I’m delighted to share that I have joined the blog team at DMLcentral-–I’m humbled and honored to write and think in this learning space as so many people who are part of the Digital Media and Learning Research Hub have inspired my work and pushed the boundaries of my thinking. My first post, “Literacies and Fallacies“, is now up if you would like to read the first of what will be a series. If DMLcentral is not already one of the resources in your learning network, I hope you’ll consider adding this collaborative blog and curated collection of free and open resources that will offer you multiple perspectives, research, and and provocative ideas to contextualize your thinking about learning environments, ecosystems, and the dynamics that inform them.
I’m delighted to share that the September/October 2012 issue of AASL’s Knowledge Quest is now available; I had the tremendous honor of co-editing this issue with my good friend and colleague Ernie Cox. The issue’s theme, participatory culture and learning, is one that has been central to my work in recent years and as most of you know, a lens of practice and thinking that is close to my heart. We hope that our readers will be as enthralled as Ernie and I are with the quality and diversity of articles; a talented range of practitioners and scholars who work in librarianship as well as related fields have contributed rich, thoughtful, inspiring, and provocative articles to this issue. Not only am I honored to serve as co-editor with Ernie, but I’m also thrilled to have co-written an article with four of my Media 21 students for this issue. Many thanks to Kristiena Shafer, Jordan Grandt, Bethany Roper, and Jacob Morgan who gave up a slice of their summer to co-compose our collaborative article.
Here are a few links of interest for those who may be waiting on their print issue to arrive in the mailbox , who may be looking forward to accessing the issue later this fall through their library databases, or who want to access additional resources and content independent of the print issue:
- The table of contents in PDF format--what a lineup!
- Mine and Ernie’s Guest Editor column
- Mine and Ernie’s podcast for the issue–we had tremendous fun sharing and thinking aloud with Editor Markisan Naso!
- View additional resources and opportunities for learning related to this issue by clicking on the journal page
A heartfelt thank you to all of our authors, Ernie, Markisan, and the entire AASL KQ team who worked diligently to help us take this issue from abstract musings that began in the early spring with mine and Ernie’s marathon Skype session to reality this fall. Whether you are a librarian, classroom teacher, student, parent, administrator, or community member, I hope the issue will expand your thinking about the possibilities for participatory sites of culture and learning in schools and libraries.
As part of our makerspace initiative this year (please see this blog post and this slidedeck here) and inspired by the work of the Sacramento Public Library, one of my focal points is thinking about ways the library can support creating communities of readers and writers who are crafting and composing texts (and I use the term text rather liberally). The Sacramento Public Library Winter 2012 “Write at iStreet Press” writing and publishing catalog offers a model of what the library as a makerspace for constructing texts looks like in a community through the public library. Possible topics I’m interested in offering as “lunch and learn” sessions or after-school sessions could include (but are not limited to!):
- Creative writing (memoirs, poetry, short stories, novels) and writer’s craft
- Self publishing options (print as well as eBook/eInk)
- Academic writing
- Digital and/or multimodal composition
- Multigenre writing
While our library program has integrated pieces of these topics in the context of curricular study and collaboration with teachers for class projects over the last few years, I would love for The Unquiet Library to offer a dedicated space (physical and virtual) for more informal learning that would give students more latitude and agency in choice and topics for writing. I see the library giving our student writing community a place where our teens could create, share, wonder, and experiment.
While I feel comfortable in leading some of these workshops that I envision, I know we need the expertise and wisdom of our local and global community to help us connect our students with teaching artists (in the spirit of Sacramento Public Library’s iStreet Press writing program) and mentors (see the wonderful Chicago Public Library YOUMedia). Right now I’m in the early stages of reaching out to peers both near and far in my personal learning network to find people in our school community and the Atlanta/north Georgia area who could help facilitate these kinds of writing workshops; I’m also open to using Google Hangouts or Skype if there are mentors from afar who would be interested in facilitating and interacting through virtual means. Additionally, I’d like to explore how our library could partner with other community groups and organizations (see this inspiration list from UC Davis Continuing Education); I think it would also be fun to collaborate with teen writing groups through other school and public libraries to extend the makerspace writing community! As we grow the makerspace, I also see us tapping into our students’ talents and enlisting their help in serving as teaching artists and mentors to their peers. I am hopeful that our makerspace writing community will create, share, and publish texts (individually as well as with peers) in a variety of genres that are personally meaningful to them.
I look forward to sharing with you our journey of this endeavor to make The Unquiet Library a true “incubator” for teen writers. What suggestions or ideas do you have for the library as a makerspace for young authors and writers who want to craft their art in a variety of genres and modes?
*author’s note: I’m delighted to share that this entry is cross-posted at National Writing Project’s Digital Is*
The concept of libraries as makerspaces first hit my radar last November when I read about the Fayetteville Free Library’s FabLab. As I began hearing more buzz about libraries and makerspaces the first few months of this year, I decided that learning more about this concept and exploring how I might apply the elements of makerspaces to my library program would be a personal learning project for the summer.
So what is a makerspace? Makerspace defines it as:
Modeled after hackerspaces, a makerspace is a place where young people have an opportunity to explore their own interests, learn to use tools and materials, and develop creative projects. It could be embedded inside an existing organization or standalone on its own. It could be a simple room in a building or an outbuilding that’s closer to a shed. The key is that it can adapt to a wide variety of uses and can be shaped by educational purposes as well as the students’ creative goals.
The Library as Incubator Project describes makerspaces as:
Makerspaces are collaborative learning environments where people come together to share materials and learn new skills… makerspaces are not necessarily born out of a specific set of materials or spaces, but rather a mindset of community partnership, collaboration, and creation.
In late spring, I was even more intrigued by the concept as my friend and colleague Kristin Fontichiaro began sharing some of her thoughts on makerspaces and the possibilities for school libraries. While immersing myself into researching makerspaces last week, I discovered friend and fellow librarian Heather Braum is also fascinated by the possibilities, and she shared her current list of resources with me including photos and video from her visit this past weekend to the Kansas City Maker Faire. You can learn more about Heather’s MakerFaire experience in her new blog post here.
While I am having fun soaking up ideas and brainstorming ways we could cultivate makerspaces in The Unquiet Library, I can’t help but notice that makerspaces provide opportunities for participatory learning. As regular readers of the blog know, participatory learning is the guiding framework for my library program and services. Project New Media Literacies identifies these principles of participatory learning:
- Heightened motivation and new forms of engagement through meaningful play and experimentation
- Learning that feels relevant to students’ identities and interests
- Opportunities for creating using a variety media, tools and practices
- Co-configured expertise where educators and students pool their skills and knowledge and share in the tasks of teaching and learning
- An integrated system of learning where connections between home, school, community and world are enabled and encouraged
My excitement about the possibilities of makerspaces was fueled today by an unexpected trip to a local Barnes andNoble store and stumbling upon the “School’s Out! Summer Fun Guide” issue of MAKE magazine which includes a set of 3D glasses to interact with the magazine features! While some of the makerspace ventures do involve some startup costs and others might involve equipment and materials that wouldn’t fit the typical school library budget, this issue is brimming with ideas to help librarians easily craft makerspace culture on a dime.
So what are some additional resources if you’re in the initial thinking/planning/wondering stages for how to create a makerspace as an essential learning space in your library?
- Check out Kristin Fontichiaro’s excellent ideas and rationale for school libraries as makerspaces in her slides that were part of her ALA 2012 presentation with Susan Ballard and Peg Sullivan, “Think, Create, Share, Grow: Setting the Stage for Collaborative Inquiry” (note: file is large and may take just a minute or two to load–it is more than worth the wait!)
- A draft of the Makerspace Playbook and a High School Makerspace Tools and Materials guide (two separate files are available )
- Bud Hunt’s excellent post about the lenses of making, hacking, playing, and how these can lead to powerful learning and a sense of agency
- Jeff Sturges’ archived webinar at Connected Learning on “Strengthening Communities with Makerspaces” (think about makerspaces as a way of engaging and building community)
- John Seely Brown’s conversation with Steve Hargadon about the relationship between tinkering, DIY culture, curiosity, and learning
- My bookmarks on all things makerspace here (includes great articles about libraries and makerspaces as well as videos)
Are you thinking about incorporating makerspaces (as well as hackerspaces) into your library during 2012-2013? If so, please help the education and library communities crowdsource this concept by sharing your resources and ideas!
Interestingly enough, the magazine issue was on display in the freestanding “men’s interests” display rack—I did complain to a salesperson that the placement of the magazine was not only sexist but age inappropriate as a magazine geared toward children should probably not be displayed prominently to magazines featuring covers featuring excessive cleavage of women–she promised to share my concerns with the magazine section manager, and I’ll follow up to see what happens.
While I’ve talked extensively last year about relationships and humans being the cornerstone of libraries through the lens of libraries as site of participatory culture, I just had two moments here in the library that were poignant reminders of how important those values may be in the life of a library patron.
A mother came by just a few minutes ago to tell me how much she appreciated my letting her daughter, whom I remembered fondly, eat her lunch in the library every day a few years ago. Like many students who are “regulars” in here and prefer to work in here while eating their lunch for the entire lunch period, she came in and enjoyed the library space in her quiet and gracious way. Unless students volunteer to tell me why they might prefer to be in here regularly, I try to not intrude on their privacy and just try to take their requests at face value.
What I didn’t know until today was that the student, who outwardly seemed to be a happy and successful young lady, was being subjected to merciless bullying by her classmates. She eventually transferred away, and I’m happy to report that she has been able to move on with her life in a positive way as she now prepares to head off to college. To have a mother tell you through tears that your simple act of kindness saved her daughter’s life is probably about the most humbling thing you can ever experience. I’m not ashamed to tell you that I shed a few tears of my own when the mother said, “We would not have our daughter if it were not for what you did, and I thank you.”
The second moment that took place was one of my students, who is in the creative writing club I sponsor and who refers to me as the “Red Tape Conquistadora”, coming up to the circulation desk and asking me point-blank, “Are you retiring or running away from here anytime soon?” Given the difficult challenges of this past year and the cuts that lie ahead, I’d be lying if I didn’t say the thought of going elsewhere hadn’t been on my radar, but in light of the support I’m receiving from my new principal who is coming in for the 2012-2013 year, I am returning and am hopeful I can continue doing meaningful work with the students and teachers. Once I had a moment to recover from the surprise that overtook me, I responded, “No, I’m not going anywhere.” He breathed a huge sigh of relief and expressed concern that the sense of community he had built within the club sponsored by me and the library would be gone if I left; this community is important to him because he has a sister coming here in the fall, and he wanted assurance that there would be continuity of this community for her.
I share these moments with you all to remind you how fragile and complicated the lives of those we serve can be and that in the midst of the stress and challenges we all face, we must never lose sight of keeping a nurturing, welcoming, and caring climate in our libraries even as others may marginalize the value of librarians and the role of the library in your community. Never take for granted how something so simple and easy to do–showing compassion–may have more impact on someone than any library services or resources you have to offer. Thank you to these three people—the mother, her daughter, and the young male student—for reminding me that nice DOES matter and that elevating the library as a place of participation and shared ownership has value that cannot be quantified with any kind of reading level, test score, or mathematical data. Let us all continually strive to approach what we do with humility, integrity, empathy, courage, wisdom, and grace.