Friday, March 8, 2013

Networking librarians in the Pacific Northwest

In an effort to help grow community, I created a new Facebook group in hopes that library folks in Washington, Oregon, Western Canada, etc would come together and help create dialogue about how we can continue to grow and support libraries in our region.  Please help this community grow by inviting your co-workers and contributing conversations.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Failing at group collaboration

For the first time since I can't remember when, I've jeopardized a group project. I'm usually the one who's on top of the schedule, slinging out ideas, or trying to find the right words to rally the troops so being on this side of the things really sucks.

Depression is a nasty, insidious thing. It can strike from anywhere - sometimes with good cause and sometimes just because. I think my least favorite part is the "waking up" and realizing just how much you've let slide. I'm willing and able to make amends, but I feel terribly guilty and ashamed for not being on my game.

To my group partner, I'm sorry. To the group I wanted to help with our project, I'm sorry.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Libraries as Maker Spaces

Fayetteville Free Library's MakerBot

In a radical reboot of the image of the library, the Fayetteville Free Library is the first public library to open a maker space in the United States. Since then, other public libraries have created maker space programs in their institutions.

I love the "libraries as maker spaces" trend because I think that they showcase how libraries are able to adapt and change to support the intellectual, functional and collaborative needs of their communities.

Check out these library websites for more information:

Fayetteville Free Library
Westport Public Library

Geeking Out the Library: Social Networking and Teens in the Library

Teens spend more time online than any previous generation. In part, this is due to a dearth of physical places where teens can congregate after the school, but also because the web is a place which is considered “theirs”. Many adults are uncomfortable in or unfamiliar with the social settings which are common in Web 2.0 whereas today’s teens have never known a world without Internet.

This is something that educators and librarians are only beginning to understand. Adoption of Web 2.0 aspects -- such as social networking, blogging and podcasts – into classrooms has been slow. Research into how teens use and rely upon Web 2.0 has only scratched the surface. Librarians and educators need to delve deeper into both how teens use social media and other web outlets to better understand how teens interact with each other and their world, providing learning in a context that is more suited to their preferred environment.

In “More than MySpace: Teens, Librarians and Social Networking” by Robyn M. Lupa, the idea is put forth that librarians, both school and public, must lead the way for educators to take hold of and understand the new mediums through which teens are meeting. Old standards and stereotypes are holding back both the teens seeking to access information and educators attempting to pass on information. Lupa states that “[i]f we want to remain relevant to teens’ needs, it only makes sense that, as organizations, we need to use the same tools that teens do to communicate.”

Scholarly literature describes both positives as well as potential drawbacks to social networking; researchers overwhelmingly support teen social networking as a phenomenon that is here to stay. Adolescents need their own spaces for socialization that are not defined by adults, but these spaces can be difficult for teens to create, define, and explore in a physical world regulated by adults. The online world affords teens a status equal to adults and allows friends to connect even in adult-regulated spaces. 

Social media presents a real opportunity for librarians to engage with teen patrons and help them to define and develop their own social networks, both in and outside of library walls.

Library Building Nostalgia

Library buildings are lovely, and most of us feel a great sense of nostalgia for the experiences we've had there, but we are shifting to a culture that is far less dependent on physical buildings and more reliant on virtual networks. To overlook that the Millennial generation feels none of what we feel for library buildings is to perpetuate the belief that "libraries are irrelevant."
This blog post from Phil Bradley's library weblog makes an elegant argument about why libraries are more than what our publics are currently seeing...


A library is not...

a building. Sure, there are some lovely wonderful buildings which house libraries, and we don't have to go back too far to see when the building that housed a library was essentially a temple of worship to the book. However, while a library needs a building (although I'm not going too far down that route any longer, since a case can easily made that it's no longer true), it can't define the library. Sure, it can help with the concept of a library, and it can assist in the role of the library - they used to be quiet buildings with loud rooms, but now they're more often than not a loud building with quiet rooms, but a building full of books, neatly arranged with helpful people doing things for the members/clients/etc could quite easily be a bookshop.

A library is not a collection of books. It's also not a collection of resources either. We cannot define ourselves by the artifacts that we use. We should - hopefully - have long gone beyond that - into other media to begin with, but then, as society has started to leave physical objects behind with the increased use of music files instead of CDs and films on demand instead of DVDs and knowledge 'in the cloud' instead of on CD-ROM, so has the the library and the librarians. We're not in the book business - we have *never* been in the book business. We're in the knowledge business, helping, assisting and facilitating what our members and our communities want.
Kansas City Public Library
As pictured above, the Kansas City Public Library is an example of a beautiful library facade - it immediately evokes all the nostalgia that Baby Boomers and Generation X feels about their community libraries, but as Mr. Bradley points out - libraries are more than a collection of books. Furthermore, as more electronic resources come online and available through the cloud, the more this facade will begin to appear old-fashioned and antiquated; a symbol of a bygone era. Libraries deserve better.

Mental Snapshot

Snapshot of my internal dialogue: "I wonder whether I could find some reading about social mores in virtual worlds. I don't feel really confident about my searching ability yet so I'll 'ask a librarian' at UW. Wow, there are so many interesting things to read; I'll never be able to learn and comprehend everything I'd like to know. That's a depressing thought. I wonder if people who report high levels of curiosity are more prone to depression? I wonder whether I could find some interesting journal articles about curiosity and depression?..."