MAKE. PLAY. READ. LEARN by TTW Contributor Justin Hoenke


Make. Play. Read. Learn Logo designed by Kyle Gordy
Make. Play. Read. Learn Logo designed by Kyle Gordy

From the moment that I began working in libraries in around 2007, I was not a fan of Summer Reading programs and the themes they were generally packaged around. They were boring, cookie cutter, and out of date. The themes seemed to be 1-2 years behind what was popular at the moment.  As a teen librarian, my job was to take these themes and put some excitement around them. I found it to be a difficult task that took energy away from what I consider to be the most important part of any public library: the community that uses the library services.  Why spend energy on something that doesn’t reflect your community? I’ve been asking myself this question throughout my career. It’s taken awhile, but as time has passed the answer has become clearer and clearer: summer reading programs should not be catch all, cookie cutter programs. They need to be crafted and designed to meet the needs of the community.

My early research into summer programs at libraries turned me onto the Summer Game at the Ann Arbor District Library, a remarkable game where library patrons can earn points, badges, prizes, and more for participating. I loved this approach. However, I knew that at this moment my library and the community did not have the means to achieve something like this.  This is ok!  Instead of saying “oh well, we can’t do this, so let’s just do what we used to do” we said “NOPE! Let’s keep moving ahead!” And ahead is where we went with MAKE. PLAY. READ. LEARN.



The idea is simple: what are the themes we can organize library programming around? What is our community interested in? Using ideas for STEAM and Every Child Ready to Read, we came up with 8 themes to focus our efforts around: Design, Drama, Tinker, Technology, Music, Writing, Science, and Art. We (myself and Children’s Services Coordinator Lee Hope) then assigned our staff to a certain theme and tasked them with coming up with 5 simple programs focused around that theme. 20 staff members contributed and came up with amazing program/lesson plans, supply lists, budgets, and more.  Everyone who created these themed programs in a box got a $150 budget.  These “theme programs in a box” will travel throughout our library branch locations this summer and serve our kids, tweens, and teens with two programs every day (one for kids, one for tweens/teens) over the course of 8 weeks.

There are two big parts I like about MAKE. PLAY. READ. LEARN.  First up is how we had all of our staff involved in the planning. Coming from a strictly youth services background, I always try to remember how important it is to have the youth services voice at the table.  Youth Services traditionally drive library circulation, programming statistics and more. Simply speaking, kids, tweens,  teens and families love libraries. It is easy to say “yes, we will do this and that for the kids”. Those kind of initiatives will work out in the end but I find it far more rewarding and successful at the core if you involve as many of the youth service staff that you employ. Youth Services staff have a treasure trove of ideas in their head. Why not create a program and give that program the structure and support to unleash staff creativity? I’d like to think that MAKE. PLAY. READ. LEARN did that for our amazing Youth Services team at the Chattanooga Public Library.

The other big part I’d like to finish with is the branding. To me, a successful program has to reflect the community it serves. What do Chattanoogans enjoy from the library? They make, they play, they read, and they learn in our libraries.  With that in mind, we are trying to tie it all together into one package that the community can identify with.



The final step in our story is unwritten. Throughout May 2015, we’ll prepare for MAKE. PLAY. READ. LEARN at our library locations.  June and July will be the months where everything happens.  It’s super exciting and a whole lot of scary, but you know what? We’ll make it through and we’ll give some kids, tweens, and teens and amazing summer.

MAKE. PLAY. READ. LEARN images and logo design by Chattanooga Public Library Web Developer/Designer Kyle Gordy.

-Post by Justin Hoenke, Tame the Web Contributor

Library as classroom: What’s the big flippin’ deal? — A TTW Guest Post by Jolene Nechiporenko


In my hyperlinked library class we’ve been learning about the library as classroom and the benefits of the flipped classroom.  The flipped classroom lends itself to the newer concept of teaching and learning, the active, community centered, collaborative, group learning in which both students and instructors can be learners or teachers.

What is a flipped classroom? The flipped or inverted classroom assigns pre-class, often an online video, pod cast, or reading material, homework and then utilizes class time to complete an active discussion or learning exercise.  “Lectures are moved online to be viewed before class, and classroom time is dedicated to learning activities that require students to engage concepts at a higher level in a group setting and with an instructor at hand to answer questions, give feedback, and prompt reexamination of key ideas.” (Baepler, Walker, & Driessen, 2014)

What’s so great about a flipped classroom?  Flipping the classroom offers new opportunities to both students and instructors that the traditional classroom does not.  Among these opportunities is flexibility for both the students and the instructors.  Students can access, ‘at home’ materials online wherever and whenever they want thanks to the incorporated technology. These recordings or materials remain available to students for repeated use.  “It allows a blended, (online and face-to-face) and self-paced instruction more aligned to how this generation of students learn.” (Brunsell & Horejsi, 2013)

Flipping saves time in the long run.  Instructors record their lecture only once until they feel the need to make changes or updates and students can view/listen to the material as many times as they feel necessary.  This process, known as ‘off-loading’ allows for better use of classroom time. Kim Miller explains off-loading as it pertains to information literacy instruction “…it’s hard to jump into more complex application and exploratory activities during a traditional 50 or 60 minute class if students don’t have a basic foundation on which to build advanced skills.  Off-loading the procedural instructions, like how to navigate the library’s website or basic catalog searching, to pre-class activities can free up in-class time for librarians to help students work through more complex activities.” (Miller, 2013)

Off-loading provides for better use of classroom time which can foster active, collaborative learning.  “Engaging students in active learning during class gives them an opportunity to think critically about what they are leaning, something often lacking in traditional library instruction.” (Fawley, 2014)  “The [Horizon] report notes, “Students are increasingly evaluated…on the success of the group dynamic,” as well as the outcome.  This might involve peer evaluation and self-reflection in addition to review of the group’s work. (as quoted in Stephens, 2012)”

“Thanks to social-networking software, information can flow not just from teachers to learners but in multiple directions: among students, from students to classroom teachers, from teacher-librarians to classroom teachers and students.” (Loertscher, 2008). In this ideal environment, instructors can assume the role of student and students have the capability to be the instructor. “When an assignment is given, everyone-teachers, librarians, students, and other specialists- can comment, coach, suggest, recommend, and discover together, and push everyone toward excellence.” (Loertscher, 2008)

Why should libraries be interested in flipped classrooms?  It’s ideal for an instructor to collaborate with a teacher librarian and have their class take place in the learning commons where a world of resources are readily available to the learner.  Flipped classrooms are often found in libraries, especially in the information commons.  In addition, the flipped classroom can be applied to information literacy instruction in which the librarian is the actual instructor.  “Libraries are increasingly called on to pursue innovative educational initiatives in order to remain engaged with a user base that is beginning to expect more personalized, mobile, digital, and responsive information services. (Booth, 2011)

Want more information?  Check out this great info graphic:



Booth, C. (2011). Reflective teaching, Effective learning. American Library Association.

Brunsell, E.,& Horejsi, M. (2013) Flipping you classroom in one “Take”.  Science Teacher, 80(3), 8.

Fawley, N. (2014, September 1). Flipped Classrooms. American Libraries.

Knewton. (2011, August, 29). The flipped classroom. [Infographic] Retrieved from

Loertscher, D. (2008, November 1). Flip this classroom. School Library Journal.

Miller, K. (2013, February 25).  Flipping Out: Preflip planning. Retrieved from ACRLog.

Miller, K. (2013, March 28).  Flipping Out: Reflection upon landing. Retrieved from ACRLog.

Stephens, M. (2012, April 25). Learning everywhere [Web log post]. Library Journal. Retrievedfrom


Jolene Nechiporenko is a senior student in the Master of Library and Information Science online degree program through San Jose State University’s School of Information. She lives with her family in North Dakota and plans to pursue a career in librarianship.



Michigan: Technologies and Trends Workshop


Mark your calendar now for an exciting opportunity to attend a very special event in which you will “explore cutting edge trends” in “evolving libraries.”

Opening keynote speaker, Michael Stephens will speak about how libraries can play a vital role in how “emerging technologies” can change the way we “live and learn.”

Other scheduled presenters include: Kyle Felker and Kristin Meyer from Grand Valley State University, Amy James and Elizabeth Walker from Spring Arbor University, Sonya Schryer Norris, Library of Michigan and Rebecca Renirie from Central Michigan University.


Earlybird Registration Deadline: May 22, 2015

Advance Registration Deadline: June 4, 2015

For more information and registration details, go to:


Justin is Going to New Zealand! LIANZA 2015

topofthelakeCongrats to Justin Hoenke, TTW Contributor, on his invitation to keynote LIANZA 2015! Iam so excited he’ll be talking about  his ideas for humanistic, user-centered  library services with the good folks of NZ.lianza

Justin writes:

I’m happy to announce today that I will be attending the LIANZA 2015 Conference in Wellington, New Zealand this year from November 7-11 2015 to speak about youth services, kids, tweens, teens, and everything awesome that can happen in libraries. I’m honored to be a part of this event. I’ve always enjoyed following the LIANZA conferences on Twitter (#lianza15 this year!) and cannot wait to learn and share with many librarians from New Zealand, Australia, and beyond. They’ve got a great lineup this year (Sarah Houghton, Ned Potter, David Lankes, and more!) and I am also looking forward to hanging out (and in some cases, meeting for the first time!) with some wonderful library colleagues.

I spoke at LIANZA in 2013 and the trip was wonderful on all counts. To put a fine point on it: life-changing. Read more about it here:

and here:

Photo: A moment of reflection for me in Glenorchy,NZ.

New Horizons: Libraries, Space, and People — A TTW Guest Post by Jonathan Pacheco Bell


Our readings for New Horizons, New Models examined what forwarding thinking libraries are currently doing and envisioning as important future concepts. Of course, excessive future orientation can push some upstart librarians into technolust and, as Schmidt points out, make them forget about the people who are central to the library’s mission. To my surprise and satisfaction, space and people are recurring themes in this module’s readings. A focus on space and people dovetails with the theme of my #hyperlib blog. Today’s public library is an important social space. Libraries serve multiple functions in diverse communities. The library is a public service and a public space for all. This is especially important in this era of increasing privatization of public space and library service.

The readings got me thinking about my spatial learning from urban planning school ten years ago. Fields that deal with the built environment — planning, architecture, geography — tend to look at space with a heightened reverence. Space is not a given; space is a gift! Urban theorists like Edward Soja and Michael Dear, who are both cut from the postmodern cloth, consider space a generator of action and activity. (Their spatial lens benefits LIS’s emerging interest in space; library theorists should be reading their work.) It became apparent that spatial tenets from the planning realm could enrich the current conversation about libraries, space, and people.

A brief note on space…

The space we’re talking about is the subject of many dissertations from across the disciplines the world over. However, space limitations (terrible pun!) in this essay restrict my allowance for backgrounding. An extremely concise primer follows.

Throughout most of human history, space was considered no more than an empty container in which things happened. Space was passive, inactive, and inconsequential.  The prevailing concepts of time and history ruled thought. Space was irrelevant.

Changing conceptions of space arguably began in France in the 1960s, an era marked by widespread spatial turbulence (riots, protests, war). One theorist stands out. Michel Foucault is known for his studies of space, knowledge, and power. His work examined how space itself exercised control over bodies. Foucault’s evidence of the power of space famously included idealized prison buildings and militaristic city design. To Foucault, space was an active agent affecting our lived experience.

The rise of postmodernism boosted spatiality. Postmodern philosophy disputed the reliability of order, time, truth, and linear history. Instead postmodernism embraced the messy concepts of multiple “truths”, disorder, and difference. Spatial thinking fit well within postmodern ideals.

Today, space is a cause, not an afterthought. Across the disciplines people are embracing the explanatory power of space. We’re finally seeing this spatial thinking permeate the library realm.

Three spatial tenets for libraries:

Space is ACTIVE — Space itself is vibrant and exciting. A stimulus occurs when space is activated. People talk, conflict brews, ideas flow. Spatial activity leads to creation. People, objects, and ideas circulate within space, creating a self-sustaining environment that re/produces activity. Libraries should capitalize on this by including spaces that encourage vibrancy over staid, Shhhhh’d, study. The entire library mustn’t be converted into a jungle gym, but perhaps one space in it can be! We see this spatial awareness in the rise of library Makerspaces that encourage unlibrary like activities such as cooperative tinkering (see Horizon Report and Maloney). We see this in new YA spaces that encourage flexible, mobile, and customizable seating arrangements to improve user experience (see Bernier et al).

Space is CONGREGATIVE — Space brings people together. Space has the power to gather people both alike and disparate. Public plazas and private living rooms bring us closer. Commonalities are identified in these spaces. Groups form. Partnerships develop. Spatial congregation creates community. While the Social Web brings us together in cyberspace, it lacks what Soja calls the “stimulus of agglomeration” that physical space affords. You cannot disconnect with one click in physical space! Libraries must capitalize on the congregative quality of space. As Casey says, libraries can do this by turning outward and asking people what the community needs. Some communities need more than traditional book lending services. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors recently approved a plan to support President Obama’s controversial “no deportation” policy. County branch libraries will serve as information centers offering immigration program resources. This works because County of L.A. public libraries are trusted spaces that support diverse communities.

Space is PEOPLE CENTERED — Space is “powered up” on its own, but powerful when people enact it. Our use activates the generative power of space. Of course, space must be nimble. We know people can be fickle. People’s needs change and dynamics shift. Space must adapt to these fluctuations. Intelligent spaces evolve without sacrificing their active, congregative qualities. We see this quality in the conception of third s/place, defined as a spatial alternative to one’s home and work site that brings people together. Public libraries function as a third place.  A high performing library third s/place is flexible, malleable, and supportive of people’s unique needs.

Although emerging technologies enhance our connectedness, emerging tech cannot replace the generative power of people coming together in physical space. Let’s keep that ideal in mind as we gaze out over the horizon. Libraries that put space and people first are looking in the right direction.

Jonathan is a Los Angeles Urban Planner and MLIS student at SJSU’s School of Information. Jonathan’s professional interests include library design, libraries as public space, and the role of public libraries in urbanized communities of color. His work has been published in UrbDeZine, Public Libraries, Public Library Quarterly, and SJSU SOI’s Student Research Journal. He earned his M.A. in Urban Planning from UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs in 2005 and studied political science and architecture as an undergraduate. Jonathan will complete the MLIS in 2016.


New #hyperlibMOOC Article: MOOCs: Transforming LIS Professional Development Programs

I am honored to have written this piece for the Queen’s Education Letter with Margaret Jean Campbell. Margaret served as our graduate research assistant throughout the MOOC planning, delivery and assessment phases.

Findings from our research yield a positive view of the cMOOC experience, with many inspired to explore new potentials in the LIS field, especially with new technologies. MOOC participants discovered that they can learn, reflect upon professional practices, discuss and exchange ideas with others in evolving networks and create new networks outside their individual library environments.

New #hyperlibMOOC Article: Emerging Roles – Key Insights from Librarians in a Massive Open Online Course

Stephens, M., & Jones, K. M. L. (2015). Emerging roles: Key insights from librarians in a massive open online course. Journal of Library and Information Services in Distance Learning, 9(1-2), 133–147. doi: 10.1080/1533290X.2014.946353

From the cutting edge of innovations in online education comes the MOOC (Massive Open Online Course), a potentially disruptive and transformational mechanism for large-scale learning. What’s the role of librarians in a MOOC? What can librarians learn from participating in a large-scale professional development opportunity delivered in an open environment to illuminate their own practice? This paper explores the experiences and perceptions of librarians/information professionals participating in an LIS-centered MOOC taught by the authors. We will share insights gained from active participants in the course as they encounter this emerging landscape.


In September 2013, the San Jose State University’s School of Library and Information Science (SJSU SLIS) launched its first massive open online course (MOOC), the Hyperlinked Library MOOC (#hyperlibMOOC). The Hyperlinked Library course centers on key theories and concepts that merge trends in participatory culture with library and information environments. At its core, the Hyperlinked Library encourages transparent, participatory, and user-centered information services that employ emerging technologies to increase open, collaborative information experiences.

#hyperlibMOOC was adapted from an existing online graduate course of the same name created by SJSU SLIS Assistant Professor Michael Stephens, an author of this paper. The course had been previously only offered to SJSU students enrolled in the Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) program. The #hyperlibMOOC was not for credit and was intended to serve as a professional development opportunity for librarians, library staff, and professionals who work in libraries, archives, and other types of information environments.

What’s the big idea?! Incorporating Threshold Concepts Keynote (post by TTW Contributor Troy Swanson)

Amy Hofer, Sylvia Lu, and Lori Townsend’s keynote at the 2015 Information Literacy Summit (Illinois). They discuss their research and thinking about information literacy threshold concepts, which underlie ACRL’s Information Literacy Framework for Higher Education. The IL Summit is a partnership between the Moraine Valley Community College Library and the DePaul University Libraries.

Description: When introduced to threshold concepts, librarians usually ask “How do I use them?” Yet this question hopscotches another: “Do I understand threshold concepts and how they relate to information literacy?” Threshold concepts are themselves a threshold concept. They are transformative, integrative, irreversible, bounded, troublesome, and – importantly – they take time to traverse. With ACRL’s shift toward more conceptual teaching in the new Framework for Information Literacy, our profession needs to take time to deeply understand what this kind of teaching and learning is all about. We’ll talk about the theory of threshold concepts and making incremental moves towards conceptual teaching and assessment, including how to incorporate the work that instruction librarians already do in this arena and why traditional bibliographic instruction still has a place in our teaching repertoire.

What’s the big idea?! Incorporating Threshold Concepts into Your Teaching Practice

Troy A. Swanson is Department Chair and Teaching & Learning Librarian at Moraine Valley Community College. He is the co-editor of the recent book from ACRL, Not Just Where to Click: Teaching Students How to Think About Information. You can follow him on Twitter at @t_swanson.

People, Libraries & Technology – A Weblog by Michael Stephens