Oh wow. I can’t believe the end of the semester is actually upon us. It seems like just yesterday I was worrying about classes starting up again, and now here I am, pondering how to write my final blog post for this class.
I don’t think I can pinpoint one thing as the most interesting that I learned from others, because I learned so much from everyone. Being exposed to the different thoughts, opinions, and ideas that everyone else brought to the table was more valuable than I could have ever expected.
I think the easiest assignment to consider as learning the most from others is the Maker Faire, because there were so many unique ideas and projects, that each time I opened another blog post I was excited to see what fun new things someone created that I could potentially recreate. I also think that, for me, this will be the most valuable in my job, because as I have mentioned before, I do monthly programs that have a craft element with my teens. There are a few projects that I am already planning to use, and I couldn’t be happier.
I honestly had no idea what to expect from this class. To be perfectly honest, this was an impulse add to my schedule. There was not a lot of information out there about this course because it’s relatively new, so I felt a little like I was flying blind. The subject sounded so cool, and I agonized over whether or not to take it because I wasn’t totally sure what to expect, nor was it in my big plan of classes. Eventually, I decided that since participatory spaces are becoming so popular and makerspaces are all the rage right now, it would be very beneficial to my education, my future in libraries, and my current job to take this class, and I just couldn’t pass it up. I have learned so much and been exposed to so many perspectives on participatory culture, making, and innovation in the library that I never even realized were out there. If I had not taken this class, I still wouldn’t fully grasp these concepts, which I think are beneficial to anyone interested in working with the public! I sincerely believe that this will be the class I am still talking about and praising and thinking back on way down the road, because it so far exceeded my expectations. I have already started plugging it with a couple of friends I know in the program, including one of my coworkers who I desperately hopes takes it in the future.
I think one of my favorite readings was the The Center for the Future of Libraries Trends page. I was fascinated to see where others feel the future of the library is heading, and I think the discussion that week was really engaging. I ended up sharing that reading with many of my coworkers as well as my LIBR 210 class, because I thought it was so valuable and just so interesting!
I think the hardest thing for me this semester was keeping up with some of the readings. Between the books and the articles, some weeks were really heavy reading-wise on top of working on projects/blog posts as well as my homework in my other class, and I didn’t feel as though I could really enjoy and delve into things as much as I would have liked. That being said, I don’t know what I would suggest taking out, because I did really enjoy everything and saw how it all connected to what we were learning! Ahh! I don’t know what I would eliminate! This class has had the most fun homework I’ve been given in any of my classes so far in this program, so I just don’t know what, if anything, I would change.
I can’t believe this is it. There is something so terrible about when a really good class comes to an end that is extremely bittersweet. Don’t get me wrong, I am looking forward to having a few weeks off to relax and have a social life and watch copious amounts of television, but I am also sad to see this class drawing to a close. If you couldn’t tell from my post, I really did love this class. I thank each and every one of you for making this experience so awesome, and I will really miss our discussions!
Center for the Future of Libraries. (2015). Trends. American Library Association. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/transforminglibraries/future/trends
This week, we were asked to consider the relationship between creation and the importance of beauty, passion, and endurance, and what, if any, responsibility we have when teaching to instill inspiration on top of skill building. This struck me as a really thought-provoking question, because it is not something I have ever really contemplated before. But the longer I thought about it, the more I felt that we do, as teachers, have that responsibility. Furthermore, isn’t it every teacher’s dream to inspire their students? Yes, I know, we are not teachers in the traditional sense, but we still teach, so should we not still inspire?
While reading Invent to Learn, one idea really stuck out to me:
“Artists, musicians, filmmakers, authors, poets, and crafts people do not set out to produce or consume content. They work tirelessly to draw, write, paint, film, compose, play, build, knit, sew, act or direct to create personally meaningful objects, sights, sounds, or memories” (Martinez & Stager, 2013, p. 66).
I think this is a really important concept to remember. Makers aren’t necessarily making to be noticed or to receive praise, they are making because they want to and because something has motivated them to create. As teachers, we should encourage this type of making. As teachers, we want to provide the starting point, and let the student go where they will. We want to inspire someone to start, and then see where it takes them. We do not need to give a complete, step-by-step set of instructions: give the students a little, and they will create a lot.
Of course, there will always be exceptions to this. I know there will always be someone who cannot fathom what comes next when given the tiniest of nudges. But the hope is that you can provide enough guidance or information to stimulate them into finding their own way, finding their angle, and learning the skill you are teaching without forcing one particular method on them. Yes, as teachers, there has to be a focus to our projects. There are things that need to be taught, but there are always many ways to do it. It is our job to find the most engaging, or the most interest-inducing way to go about it. Finding projects that will allow students to explore their interests while still capturing the essence of the lesson is the fastest way to both inspire and immerse students in the learning environment. We want them to go forth and discover, and what better way to discover than through something they are passionate about? “When a project burns inside of them, students often exceed our expectations” (Martinez & Stager, 2013, p. 60). It is our responsibility to fan the flames.
For me, the most important example of why we teach to inspire as well as build skills comes from the reading. At the end of chapter four, there is a section entitled “Making Memories.” It’s just a few paragraphs, but I think it truly captures what I am trying to demonstrate about why we must not only help students build skills, but also inspire them. The author discusses that moment when you’ve just rolled out of bed and have to run to the store for milk before you can even start your day, and you run into a former student who wants to reminisce, starting with “remember that time we…” (Martinez & Stager, 2013, p. 67). This shows the influence we can have as teachers in students’ lives. Often, it is teachers (or librarians) who teach a student something that sticks with them, and inspires them later in life. While we may not remember most of what we learned in school, there is usually some lesson or idea that has endured. We read stories all the time where people are thanking their sixth grade teacher, or their elementary school librarian, for doing or saying something that both taught them a lesson and formed the basis for inspiration down the line. “Great teachers know that their highest calling is to make memories” (Martinez & Stager, 2013, p. 67). By choosing projects and lessons that are memorable, we are laying the groundwork to leave students feeling inspired and excited to learn in the future.
Martinez, S.L. & Stager, G. (2013). Invent to learn: Making, tinkering, and engineering in the classroom. Torrance, CA: Constructing Modern Knowledge Press.
I have always been a big supporter of the A in STEAM. I think focusing on the science, technology, engineering, and math elements without the art does a disservice to students everywhere, and does not set us up for a future of creative thinkers. “In fact, business leaders say they are looking for creative, independent thinkers in every field, not just math and science” (Martinez & Stager, 2013, p. 44). By including the A for Art in STEAM, we are encouraging not just art, but creativity.
Art is everywhere. I see art in math, I see art in technology, in engineering, even in science. Maybe not in the traditional sense of the word, but it is certainly there. Not everyone learns the same, and not including an artistic way to consider these concepts means excluding a group of learners. When I was at New York University, we had a required math element in our core curriculum called Quantitative Reasoning. QR could easily be satisfied by taking classes such as calculus or statistics, but NYU also recognized that not everyone is meant for these types of math classes. One of the classes it offered as an alternative for QR was Patterns in Nature. Yes, this class took a lot of heat for being a cop-out, or for being an easy A, but I think it definitely holds merit. It is important to remember that patterns are still mathematical, even though they can seem artistic more than anything else. My point here is that art and math (or any of the STEM parts) can easily go hand in hand, and one should not be left out just because it doesn’t seem science-y enough or doesn’t seem to be as closely aligned to the other fields.
Now I want to talk about art and technology. We use technology every day to create art. Take, for example, the Skokie Public Library’s Digital Media Lab (DML). In the article we read, we learned about the different things people were creating through their use of technology that certainly fall into the art category. If you watch the videos at the end, you can see some prime examples of art: one of the videos is even called “Food and Wine Art video demo,” where a patron demonstrates how she created a poster for an upcoming church event (Jacobsen & Anthony, 2011). Is this art or is this technology? Honestly, I think it is both. What about music? Isn’t that considered art? But wait… We wouldn’t be able to create mixes without technology. The entire electronica and techno genres, without technology, would not really be able to exist. According to Jacobsen and Anthony (2011), “GarageBand, with separately purchased Jam Packs… is very popular with patron musicians.” This just goes to show that those ‘musical artsy types’ are using technology to create their art. Hmm.
Let’s look at this from the flip side. Is there science in art? Certainly. Today, I was painting at work in order to create some props for our mini golf course for an upcoming program. I had red, and I had blue, but I did not have purple. I wanted purple. So I decided to mix the paints and make a new color. While I did not chemically change the paint, I did physically change it, which is still a scientific process. So today, even though I considered myself to be doing art, I also threw in some science just for the fun of it and completely by accident. Of course there is also math in art – lines, angles, shapes, it’s all math! And art!
I could go on about the art in science and the art in engineering, or vice versa, but I think my examples have made my point for me. Without art, science/technology/engineering/math aren’t always possible, and without science/technology/engineering/math, art isn’t always possible. To further my point, Martinez and Stager (2013) mention:
“While school traditionally separates art and science, theory, and practice, such divisions are artificial. The real world just doesn’t work that way! Architects are artists. Craftsmen deal in aesthetics, tradition, and mathematical precision. Video game designers rely on computer science. Engineering and industrial design are inseparable. The finest scientists are often accomplished musicians” (p. 2).
So as you can see, the lines between art and science have blurred. Even if you think you are just doing one, chances are you’re doing a combination of multiple letters within the acronym. So I say, full STEAM ahead!
Jacobsen, M. & Anthony, C. (2011 November 8). Build your own digital media lab. The Digital Shift. Retrieved from http://www.thedigitalshift.com/2011/11/media/build-your-own-digital-media-lab/
Martinez, S.L. & Stager, G. (2013). Invent to learn: Making, tinkering, and engineering in the classroom. Torrance, CA: Constructing Modern Knowledge Press.
This week left me with a lot to think about. I have been mulling over the different discussion questions, trying to decide which way to go, and today it hit me while I was talking to one of my coworkers.
We are asked if libraries risk getting “off message” when focusing on non-traditional services and community collaboration. And honestly, I don’t think so. There is certainly a fine line to be walked, but I think that as long as a library is keeping its users in mind, it is not going off that path. I am going to focus especially on public libraries, as that is where I currently work and plan to continue working, but I imagine parts of this will apply to other library types as well.
Now before I get too far, according to Merriam-Webster online:
mission creep: noun: the gradual broadening of the original objectives of a mission or an organization
Libraries deal with this on a daily basis. With advances in technology and the argued decline of print, libraries have to find a way into the 21st century. We must offer more or risk slipping into obsolescence: thanks to sites like Google and Wikipedia, research is not as hard as it used to be. “If we don’t join in creating the future, we may find that the future does not include us” (Gashurov & Kendrick, 2013). Gone are the days of poring over the card catalog looking for a subject, and gone are the days of needing to be physically in the library to use its resources. Between ebooks and virtual reference, a patron doesn’t have to step foot in the door to get the information they seek. The mission of the library is no longer just about books and research, it is about reaching the patrons, the community, and serving them.
We at the public library are funded by the community. It is our job to remind them why we deserve their money, and what better way than to allow them to contribute? Collaboration allows patrons to feel involved, and to see the library as open to new ideas, not as a static institution, and shows a willingness to change. It has become our job, as librarians, to look at our communities, to KNOW our communities, and to figure out what they need. From there we look at our mission, and decide where that need fits in while also considering our strategic goals. Then we use that to create or change a service so that we can fulfill a need in the community while still adhering to that mission. What is the best way to figure out a need in a community? Ask the members! Collaborate! As Stern (2011) points out, “co-creation works best when you build a strong community.”
So then what, exactly, am I trying to say here? An innovative organization knows how to fulfill a need creatively while staying true to their mission statement. A library can do the same thing. We can analyze our community’s needs according to our mission, and find an inventive new way to address them. For example, one branch in my system has found that they have a lot of patrons who need technology help, and a lot of high school students who are extremely tech-savvy, would attend tech programming, and need community service. So why not combine it all? This has given birth to the wildly successful program, Teen Tech Tutors. Every other Friday for two hours, high school students assist patrons with whatever their tech needs may be. Some patrons bring in their devices and get help using OverDrive, while others come in to use a computer and get help with Facebook settings. This branch has found a way to fill the needs of multiple community groups by offering a new service that allows the teens and the adults to work together to problem solve. I had the privilege of attending the program, and am currently looking into the possibility of starting it at my branch this fall. Not only did this library come up with a way to fill multiple needs within their community, but they did it collaboratively and found an innovative way to succeed.
For further reference, I want to share our mission statement:
Timberland Regional Library invites discovery and interaction
with our vibrant collection, services and programs
for learning, enrichment, and enjoyment
for people of all ages in our diverse communities.
Yes, it is broad, and yes, it suffers from mission creep, but it serves our communities well (our system spans across 5 very, VERY diverse counties). It also allows us the freedom to work within it to find ways to appeal to our individual communities while still representing our organization and maintaing the mission. “We can make ourselves an integral part of the future by working together. Collaboration, as much as competition, is here to stay” (Gashurov & Kendrick, 2013).
Gashurov, I. & Kendrick, C.L. (2013 October 2). Collaboration for hard times. Library Journal. Retrieved from http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2013/10/managing-libraries/collaboration-for-hard-times/
Mission creep. (n.d.). In Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary (11th ed.). Retrieved from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/mission%20creep
Mission, vision, & values. (2013). Timberland Regional Library. Retrieved from http://www.trl.org/About/Pages/Mission.aspx
Stefan, S. (2011 February 28). A co-creation primer. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2011/02/co-creation/
Reading about all of the different trends from The Center for the Future of Libraries this week was interesting and also very eye-opening. There were quite a few that I had never thought of before scattered in among the ones I expected. I have decided to make a list comparing what I expected and what I didn’t:
Trends I expected, and often encounter in my job:
- Aging Advances
- Connected Learning
- Data Everywhere
- Digital Natives
- Emerging Adulthood
- Internet of Things
- Maker Movement
- Privacy Shifting
Trends I hadn’t thought of, especially in relation to libraries:
- Collective Impact
- Fast Casual
- Flipped Learning
- Sharing Economy
While I could go on for pages about each of these, I want to highlight a couple from each list.
First of all, Emerging Adulthood. Focusing on teen programming, all I ever hear and read about is how teens are so underrepresented in the library and how we need to find new ways to bring them in and support them. Which I am behind 100%, don’t get me wrong. However, being a member of this group of 20-somethings that are represented by this trend, I am painfully aware of how little there is available to us at the library as well. When New Adult became more widely accepted as a genre, I was thrilled. I LIKE reading about characters my own age; I blew through a lot of these books and was a little disappointed at how few focus on the mid-20s range, that I actually liked, and how most of them tend to be romances. The page dedicated to this trend discusses “the opportunities for services and products marketed to those in between established young adult and adult categories” by combining ideas from both sets of established age groups (Emerging Adulthood, 2015). The 20s are a time for change (I should know, I’m living it!) and many of us are caught in this state of flux, trying to figure out what it is we want to do with our lives. It is also a time for milestones – first full-time job, perhaps first time living alone, first responsibilities like paying rent, health insurance, etc. I know many 20-somethings, myself included, who still have a hard time remembering we’re basically real adults now! Crazy!! So I can definitely see this trend in action on a daily basis. One of my coworkers in adult services is very interested in finding ways to reach this group, and recently began asking me questions about what sorts of things I would like to see offered for myself as a patron in my 20s. It was flattering and extremely exciting for patron-me, because I am always looking for ways to get out and do social activities in the community.
Next, I want to talk about Gamification. I think this is extremely important today, especially with the emphasis on STEM/STEAM. For example, this past summer we had a workshop as a wind-down after summer reading, and one of the presentations came from a couple of people who work for a local foundation that promotes math through games. They brought a bunch of fun games we could play, and then showed us the math behind them. We were given the opportunity to play around for a while, and it was a blast! We barely realized we were doing math, it was so fun! (Though, arguably, math nerd that I am, we could have been doing algebra and I still would have had fun…) We now have a program-to-go box that individual libraries can borrow in order to run a fun yet educational math gaming night. Not only does gaming bring in this side of learning, but it also promotes discovery and also, “libraries as public gathering spaces can capitalize on the benefits of co-play, helping to improve players’ social skills by encouraging play together” (Gamification, 2015). Gaming is a great way to get our patrons to learn, discover, and socialize, all rolled into one.
The last trend I want to focus on is the Sharing Economy. This is a fascinating trend, and while I had never before thought of it in relation to libraries, and was extremely surprised to see it on the list, I realized that it is already something we are a large part of. As this page points out, “libraries have been leaders in demonstrating the value and potential for free/shared resources and spaces” (Sharing Economy, 2015). Not only do we, as professionals, share information, but we share books, audiobooks, DVDs, CDs, magazines, and so much more with our patrons, and it’s all free!! If that’s not a sharing economy, I don’t know what is. While we don’t charge for these services (aside from the occasional late fee), we are providing people with items they otherwise might not be able to afford. Where I work, patrons are guaranteed an hour a day on the computer and 50 free pages of printing each week. AND on top of all of this, we have rentable Nooks. They come pre-loaded with 20 or so titles in a specific genre (romance, mystery, bestsellers, YA, etc. – take a look at this link and see for yourself), and we loan them out like we would a book, yet again allowing patrons access to technology they might not otherwise have access to. We have made our own little corner in the sharing economy market, and I am sure in the future there will be many other services we can consider sharing with our patrons.
While I really enjoyed all of these trends, there was one thing that I felt was severely lacking. Diversity. Diversity is missing!! I don’t know what I would have named this trend, exactly, whether diversity is quite the right term, but there has been a huge shift in the world of books, and in libraries, to include more diverse selections. I’m sure many of us remember the hashtag social media campaign last year, #weneeddiversebooks; it totally blew up the internet for a while. “Books allow children to peek into each other’s worlds, and also to find an affirming reflection of themselves, a curricular concept often referred to as ‘windows and mirrors'” (Seltzer, 2015). This idea often revolves around children and YA titles; the idea of diverse books is to not only let children see themselves within a character that resembles them, but to see that they share similarities with characters that are different from them (Seltzer, 2015). I have occasionally had requests from parents looking for books featuring non-white characters, characters with disabilities, or characters with different family situations, and sometimes I am hard-pressed to find a wide variety of stories that fit their needs.
“Online, WNDB’s social media team says it is fielding continual requests for diverse book recommendations. Transgender kids of color. Korean kids with physical disabilities. South Asian bisexual fantasy heroines. Readers want, as Tharps says, to see people like themselves riding on dragons, solving mysteries, and falling in love. Varian Johnson, the author of The Great Greene Heist, refers to as this as “casual diversity.” “It’s the idea that a person’s ethnicity, sexuality, ability, or disability informs the character, but doesn’t have to drive the novel,” he says” (Seltzer
My point here is that with all of the buzz surrounding We Need Diverse Books (WNDB), I was surprised, and perhaps a little disappointed, that it did not appear somewhere, in some context, as one of the trends. I think it is extremely important to look to the future and see how we can incorporate and promote diversity within the library, whether it is book displays featuring non-traditional characters or programs celebrating our differences. It’s there, somewhere, and we have the responsibility to our patrons to provide them with characters they can relate to and characters they can learn from.
If you have a chance, I highly suggest you read the article We Need Diverse Books by Sarah Seltzer (full citation in my references). It gives more of a background on how WNDB started, what it’s doing now, and trends in the publishing industry related to this topic. I enjoyed it, and found it to be a very informative read.
Center for the Future of Libraries. (2015). Emerging Adulthood. American Library Association. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/transforminglibraries/future/trends/emergingadulthood
Center for the Future of Libraries. (2015). Gamification. American Library Association. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/transforminglibraries/future/trends/gamification
Center for the Future of Libraries. (2015). Sharing Economy. American Library Association. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/transforminglibraries/future/trends/sharingeconomy
Center for the Future of Libraries. (2015). Trends. American Library Association. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/transforminglibraries/future/trends
Seltzer, S. (2015 February 2). We need diverse books: Can children’s authors end publishing industry prejudice – and change the way America reads?. Flavorwire. Retrieved from http://flavorwire.com/502081/we-need-diverse-books-can-childrens-authors-end-publishing-industry-prejudice-and-change-the-way-america-reads/view-all
This week I have done a lot of thinking about the pros and cons to making museums and cultural institutions more interactive. Initially I was all rah-rah-rah interactive exhibits!!!
Then I was just like… wait a second.
I am a very visual learner. I love to be able to interact with things, be as hands-on as possible, and experiment with new ideas. However, this is not for everyone. Some people do not like to make, or do not consider themselves makers; we read an entire article about it this week (Chachra, 2015). And this caused me to pause for a minute. I lived in New York City for four years. Four glorious years that I was surrounded by all sorts of stimulating cultural experiences and museums, in different parts of the city, with different types of venues, and that would attract different varieties of audiences. And that is exactly the point. Being DIFFERENT.
Personally, I do not like museums. Not really at all. I find them boring and static. However, that does not mean I do not understand their value. I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art while I lived in NYC, and I was floored by the sheer size and volume of what they had. While I was impressed, that does not mean I loved every minute of it; I went there with my dorm and we did a scavenger hunt, then got to browse the museum. The scavenger hunt was awesome. The browsing lost my interest. I also went to the American Museum of Natural History as part of an anthropology class I was taking. We got the day off from lecture and had a scavenger hunt of questions to take with us while we visited a couple of exhibits. Again, I loved it! But then when I finished I felt obligated to spend more time browsing, and again got bored. My point here is that for both of these experiences, I needed a scavenger hunt to be engaged, and when left to browsing alone, I was bored out of my mind. A friend and I took a trip to the Cloisters, and when we were doing solitary browsing, I, shockingly, was again bored. But when I looked over to find my friend, she was completely immersed in the exhibits. The very static, very boring-to-me exhibits. And that helped me realize that she and I had different ways of looking at art, and at experiences.
When I traveled back to the city a few months ago, I stopped in at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) for the first time. Parts of it were interesting, but I definitely did not stay there nearly as long as people I was passing in exhibits, who would just stare and stare and stare at one painting. I personally don’t see the appeal, but that’s just me.
Dobrzynski’s (2013) article really hit home with me this week. She says
“In ages past, art museums didn’t need activating. They were treasure houses, filled with masterpieces meant to outlast the moment of their making, to speak to the universal. Visiting one might be social — you went with friends — but fairly passive. People went to see beauty, find inspiration, experience uplift, sometimes in a spiritual sort of way.”
I’ve come to realize that I agree. Not everyone goes to a museum to participate. There is a time and a place for that, and that is fine. For me, and many others, that is better or even necessary to get them in the door of a museum. But not always. Some people want to go and browse and gaze and study, and can spend hours at museums like the Met and the Cloisters. Others prefer to go somewhere much more interactive, like the Experience Music Project (EMP) in Seattle, that I wrote about at the beginning of the class. You can touch and play with the exhibits, and even create your own content. That is important, and even necessary. However, with this move toward everything being participatory, everything being interactive, don’t we start to lose the individuality that was originally created by having different exhibits and appealing to different audiences? I think we might. If every museum is increasingly interactive, what’s going to interest me in going to Museum B, when Museum A is just as interactive? This move to the interactive “changes the very nature of museums” (Dobrzynski, 2013). Not always for the better. By not offering a multitude of choices and variety within the museum world, even the library world, or beyond, are we not automatically excluding those who are uninterested in that type of experience? The more everyone moves toward making and creating in their spaces, the more sameness we start to see. Are we not leaving someone out who wants to go just to enjoy the beauty, rather than be thrust into creating something? I think that maybe we are, and that sometimes the art, or the exhibits, need to speak for themselves.
Chachra, D. (2015, January 23). Why I am not a maker. The Atlantic. Retrieved from http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2015/01/why-i-am-not-a-maker/384767/
Dobrzynski, J. H. (2013, August 10). High culture goes hands-on. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/11/opinion/sunday/high-culture-goes-hands-on.html?_r=1
The Greenwalt article brings up the idea of using prompts “for examining your creative process from a new perspective.” I’ve never thought of this before in the context of work, but I think it could be a great idea and a fantastic way to foster collaboration and teamwork in an organization.
When I was an undergraduate, I completed a joint major in Spanish and Linguistics. The Spanish department was phenomenal, and I was fortunate enough to take poetry writing in Spanish one semester. We met twice a week, and for each meeting we were required to bring a poem we had written with us. The prompts varied, sometimes being inspired by a topic, a specific poem, or a type of figurative language, like a metaphor or personification. I loved it so much that the next semester I took a creative writing course in Spanish. Each week we would have two prompts: one for fiction and one for non-fiction. Again, some were more specific than others; one week I think we were given a first sentence, while another week we might be asked to write a fantasy work. Each one of us produced vastly different results, but we all worked from the very same prompt. It was thrilling to see what others would come up with, ideas I never would have been able to connect to the prompt in a million years!
My point here is that I have never had experience with prompts in a professional setting, or in the workplace, but I think it would be a great way to not only find fun, new ways to work together, but also to inspire each other to think outside the box. I also think it would be an excellent way to get to know some of the coworkers we don’t have a lot of interactions with. At the library where I work, the Circulation Department is relatively separate from Youth and Adult services; while I have gotten to know some of the Circulation Assistants because they are on the Circ desk while I am over at the Info Desk, I don’t get to know many of the Aides and Pages very well. If we had weekly prompts that we all responded to, it would be a cool way to see their personalities shine through and give a little insight into what they’re like, especially outside of work.
The two ideas Greenwalt mentioned, like choosing the most relaxing place in the building or designing a new checkout desk sounded like fun. The next section after Create Prompts also inspired me: Think Visually. Wouldn’t it be even more inspiring to have prompts based off of a picture? Whether each employee was in charge of bringing in a photograph on different weeks to spark ideas, or the manager sent out a picture of a space in the library, like the Teen Zone, and asked for ways to improve or change it, using a picture to push toward innovation would be great.
Personally, when I am working on a project and I have a vague idea of what I’m looking for, I go through pictures or pins on Pinterest until something clicks and I can move forward with my project. I am a very visual thinker and learner, so pictorial prompts are always a great way to kickstart new ideas when I need them. I think this would be something worth trying, though I know it probably wouldn’t work for everyone. Maybe if there was a way to combine different types of prompts, rotating the style and what type it is, that would be a way to include everyone’s learning and processing style, and to encourage collaboration and innovation in a workplace. I work best when I can talk my ideas through with someone, bounce them around until something sticks, so if we had a way to have either an email thread where everyone discussed and contributed ideas, or a message board on our Intranet, I think we could accomplish a lot more than if we all tried to individually work out ideas or innovations to bring to the table.
Greenwalt, R. T. (2014, February 24). It’s all around you: Creating a culture of innovation. Public Libraries Online. Retrieved from http://publiclibrariesonline.org/2014/02/its-all-around-you-creating-a-culture-of-innovation/
While reading The Ten Faces of Innovation this week, I found myself fascinated by the first three personas because I could see many aspects of my coworkers (and myself) in their various traits. Even in the introductory chapter, with the brief overview of all ten personas, I was able to recognize various staff members, which made this reading extremely engaging.
One such staff member is the Youth Services Librarian I work with. She is easily a Cross-Pollinator. She will find some exciting project on Pinterest that is either too complicated or too expensive for the library, and she will find a way to tweak it into something feasible within our limitations, thus taking an idea and “translating it successfully to another” (Kelley & Littman, 2005, p. 68). When I find something I want to do, or start to form an idea, I usually go track her down and bounce ideas off of her until we come up with something awesome. I can’t count the number of times she has pulled up several different pins she saved on her Pinterest board, and then detailed ways to combine them to make something else altogether. If that’s not a Cross-Pollinator in action, I don’t know what is.
Another staff member I work with reminds me of the Experimenter. He is an Adult Services Librarian, but he and I form the bridge team between Youth and Adult Services that takes care of all of the teen programming at the library. We spend a ton of time brainstorming, and when we come up with something we aren’t sure will work, he is the first to say “Let’s try it!” Sure, sometimes it fails, but we always know what went wrong and how to make it better. Sometimes it’s a fixable issue, and sometimes we have to reinvent our idea because it’s not something manageable. For example, next week we will be staying after hours to experiment with a program idea we want to do over the summer. Before I get into it, a little background:
In December we ordered an Xbox 360 for our monthly gaming program. We had a really old Playstation before, but it was slowly dying an excruciating death, and every time we would try to play a game, it would pretty much freeze. So we decided it was time for a new one, and we went with the Xbox 360. Now the most popular game at our program was Rock Band, so we knew we would need new instruments, but they are so expensive that we had to wait until we got the budget approved to buy our own. Just last week we were able to order everything we needed – two guitars, a drum kit, a keyboard, a second microphone, Green Day Rock Band and Rock Band 3. All of these items are expected to be delivered by next Wednesday. On Friday we are going to attempt to hook everything up to the PA system in the library. When we did an after hours teen event (Life-Size Clue) in January, after a period of trial and error we were able to find the right way to hook my iPod into the system and have music playing throughout the library but still be able to make announcements over it when necessary. We are going to have a video game tournament over the summer, and while that is going in the meeting room, we want to have another setup out in the library for kids to play while waiting their turn. And what better game than Rock Band to not only play, but to hook up through the system. We are pulling out all the stops, and we are going to try to project it onto the giant white wall near the PA system, hook up the speakers and sound, and have a giant Rock Band broadcast in the library. Do we know if it will work? No. Is he willing to give it everything and experiment with the different tools, cords, and equipment we have available? For sure. I’m just along for the ride. (And I may get to sing “Say It Ain’t So” over the loud speakers… Definitely an added bonus for me).
I could go on for pages about the different personas I see embodied in my coworkers at the library, but I won’t. We have 21 staff members, and I don’t want to bore everyone with all the little connections my brain is making. However I do want to talk about one more person. Me! (Not to sound too full of myself). As I was reading the first chapter, I found myself strongly identifying with the Anthropologist. I love to observe. I love to insert myself with people, get to know them, find out what makes them tick. And above all, I love love LOVE to talk to people. I want to know what they’re interested in, what they watch/read/listen to, and what they wish they had opportunities to do. I think this is a large part of why I like teens so much: I know we have the capacity to do things they’re interested in, we just haven’t figured out what that is yet. And I am on a mission. During my monthly book discussion group, once we have spent the obligatory time talking about books, I try to steer the conversation to music and movies and video games, and then I like to sit back and just take notes. I often “offer something about myself” (p. 30) to help put them at ease and make myself relatable, and I always, ALWAYS want to “make them laugh” (p. 31). These are some of the best ways to observe kids, according to Kelley and Littman (2005), and it’s exactly the same with teens. They want someone to hang out with and who at least tries to relate. Once they get talking, it’s like they almost forget there is an adult in the room (I suppose it also helps most of them are taller than me), and they’ll talk about most anything. By helping them feel free to express themselves, I am able to learn more about their interests and hobbies, and I can use that to create better programming that is more suited to their needs. I learned that they wanted programs after the library was closed. When we offered the Clue program I mentioned earlier, we got 18 teens to come. The average number of teens at a program is 7-9, so we felt really good about that. That being said, I also have a little bit of an Experimenter in me. If I see something online that I want to try, I am not afraid to grab the materials and make it. I found two tutorials on origami butterflies, so I bookmarked them, grabbed a bunch of different sizes and varying thicknesses of square pieces of paper, and spent an hour on desk making butterflies between helping patrons with various needs, until I decided which process seemed easier and until I found the paper I thought worked best. Now it’s something I have down, and will use at a future program. At first when I read the introduction with the descriptions of the different personas, I was worried that I would have to pick just one. So naturally I found it extremely gratifying that Kelley and Littman pointed out that these personas are not set in stone, because I saw a little bit of myself in each of these chapters.
Kelley, T., & Littman, J. (2005). The ten faces of innovation: IDEO’s strategies for beating the devil’s advocate & driving creativity throughout your organization. New York, NY: Doubleday.
Wow. This week we listened to the 99% Invisible podcast about the end of EA Land, Game Over. I was blown away by the emotions that poured out of the users over this game drawing to a close. Blown away, but not surprised. Yes, this is an online community, and some people may argue it was “just a game,” but since it was such a hugely social space, losing it must have felt like losing all of your friends. Watching the farewell video and listening to the very emotional response of the DJ made me really feel for them. I personally do not have an online experience like that which I can compare to this group of people, but I can certainly try to imagine what it must feel like. It must be heartbreaking. After years of socializing in this space, growing attached and making connections, to have it taken away must be awful. (I don’t know if any of you have read the Esther Earl biography, This Star Won’t Go Out, but this online community sort of reminded me of the group she was involved with, Catitude, which was entirely online but also extremely close.)
When I was listening to the DJ talking about his experience and playing “Time to Say Goodbye” by Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman, I’m not going to lie, I was definitely tearing up. I can’t help it!!! Hah, I’m definitely too empathetic for my own good.
Also, I remember when the whole Sims Online thing started. At the time I loved the games but was not allowed to play the online version because my parents were worried about online predators and whatnot (I believe it started in 2002… I would have still been in middle school). I have always wanted to be a part of something big like this online, because I think being able to share a space, make connections, and build lasting friendships would be amazing. I’ve just never actually done it…
Honestly, when something like this happens, I think the game makers are responsible for explaining why this is happening and making the announcement early enough for users to feel like they have adequate time to say goodbye and make peace with their time drawing to a close. Especially in a situation where a game is predominately social: it’s not something they should be allowed to just rip away from users. If they let them know early enough, the users are able to swap contact information and look for somewhere else online to hang out. At the same time, if it’s not making the money it needs to sustain itself, I can understand why they would close it down.
As I was listening to the podcast, I realized that this reminded me of when television shows with major fandoms get cancelled or end. It’s a little different, because it’s not a game, and it’s not something you are using each night to talk to others, but at the same time, it kind of is, in a different way. Hardcore fandom-ers are the ones who are logging on to forums and fanfiction sites and truly immersing themselves into the world of the fandom. And they’re the ones anxiously awaiting the next episode so they can call their friends or log onto online discussion forums as soon as it ends and debate and socialize with all the others who are out there fangirling (or fanboying) over the show.
When something ends (I’m looking at you Joss), the fan response is outrageous in how wholeheartedly people stand behind something. So while this podcast focused on the Sims, and the game, I don’t think it is a unique reaction. Yes, the Sims is a game, and what I am talking about are television shows or book series, but it has the same open-ended concept (to an extent). I think in its own way, this group of people became their own little fandom: they were completely immersed in a world outside of their own, they were connecting with others with the same shared interest, and they were taking part in a larger story. If that doesn’t sound like a fandom, I don’t know what does.