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"We must never forget that the human heart is at the center of the technological maze..." -Stephen Barnes
Updated: 1 hour 7 min ago

How soon is now – A TTW guest post by Megan Price

Mon, 2018-02-12 17:56

When you say it’s gonna happen ‘now’ well, when exactly do you mean? See I’ve already waited too long, and all my hope is gone.” -Morrissey

When I began a draft of this blog post, it was going to be about the five trends found in the IFLA Trend Report, which I thought would be interesting to tackle because they are interesting trends.  However, I got side-tracked thinking about the ideas produced from the 2015 article, “What Technology Will Look Like In Five Years,” by Diomedes Kastanis.  I want to add to Kastinas’ thoughts about how the ownership of things will change as we move to more of a shared economy, expanding from our current state of apartment, car, bike sharing, to the sharing of those and other items differently than we do now.  My first thoughts are that yes, sharing will change, but I also believe we will eventually arrive at a place where we don’t need to own many things at all.  To get to this level of minimalism, and to make even greater progress as a people, we must begin to look past the thing, idea, widget, or service being innovated, and look at the larger picture of what it is we are trying to achieve by creating it.  I agree with Kastanis, things will change, but more than just tech itself – the way we process information and consume will change.

When innovation is approached myopically, as the creation of a singular thing, the focus is on the object and not on people.  The effect will be greater and have more impact if the innovation focuses on the feeling that is trying to be achieved through the creation of the object.  If the innovation seeks to answer the question, “What does it mean holistically to have ‘work life balance,’ a ‘fulfilling career,’ a ‘happy home life’ or to ‘live life authentically?’”  then we are meeting a need for those things people have expressed that they want.  A time saving app offers the promise of ease, but offers only convenience; it doesn’t get to the heart of the desire – it’s an immediate and a temporary fix.  To wit, a thermostat isn’t going to make anyone happy as a singular entity, but a Powerwall that simultaneously helps the environment, saves money, improves energy efficiency, and opens up opportunities and space to think about helping other people get along too can fulfill the purpose of providing power, and also touches on a deeper need for authentic living. Once the essence of the underlying goals is defined, building the supports and technology needed to achieve them can happen in a more deliberate way.  Tasks like “improving the human condition” require that we break things down into manageable pieces, but the end must first be clearly defined before we can move toward it.  Having larger, more humanist or altruistic goals in mind during the creation process is what will help us move forward, and move us toward a focus on people.

As an example, we can apply this holistic view to further innovations in the realm of Virtual Reality (VR).  The goal of VR is to have a specific experience when that experience would just not be possible. (Aside:  How will we come to refer to our current reality as opposed to a virtual one?  Analog reality?  Natural reality?  Born reality?)  As Kastanis states, for VR to be effective, our experience with the environment needs to be as unimpeded as possible.   Our movement between the two states (this reality and virtual) will need to be fluid so that reality-natives can adjust to this new way of being, or it will always feel separate.  VR-natives won’t need these supports.  However, at the foundation, it is not solely the VR technology, or having a VR experience for the sake of having an experience that we want (though that might be cool for entertainment purposes), what we want from the experience, again, is something much larger.  Developers must aim for the desired feeling to drive this revolution – the VR we want is holodeck VR.  For example, if I live across the country from my parents, and I want to be with them at the holidays, then what I want is that feeling of connection – the feeling of Thanksgiving Day, the comfort of the couch, the smell of the food, the laughter of children, good conversation – all the things that make home “home.”  Since it’s the feeling we really want, talking on Skype won’t cut it.  Virtual versions can work for some things, like having a virtual Barack Obama show up at your community fundraiser for impeachment funds, but a virtual mom can’t hug you, and virtual food cannot be eaten, not yet anyway.  And it’s not the individual items we’re looking for, so we shouldn’t try to just replicate them in another way.  We want the integrated feeling of home.  We need to believe we are home, and that is a much harder task to accomplish.

Applying this concept to library spaces, we can already see that libraries have changed to accommodate clients’ needs.  What do patrons want?  We have asked our communities, and they have told us.  Libraries have had to adjust their way of thinking to appeal more broadly to the patron, and have done this to varying degrees of success.  As an example, Anythink Libraries have considered what it means to provide a space of community – what community is and what it feels like – a true participatory space.  I am almost positive that they succeeded because they did not think, “Let’s do [insert example of cool service they provide]” but that they examined their ideals, which manifested as core values, and then built something that supported those values.  The feeling was what drove the creation.  Other non-profit organizations, if they stay true to their mission, can change the world in this way, as their entire focus is to provide a service to those who need it, and not for monetary gain.  It’s not enough to build a participatory space for the sake of doing it, we must first know why we are doing it, and what we hope to achieve by doing so.  If we succeed in doing this across all aspects of our community, it’s quite possible that technology could bring us back full circle to what it means to be human.

Hailing from the great state of California, Megan is mid-degree in SJSU’s MLIS. Her program focus has been special librarianship and she hopes to integrate her love of art, technology, and cultural exploration into a future, information-related position. In her spare moments, she loves walking around cities, visiting museums, generally being outdoors, and learning about people and places. She blogs at www.mmeprice.org.







Categories: Library News

The Long Tail – A TTW Guest Post by Cheryl May

Mon, 2018-02-05 20:38

Have you ever considered whether you are a Long Tail consumer?  Are you right now scratching your head and picturing this?

No, not this long tail

Well I will be honest.  Before reading Library 2.0: A guide to participatory library service by Casey and Savastinuk (2007), the picture above is what came to my mind.  Casey and Savastinuk (2007) described how this Long Tail idea could be applied to libraries:

The idea of the Long Tail is based on one primary reality that is true for any physical library building: Shelf space is limited. As a result, we can only keep what is most in demand by our users. By only keeping what is most desired, we are choosing not to house less popular titles that appeal to a broader spectrum of readers. The untapped masses desire more esoteric titles, but, when looked at in whole, the demand for these titles is greater than the demand for hit titles. (Casey and Savastinuk, 2007, p. 16)

Casey and Savastinuk (2007) go on to dedicate a significant portion of Chapter 5: Participatory Services and the Long Tail to services libraries provide attempting to reach this so called Long Tail.  But I felt something was missing around the Long Tail in libraries because an entire chapter only discussing interlibrary loan, and library blogs with comments enabled did not seem to be a new way of thinking in my mind. With multiple references to Chris Anderson’s (2006) The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More I had to know more about the Long Tail.

So what is this Long Tail you speak of?

In short, the Long Tail is a shortened up name for a statistical long tail distribution – for Anderson (2006), the shape that follows the initial high demand of “hit” products and describes the small volume of individual niche items that are sold, but the small demand of those niche items that continues when people are able to obtain the items.  The Long Tail starts to show up in our searching and shopping habits now that we’re online and the options can be limitless when we’re not attached to shelving space.  It looks like this:

Anderson (2006) helped the reader comprehend the Long Tail by providing several examples.  The one that most clearly defined the Long Tail theory to me was that of Rhapsody.  Please keep in mind we are talking about the Internet in the mid-2000’s!  Rhapsody was an online music marketplace (picture iTunes) that provided people with the ability to purchase the “hits” but also had a substantial back catalogue of old hits, B-sides, and non-mainstream music genres.  Anderson’s (2006) research of the data found that while the “hits” provided about 75% of their revenue, 25% was coming from the purchases in the Long Tail.  While Anderson’s (2006) work primarily focused on the online shopping world (he also discusses Amazon, Netflix, and Google frequently), as I discussed above with Casey and Savastinuk’s (2007) Library 2.0 work, this distribution model can be applied to a number of services within the library to benefit both us and the users.

Playing with the Long Tail

We’ve already discussed interlibrary loan and library blogs as a having the ability to engage with the Long Tail, but there are several other opportunities for libraries to explore the Long Tail concept, as more and more of our services are online, do not require much if any valuable shelf space, and most importantly can be found without formal structures that physical book stacks rely on:

“… the Web obviously isn’t predicated on individuals. It’s a web. It’s about the connections. And on the World Wide Web, the connections are hyperlinks. It’s not just documents that get hyperlinked in the new world of the Web. People do. Organizations do. The Web, in the form of a corporate intranet, puts everyone in touch with every piece of information and with everyone else inside the organization and beyond.” (Weinberger, 2001, Hyperlinks section, para. 9)


Several library online systems are including the ability to search beyond what our own library subscribes to.  Exploring digital interlibrary loan document delivery systems (such as RapidILL) can mitigate the impact to users on research down time.  Providing our users with the most complete picture of the information available on any given subject is fundamentally what we’re about.  Access to information for all.  If we don’t have the budget to buy everything, with a reallocation of funds to document delivery, we can still provide it and make it available.

Peer 2 Peer

Academic and public libraries are providing more and more spaces for collaboration and learning.  By providing the “hits” for our users in our instruction and training, but then providing the opportunity for peers to learn from their peers on more niche topics, libraries can engage with the Long Tail.  Logistically, libraries cannot provide every type of instruction our users may need.  The idea of Repair Cafes is an exact example of this type of Peer 2 Peer learning that libraries are facilitating, but leaning on the niche to provide.  Repair Cafes provide users the opportunity to learn how to fix broken items in their home from other library users and community resources (Cantrell, 2017).  By engaging resources outside of the library, libraries can provide services to more users in the Long Tail.

LibGuides and Library “Pedias”

LibGuides are most often used by academic libraries to provide subject matter guidance and they are usually created by the library on the “hit” topics.  But if we want to engage our Long Tail user needs, exploring how less popular topics, but ones that have relevance to a niche group of users performing very specific research on a hard to understand topic, could be really interesting to explore opening up for creation and modification by our community.  This idea comes from the success of Wikipedia and is briefly discussed in Anderson’s (2006) work.  While there are the “hit” Wikipedia pages, there are also niche Wikipedia pages (like the Long Tail’s for example).  The niche ones are just as important for one person needing that information to start some research as the big “hit” ones are for the masses (just for fun, check out the always changing weekly Top 25 Wikipedia pages!).  Libraries exploring creating library-pedias can provide access to information with very little overhead and zero shelf space.

Institutional Repositories

The idea of an institutional repository engaging the Long Tail came to me after I attended a presentation by Dr. Pamela Bleisch this week.  Bleisch (2017) discussed how the low barrier to our student research via our open access digital scholarship DigitalCommons@CalPoly platform is providing people all over the world with research that directly impacts them.  Specifically, Bleisch (2017) referenced a senior project about a bicycle powered maize grinder that has already had 33 downloads and counting since being published on August 10, 2017.  This research is directly helping people in Malawi with food insecurity and is certainly a Long Tail candidate, with access made possible through a system that provides the “hits” and the niche needs.  The activity showing the breadth of scholarship downloaded demonstrates how our library is engaging with the Long Tail:

DigitalCommons@CalPoly Digital Readership Map

Good old Search

One way the California State University Library 23 campus system is serving the Long Tail is through the recent implementation of the ExLibris Primo search function they’ve branded OneSearch.  The OneSearch function searches the collections of all 23 campuses to produce results of all physical resources available to users all over the system (Walker, 2017).  Users can initiate an interlibrary loan request for materials at another campus using CSU+ (Walker, 2017).  This provides access to many more resources than a user may have available to them at their campus.  Library consortias are just one way we can begin expanding into the Long Tail, but another could be through providing users with the WorldCat search.  This search expands their Long Tail beyond their own library and to the entire world of participating libraries.

The future of the Long Tail in libraries

The ideas above are just a start to what libraries can begin exploring to provide more information to their Long Tail users.  As Anderson (2006) proposes

“Every one of us – no matter how mainstream we might think we are – actually goes super-niche in some part of our lives” (p. 184).

Libraries should explore the niches to determine how best to serve all users in non-mainstream ways.

There is a whole world of information out there and libraries exploring the Long Tail opportunities are on the right path for their users.

Cheryl May is the Director of Access, Operations, and Administrative Services at the Robert E. Kennedy Library at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and a graduate student at San Jose State University in the School of Information, where she is currently blogging about the Hyperlinked Library.  She lives in Baywood Park, CA with her husband, son, and numerous pets.  In her free time she reads anything she can get her hands on, hikes around SLO County, and gets crafty.  She is also passionate about health and wellness, and is a certified Les Mills BodyPump and BodyCombat group fitness instructor whom eats a plant-based diet.



Anderson, C. (2006). The long tail: Why the future of business is selling less of more. New York, NY: Hyperion.

Bleisch, P. (2017, September 14). Future of Institutional Repositories: Service, Content, Research Support. [Presentation]. Robert E. Kennedy Library, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, CA

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

Cantrell, M. (2017, September 1). Libraries and the art of everything maintenance: Hosting repair events reduces waste, brings in new patrons. American Libraries48, 12-14. Retrieved from https://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/2017/09/01/libraries-everything-maintenance-repair-cafe/

Walker, D. (2017, June 13). OneSearch: The new CSU library discovery system. [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://libraries.calstate.edu/onesearch-the-new-csu-library-discovery-system/

Weinberger, D. (2001). The hyperlinked organization. The cluetrain manifesto. Retrieved from http://www.cluetrain.com/book/hyperorg.html

Categories: Library News

Creative Confidence Book Review – A TTW guest post by Dana Lema

Mon, 2018-01-29 19:41

When you ask my father to draw a picture of a dog, you get this:

Image Credit: Joseph Lema, Jr.

When you ask me to draw a picture of a dog, you get something like this:

Image Credit: Dana Lema

My dad is an artist and art instructor by profession and a semi-professional guitar player as a hobby. My mother was a practiced pianist and seamstress while working as an attorney. My sister can master any type of dance. I can sing, but play no musical instruments. I cannot sew and my dance moves, while enthusiastic, wouldn’t be considered skillful or graceful.  The joy of being part of a family of very talented and creative people is you get to celebrate their accomplishments. The downside is I’ve spent my entire life comparing myself to them and convincing myself I am not a creative person – that I somehow didn’t inherit those genes or gifts.

In their book Creative Confidence, brothers David M. Kelley and Tom Kelley (2013), reach out to people like me who struggle to recognize and nurture their creativity. The book addresses what they call the “creative myth” – that creativity is an inherited, fixed trait. To boost creative confidence, they re-frame the way we think about creativity – “it is a natural and human ability within all of us.” They also highlight the importance of creativity in all types of personal and professional settings and provide exercises to get those creative juices flowing.

Creative Confidence presents examples of the wonder that occurs at the intersection of creative thinking, empathy for users of products and services, and technical skill. One example was of an individual who implemented an improved MRI machine design. Upon observing, however, that a young child needed to be sedated because they were terrified of the machine, he set about the task of doing another re-design to make it less frightening to children. A serendipitous moment of empathetic understanding resulted in fewer children requiring sedation for a standard MRI. In fact, some children had such a great experience they wanted to go through the machine again.

Photo credit: Anthony Conti
Creative Commons Attribution: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us/legalcode

Throughout the book, the term “delight the customer” or “delight the user” was emphasized in relation to creative, user focused design. This focus on how creativity can have important impact in our world helps readers realize that nurturing and encouraging creativity isn’t a selfish pursuit – it is vital to bringing about positive change.

The ideas and suggestions in this book resonated deeply with me especially after completing the foundational readings for the Hyperlinked Library course taught by Professor Michael Stephens at San Jose State University School of Information. In those readings, the recurring theme I noticed for an evolving library is that of constant, purposeful change (Casey & Savastinuk, 2007). In Creative Confidence, the authors also encourage the practice of allowing staff to champion and roll out creative changes with a less than perfect version with the understanding it can be adjusted and improved as feedback is received. This “Fail Faster, Fail Smarter” practice, as pointed out by Matthews (2012) will be vital if libraries hope to grow, evolve, gain user input and better match their needs. Kelley & Kelley (2013), present the convincing argument that this type of innovation will only take place when individual creativity is nurtured in a supportive environment.

In his blog post entitled, Library as Civic Square – Hyperlinked Libraries (2017), @will1 shared a report from the Aspen Institute written after a 2015 Leadership Roundtable in Library Innovation. In the report, they discussed a library’s potential to “transform communities.” Three action areas were developed by the group with the intent that, “each focus on libraries embracing technology as a means of anticipating and addressing community needs.” (Aspen Institute, 2015).

As we have seen with recent national incidents like Charlottesville and impacts such as hurricanes Harvey and Irma, a communities’ needs are constantly changing and can change in the blink of an eye. Fearless creativity partnered with empathetic connection will be the mechanism through which libraries can anticipate and meet those ever-changing needs with user centered design solutions.

Dana V. Lema is a candidate for graduation in the MLIS program at the School of Information Science at San José State University. She currently works as a student assistant for the San José State University Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library in the Special Collections & Archives Department. and is a volunteer tutor for the Partners in Reading Adult Literacy Program offered by the San José Public Library system. Dana enjoys singing, geocaching, reading, travel and exploring the wonders of the Bay Area with her husband.






Aspen Institute. (2015). Executive Summary. [Web page posting]. Retrieved from http://csreports.aspeninstitute.org/Dialogue-on-Public-Libraries/2015/report/details/0152/Libraries-2015

Casey, M. E., & Savastinuk, L. C. (2007). Library 2.0: A guide to participatory library service. London: Facet Publishing.

Kelley, T. & Kelley, D. (2013). Creative confidence. Unleashing the creative potential within us all. New York: Random House

Mathews, B. (2012, April). Think like a startup. Retrieved from https://vtechworks.lib.vt.edu/bitstream/handle/10919/18649/Think%20like%20a%20STARTUP.pdf?sequence=1

San Jose State University School of Information (2017). Home Page. [Web page]. Retrieved from http://ischool.sjsu.edu/

Tame the Web. (2017). About Michael Stephens. [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://tametheweb.com/about-michael-stephens/

Will. (2017). Library as civic square – hyperlinked libraries. [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://287.hyperlib.sjsu.edu/hyperwill/2017/09/10/library-as-civic-square-hyperlinked-libraries/


Categories: Library News

Resources: Adopt or Adapt for Sirsi Dynix Connections Summit

Wed, 2018-01-17 10:55

Thanks to all the fine folk that attended my keynote this morning at the Sirsi Dynix Connections Summit!

Download the slides here.

Selected Library Journal “Office Hours” columns cited:

Resources to Inspire:

Exploration Items:

Categories: Library News

Yes, and…. – A TTW guest post by Cheryl May

Wed, 2018-01-10 02:51
Devil’s advocates need not apply

As I was listening to the Library as a Classroom (Stephens, 2017) lecture this week, the devil’s advocate component reminded me of a phrase that is more productive.  That phrase is “yes, and…” rather than “no, but…” or “let me play devil’s advocate”.  In conjunction with this flip on devil’s advocate, asking people to bring solutions is an excellent tool and one I’ve been actively trying to train my staff on for a few years now.  When someone comes to me with a complaint or is being a naysayer, I will frequently ask them to remember I am happy to hear their concerns around issues, but don’t bring me a problem without an idea for a solution.  Partially this is because I cannot default to the manager who fixes everything for everyone or I will never get anything done, but this also provides people with the opportunity to think bigger picture and gain some skills in this area.  An area that is key as libraries rapidly innovate and we need library staff to have the skills to be flexible, forward thinking, and innovative.  Depending on the top to provide direction means we’re going to miss things that are really important to our patrons.  Many that the “top” don’t have daily interaction with.  I can’t support the library’s patrons and drive new services if I don’t have staff helping me create programs and services.  Devil’s advocates need not apply as they are not leading the library forward, but instead holding us back.

Don’t reinvent the wheel

So now we’ve thrown out the devil’s advocates.  What now?  Libraries are really trying to think of new services and programs to provide for their patrons, but there are so many amazing examples out there already and it is perfectly okay to copy!  I often feel that libraries are worried about staying relevant and in turn, don’t innovate out of fear that whatever they begin offering will not be relevant or will be replaced by a newer technology days after it’s introduction.  As Greenwalt (2013) says in Embracing the Long Game “Will all of these new ideas succeed? Of course not. It wouldn’t be library science without a little experimentation, and some of those experiments are going to fail. But occasionally, an idea is going to succeed. And when it does, it creates an opportunity to reshape the notion of what our libraries can do.”  And what libraries do well is meet our users where they need us.  As our lecture this week discusses, not offering a new technology learning opportunity because we’re still teaching people how to use basic technology is not an excuse.  We will always be teaching technology basics, and we should continue to do so right alongside newer technology skills.  This is how we evolve in the rapid changing technological world.

Now I know I’m a minority in this course in working in an academic library and many of the readings are public library focused, but I do think there are ways both can use each other’s services and programs effectively to support their user’s unique needs.  One of the 8 Awesome Ways Libraries Are Making Learning Fun caught my eye for my academic library.  The Supper Club at Madison Public Library where parents are able to have dinner with a librarian and learn about kids apps and how to integrate them into learning and activities at home is completely transferable to my academic library (Lloyd Bookey, 2015).  My university’s motto is Learn by Doing, so we’re big on getting our hands dirty, peer to peer learning, and exploring.  The students I interact with are really engaged, they dive right in and provide their input, and in general are outgoing and personable.  I could see my library hosting a supper club where students share with other students the different apps they use for academics, time management, personal finances, etc.  Us librarians don’t necessarily need to be the teachers in this event, but organizing it is something we can definitely get behind. “[Users] want help doing things, rather than finding things” (Kenney, 2015, What Patrons Want section, para 1).  Organizing and holding this type of peer to peer learning opportunity in the library makes complete sense, as we’re the gathering place for students for studying, relaxation, and socializing.  All things really good apps can help improve your experience around!

Finding new methods

I want to turn now to the more traditional academic librarian focuses of pedagogy and curriculum support.  While I appreciated Lippincott’s (2015) ideas around integrating librarians into the pedagogy and curriculum within universities, the challenge many university libraries face is around sufficient librarian staffing.  My library in particular has a librarian to student ratio that so high that it is absolutely impossible for any one college librarian to reach even 1/4 of the students in their college, never mind work with more than a handful of faculty to develop the type of integration into assignments Lippincott (2015) is suggesting.

Yes, and (see what I did there, I bet you thought I was going to play devil’s advocate!) this means we cannot stick to the old model of one college librarian to all of one colleges students and faculty.  Not in person. Similar to how Kenney (2015) suggests we must change the reference model to meet our users wants, we must change our instruction and curriculum integration models to meet our student and faculty wants.  We must leverage and explore technology to spread ourselves wider across the curriculum without sacrificing our expertise and individual support. 

What does this look like?  I’m not sure. But you can be sure when someone proposes the idea to me, my response will be “yes, and…”

Cheryl May

Cheryl May is the Director of Access, Operations, and Administrative Services at the Robert E. Kennedy Library at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and a graduate student at San Jose State University in the School of Information, where she is currently blogging about the Hyperlinked Library.  She lives in Baywood Park, CA with her husband, son, and numerous pets.  In her free time she reads anything she can get her hands on, hikes around SLO County, and gets crafty.  She is also passionate about health and wellness, and is a certified Les Mills BodyPump and BodyCombat group fitness instructor whom eats a plant-based diet.



Greenwalt, T. (2013, February 21). Embracing the long game. Public Libraries Online. Retrieved from http://publiclibrariesonline.org/2013/02/embracing/

Kenney, B. (2015, September 11). Where reference fits in the modern library. Publishers Weekly. Retrieved from https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/libraries/article/68019-for-future-reference.html

Lippincott, J. (2015, February 26). The Future for Teaching and Learning: Librarians’ Deepening Involvement in Pedagogy and Curriculum. American Libraries  46. 34-37. Retrieved from https://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/2015/02/26/the-future-for-teaching-and-learning/

Lloyd Bookeye, J. (2015, June 29). 8 Awesome Ways Libraries Are Making Learning Fun. Huffington Post [blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/jordan-lloyd-bookey/8-awesome-ways-libraries-_b_7157462.html

Stephens, M. (2017). The Hyperlinked library: Library as a classroom. [Panopto lecture]. Retrieved from https://sjsu-ischool.hosted.panopto.com/Panopto/Pages/Viewer.aspx?id=cbe60886-1263-4fc3-bf56-806bfeb44607

Categories: Library News

Infinite Learning: A TTW guest post by Dr. Mary Vasudeva

Sat, 2018-01-06 16:28

Dr. Mary Vasudeva wrote this post in response to readings in her MLIS course INFO 298 The Hyperlinked Library

“Leave the library and go where the people are.” (Stephens, 2017, Built for people).

I happened to be in a situation where I couldn’t listen to the lecture for this course module (on an airplane), so I was going through the slide show. . . which made me think about learning modes in general. And then, I got to slide 5, which states “The heart of libraries is learning and supporting our users’ curiosity through every means possible” (Stephens, 2017, Library as classroom), which made me think about what it means “to learn”.

Learning obviously need not have anything to do with education (and in most people’s lives learning is separate from education, which tends to end quite early in life). Libraries may be a factor in that “learning” mode that need not remind us of or resemble “education”. This perspective from structured institutional education to learning platform is a bit of shift for me because I am so immersed in the structured education model as both a teacher and a perennial student that I forget that learning has a life all of its own. Simon (2007) notes in her Web 2.0 blog that institutional education can, in fact, create zombies—okay, she acknowledges that they aren’t literally the walking dead but that the institutional nature of the system does not promote creativity and engagement but distance, rote learning and codified knowledge. She thinks museums offer an alternative possibility, and it seems clear that libraries do as well.

Later in the course slideshow, Stephens writes, “it [fluid infrastructure of the 21st century] is a platform to share and network imaginations” (slide 29). This is also kind of a radical revisioning of learning: a library is a stable structure/institution, but a platform, well that’s something totally different. Platforms have the potential not just to link and connect and transfer but to transform. In the platform world, learning becomes not just that which we “take in” but that which we create. Platforms are interactive, participatory, multidimensional and fluid. Libraries, unlike schools, have done a much better job of opening their minds to the possibility of creation, participation and interaction.

I teach online and f2f, and the only thing that has changed between these two models is the method of delivery—the learning itself has changed very little (though I loved the idea offered in the MOOC (Maggio, Saltarelli, A., & Stranack, 2016) reading about crowdsourcing curriculum and building resource lists with students—think of all the materials we would have access to if we all pooled our knowledge?!). In the library, in contrast, the changes are not only significantly greater but always in progress. To quote Pam Smith in the Anythink Strategic Plan, “The idea of a library is morphing from a place of books to a place where the community connects with information and creates content”. I’d like to change this quote just a little, and substitute that second place with “platform” where the community connects. Libraries do not need to be a place, they just need to be a platform. A library is a possibility. . .

Later (off the plane), I was reading the article, “The Library as a Gateway to 21st Century Skills”, and thinking again about what it means “to learn”. In this article, the author talks about “learning circles” in libraries. In these classes, adults with low-skills take free training classes in a variety of skill areas from writing to using computers. And the Fountaindale Public Library (2013) recording studio is incredible. These classes sound great, but they also sound limited. Offering basic skills is clearly important and kudos to all the libraries that are picking up the slack from schools, but how can libraries re-envision this process to move beyond place? Could these classes be brought into neighborhoods and communities?

I was doing some research just thinking about different ways of learning and how libraries could reach more people and came across this taking art to the streets article in the NYT (See the Truck Art Project). It made me think of how platforms can be anything, even semi-trucks. In San Francisco, trucks have begun to offer shower facilities to homeless people. Trucks could certainly offer all kinds of variety of services that we expect in an actual library, and they are mobile.

As I was doing this limited research, I began to notice all these interesting programs that libraries were offering to help people learn that were new to me. I decided to begin a list of these and also to be mindful of how wide ranging “learning” can be—we can learn from books and teachers but we can also learn in lots of other ways.

  1. Library walks: patrons meet at the library and the group goes on a walk (these could be combined with a resident expert on plants or bugs or buildings or anything the community was interested in. http://www.programminglibrarian.org/blog/run-it-taking-your-programs-streets-or-trails
  2. Library on a bike in SF that includes bubbles and wifi! http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Spoke-Word-bike-takes-S-F-library-to-the-6404867.php
  3. Story walks with young kids for early literacy https://continuinged.isl.in.gov/spreading-the-word-taking-early-literacy-messages-to-the-streets-1-leu/
  4. Little health libraries where librarians carry their ipad to the streets and provide health information as part of outreach https://library.med.utah.edu/blog/mcmla2013/2013/09/14/taking-it-to-the-streets/
  5. Mesa County Library’s Wild Colorado App (From Stephens, 2017, library as classroom).
  6. Supper Club: people eat dinner at the library while the librarian introduces kid friendly apps (I have to say that this website needs some work—hard to be sure if this program is still going, but even if it isn’t, it seems like a great idea to have dinner at the library and do almost anything fun!) (From Bookey, 2015). Apparently, Philadelphia free library has a big kitchen, so cooking is also possible (Michaels, 2017 Built for people).
  7. Viola’s yoga room
  8. Library as retreat space (Stephens, 2017, Built for people).
  9. Instructions for getting lost (Stephens, 2017 Built for people). Couldn’t people do this in a library just for fun (the library could offer instructions like this that change regularly—this could also be done online and it could be done as an assignment for students to do online).
  1. Social Justice for teens event at the Philadelphia Free library, http://www.slj.com/2016/09/teens-ya/free-library-of-philadelphia-hosts-first-ever-social-justice-symposium-for-teens/ (This library also installed a solitary confinement cell on the premises, http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2017/06/library-services/why-social-justice-in-the-library-outreach-inreach/#_).
  2. Civic Lab at the Skokie Library, https://skokielibrary.info/blog/78/welcome-to-the-civic-lab/
  3. This is a facebook timeline slideshow that highlights a variety of different life-changing library programs that the Aspen Institute has supported with links to a variety of programs and initiatives:  https://www.facebook.com/communicationsandsociety/photos/a.268064171287.153196.28291116287/10154735023391288/?type=3&theater. Really amazing look at all the things libraries can do from developing food desert apps in Indianapolis to increasing broadband access in NC.

One thing that became really clear to me as I’ve done these readings (and reflected back on the others across the semester) is how incredibly diverse a library’s community is. The readings we have done include how to personalize learning in MOOC (Maggio, Saltarelli & Stranack, 2016) and how to help those with “low skills” (Digital promise, 2016). Libraries really have to be the learning platform for everyone. What a complicated and perhaps impossible task. But the evident efforts are really inspiring.

Dr. Mary Vasudeva has her Ph.D. in English and is currently working on her MLIS at San Jose State University. This summer she completed an internship with Wikipedia working on Open Access. She is interested in social justice issues and technology as they relate to infoliteracy. She currently teaches composition and critical thinking at San Ramon College, and contributed the “writing and speaking sections” to a Critical Thinking textbook in its twelfth edition,Asking the Right Questions.








Bookey, J. L. (2015, Jun 29). 8 Awesome ways libraries are making learning fun. Huffpost. Retrieved from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/jordan-lloyd-bookey/8-awesome-ways-libraries-_b_7157462.html.

Digital Promise (2016, Jan 28). The library as a gateway to 21st century skills. Digital Promise. REtreived from http://digitalpromise.org/2016/01/28/chicago-public-library-the-library-as-a-gateway-to-21st-century-skills/.

Maggio, L, Saltarelli, A., & Stranack, K. (2016, March 21). Crowdsourcing the curriculum: A MOOC for personalized, connected learning. Educause. Retrieved from https://er.educause.edu/articles/2016/3/crowdsourcing-the-curriculum-a-mooc-for-personalized-connected-learning.


Fountaindale Public Library (2013, May 6). Studio 300 Picture Tour. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_q-Leo4VtKQ&feature=em-share_video_user.

Simon, N. (2007) Warning: Museum graduate programs spawn legions of zombies! Museum 2.0 Retrieved from http://museumtwo.blogspot.com/2007/04/warning-museum-graduate-programs-spawn.html.

Stephens, M. (2017). Stephens, M. (2017). Library as classroom. Lecture. San Jose State University.

Stephens, M. (2017, Oct. 21). Built for people. Lecture. San Jose State University



Categories: Library News

Fake News and Social Media Analytics by TTW Contributor Troy Swanson

Tue, 2017-12-12 17:15

What do social media analytics tell us about fake news? How can these analytics help libraries and librarians? What is the Social Media Command Center? These are a few questions explored in my interview with Nathan Carpenter who is Director of Convergent Media for the School of Communication at Illinois State University.

This interview is available at: Circulating Ideas episode 123: Nathan Carpenter.

This interview is part of a series I am doing on fake news & information literacy. My previous interviews can be found here:

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.

Categories: Library News

Thanks Northland Library Cooperative!

Fri, 2017-12-01 12:52

Thanks to all who attended the  Northland Library Cooperative meeting in Traverse City yesterday. How wonderful to spend time at my home library and with Michigan library folk.

Download the slides for the keynote Library as a Classroom and afternoon session Formula for Success here.

Selected Library Journal “Office Hours” columns cited:


Image: Traverse Area District Library’s Book Tree

Categories: Library News

Where we live – a series of guest posts by Beth Harper

Thu, 2017-11-09 11:08

As a student in Dr. Michael Stephen’s Hyperlinked Libraries course at San Jose State University, Beth Harper wrote six reflection blog assignment posts over the course of the semester.  Each of those posts has been published on Tame the Web and can each be read here:

Where we live – Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3Part 4Part 5 | Part 6

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Beth Harper is a public services paralibrarian living in historic central Denver and working in the western foothills under the shadow of the Front Range, and an MLIS student at San Jose State University. As Elizabeth Biehl, she writes on SF/F literature and community, art and culture, and occasionally librarianship at www.edgeofcenter.com.


Categories: Library News