Oh, the Places We Hope to Go: Mapping Program and Learning Themes 2010-11 FTW!

Unquiet Library Learning and Program Themes, 2010-11

Once again, I am using Mindomo to help me pull together the swirling mass of ideas for 2010-11 that have been simmering in my mind throughout the summer.    You can see the working draft (which is subject to change and evolution throughout the next ten months) of the map that outlines the major program and learning initiatives for The Unquiet Library in 2010-11.     These goals and initiatives will take place against the backdrop of reduced staff as our district lost all of its media clerks for the 2010-11 year; protecting instructional services is our priority as is minimizing the ease and flow of access to the physical library space.

In a nutshell, here is where I hope to see the library program grow and go in 2010-11:

Media 21

This learning model will once again be the centerpiece of the program and will be the vehicle for a mini-pilot of the embedded librarian model.    Details will not be finalized until August 2, but tentatively, I have a team of four English teachers and one science teacher who are looking to scale out the work that Susan Lester and I did with our students in 2009-10. I will be writing a separate blog post outlining the goals, framework, tools, themes, and challenges of Media 21 for the upcoming year within the next two weeks;  I’ll also be outlining how I plan to grow my own instructional literacy and my past and present interests in looking at what happens next year through an anthropological lens, so please watch for that impending post.  This year, I hope to frame the Media 21 work as action research and/or ethnography to better understand and analyze student learning and the dynamics of what I hope will be a mini professional learning community.  In addition, I will also compose an additional post outlining and exploring my working conceptualization of participation literacy and its overarching influence on the design of Media 21.


This goal feels very much like a moving target in spite of my best efforts to approach our first efforts to roll out ereaders in a methodical and thoughtful way.   I’ll be meeting with the stakeholders who will be helping me in this process over the next weeks, but the preliminary plan at this time is to start with a small set of Kindles for circulation to students and faculty and hopefully expand the menu to include iPads and/or some other tablet device.   I want to have a mix so that students and teachers have options; in addition, I want a mix of dedicated ereaders as well as tablet devices with educational and productivity apps for learning.  The waters feel muddy as the library community grapples with digital rights management issues and the blitz of devices that are either in development or are on the brink of release, such as the Pandigital Novel. I definitely plan to continue collaboration with my personal learning network as we try to share our knowledge and criteria for evaluating these resources that will best fit the needs of our patrons.

I should also add that the initial plan is to purchase Kindles (and possibly Nooks) and to collect a considerable amount of student feedback and qualitative data from the students who use the initial set of devices.  I’ll be using student feedback and the results of their experiences to drive additional purchases and future directions with ereaders.


The Unquiet Library will be purchasing additional board games using Libraries Got Game as one of our compasses for purchasing materials that are engaging and aligned to the AASL Standards for 21st Century Learners.  In addition, Kimberly Hirsh has been doing some cool work in aligning games to the standards as well, and her work will inform the decision making process; Justin Hoenke is another friend and colleague whose experience and wisdom I’ll be calling upon to help me develop my gaming collection.   I am also working on assembling a team of gaming bloggers who will post directly to The Unquiet Library blog and share their insights and experiences on games of their choosing.

Student Virtual Collection

I want to step up last year’s focus on student content creation while providing a virtual space for hosting student learning artifacts that they may create either in collaboration with teachers and the library or that they may create out of their own learning interests.  I feel this student virtual collection is a way of celebrating student learning while providing an archive and space to explore the evolution and diversity of student learning.

Community/Tribe Building

I’ll be exploring and crowdsourcing strategies for stepping up our current degree of transparency as well as for  inviting even more participation in 2010-11 not only from students, but from parents, administrators, faculty, and other community stakeholders.     I’m working to recruit a team of stakeholders who will be guest bloggers for The Unquiet Library blog as well as finding more ways to crowdsource library policies, events, purchases, and learning experiences that better reflect the needs and wishes of all of our patrons.  In addition, I’m working with other educators to hopefully implement more learning experiences that tap into a larger global network to connect our learning community with others outside of our corner of the world.  My goal is to get more voices participating in the conversations we’re having in and outside of our learning space in the library.

Mobile Learning and Library Services

I plan for the library to lead the way in increasing integration of mobile devices and computing into instruction while finding ways to better tap into students’ mobile devices for access to library services and materials.  In addition, I’m planning on incorporating essential educational apps into our catalog.

Bring It

Although I don’t report back to work officially until July 27, my summer has been a hive of activity and thinking although I certainly wish I could have a few more weeks for collaboration, contemplation, reading, listening, and reflection.   Each of these initiatives presents its own challenges, but I will once again use this blog space to share the journey with you in hopes that others can not only learn from my successes and failures, but  also help me problem solve the challenges along the way and inform my thinking, which I plan to keep fluid and open throughout the next school year.     I am excited to see where we’ll go this year and what we’ll all learn together!


Is Your Library Making Milkshake Mistakes?

CC Image via http://bit.ly/cWPWTx

One of the most interesting ideas I’ve discovered so far in my reading of Clay Shirky’s new book, Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age, is “milkshake mistakes.”    Shirky relates how McDonald’s wanted to improve the sales of its milkshakes; with the exception of Gerald Berstell, all of the researchers focused on the qualities and characteristics of the product itself.  Bertstell, however, chose to focus on studying the customers, observing who bought milkshakes and the times of day in which they made their purchases.    Consequently, Berstell observed that many of those who purchased the milkshakes were  commuters who were buying the milkshakes for breakfast, an unexpected discovery.

So what is to be learned from this story?  Shirky observes:

The key to understanding what was going on was to stop viewing the product in isolation and to give up traditional notions of the morning meal. Berstell instead focused on a single, simple question: “What job is a customer hiring that milkshake to do at eight A.M.

…they made two kinds of mistakes, things we might call “milkshake mistakes.” The first was to concentrate mainly on the product and assume that everything important about it was somehow implicit in its attributes, without regard to what role the customers wanted it to play—the job they were hiring the milkshake for. The second mistake was to adopt a narrow view of the type of food people have always eaten in the morning, as if all habits were deeply rooted traditions instead of accumulated accidents. Neither the shake itself nor the history of breakfast mattered as much as customers needing food to do a nontraditional job—serve as sustenance and amusement for their morning commute—for which they hired the milkshake.

In reflecting on this passage, I wonder if we as libraries and librarians are making milkshake mistakes.  For example, when we wonder why patrons may not be using a particular tool, like a database or our OPAC, are we focusing only on the tool itself, or are we taking time to notice patron behavior and to see what role the human aspect might play in the usage (or lack thereof) of a particular resource?   Are we taking time to actually observe and focusing on the needs of the patrons when we are trying to articulate product enhancements to vendors?

When we are trying to analyze a problem in our library environments, are we willing to look at the challenge outside of its context?    Are we willing to put aside our traditional beliefs and values about a particular aspect of librarianship or library programming in order to pay attention to what really matters—the needs of our patrons?

As the beginning of a new academic year looms just a few weeks away on the horizon, I will be trying to focus more on analyzing challenges through multiple lenses and paying closer attention to patron behavior in order to better understand how those human needs impact our efforts to be an even more responsive library program.


Searching for the “So What?”

One of the things I love about social media and my transactions with my personal learning network is the wealth of ideas I glean from these learning spaces.   What I relish even more, though, are those who actually write about how they are putting those ideas into practice and reflections on those experiences.    In the last year, I have focused on trying to include more posts that explicitly share how my original ideas or those I am borrowing from others play out in my practice as a school librarian; sharing more evidence based practice is one of my writing goals for 2010-11.

I’d like to challenge all of us (public, school, academic librarians, and this includes me as well!) not only to talk about ideas we are discovering in our diverse learning spaces, but to also do more sharing of how those ideas are translating into actual practice in our daily work.  It’s one thing to talk about ideas, but to me, the real power comes from discussing how we are putting those ideas into actual action and exploring the ways people are breathing life into the ideas in their library spaces.  I hope you’ll join me in this challenge during the next twelve months so that we can tap into the power of the collective wisdom from our practice.