My presentation at the #ALA11 Boomers, Staff, and Students — Engaging the Many Voices of Advocacy–An Advocacy Institute Workshop. The workshop was co-sponsored by the Mississippi Library Association. It was presented in partnership with the Association of Library Trustees, Advocates, Friends and Foundations (ALTAFF), ALA’s Washington Office and was organized by the Advocacy Training Subcommittee of the ALA Committee on Library Advocacy, in conjunction with the ALA Office for Library Advocacy.
I’m honored to be one of the virtual presenters for the Your School Library 6th Annual Online Conference! This virtual conference, which runs March 4-18, 2011, focuses on school library advocacy and ways to make your practice more effective and visible in your learning community. My session focuses on framing your practice with a lens of participatory librarianship and how that translates into conversations for learning, community building, and ongoing program advocacy. You can learn more about this virtual learning opportunity and see the outstanding list of presenters (I’m honored to be part of the team!) by clicking on the course information link.
A few months ago, fellow librarian Andy Woodworth blogged “Deconstructing Library 2.0″ as he (in his own words) explored “… if the term was dead or the principles or both.” A healthy discussion and dialogue about the term itself and application of “Library 2.0″ ensued, and other voices chimed in with their own blog posts on the topic, including the incredibly thoughtful and articulate response from Jenny Levine. While we all may have different interpretations of what exactly the term “Library 2.0″ may mean and if we should even still be using it, most everyone who has chimed in on the conversation agrees that it is definitely more than just the “let’s use the web 2.0 tools because they are shiny” thinking. The application of those tools for service and as a means for expanding our patrons’ ability to access, interpret, share, and create information/knowledge is where the power truly lies for both librarians and those we serve. On a larger scale, I think the term means more than just the technology and includes the bigger picture of one’s philosophy of librarianship.
Although this discussion took place two months ago, it has been weighing on my mind, but I feel I am just now able to articulate my response to this conversation. In reading Andy’s blog post and the subsequent responses, I am reminded of three questions that came to mind in 2005 when I first read Library: An Unquiet History by Matthew Battles.
- Where does the library live?
- What are the points of transformation?
- What is the meaning of the library itself?
When I first encountered the terms Library 2.0 and Librarian 2.0 back in early 2007, the work of people like Dr. David Lankes, Jenny Levine, Joyce Valenza, Meredith Farkas, Helene Blowers, and Laura Cohen influenced my conceptualization of the possibilities (and limitations) of “Library 2.0″ and how it could support a participatory approach to librarianship. Laura Cohen’s Librarian 2.0 Manifesto truly captures my own thinking and perceptions of what Library 2.0 and Librarian 2.0 can mean:
- I will recognize that the universe of information culture is changing fast and that libraries need to respond positively to these changes to provide resources and services that users need and want.
- I will educate myself about the information culture of my users and look for ways to incorporate what I learn into library services.
- I will not be defensive about my library, but will look clearly at its situation and make an honest assessment about what can be accomplished.
- I will become an active participant in moving my library forward.
- I will recognize that libraries change slowly, and will work with my colleagues to expedite our responsiveness to change.
- I will be courageous about proposing new services and new ways of providing services, even though some of my colleagues will be resistant.
- I will enjoy the excitement and fun of positive change and will convey this to colleagues and users.
- I will let go of previous practices if there is a better way to do things now, even if these practices once seemed so great.
- I will take an experimental approach to change and be willing to make mistakes.
- I will not wait until something is perfect before I release it, and I’ll modify it based on user feedback.
- I will not fear Google or related services, but rather will take advantage of these services to benefit users while also providing excellent library services that users need.
- I will avoid requiring users to see things in librarians’ terms but rather will shape services to reflect users’ preferences and expectations.
- I will be willing to go where users are, both online and in physical spaces, to practice my profession.
- I will create open Web sites that allow users to join with librarians to contribute content in order to enhance their learning experience and provide assistance to their peers.
- I will lobby for an open catalog that provides personalized, interactive features that users expect in online information environments.
- I will encourage my library’s administration to blog.
- I will validate, through my actions, librarians’ vital and relevant professional role in any type of information culture that evolves.
I love how this manifesto focuses on organic librarianship that embraces lifelong learning, risk-taking, transparency, play, passion, and persistence; these principles continue to be a “compass” for me of sorts when I think about how I frame my practice and ongoing philosophical evolution.
So how does this manifesto and my perceptions of “Library 2.0″ play out in my daily world as a school librarian?
- I use assorted social media streams to share information via text, images, and video, about what is happening in the library and the library program. I strive to be in as many places as my students, teachers, administrators, and yes, legislators might dwell. By sharing what is happening at The Unquiet Library through these multiple streams, I and my patrons can share in the telling of the ongoing story of our library and hopefully expand our learning community’s perceptions of “high school library” and the role we play in our school.
- These web-based information streams and tools help me compose multilayered and multidimensional monthly library reports that include hard data as well as qualitative/anecdotal evidence of what is happening in the library. These web-based reports are a powerful tool for advocacy as they both show and tell through traditional text and multimedia the story of our library program not just through my eyes, but from the vantage point of students and teachers on an ongoing basis, not just when a budget crisis may strike.
- I can use tools like PollDaddy.com, PollEverywhere, or Google Forms to solicit feedback and engage students in learning.
- This manifesto informs my approach to teaching and learning in the library, including my efforts to help students cultivate personal learning environments, hone their information literacy skills, develop an awareness of digital citizenship, and harness the power of cloud computing for accessing, sharing, and creating knowledge; all of these principles fall under the umbrella of the AASL Standards for the 21st Century learner. In addition, the Librarian 2.0 manifesto dovetails with my efforts to function as a positive sponsor of multiple forms of literacy that unpacks and theorizes literacies through the lenses of transliteracy and connectivism. My work with the Media 21 project reflects the embodiment and actual implementation of these principles with students as I try to broaden the possibilities for what a literate community of learners can mean. By privileging and integrating transliteracy as a “critical form of education“, I can scaffold my students’ ability to access, share, and create multiple forms of information; consequently, the library is a major player in preparing student to fully participate in today’s society.
- I can explore alternate ways to share my traditional library program goals/plan document through visualization tools (free!) like Mindomo. For many users, a visual map of library program goals means much more than a 15 page document that outlines goals, action steps, and assessment strategies.
- I can be responsive to students’ wishes and usage patterns by rethinking the physical space of my library.
- I can be transparent about my practice, thinking, wonderings, stumbles, successes, dreams, and other assorted musings through my blog and personal professional page. These tools are a means not only for sharing with the larger library community, but also for ongoing active self-reflection so that I am a thinking librarian who approaches everything I do thoughtfully and purposefully.
- I can model lifelong, joyful, playful, and transparent learning for my students and colleagues through my engagement with my personal learning network (see also this link).
For me, the concepts of “Library 2.0″ and “Librarian 2.0″ are “tags” that reflect my broader vision or “subject heading” of librarianship and provide an umbrella to frame and connect the various theoretical lenses and paradigms that inform my philosophy and practice as a librarian. What do the terms “Library 2.0″ and “Librarian 2.0″ mean to you? How do these ideals play out in your library program and your continued growth as a librarian?
If you are someone who is active on Twitter, consider signing the Twitter petition ignited by Lisa Layera of the Washington Moms to help advocate for funding to support certified teacher librarians trained in technology integration, 1:1 computing, and broadband access for American schoolchildren.
Stories are powerful because they provide meaning and context to something. Stories are easy to share and spread and we all love to hear and tell a good story. Think about this when developing your next campaign or strategy. Ask yourself what the story is and how you can get the world to talk about it, the answer might be as simple as giving a t-shirt to some guy at a conference.
Jacob Morgan’s blog post, “The Importance of Stories”, is a simple but powerful reminder of how important it is that we as librarians tell the story of our libraries—our programs, our work, and how we impact the students and teachers we serve. I think it essential that we find multiple ways to tell our stories. Whether we are thinking outside the box with something as simple as the t-shirt concept (see Morgan’s post) or using more traditional means, story is the medium that speaks loudest and most compellingly.
How can we tell our story? Here are just a few suggestions:
- Social media: consider how you can use tools like Flickr, a blog, a Facebook page, a Twitter account, student learning portfolios, or videos through YouTube and/or TeacherTube to show and tell the stories of your library. Encourage conversations by enlisting your students and teachers to help tell the story of your library.
- Data: consider alternative ways to share both qualitative and quantitative data about your program whether it be through a web based report, a multi-part web page, or video. Consider how you can collect data, whether it be rooted in statistics, an ethnography, or action based research, and look at the patterns to better inform your practice and to share that reflection process as part of your story of library with others, including the parents, students, administration, and faculty of your school community.
- Professional Channels: consider sharing the story of your library at professional conferences, library publications, your personal learning network, or even your state library association’s blog. We often think we have nothing unique to tell, but we forget that our contributions can help add to the larger story of library across our profession.
What other ways can we tell the story of our libraries? Please share your ideas here!