedly so that we get to know one another. This is the sort of work I can pour my heart and life into.
Learning across Disciplines
One aspect of changing careers that has caused me to grieve, however, is the notion that I had wasted over 20 years on a field that is no longer a part of my daily life. However, the readings on teaching and learning in the Hyperlinked Library course showed me the many connections between LIS and language teaching and learning. It has taken me time to understand and believe this, but no learning is wasted time or effort. Here are some connections between the two fields that will inform my work in LIS:
- Engaging in the practices of a given field leads to real learning. Contrary to traditional approaches, learning (actually, acquiring) a language is not primarily about memorizing grammatical structures or wrapping one’s mouth around strange sounds. Rather, it’s about communication of ideas and feelings among people, no matter how “imperfect.” Proof of this is that speakers of a language usually don’t correct a learner’s errors unless they interfere with comprehension (Shrum & Glisan, 2010). Learners need to use a language, not just learn to analyze it. The same emphasis on real practices applies to LIS education, as Michael points out (Stephens, 2011). We LIS students need to use the actual tools of the profession and engage in dialogues with practicing professionals, not just learn procedures and facts from a textbook. This is also something to keep in mind whenever we encounter teaching situations in our work as LIS professionals.
- In order for such practice to happen, learning cannot remain within the classroom, nor can communication be restricted to each individual student speaking with the teacher. In language learning, learners need to communicate with a wide variety of people about a range of topics, not just listen to canned dialogues, parrot preset responses back to the teacher, and fill in the blanks of a verb-ending worksheet. Again, Michael addresses this issue (Stephens, 2011) when he talks about LIS students sharing their learning products beyond the classroom on an open platform. It is within a conversation that learning happens.
- Learning is a lifelong endeavor. People frequently ask me how long it takes to become fluent in a second language. (First of all, what does fluent mean?) My stock answer is “forever” because one is always learning language, even a first language. Continuous learning in the LIS field is crucial as well, especially because of the constantly changing nature of what we do. As Grant and Zeichner (2001) argue so eloquently, if we aren’t reflective in our professional practice, we simply follow inherited practices and unquestioned routines, which can have horrible, oppressive consequences, such as fixating on procedures and forgetting our mission serving people’s needs. Reflective practice means being open to learning new ideas that may upset our longstanding way of doing things.
- Mistakes are a good thing. Research in language acquisition shows that errors are a sign of learning. A common example is the over application of the -ed ending to mark the past tense in English. Children go through a stage in which they produce forms like “goed” or “eated.” Why? Because they have correctly understood that “-ed” is the marker for the past tense, so they apply it everywhere despite the fact that they hear adults saying “went” and “ate” instead. This proves that children are applying rules, not just repeating what they hear (Lightbown & Spada, 2006). Frequently, errors are evidence of the learning process. Along the same lines, Michael writes (Stephens, 2010, March 2) that the new gaming generation shows us that learning is fraught with errors. Instead of a negative, errors offer rich opportunities for learning. We can impart this attitude to our library members as well. It’s one of the main things I want the folks at the public library to take away from computer instruction sessions with me. I model for them problem-solving strategies when things go wrong. Equally important is the modeling of affect: “If things go wrong, let’s look around for ways to fix it or find someone who can help.” It’s my way of combating the tendency stare at the monitor, afraid of making a mistake. Being open to risk is a crucial component to learning.
So I’m going to take my own advice. Nothing was lost in my career change, and I didn’t fail. In fact, something was gained. Ending one career has enriched my life and helped me find a field I can devote my efforts and heart to.
I know that many folks come to LIS from previous careers and other fields. I wonder what your experiences have been.
Grant, C. A., & Zeichner, K. M. (2001). On becoming a reflective teacher. In J. H. Strouse (Ed.), Exploring socio-cultural themes in education: Readings in social foundations (pp. 103-115). New York, NY: Pearson. Retrieved from http://www.wou.edu/~girodm/ foundations/Grant_and_Zeichner.pdf
Lightbown, P. M., & Spada, N. (2006). How languages are learned (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Rubin, R. (2010). Foundations of library and information science (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Neal-Schuman Publishers.
Shrum, J. L., & Glisan, E. W. (2010). Teacher’s handbook: Contextualized language instruction (4th ed.). Boston, MA: Heinle.
Stephens, M. (2011). Beyond the walled garden: LIS students in an era of participatory culture.
Student Research Journal, 1(2). Retrieved from http://scholarworks.sjsu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1067&context=slissrj
Stephens, M. (2010, March 2). The hyperlinked school library: Engage, explore, celebrate [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://tametheweb.com/2010/03/02/the-hyperlinked-school-library-engage-explore-celebrate/
Darren Ilett is currently in his third semester in the MLIS program at San José State University. At the moment he is enjoying an internship at the Fine Arts and Design Library at the University of New Mexico where he is helping to create online instructional materials. Upon graduation he hopes to work as a subject librarian in an academic context and with a focus on instruction. In his spare time he likes to play Scrabble, read Patricia Highsmith novels, and watch old German movies.