Public libraries - Unlocking community knowledge

Great piece by David Lankes that parallels well the "cultivating a community garden"  thinking  and community engagement approach I've advocated for years.   Here's the main point he drives home:

"(Librarians) need to know how to unlock the knowledge of the community and set it free while imbuing the entire community with the values of learning, openness, intellectual honesty, and intellectual safety."
The bolding is my emphasis.  Read the full piece:  Last Man Standing: How to Kill Public Libraries


10 years + of blogging

I just noticed that this year is milestone for me… I’ve been blogging here for 10 years.   Technically I started penning my thoughts in a blog format in 2001 when my youngest daughter was born and I decided to move my “mommy journaling” to the internet.   In fact, I was such an early adopter and user of Blogger that my url prefix was only three letters.  My “mommy blog” is no longer accessible, but I have still have all the entries (over 700 in 7 years) printed out in book format.   Yup,  for prosperity purposes, print still prevails!  (say that fast three times)

Anyway,  I merely highlight this milestone because it’s been amazing to me how much blogs have changed and morphed over the last decade.  “Blogging” (ie the sharing and posting on one’s thoughts on the internet) is still an active practice, we just no longer really call it blogging anymore.  For the most part, blogs are now just called websites and the social behaviors associated with sharing one’s thoughts openly on the web has moved onto other platforms like Instagram, Pinterest and Medium. Here’s a borrowed image from Gigaom  that does a nice job in demonstrating this.   And that’s all for this post… here’s to the next ten years.  :)
Image: Gigaom  

PS:  A few other pieces on the changes in blogging that I found interesting:


The death of the printed Newspaper: thoughts & Clay Shirky

Confession:  I haven’t subscribed to my local newspaper since I moved from Charlotte in 2007 & even then I only subscribed to the weekend edition of the Observer.  Truth be told, I didn’t seen the value, beyond browsing local section for community/human interest stories and scanning the circulars for deals, since all my immediate news and information needs came in pixel format. Once I moved a new city, I didn't have the immediate sense of a connection to the community (that took time), so even then the weekend edition wasn't appealing.  Once I finally felt that connection, I had developed a new Sunday morning ritual that no longer included leisurely reading the local paper.    

In a presentation I did several years ago, I highlighted some of the parallels between the newspaper industry and libraries.  Both lend their origin to the invention of the printing press; newspapers for the sharing and distribution of information about current events and happenings (primarily in the loose leaflet format) .  Libraries for the sharing and distribution of stories and the world’s formalized knowledge (primarily in the book format).     

The parallels between these two industries/institutions is easy to see when comparing the distribution center, the distribution agent and the distribution format.   Here’s the two slides extracted from my talk titled From Libraries to Lifebraries

Clay Shirky  published a piece on Medium this week that reminded me of this talk.  Titled Last Call: The end of the printed newspaper, it’s definitely worth a read.    


Web Literacy Map

It’s been a long time since I posted anything here.  Quite frankly, I’ve been busy and swamped with life.   But this little gem of find is worth dusting off the blogging keyboard and sharing …

The Web Literacy Map, created as a commons project by Mozilla, is  a set of  “competencies and skills that … are important to pay attention to when getting better at reading, writing and participating on the web.”     Yup. totally up the learning in libraries alley.

Anyway, I don’t need to highlight much here, other than say… take a look at it.    The site brings together all sorts of great tools and resources that libraries can use to explore and help community member develop skills and new knowledge.   What I especially love is the easy to follow framework chunking digital literacy’s into  three easy to understand categories:  Exploring, Building and Connecting.    Take a look for yourself.

There's even a wiki to contribute the conversation yourself.  


What are you doing at the Library?

That's the question that NYPL has been recently asking of their visitors at two of their locations.  However, rather then the usual customer survey or informal poll, they're using a photobooth.  :)


Love this idea and application of the photo-booth  that NYPL has installed.   What a great way to celebrate your users, promote the value of the library and enable your customers to have some fun? 

More info:  Snapshots from NYPL
Flickr pool of images


Informal Learning – Taking it to the Badge level

I’ve been intrigued and loosely following the developments of the informal learning community since the MacArthur Foundation announced its support  for Digital Media and LearningCompetition for Lifelong Learning Badges     YALSA received an award from the initiative to “develop a virtual badge program that helps library staff gain skills related to the Competencies for Serving Youth in Libraries.”    You can find a series of blog posts and updates about the project here.   The project looks like it’s set for an August 2013 completion.  I’ll be very interested in the end results.  Libraries are a natural to lead the way in acknowledging lifelong learning pursuits, especially around informal learning.

In the meantime, I’m also thrilled to see this summerlearning initiative for teens launched by a city wide partnership of over 100 organizations, among the most prominent the Chicago Public Library.  Why I didn’t hear more about this when I was ALA just last week is beyond me.   Even mayor Rahm Emanuel neglected to share or highlight it when he spoke at the opening event.    

Anyway,  kudos to CPL (who obviously is a key player in this project)   Check out this video(which features several clips captured at CPL’s YouMedia center) and then take a look at


Could this be a library?

In my travels this week I found myself delayed at LaGuardia for three hours due to mechanical issues. Travel delays are never fun, especially when you’re on a tight time table. But this time, I didn’t seem to mind so much because I was at Delta’s terminal D and this was the site around me…

Literally hundreds of free access ipads available and attached to every visible area of counter space. The traditional rows of seating near the gates were replaced by workspace counters and ipads that provide free internet, the ability to order have food ordered to your station (credit cards swipes were also at every seat), purchase merchandise from concourse stores and keep up to date on your latest flight information. When you first touched the screen you were prompted for your flight info and altering throughout your browsing session of the status of your flight and time to boarding.

I explored the experience a bit and of course did a lot of people watching. In the just the 8 gate area that I was in there must have been 400 ipads accessible. Lots of people playing checkers and/or solitaire (two of the standard apps loaded) while others browsed the WSJ or caught up on FB or Twitter (three other standard apps on the intro screen). A big button for full internet access was also provided along with info on the iPad lounge pilot project. If weren’t for the presence of roller bags, a few passenger transport vehicles and of course, frequent boarding announcements, one might easily mistake the environment for a busy library.

Here’s a few articles with more info:


IPL Talk - From Libraries to Lifebraries

Visiting innovative public libraries and talking with passionate library staff are among my favorite “professional extracurricular” activities.  I always come away inspired by what I see and proud to work in such a honorable profession.   Two weeks ago, my travels, afforded me the opportunity to speak with staff from the Indianapolis Public Library on their annual Staff Day.   I had heard so much about the Central Library expansion that has happened several years ago, but had never had the chance to see the space in person.    The Learning Curve, with its dynamic collaboration spaces, rich media centers and interactive tech/qr codes kiosks was my favorite. 

My talk for IPL centered on making the shift from consumption to knowledge production activities.   After visiting the Learning Curve, it was clearly apparent that IPL was a leader in this service philosophy.     My talk is archived here:  

Sorry IPL that it took me so long to get this posted!