Venn Librarian

Reflections about the intersection of schools, libraries and technology.

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Personal, not private

Posted by lpearle on 15 August 2017

Many years ago, when schools were just starting to think about email and giving faculty their own addresses, we were reminded that what happens on school “property” (digital or physical) belonged to the school – our searches, our emails, our content were theirs. It might have been personal, but it wasn’t private. Many people in the business world also learned this, particularly those in companies that employed people to read outgoing email to ensure that corporate secrets were safe. Some people made the mistake of forgetting this, much to the internet’s amusement.

So, here we are, years later and some people still think that just because they have an email or password, it’s personal. Not so fast. And just as I’m thinking about this (and the number of people I know who mix and mingle their work email and personal lives, along with the dangers of health tracking devices not being secure) along comes the 4TDL conference with two sessions on personal privacy! Talk about serendipity. The two sessions were led by Wendy Stephens and Jole Seroff.

Both covered similar areas but with a different focus. What follows is less commentary on their sessions (archived here and here) and more a round-up of the tools and tips, along with some other stuff I’ve been finding and saving over the past month or so.

Thoughts: We don’t know how our data is being used, even joining an elist or doing a search can be flagged/tagged/used against us; the big flashpoints are with healthcare (just look up a disease; Google’s flu map tracks where searches are coming from because why look it up if you’re not concerned?) and consumer information (watch ads follow you). Also, think about the ethics of privacy: if we’re all cloaking our data, if that becomes the norm, then those who need it (living in difficult areas, protestors, etc.) will not appear as being different. In other words, it’s a form of social justice!

Ways to protect yourself:

  • Delete your cookies after every browser session
  • Turn off your computer, don’t just log off
  • Use https:// everywhere
  • Consider not using Chrome/Firefox/IE, use Opera or a VPN; use StartPage or DuckDuckGo as search engines
  • Use a password manager and two-factor authentication when possible
  • Check your settings! “do not track” does nothing

Articles and Tools

A great follow-up to the session on Data Privacy of a few years ago. And something to wonder how to approach with our teens and faculty.

Posted in Conferences, Privacy | Leave a Comment »

Thinking About Plagiarism at #ALAAC17

Posted by lpearle on 10 August 2017

Just before creating this blog post, I read A Guide for Resisting Edtech: the Case against Turnitin which poses some interesting moral and ethical questions for us to ponder.

Courtney Lewis presented at ALA’s Annual Conference on international students and plagiarism. It’s something that I’ve been thinking about for a few years, because how we think about as plagiarism – or, as we call it at Milton, academic integrity – is not always how our students, particularly those from other areas of the world, think about it. Thanks to other commitments, this was the only learning session I was able to attend but I’m so glad I did! You can view her slides here.

First thing she mentioned, our concept of plagiarism is actually fuzzy as it doesn’t take info account collaboration, editing, academic co-authorship, programming languages, oral preaching traditions, journalism (especially today, with “sources close to…” rather than named people), political speeches, peer editing in class, authorship in the age of usernames and avatars and mash-ups. In other words, the playing field is constantly evolving.

As we all know, institutions are made up of people. People are messy. And that’s what drives policy. We need to do better.

Think about not only about the above, but also these impediments to students doing completely original work: short assignment times, Pass/Fail classes, poor study habits, the text as authority not us, inadequate practice, lectures are often hypocritical (when does the teacher cite their sources? almost never. plus, see handouts that are missing citation information), English is the language of occupation and colonialism. So there’s that. And let’s not mention the number of library resources that are helpfully highlighted (even lightly in pencil) by previous researchers.

Plus, in most Asian countries, social hierarchy by age is important, so it helps to know who is older and can help younger students understand all kinds of social and academic issues. It’s not just social, but in age is important in other ways: old is revered and seminal while new is less valuable. In former Soviet countries, corruption (and plagiarism could be considered a form of corruption, as is academic theft) is a huge problem and one people learn about early on. Faculty must be taught about social and cultural differences, which lead to an understanding of a way forward.

Here’s an idea, one that would take more time than teachers may want to allot to an assignment but… as students to summarize an article in 1-3 sentences. Then create a paragraph from those sentences. Then a paragraph with quotes. Then share it with classmates and watch them learn from each other what the critical information in the article is. Guaranteed: no two students will have the same quotes or interpretation.

Posted in Ethics, Student stuff | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

The next level up: #ACRLNEC17

Posted by lpearle on 8 August 2017

Working in an independent school, particularly one usually considered an “elite college preparatory” school means extra pressure to be aware of what my students will be expected to do and know in their next educational institution. It makes sense to spend the day at the ACRLNEC conference because many of the colleges and universities represented will be where my students end up next.

Keynote: Bringing Down the Empire: Remaking Our Work, Our Libraries, Our Selves

What is the Empire in our world? The idea that libraries no longer matter. Now, how do we fight it?

  • Remake Our Work
    • as users change, we have to change, adapt and educate
    • is higher education worth it? or is training (internships, apprenticeships, etc.) better? there’s been a huge change since the 50s, with the current expectation being “of course you’ll go to college” – however, more hands-on, critical thinking tools are needed
    • digital literacy is important: faculty are finally embracing this and the role of librarians in teaching these skills. NOTE: First Year students need research skills and are coming with subpar skills and understandings.
    • the University of Oklahoma has a virtual reality lab – think about using VR as a tool for teaching language, archaeology, history, etc.
  • Remake Our Libraries
    • with all these changes, what you’re doing with your buildings: we are not just print warehouses, so we need to become an exciting destination.
    • think about this problem/conundrum and the pace of change because what works today probably won’t work in a few years – flexibility is critical
    • one idea: use BrightSpot to rethink space; another idea: create rooms for students to Skype/FaceTime with family, friends, potential employers (or colleges)
  • Remake Our Selves
    • managing is a team sport – we need to support training and opportunity to use new skills later (in other words, don’t train then stuff the skill in a drawer)
    • the 23Things idea (BYU turned it into a contest!)

So: what is a librarian? And what is our role in the academic institution of the 21st Century?

The next two sessions were interesting, but one was (again, as at NEAISL) on archives/digital initiatives and the other was not relevant, so we’ll skip those.

New Model for Library Orientation

We don’t really have a library orientation, but that’s something I’d like to try to create. My college library orientation was four days of one hour instruction in a lecture hall, followed by at “quiz” that took several hours (albeit made easier by all the others doing the same quiz and marking answers or sharing). Did I learn anything? Not really, but I’d been using that library for a few years thanks to my father’s being on faculty there and because my high school library used Library of Congress and was, like my employer, an elite college preparatory school. But… we have students coming to us from a variety of backgrounds and levels of preparation, and while the school can test for math and language skills they have no test for research or literacy skills for incoming students. An orientation might help them feel comfortable in the space, with us as learning partners, and with the resources inside.

  • Step One: get away from library jargon, passivity and lack of real need connection
    • the early days at school are overwhelming, and the library shouldn’t contribute to that stress
    • recognize that the library and resources won’t/can’t/shouldn’t compete with their first stop for information (Google and Wikipedia, duh)
  • Step Two: find a model that works for your institution
    • the presenters work at the UVM Medical School library, so they use the clinical care model that students will be using in their every day classes – it’s a format they’re familiar with, so it makes sense and it’s “special stuff” in their lives
    • what does this look like?
      • Need (what information is sought)
      • History of Need
      • Past Information History – social, previous education, family
      • Diagnosis of Needs
      • Review of Information Systems
  • Step Three: ask for feedback from students and teachers
    • does this make sense?
    • does it help?
    • will you remember it?

Other models? The Scientific Method, Literature Review, Annotated Bibliography, Pathfinder/LibGuide, SWOT, Design Thinking.

Other ideas? Consider using Instagram or other social media to post a Research Question of the Week or Information Resource of the Week.

Posted in Conferences, Professional organizations, School Libraries, Student stuff | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

#NEISL17 Reflections

Posted by lpearle on 3 August 2017

I love the NEAISL conference. I love it even more when I’m not hosting, as I did in 2015 and 2016. For those who don’t know, it’s a 40-year-old conference that brings together independent school librarians in New England (and a few from NY). We meet and talk and learn together for one day and then disappear back to our respective schools until the next year. For some, it’s the only professional development during the year, so organizers take it seriously. This past year we went to Cheshire Academy.

Embedded Librarianship (panel discussion)

This is an idea I’ve been excited about for a few years now and sadly, because of changing jobs and changing staff, haven’t been able to really get into before but this year one of my goals is to create an action plan with the department and start to begin the work over AY18 and AY19. So here’s what we need to start thinking about as we move forward:

  • ask questions of the department heads – what skills do you teach? how does the library fit in? (move from support to teaching)
  • reinforce what’s being taught in classes, using ACRL/ISTE/AASL standards to support our involvement
  • create a booking system for reference opportunities on the website, one that asks students to do some thinking rather than just posing a question
  • work with a local academic library on a Day of Research
  • try to get faculty to allow us to grade rough drafts for process, and be as tough as a college teacher would (it’s eye opening for teachers and students to see what’s really required) – one idea is to put all notes and bib in NoodleTools, but require a printed final draft so you can see the changes between the rough and final version

The big takeaway: teacher buy-in is critical, so we need to form a focus group with friendly – and unfriendly teachers!

Critical Media Literacy (Allison Butler)

What is it? It’s continued inquiry into the “behind the scenes” of ownership, production, audience and distribution of media – getting the broader picture because media does not occur in a vacuum.

One idea? Ask students to pull apart a fashion magazine to separate content from ads. Difficult, right? Thing is, we’re still consuming a lot of traditional media, just not in traditional ways: the audience is no longer well-known, so risk-taking is difficult (think: could Archie Bunker work today? maybe. audiences either were in on the joke or saw him as one of them, which might be the case again today).

It’s equally critical to look at what’s not there, which stories aren’t being told and why. What gets prioritized? who does that prioritization? Think: what’s on Fox vs MSNBC vs NPR vs Breitbart. Part of critical medial literacy is to critique power, not to be partisan.

Critical Media Literacy (panel discussion)

  • We need to expand spaces for students to interact with the library
  • Create “Calling BS” posters for all subjects, all topics (get all departments involved) – why stats, data, news, etc. are “BS”
  • You probably will, at some point, retweet fake news – it’s ok. Learn from that failure how to better check sources and biases.
  • Think about how we ask questions: if I can’t find get the information, is that my fault or is there deliberate obfuscation going on?

Critical media literacy isn’t bashing, it’s questioning.

The last panel was on Archives, which I’m sitting on for a while. That’s next summer’s Big Project, my third school archives reorganization. One of these years, I’ll get it right.

Can’t wait to learn with these people next year.

Posted in Conferences, Professional organizations, Student stuff | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

Some random thoughts on books and reading

Posted by lpearle on 1 August 2017

For a variety of reasons, I’ve been home alone this past week and have had far too much energy for my own good. Which, of course, means that Things Are Getting Done: organizing, mostly, but reading and writing letters and blog posts (lucky readers!) and cleaning. Don’t judge, but when I moved my books from CT to MA two summers ago, they were still in boxes from my previous NY-CT move and while I did get them on to shelves in general categories, they were not properly organized on those shelves. As of today, that’s not the case. As I rearranged the collection, I weeded enough books to empty a 7′ x 30″ bookcase, although I’m going to keep it because Alex and other things.

Also as I arranged and weeded, I thought about a few book related conversations I’ve had and one twitter rant I read in the past couple of years.

The first is actually two conversations, one with my mother and one with a colleague. A couple of years ago, I was having a Very Bad Day and called my mother to complain. As a native of Newton, she was raised with the idea that the Fluffernutter is a cure-all for bad days/bad moods and as a good mother, she’d passed that idea along to me. This was a two Fluffernutter Bad Day, and even then I wasn’t feeling better. Hence the call. I mentioned that it was being a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day and after sympathizing, she asked if she’d read that book to me when I was a child. My response? No. Because I was nine when it was published and both parents had stopped reading books to me many years earlier. Flash forward to this past February, when a colleague shared how excited she was that Book of Dust was being published and asked if His Dark Materials had meant as much to me as it had to her. Well… no. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the trilogy. I enjoyed the trilogy. I was upset the movie didn’t do the book justice. But because it was published when I was in my 20s and there were many other books before that were formative and intensely personal and meaningful, this didn’t rise to the level of foundational reading as it did for her.

The second is a twitter comment/rant by the incredible Angie Manfredi. She is an amazing advocate and ally and her commitment to diverse books, libraries and the kids with whom she works is inspirational. So when she speaks, I think.

Manfredi tweet

I see her point… somewhat. My favorite authors do, in fact, happen to be white people. That’s not a bad thing, it’s just fact. It doesn’t mean I don’t read diverse authors, or that I don’t appreciate their work, it does mean that when I’m scanning the Pre-Pub Alerts and I see certain names I get excited and put them on a To Buy list. But – and this is a huge BUT – professionally? It’d be malpractice if the books I put on displays or recommend to my students and colleagues were only by and about white people and their experiences. When scanning those alerts and looking at other collection development tools, I actively look for diverse authors and diversity of experiences and when planning displays I add as many of those as possible (usually sneaking them in, so that it normalizes – and boy do I hate that word! – both because there’s no reason why someone reading speculative fiction or history or romance or whatever wouldn’t enjoy a well-written book no matter who wrote it or what the characters and plot were about). If a librarian can’t separate their personal lives and preferences from their professional, that’s a problem. And one we, as a profession, need to worry about.

As an aside, I did note that many of my favorite authors are not only white, but have last names that begin with B, among them:

Barnes (Julian), Burgess (Thornton W.), Byatt (A.S.), Banks (Ian), Blyton (Enid), Brent-Dyer (Elinor M.), Booth (Stephen), Billingham (Mark), Bradley (Marion Zimmer), Boston (Lucy), Baum (L. Frank)

Weird.

Finally, two nights ago I was chatting with my cousin and mentioned that I was about to start Book 190 for the year. She said that she doesn’t really read books, unlike her husband and son. I’ve blogged about this before, and it still puzzles and amuses me. I’ve never felt the need to apologize to friends who are artists or athletes or knitters or, well, anyone who does something that I think it neat or could be fun but that I don’t actually do. Why people feel the need to apologize for not reading is something I just don’t get. My sister and her son prefer audiobooks to print books. Great! Someone reads newspapers and magazines, not books. Perfect! Someone else watches movies and listens to music for relaxation. Hooray! If no one ever says “I’m sorry, I just don’t read” to me again, I’ll die a happy woman.

Now, back to Book 190. By an author whose name begins with K, not B. So there.

Posted in Books, Collection Development, Ethics, Musings | Leave a Comment »

Minor Musings

Posted by lpearle on 28 July 2017

Summer is a great time to binge watch while digitally organizing/reorganizing/decluttering, isn’t it? So here’s what I’ve bookmarked and saved over the past few months.

Books, Reading, etc.

School Life

Tech Stuff

Miscellany

Posted in Books, Collection Development, Links, Privacy, School Libraries, Student stuff, Techno Geekiness, Work Stuff | Leave a Comment »

July…

Posted by lpearle on 27 July 2017

From PhD Comics:

 

Posted in Work Stuff | Leave a Comment »

The Very Overdue #AISLNO17 Post (part 3)

Posted by lpearle on 27 June 2017

My goal: to blog all the PD I’ve done this year before the academic year ends. In eight five four days. Get ready!

****

Day Two: E-Books

The best presentation advice: start on time, end early, feed participants.

This is an area we explored gently over the past few years (both at Milton and Porter’s) and haven’t gotten much buy-in for, so I was interested to see what other schools were/are doing.  There’s so much to think about, and as one person said, we need to suck it up: things are evolving (as they did from film to VHS to DVD to streaming).  Here’s my question/problem: my students, based on a survey I did at Porter’s that got a 33% response, prefer print for fiction.  Why?  Because it’s an escape from the screen, providing a more immersive/less interrupted experience.  So… there’s that.  I might do a survey of Milton’s students and faculty, particularly as Overdrive is pushing a consortium for the local independent schools.  The Massachusetts ebook program is difficult, particularly since it only allows for one book/reader!

We agreed that there are So.Many.Platforms. ABC-CLIO, Amazon (might need to circulate Kindles), Destiny Discover (which only works with Destiny, so that’s out), EBSCO, GVRL, OUP and Salem Press for NF; Overdrive, Axis360 are for Fic.  The big question is how do you support all of them, including train people in their use because it’s not “one size fits all” for platforms!  Promoting them is also an issue, because discovery isn’t as obvious as it is for print (you can’t easily browse a shelf) you need to add MARC records to the catalog.  Another way to promote is to put links everywhere, in all Resource Guides, on pamphlets, etc. You could also let students know that Snapchat reads QR codes and include those codes in book displays or on the inside cover of a reference book.

Day Two: Personal Librarian Program (CD McLean and Katie Archambault)

Another “we need to try this at MPOW” idea, which may or may not work given our size population.  But still… They got the idea after reading The Personal Librarian (there’s also this one), which further enhances the idea of library as “third space” (see a theme?  Doug and Claudette both talked about this!).  It’s important to get Admissions, Communications and the Dean of Students on board before starting, particularly since you can start talking about the program on revisit days.

Other ideas?  Create a “what is a personal librarian?” video and “get to know your librarian” videos… Tasty Tuesdays (send a surprise gift of treats to a random class)… send emails to all incoming students, detailing how the program works and connecting it to the work they’ll be doing.  CD sends a letter, a follow-up letter, is a presence during orientation retreats and promotes library tours by “their” librarian.  Make sure the program is seen as two-fold, promoting reading and research.  Asking teachers if you can embed is great – digital embedding means you can drop resources into the class page (be it WhippleHill, GClassroom, Schoology, Moodle, or whatever your school uses), pushing databases, print books and critical websites.  Encourage 1:1 consultations with both faculty and students, adding a link to your sig. file for setting up an appointment.  What about YouTube videos personalizing the experience?  New Book lunches?  Having students sign up for Reading Recommendation and then do video/email outreach.  Constantly promote services and resources.

We were reminded that it’s important to do an annual debrief, to collect statistics and to keep up with alumni.  Equally important is that we don’t have to do it all: the same program doesn’t need to exist for 9, 10, 11 and 12th grade!  You can push heavily into 9th, less in 10th and 11th, and they’ll still remember to come in in 12th.

Another way to be personal?  Get college matriculation information and create a presentation highlighting the college libraries to students (eg, “If you’re going to Bates, you’ll find….”).  Do outreach to those librarians so your students are known.  (kudos to Elizabeth Nelson for this!)

Day Two: Booktalking

This is so easy to do with LS/MS students, but US?  Sigh.  So here are some great ideas we’re going to try in AY18 to try to get our overworked, overscheduled, overstressed students to read more fiction:

Whew!  One conference down… two (NEAISL and ACRLNE) to go…

 

Posted in Books, Collection Development, Conferences, School Libraries, Techno Geekiness | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

The Very Overdue #AISLNO17 Post (part 2)

Posted by lpearle on 26 June 2017

My goal: to blog all the PD I’ve done this year before the academic year ends.  In eight five days.  Get ready!

****

Day One: What Keeps Me Up At Night (Courtney Lewis)

Courtney started by talking about some of the things that keep us all up at night:

  • faculty still referring to their experiences doing research, ignoring changes that have taken place since (and insisting students do it the way they did research “back when”)
  • budgets
  • what is the mission of the library, and does it mesh with the school’s mission?

She’s started to also think about other things, like discovery (how do students and teachers find our resources), tools and what students really need, as opposed to what we think or are told they need.  To find out, she reached out to the First Year Experience librarians at the schools her students matriculated at most, using a personalized letter with a link to a survey; she also posted it on the ACRL list.  There were many responses and as of March, she was still getting data.  No surprise: selectivity in schools matters, particularly in this regard (“selectivity” as defined by US News & World Report and Barrons).

I’m not going to go into the nitty-gritty of her results, but it was interesting to see how we, at a relatively selective independent school, align already with some of the results at the lower, less selective level.  The question I have to ask myself (and my staff) is how high up we want to reach, and can we differentiate between what we do with our Middle Schools students, our 9/10 graders and 11/12 graders? One big complaint – or, perhaps more accurately, concern – was that students don’t always come with the level of ability that FYE librarians/teachers need for them to have, which (IMVHO) is a result of not being able to mandate specific learning and skills for all high school students, in all high schools.  We run into this challenge with our Upper School students entering from schools other than our Middle School, so why should college be any different?

The biggest thread was that students need better understandings of what resources are useful for what types of information retrieval, to be able to transfer skills from one thing to another.  The idea that you are part of a community of learners, sharing knowledge and resources, is more critical than knowing exactly how to use a specific citation generator or style.

She learned that students will be asked to create traditional research papers (number one response), visual presentations (number two) and DIY science experiments (number three). BUT: the traditional paper, while still the top response, was favored by older professors (see about re: referring back to your own experience) and younger professors were asking for more digital types of responses (blogs, videos, etc.).  There is a critical need to make these types of products part of our curriculum!  Again and again, she heard that the end goal of all research was to make students part of the global community of scholars.  What can we, in K-12, do to ensure our students start on that path?

The other things she learned?

  • format is invisible to students (the UVA Source Death exercise, for example)
  • students need to know what librarians do and how to ask (corollary: they need to know that not everyone working in an academy library is a librarian, or does reference!)
  • skilled searching
  • how to create a topic
  • what the community of scholars is
  • how do you pace yourself when writing a paper (5 pages is different than 20 pages)
  • oral presentation with visual aids skills (don’t silo things)

Next?  She’s looking at a larger sample size, plus cross-referencing with NSSE/BCSSE/FSSE data (they have great research questions), using the data to make smart budgetary choices.  Bigger challenge: changing faculty and students from a local to a global mindset.

As I sat there, I wondered how we can do similar work at Milton.  There are schools around the country wondering that as well.  Maybe we team up and tackle this as a group?  And how can I get local buy in on changing some of how we do research and teach research skills so we know our students are better prepared for their FYE than the average student?

Day Two: Building Community (Claudette Hovasse)

For the past few years I’ve been in awe of what Claudette’s built at Cheshire and tried to think of ways to replicate it at my school.  At Porter’s we were working on it, with some success; at Milton, we need a more concentrated effort.   So, what’s she doing that’s so great?  well…

Example one: she started with a station to create a card for Faculty Appreciation that has grown into cards for Valentines, Thank Yous, Mother’s Day, etc.

Example two: Zentangle (purposeful doodling), book folding, trivia nights, games, stamping, candy sushi, cupcake decorating, pumpkin decorating, vision boards, Lego Nights, coloring book table, comic book artist, bingo, Banned Books Scavenger Hunt.

How is she doing it?  By “starting with Yes“, which has led to program and space changes.  By starting with “what if…” – students felt ownership of the space and program? what are local libraries doing (take classes and crib)?  It stemmed from a desire to build bridges between day/boarding, American/International students and has grown!  Even non CA students come to some events.  She promotes them with signs, in the parent weekly email (and has found that parents push students to attend, which helps build community and leads to greater visibility for what the library is doing).

Some final thoughts:

  • work with what you have – staffing, furnishings, facilities/maintenance, etc.  It doesn’t have to be fancy!
  • puzzles on casual tables have led to new friendships
  • when I started saying “yes” it changed how I saw myself and how the students see [the librarians]

Day One: Design Thinking (many, including yours truly!)

This was an opportunity to report and reflect on the AISL Summer Institute I attended, so here are a few bullet points:

  • Design Thinking is not a magic bullet, it really needs thought and planning (ie. it’s just another tool in the toolbox) – it is a way to give and get better feedback that is more constructive and is very collaborative
  • You don’t need to use DT language, you can create language that works for your school and your population
  • Empathy is the end product, woven throughout the project.  It is not a step.
  • What you’re really asking is not “what do you need” but “what’s missing”

I’m currently taking a Space Planning class that is using DT methodology.  Not because I need it, but as an attempt to get my staff to learn more about DT as we plan for the future of our space and program.  More on that when it’s all over.

Posted in Conferences, School Libraries, Student stuff | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

The Very Overdue #AISLNO17 Post (part 1)

Posted by lpearle on 23 June 2017

My goal: to blog all the PD I’ve done this year before the academic year ends.  In eight days.  Get ready!

****

I haven’t attended AISL in 16 years, since their 2001 Library Space Odyssey for a variety of reasons (schedule conflicted with school research season, sessions didn’t really apply, etc.) but 2017 in New Orleans during Spring Break (link goes to the conference guide and many speaker handouts/presentations)?  Ok, that works!

Keynote: Doug Johnson (handouts)

Doug spoke about facilities and changes, a topic near and dear to me.  After all, last summer and this we made/are making minor changes to the library and bigger things are in store.  He started with a video of the Songtext song. And then posed the following question: what does my library offer that gets patrons out of their robes/recliner? In other words, in an era when information and books can be obtained by simply looking at a screen, why go to the library?  why get dressed and go out, rather than Google?  What if instead of having a circ desk, we had a genius bar (at Milton, that would mean bringing IT and ATS into our space, at our desk – not a bad idea at all!).  Learning corners might allow tutors to work with students better.  In other words: make the space a one-stop shop with zones.

We’ve been talking a lot about the library as “third space”, where social learning takes place in space that is comfortable and relaxed.  When students are asked what they want, they want casual groupings, zones (quiet, social, etc.) and tables vs. chairs/carrels.  But for so many, the layout makes things difficult to effectively zone.  So what if we “zoned” by time?  During the academic day, silent or very quiet, then noisier after hours? What if we allowed students to move tables and chairs around, to create their own groupings?  It’s critical to remember that one style does not fit all, physically or culturally.   (aside: NCSU’s Hunt library redesign offers many different spaces and furnishings for students to chose from)

He also reminded us that rules should be friendly, more Do than Don’t.  Example?  DO use your cell to read, work on an assignment, play a game, etc. DON’T use your cell to have a conversation.

So, what’s stopping us?  What more?  Here’s a partial list to think about:

  • more adults in a space are better (aka passive supervision)
  • rebrand as an “one space” area
  • computer lab spaces are now obsolete thanks to 1:1 programs but we still need high-end spaces for editing, podcasting, etc.
  • consider a “make it” space not just a “maker” space (not all high-tech – knitting, cards, origami, etc.)
  • consider a presentation space, where students can practice their skills before presenting to a class

Having said all that, we are still a teaching space.  Perhaps provide tech tools for teachers to use and practice with before working with a class.

It’s critical to remember that the internet is not a librarian!  It doesn’t have the expertise, skills and knowledge we do, but students and teachers don’t always know that.  Solution?  Get rid of the Library Office (and Ft. Reference Desk) and be where the students are, at point of need.   It’s far less important to worry about things like DDC and overdues/fines, inventory, etc.  The focus must be on the kids.

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