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‘Cause it’s a bittersweet symphony, this life…

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.

Winnie the Pooh thinking

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.

Barney Stinson Mind Blown

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.

Haymitch Approves

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.

Anna Frozen Excitement

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.

Nooo The Office

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!

Wave of Feels

Cap Right in the Feels

Woody Waving

 

Reference

Center for the Future of Libraries. (2015). Trends.  American Library Association.  Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/transforminglibraries/future/trends

It’s Electric! (Boogie woogie woogie)…

Now that you are all *hopefully* having wonderful flashbacks to the lovely Electric Slide, let me tell you about my project for the maker faire!

Ursula Evil Laugh

Loki Devious Laugh

I do a lot of arts and crafts-type projects, especially at work, so I decided I wanted to try something new and different… and possibly involving electronics.  But I also didn’t want to break the bank, and as I’m sure at least some of you discovered, electronics are EXPENSIVE! So I went on a quest to find something electronic-y or electricity-centered.

Kronk and Yzma Power

Kronk and Yzma Dinner

Imagine my delight when I discovered electro-etching!  All I needed, in addition to common household items like salt and black nail polish, was some wiring and a 9-volt battery! Not expensive at all! So I set to gathering all of my supplies, and mentally preparing myself to etch into metal using a simple chemical reaction!

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As you can see, most of these items are fairly common, and not at all difficult to obtain.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any wiring sets, so I ended up buying some alligator clips and attaching them to 22 AWG wire to make little mini-cables.  They almost look like miniature jumper cables!  This process took me a long time, because I had issues stripping the wires, and I also kept yanking out the wires after threading them through the opening in the alligator clips, but I eventually got the hang of it, and made my own wire set!

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The basic idea of this project is to create a circuit connected to the metal and the salt and vinegar solution that allows the electricity to cause the solution to burn into the metal, thus etching the design drawn into the nail polish onto the knife (or whatever metallic object you choose).  It’s a little more complicated than that, but I wanted to give you an overview before I get too far into the project (I will include my full instructions at the end, as well as a link to the original source.)

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Overall, I was really proud of myself. I didn’t think it was working at first, but when I cleaned off the nail polish, I found that my design had actually been etched!

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The next day, I was still feeling pleased with myself, and also extremely nerdy, so I began a fandom knife with easy symbols from various fandoms that I felt I could recreate on the knife.

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 What did I learn?

I made a few discoveries while I was in the early stages of this project.  First of all, I realized I really needed to decide on a design before painting the blade with the nail polish, because otherwise it would dry and ruin everything.  As a very indecisive person, this was rather time-consuming for me, but I was happy with what I decided in the end.  I also found that mixing the solution while waiting for the nail polish to dry allowed the salt more time to dissolve into the vinegar.  If I had not had any of these supplies before starting, I estimated that it would cost $15-20 to purchase all of the materials, because most of the items can be found at any local dollar store.  The only reason it would be more is if you bought wires that were already attached to the alligator clips, or if you were buying materials for more than just one or two people.

The other big takeaway I got from this project was that it feels really good to accomplish something on your own.  Yes, I used a set of instructions for the basis of my project, but as I was working through it, I found myself tweaking things here and changing steps there, truly making it my own.  Martinez and Stager (2013) tells us that “the constructionist theory that making, complete with the process of making things better, leads to understanding” (p. 54).  The more I was able to adapt the steps to suit my needs and my thought process, the more I could make connections.

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Would this work in a library?

Overall, I think this could be a fun project to do with a small group.  I’m considering doing it with my teens, because I usually have around 7, so I think this could be easily replicated.  I do not think this would work well for a large group, because there are enough steps that will take different people different lengths of time, that it would get frustrating trying to all work in a group.  It could be a fun station within a makerspace though, if you had a few sets of guidelines to explain the setup, because there is a lot of freedom and creativity within the project; the design can be whatever you can imagine and draw.

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I also think this could fit well into a STEAM curriculum, because it involves both the art of designing a pattern or picture and the science of a chemical reaction by using the solution to etch into the metal.  One thing I will say is that if you can find somewhere to buy the wires pre-made, I would suggest considering that, or at least prepping them all beforehand, because that was pretty time-consuming for me.  But aside from that, as long as you have the time, and enough of a budget to cover supplies, I think this would be fairly easy to reproduce within a library setting.

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And now, I shall share my process!

Metal-etching steps:

Materials:

Connecting cables
9-volt battery
Stainless steel knife (or other unpainted metal)
White distilled vinegar
Iodized salt
Black nail polish
Nail polish remover
Toothpicks
Q-tips
Paper towels
Newspaper (or something to lay down on the surface you’re working on)

*In total this project took me 33 minutes the first time, and about 32 minutes the time after that. I have included the time each step took in brackets and italicized. I spent a lot of time on the design the first time around, and a little less the next time, but allowed more time for the knife to dry, so it stayed pretty equal timing-wise

  1. Once all of the supplies are collected, start by painting the part of the knife (or other metal) with your nail polish [2 minutes]
  2. As the nail polish dries, use a toothpick to carve in your design [10 minutes]
  3. Let the knife dry completely [5 minutes]
  4. While the knife is drying, mix up the solution of vinegar and salt. Use about a tablespoon of vinegar and ¼ teaspoon of salt, and allow to dissolve: when it is ready, dip the Q-tip into the solution [3 minutes]
  5. Connect the wires to the battery, the knife, and the Q-tip: the red wire should connect to the positive terminal on the battery and the handle of the knife, while the black wire should connect to the negative part of the battery and the part of the Q-tip with solution on it [1 minute]
  6. Swab the design slowly and evenly; the longer you swab, the deeper the etching will be (I went through multiple Q-tips per design; this will be at the user’s discretion). Don’t worry if there is hissing and sizzling or a little bubbling while you swab, this is part of the reaction and means it is working – there may even be a few little wisps of smoke! [10 minutes]
  7. Use the nail polish remover to clean off the nail polish and to see your design! [2 minutes]

Please let me know if you have any questions!!

Pikachu Electricity

References

Magpirate. (2015 March 11). Cheap & easy metal etching with household items [Blog post]. Craftster. Retrieved from http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=438435.0

Martinez, S.L. & Stager, G.  (2013).  Invent to learn: Making, tinkering, and engineering in the classroom.  Torrance, CA: Constructing Modern Knowledge Press.

You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one…

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?

Batman Contemplating

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.

Leslie Happy Dance

Reference

Martinez, S.L. & Stager, G.  (2013).  Invent to learn: Making, tinkering, and engineering in the classroom.  Torrance, CA: Constructing Modern Knowledge Press.

Running full steam ahead… Running full steam ahead… Running full steam.

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.

Otters holding hands

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!

PLL gasp

gremlin gasp

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!

References

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.

A whole new world…. A new fantastic point of view…

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.

Hiccup branch

Mission creep.

Confused Jasmine

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.”

Annie Shirley fist bump

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:

Library Mission

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).

Seth and Amy high five

References

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/

You say you want a revolution… Well you know, we all want to change the world

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:

Trends I hadn’t thought of, especially in relation to libraries:

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.

Friends excitement

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.

Belle Books

References

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

Any way you want it, that’s the way you need it…

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!!!

Cheering Hermione  Cheering Minions

Then I was just like… wait a second.

Ron Wait

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.

References

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