Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Week 13: Real Experiences in the Library

Since there weren't any readings or videos this week, I'm going to share a story of what happened a few days ago at work in the library.  I was helping a member, and she made the comment, "I am so impressed with all that this library is doing!  I used to think I didn't need the library because of the internet, but you guys are proving me wrong!"

So basically she's just one of those people you want to hug.

So we start talking, and I'm telling her about the Fab Lab, and how we have sewing machines and sewing classes.  She brings up the fact that she's an interior decorator, and loves pillows, but they're so expensive to buy.  She would love to know how to sew them, because it must not be too hard, and it would be a lot cheaper than buying them.  

As she's saying this, the director of the library came up, and was listening in, so we all got talking, and we got the woman's contact info, and are possibly starting a pillow sewing class.  The woman even came up with a name for it, "Pillow Talk."  Cute, huh?

So it just goes to show that the library really does have a lot to offer, and that listening to the members of the community can bring about some great ideas.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Week 12: Communities

This week I really enjoyed learning about the deficit model.  I think it's something that not only librarians should consider, but all professions would benefit from using an advocacy approach rather than a remediation approach.

When we did our surveys for 605 last week, there was a lot of talk about how many of the people that we interviewed don't use libraries to their full extent.  I think this is largely in part to "satisficing".  Why go all the way to the library when you can find it on the internet, right?

This is where marketing comes into play.  I am a strong believer that libraries need more marketing, and it's something most of them are not very good at.  If we can show the community all of the things the library can do for them, and how they can "maximize effect and minimize cost" through our service, then we are doing are jobs correctly.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Week 10: Library as Platform

Well, hello there!

I really like the idea of this week's topic: the library as a platform.  People can use the library to link to other people and other people's resources, that they can use the library website to link to their own website, or even have a section of the library's website as their own.  The library could have a calendar of events for not only the events hosted by the library, but other local organizations.

I feel like this is the Utopian view of the library.  In reality, are people going to actually do this?

I did a survey last week for another class, and in class we discussed people's views of a library.  I came to the conclusion that there are a lot of people who don't use the library to the full extent.  In fact, most people don't.  People don't realize all that the library can do.  So if some librarians at a local library decided to start making their library a platform, and wanted to link people and organizations to the library, it's going to take more work than just setting up the technical side of it.  They are going to have to go out into the community and get people interested.  They're going to have to talk to businesses and other organizations and share their plan.  Not only that, but they will need to get the community members as well.  The community members will have to realize the benefit of using the library to network and learn things, instead of the ease and convenience of the internet.  It would take a lot of work and a lot of convincing.

I'm not saying it's not possible, and I'm not saying that we shouldn't try, but I'm saying we're going to have to change people's perspectives on the library to make this happen, and it's not an easy task.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Week 7: Why Libraries?

I thoroughly enjoyed watching these videos on the justifications for having libraries in our communities.  These reasons are major factors when considering the future of libraries, and I believe provide a very positive outlook on the future of libraries.

During the last video, Symbol of Community Aspirations, when it was discussed that cities built structures to "show off" and show how important they are, I immediately thought of my home, in Salt Lake City, where a new library was recently built.  Then, the video showed several pictures of libraries built for urban revitalization, and I thought, "Hey, that one looks like Salt Lake City!"  And then Dave actually said, "Salt Lake City," so I got very excited.  But it's definitely true what he said, that this library was built as a statement, to show that Salt Lake City values information and education. 

Not only does it exemplify the concept of a symbol of community aspirations, but it also fits into the vision of new librarianship.  The SLC library houses an art gallery of local artists, librarians wear "No Shh!" buttons, they have a cafe, concerts, public meeting space, and talks by authors.  When this library was built, it wasn't meant to be just a place where people can come check out materials, but to be the new information and gathering spot of the community.  

The library director mentioned how there wasn't a spot in SLC that people could gather, and that was their goal.  She also stated, "It's a mistake not to be responsive to the new generation and how they communicate.  Our idea is that it's not just about books, but all the arts. Our job is to stimulate the mind, ears and eyes."

To me, it's clear that this library has certain aspects of new librarianship under control and have implemented them into this city's library.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Week 6: Librarians

I'm going to be honest here.

Before I came to grad school, when people asked me, "You need a graduate degree to help people find where a book is on a shelf?"  I first got annoyed and mad, because of their ignorance.  But I also didn't have a good answer to give them.

Reading this thread, I finally have some answers (as well as some ideas for the video assignment, lest we forget).

The quote at the beginning of the chapter says:

"We cannot have good libraries until we first have good librarians - properly educated, professionally recognized, and fairly rewarded." - Herbert S. White

In other words, you cannot stick any random person into a library and expect the library to run smoothly.  Librarians need to be educated.  Also, as pointed out in the chapter, people automatically think of the skills we do.  When thinking of librarianship as an accumulation of skills, it doesn't really make sense that they go to graduate school for that.  You can just learn skills on a job, right?  Thinking of it in terms of why we do things changes the big picture.

Also, one of the major focuses of our profession is information organization, and as pointed out in the chapter, there are an infinite number of ways to organize and classify the world.  Learning just one system for organization isn't enough.  We need to understand organization at a deeper level than just cataloging.  This is something that one needs to be educated about.  I can't say it any better than how it was said in the book:  "By having a richer understanding of information seeking as a concept and the underlying cognitive function, and not simply as a set of technologies and technique... you will do your job better."

So, to all of you who asked me why I was spending thousands of dollars to help someone find a book on the shelf, sure anyone can find a book on a shelf.  But I'd like you to tell me all about authority control, metadata record provenance, and development of taxonomies and ontologies.  And on top of that, understand and contextualize the deeper concept of information seeking and organization. 

And that's only a part of the job. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Week 5: Improve Society

I related a lot with this thread, and I think it is all due to my teaching background.  

The first thing that really stuck out to me was the fact that as librarians, we value learning.  My whole life I grew up thinking I was going to be a teacher.  Teachers were my heroes, and I could think of no better profession.  But pretty soon after I had my own classroom, I was unhappy with my career.  I couldn't understand it.  I love learning.  I love school.  (I know, I'm a nerd.  Deal with it.)  So why in the world would I dislike teaching others?

But it wasn't the fact that I disliked teaching.  I love teaching.  I love imparting knowledge to others.  I love the moment when the light bulb clicks, and the concept you were teaching makes sense.  It was the school system that I couldn't handle.  It was the environment I was constantly forced to face that I disliked so much.  So in this program, whenever it is brought up that we facilitate learning, I LOVE it!  I love the fact that I still get to teach, but in a different setting.

I also love the fact that by becoming a librarian, I am becoming a life long learner.  I love going to school, and if it was possible, I'd become a professional student.  But since that's not possible, I guess this is the next best step.

I also completely agree with the fact from the Atlas that says, "the best decisions and the best knowledge come from working in the richest information environment possible."  In my undergrad, we were constantly being taught that we needed "literacy rich" classrooms.  That we needed books of all genres and reading levels, that we needed computer and technology resources, that we needed signs and posters encouraging learning and discovering, and all of these needed to be accessible for the students.  And I think that can be brought right back to the library.

When it comes to improving society, I believe that librarianship and teaching go hand in hand.

And what can I say?  That makes me happy.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Week 4: Communities

(I just realized that my post titles are technically a week behind.  This is our 5th week of class, but our 4th week of blog responses.  So I'm keeping it the way it is.  Just so you know that I'm aware.)

Okay, this week was all about communities and how we can better include our communities in the library and make them a part of our library.  What I thought was interesting was that the focus wasn't on getting the community to come to the library, but the librarian needs to be a vital part of the community.  They need to be in the field, participating in the events that the community believes to be important.  I think this is fantastic advice.  The quote at the beginning of the thread is as follows, "One of the things I learned in library school is that when people have an information need, they'll always ask people they know before they ask a librarian.  The trick is making sure that librarians are some of the people they know." -Jessamyn West.

So by becoming involved in the community, you are essentially doing just that, letting the community get to know you, so you will be the one they come to when they have questions.

Before coming to New York, I had volunteered at a local public library.  As I was reading the thread, I kept thinking of this library, and how this library seemed to have a lot of concepts down when it comes to the community.  This library, I feel, was community centered.  They knew their community and the needs of the community.  There were a lot of stay at home moms who had young children (this was Utah, after all) and one of their main focuses was on story-time.  I was lucky enough to volunteer during their story time hours, and it was hugely successful.  They always had a huge turn-out, and one librarian that I talked to told me that she had many parents come up to her and thank her for the program, saying that they used story time as thir child's preschool. 

I also worked in the back of the library in the area of the story time faculty, and overheard many of their conversations when it came to planning and implementing the program.  They had story times for different age groups, but they were constantly discussing what the different age groups needed, and if it was even needed to have an older aged story time.  They were assessing and evaluating what they were doing so they could fit the community's needs.