Editorial: Our Favorite Articles from 2013
by Editorial Board, Ellie Collier, Brett Bonfield and Hugh Rundle
To kick off 2014, we’re looking back at 2013. In the Library with the Lead Pipe’s editors have chosen a few non-Lead Pipe articles, essays, speeches, or posts that we love from last year. Some of us chose pieces that were published in LIS journals or written by librarians, while others have chosen articles that relate to our work, even if they’re from slightly farther afield. The common thread: we think everything we’ve mentioned is worthy of your attention.
Char Booth, Information Privilege: Critical Approaches to Access and Advocacy
My husband and I share our own version of tl;dr, which is v;dw (video, didn’t watch). If it’s a video, we can’t be bothered, since videos take so much longer to watch than it would take to read the same information. Plus, you can’t skim them, and it’s often a hassle to wait for them to load on our tablets. I tell you this so you have adequate understanding of how awesome I think Char Booth’s Closing Keynote at the Digital Library Federation Forum was when I say that I watched the whole hour and six minutes. Char is always an engaging speaker and this video is no exception, but it was the social justice message that put it on this list.
Marisol Brito and Alexander Fink, Learning from Early Childhood Education: Higher Ed and the Process of Becoming
As a new mother, the analogy of the playground interaction between teacher and child really resonated with me. It also reinforced several disparate conversations I’ve had with faculty members who want to draw students into the scholarly conversations of their disciplines and encourage students to go beyond basic report writing.
Tim Chevalier , When Who You Are Is Off-Topic
Tim Chevalier provides an excellent discussion of some social justice/neutrality/POV issues with Wikipedia. His ideas are absolutely applicable to how we teach information literacy.
Dorothea Salo, How to Scuttle a Scholarly Communication Initiative
Satire. How frequently has it been used in professional LIS publications to frame an argument and further an agenda? I confidently say hardly ever (without having researched the factual basis of my statement). Well, Dorothea Salo, Faculty Associate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Library and Information Science, has done it and has done it with aplomb. In this article, published by the open access, library-published Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication, Salo points to all of the common ways in which individuals and institutions can ensure that scholarly communication initiatives fail.
Salo’s opening is anything but subtle:
Since Clifford Lynch’s infamous call to arms (2003), academic libraries have been wasting their time trying to change the scholarly communication system on the feeblest of rationalizations. Proper librarians know that the current system is obviously the most sustainable, since it’s lasted this long and provided so much benefit to libraries (Rogers, 2012a) and profit to organizations as diverse as Elsevier, Nature Publishing Group, and the American Chemical Society, as well as their CEOs (Berrett, 2012). Moreover, faculty have proclaimed loudly and clearly that they believe libraries’ central role is to be the campus’s collective knowledge wallet (Schonfeld & Housewright, 2010; Lucky, 2012), so who are librarians to argue? (p. 1)
She continues in this vein for eleven pages, detailing issues in planning, software choice, staffing, psychological techniques (including hypocrisy and microagressions, among others), and tips for specific kinds of librarians. Even if you aren’t a librarian who has engaged much with scholarly communication initiatives in your day-to-day work, upon reading this article you will laugh, you will cringe, and you might even cry onto your dusty and food stained keyboard. As she concludes Salo points out that, “Many of the techniques suggested in this paper do not apply solely to scholarly communication initiatives. Properly deployed, they can scuttle almost any sort of risky, faddish new initiative in academic libraries” (p. 11). Indeed, Salo has successfully, wittily, and gracefully characterized how we, in libraries, can easily ensure failure that reaches far beyond the world of scholarly communication, and even beyond the world of academic libraries.
In a single word: brilliant.
Jason Vance, Staplercide!
I am heartened by the slowly trickling infiltration of creative writing into academic library publications. First Salo’s article, then Jason Vance’s “Staplercide!” article, published in December 2013’s issue of College & Research Libraries News. This piece, which chronicles the death of fifteen (yes that is a one and a five) staplers over one (only one!) semester at Middle Tennessee State University’s James E. Walker Library, offers a lighthearted view into the minutiae experience by almost any library worker who has ever staffed a public service point.
Vance expertly begins his article. “We have experienced 15 deaths in my library this semester. Three victims were decapitated. The bodies of two other victims were never found. Others were abused and left for dead. My library is facing a crisis. Staplercide—the murder of library staplers—is at an all-time high” (¶ 1). As a reader one is immediately drawn in and wants to learn more about staplercide. This is a testament to Vance’s writing prowess. But not only can Vance write, he has a sense of humor, too. His article is accompanied by images of upside down staplers—documentation of a machine’s demise. But the fun does not end here! Vance has created The Lives and Deaths of Academic Library Staplers, a tumblr blog chronicling librarians’ and staplers’ plights. My favorite is the most recent post (as of my writing of this editorial): “Stapler 11, the old man, is dead. It was 279 days old, making it the longest living stapler of 2013. Cause of death: flaccid spring.”
Anyone who has ever worked at a public service point in libraries has surely felt, if even for a moment, “Geez, what am I, a free office supply store clerk?!” The levity that Vance brings to this feeling, the passion he takes to turn something frustrating and time consuming into a project to share with his community in Tennessee and in the Library community, well, that shows dedication. It is this kind of attitude that I want to see in library workers everywhere. Well done, Mr. Vance.
Char Booth, Banishing Your Imposter: Metacognition and Myths of Self
I confess, one of the reasons I love Char’s writing is that we have a somewhat common background and educational experience. We both grew up in the South/Southwest; Char in Texas and I in Oklahoma. Then we both arrived at Reed College in Portland, Oregon the same year. So when I read Char’s self-reflective writing, it resonates not only with my Oklahoma born-and-raised, Reed College educated, academic librarian self, but I am floored by how succinctly and aptly Char captures and communicates introspective professional themes.
Our existential performance apprehension is a form of violence that does little for collective or individual physical/mental/spiritual health. Directed outward it creates judgment and envy, which I have experienced everywhere from queer culture to surfing to sangha. Directed inward, it leads to the unconscious cultivation of highly specific negative myths of self, internally-spun stories reinforced by external feedback and an ongoing, conditioned interpretation of experience. Simply slot in your own narratives (“I can’t _______,” “I’m not great at _______,” “I suck at _______”) in any personal or professional context, and you have identified these self-myths. More often than not they become the lenses through which we see, and they distort far more than they correct.
What I love in this paragraph is the acknowledgement of how violent we can be with ourselves. Before reading this piece I had never thought about imposter syndrome or other personal narratives as violent. Now it clicks. In a metacognitive way. This blog post is a great reminder for us about ways in which we take reflection and intention as library workers, and use metacognition to improve our approach to the work environment and our contributions to our profession.
Alexis Dinno and Chelsea Whitney, Same Sex Marriage and the Perceived Assault on Opposite Sex Marriage
Okay, okay, this article has nothing to do with LIS, and yet it does. This piece was written by a faculty member and a graduate student in one of my liaison departments as Urban & Public Affairs Librarian at Portland State. First and foremost, the article appeared in PLoS One, an open access journal that pushes for all research of sound quality to be published. As a matter of fact, the journal’s website boasts:
Too often a journal’s decision to publish a paper is dominated by what the Editor/s think is interesting and will gain greater readership — both of which are subjective judgments and lead to decisions which are frustrating and delay the publication of your work. PLOS ONE will rigorously peer-review your submissions and publish all papers that are judged to be technically sound. Judgments about the importance of any particular paper are then made after publication by the readership (who are the most qualified to determine what is of interest to them).
But it’s not just Dr. Dinno’s choice of publishing venue that pushed this article onto my list of favorite reads for 2013. It is what she does with her research; Dr. Dinno is dedicated to social justice through policy change. Using data and her expertise as a social epidemiologist, she makes and presents a cogent arguments that (I hope) will influence policy changes. What I find so inspiring about this article is that it reminds me we can do the same thing in libraries. We, too, can research and write to influence positive changes as we look to a vision of libraries’ and librarians’ roles in a just society.
Andromeda Yelton, #libtechgender: Your World and Mine
Andromeda Yelton on gender and technology. I can’t do it justice with any summary, so go read it and the articles she references.
Hugh Rundle, Free Range Librarianship: Public Librarian as Park Ranger
Even if I did not know and work with Hugh here at Lead Pipe, his book chapter would be on my list as one of the most innovative, readable, and exciting pieces of professional literature I read this year. In his chapter, Hugh puts forth his vision of a public librarian embedded within her community. She is a free range librarian without an office or scheduled reference desk duties. Hugh documents a day in her working life, sharing examples of how she connects with business owners, city planners, and others within her community. Hugh’s chapter is a must read. In fact, the whole book in which it appears, Planning our Future Libraries, should be on everyone’s reading list.
I want to promote open access and celebrate the scholars who publish important, interesting, well written work in peer-reviewed, Creative Commons-licensed journals. For this reason, I only considered peer-reviewed articles published in DOAJ-indexed journals that publish all of their work with a Creative Commons license. I also limited myself to journals that publish in areas of librarianship that I find particularly interesting, and to journals that publish solely in English.
My Favorite (non-Lead Pipe) Peer-Reviewed Articles from Open Access LIS Journals Published in 2013:
Jill Cirasella and Sally Bowdoin, Just roll with It? Rolling Volumes vs. Discrete Issues in Open Access Library and Information Science Journals
There’s nothing flashy about this paper, but everything about it is just right: the topic is intrinsically interesting to readers of the journal in which it is published; the research is novel and has implications beyond its field; the research model is appropriate and the results are explained fully and succinctly; and the writing is economical, but with an understated sense of humor. If you teach a class in any area of social science and you’re looking for an example of how good, basic research should be done, I encourage you to share this paper with your students. I mean, if you want a classic paper you can always go with Miller’s “The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two: Some Limits on Our Capacity for Processing Information.” But if you’re looking for a paper that’s contemporary, gets the same kinds of things right (i.e. clarity of ideas, economy of language, understated humor), and is easier for your students to imagine themselves writing, I recommend “Just Roll with It.”
Christian Dupont and Elizabeth Yakel, “What’s So Special about Special Collections?” or, Assessing the Value Special Collections Bring to Academic Libraries
I love it when writers use examples from airline engineering to make points about other fields, or simply to explain their own decision making. If you’re at all interested in investing, Whitney Tilson’s five-part analysis of JetBlue from 2003 is still a wonderful read. Malcolm Gladwell’s discussion of pilot error and cultural norms in Outliers (2008) was interesting, as was Gladwell’s consequent discussion about culturalism with The Korean. And Atul Gawande’s discussion of how medical practitioners can learn from airline engineers in The Checklist Manifesto (2010) is a must read. (If you haven’t read it already, do so immediately. I’ll wait.)
So please bring your seat to an upright position, make sure all of your electronic devices are in airplane mode, and enjoy the first six paragraphs Dupont and Yakel include under the subheading, “Taking Flight”:
To overcome this last defect, it would be enough to apply a more precise measure. Looking at the basic metrics other industries have developed to measure their business performance can be instructive. For example, two basic metrics that the airline industry uses to measure overall business capacity and volume are “available seat-miles” (ASMs), which is equal to the number of available seats multiplied by the number of miles flown, and “revenue passenger-miles” (RPMs), which equals the number of filled seats multiplied by the number of miles flown. Dividing RPM by ASM yields a third metric, “load factor,” which represents the percentage of airline seating capacity that is actually used (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Global Airline Industry Program, n.d.). Because these metrics are simple in concept and can be equally and objectively applied across all airline companies, they are useful for assessing the performance of individual airlines from quarter to quarter, comparing the respective performance of multiple airlines over a single quarter, and benchmarking the overall performance of the industry over time.
lthough special collections reading rooms are seldom arranged or oriented to calculating seating availability or measuring their performance as a quotient of seats filled, it may be useful to consider adopting a measurement strategy akin to revenue passenger-miles in order to enable libraries to engage in meaningful longitudinal and comparative assessments. As shown above, the reader-day metric fails to adequately convey the amount of time that researchers actually spend in the reading room. It also does not take into account differences in reading room schedule. If a reading room is open for four hours on a Saturday afternoon should that be considered equivalent to a weekday when the reading room is open for six or eight or ten hours? Most special collections that employ a reader-day metric do in fact treat all of these as equivalent, which is to say that they consider a “day” to be any day when they maintain at least some reading room hours.
Taking a lesson from the airlines, these shortcomings could be remedied by simply refining the basic reader-day metric to instead count reader-hours. Just as airlines use seat-miles rather than, say, seat-segments to gauge capacity and profitability, so, too, special collections libraries could achieve a more precise, consistent, and objective measure of their use by counting the actual hours that researchers spend in the reading room.
And it would not be hard to do. To facilitate the tabulation and calculation, the manual tally sheets and reading room logs that most special collections employ to track usage could be replaced with simple electronic databases that staff would use to record the time that researchers enter and leave the reading room. If the log also linked visits with individual researchers, reports could be constructed to calculate the number of unique visitors during a given time period and analyses of the average visit lengths of various categories of users (such as students, faculty members, visiting scholars, and members of the general public). Visitors could even be given “smart” cards to scan upon entry and exit, like those the National Archives and Records Administration has begun issuing at some of its research facilities.
Furthermore, reader-hour data could be correlated with circulation or item usage data to provide a kind of “load factor” indicator of reading room use. How many items, on average, do various categories of researchers consult when they visit the reading room? To facilitate basic comparisons, it would be enough to divide the total number of items used during a given time period by the total number of reader-hours.
Having precise metrics and consistent data collection methods would enable managers to assess the adequacy of their services and staffing over time. Are special collections reading rooms in fact getting busier as evidence from some libraries, largely anecdotal, would suggest? Have changes in policy, such as allowing researchers to use personal digital cameras in the reading room, had an effect on the way researchers are using their time in the reading room? Are researchers spending less time in reading rooms because they can now come in and make their own digital copies at no charge and then consult these copies at home on their own time? Or is the opposite occurring: because it is now quicker and easier to obtain copies, are more researchers spending more time in the reading room and requesting more materials? (pp. 15-16)
Kyle Hall, Cindy Murdock Ames, and John Brice, Open Source Library Software Development in a Small Rural Library System
(Note: while this is my favorite Code4Lib Journal article from 2013, there were four more that were so good I had to include them in our “References and Further Reading” section at the bottom of this article.)
My favorite section of the article:
Of course, no solution is completely free; with OSS [open source software] you might save funds on software and license fees, but there are costs associated with hiring staff capable of installing & managing it. However, we have found from our first OSS project onward that the costs of such employees can be considerably less than many organizations pay for commercial software solutions. Furthermore, our IT staff were able to apply the skills and knowledge gained implementing OSS solutions in our libraries to a wide variety of projects, since OSS projects are often built using many of the same tools.
Hall, Murdock Ames, and Brice make me want to be a better librarian. They also provide a great example of the kind of sensibility, and the kinds of skills, that library schools should be teaching (see: Simpson, immediately below).
Betsy Simpson, Hiring Non-MLS Librarians: Trends and Training Implications
Most interesting paragraph:
When asked, academic library directors cited the need to hire non-MLS librarians for subject expertise and technical skills, such as Web design, data management, and digital services as well as data curators, copyright specialists, instructional design specialists, rare books curators, subject liaisons, and archivists. A few expressed concerns about MLS preparation as noted by one respondent who said, “… the skills and knowledge needed to run today’s and tomorrow’s libraries are increasing and increasingly complex, and may not all be provided by the traditional MLS.” In this regard, another comment made was, “The poor quality of the ALA-accredited MLSs that are being produced is one of the reasons that some directors are considering forgoing the degree.” (p. 9)
cf., ALA Accountability and Accreditation of LIS Programs and Is the United States Training Too Many Librarians or Too Few? (Part 1) (I’ll publish Part 2 one of these days…)
Rick Stoddart, “Straight to the Heart of Things”—Reflecting on Library Metaphors for Impact and Assessment
It’s not just enough to know the facts, but you have to present those facts in a way that conveys meaning. Stoddart, an assessment librarian, discusses the importance of metaphor in a paper I believe every librarian owes it to themselves to read:
I believe metaphors are of particular value to libraries because they frame patron comprehension, inspire library direction, and can be used to illuminate the potential of a library. Unfortunately, describing a library as a library does not always achieve the desired results when we communicate with our stakeholders, funding agents, or communities. The library as a self-referential metaphor is still entangled in librarian stereotypes and the deeply rooted definition of a library as simply a storehouse for books. Salinero & Grogg (2005) provide a bibliography of the various articles found in the literature railing against librarian stereotypes. Yet, these limiting assumptions remain a challenge for libraries to overcome. Smith and Yachnes (1998) suggest that, “The general script for behavior in a library is very similar to the one that applies in churches, museums, art galleries, or concert halls — all use of the underlying categorization of sacred space from which we are barred such profane items and behaviors as noise, food, drink, and boisterous behavior” (p.726). Library assessment has an important role to play in breaking down these outdated stereotypes and traditional assumptions. Assessment is one tool to help ‘flip the script’ by communicating a more robust story of the library through evidence, value, and impacts. We all need to do a better job framing these library accomplishments and outcomes within the descriptive language that speaks loudest to our stakeholders. I believe metaphors offer one pathway to make progress on this mission.
Kristina Southwell and Jacquelyn Slater, An Evaluation of Finding Aid Accessibility for Screen Readers
Meredith Farkas and Lisa Hinchliffe, Library Faculty and Instructional Assessment: Creating a Culture of Assessment through the High Performance Programming Model of Organizational Transformation
Vee Herrington, The Academic Library: Cowpath or Path to the Future?
Ramesh Pandita and B. Ramesha, Global Scenario of Open Access Publishing: A Decadal Analysis of Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) 2003-2012. See also: Ramesh Pandita, Growing Trend Towards Open Access Publishing at Global Level: An Analysis of Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)
…plus a great (non-peer-reviewed) commentary from an open access, peer-reviewed publication (see Emily’s commentary above)…
Dorothea Salo, How to Scuttle a Scholarly Communication Initiative
…my favorite article in a non-open-access journal…
Emily Ford, Defining and Characterizing Open Peer Review: A Review of the Literature
…and a plea
There are several fantastic LIS publications that are indexed in DOAJ, refer to themselves as open access, and make their content available in full text for free, but publish some or all of their work without a Creative Commons license. If a journal published even a few articles in 2013 that were not accompanied by a Creative Commons license, I excluded all of its articles from consideration for my Favorites, Honorable Mention, and Noteworthy lists.
I understand why these journals would choose not to require their authors to accept the journal’s preferred license, and I’m not criticizing them for their decision. However, I don’t think it’s inconsistent to applaud them for making their content available for free while also wishing they would adopt a Creative Commons license. It’s not a perfect analogy, but it’s similar to the standard open source distinction between “free as in speech” and “free as in beer.”
And so Ariadne, College & Research Libraries, D-Lib, First Monday, and Journal of Electronic Publishing, while it sometimes seems impossible to love you more than I do, the possibility exists. Please add one more tick mark to your tally of readers and potential authors who hope you will formally adopt a Creative Commons license in the near future.
My hope for greater use of Creative Commons licenses extends to every other LIS journals as well: I encourage every editorial board of every LIS journal to adopt a Creative Commons license, and I encourage authors to publish all of their best scholarly work exclusively in Creative Commons-licensed journals. I believe you will be pleased with your decision if you do.
Given my article on the need for public librarians to engage with peer reviewed literature, it’s probably a bit hypocritical of me to not follow Brett’s lead and restrict my list to academic journals. Nevertheless, what I’m listing here are five articles that really made me think in new ways about what it is to be a librarian in 2013. Most of these articles are neither directed at, nor written by, librarians. Perhaps that is one of the reasons I feel they offer refreshing insights.
Richard Nash, What is the Business of Literature?
This article was a highlight for me because it explores the long history of book publishing, presents an honest and clear-headed analysis of the internal contradictions of literature as a business, and finishes with a call to arms for everyone involved in literature, whether as a writer, publisher, librarian, or reader:
Book culture is in far less peril than many choose to assume, for the notion of an imperiled book culture assumes that book culture is a beast far more refined, rarified, and fragile than it actually is. By defining books as against technology, we deny our true selves, we deny the power of the book. Let’s restore to publishing its true reputation—not as a hedge against the future, not as a bulwark against radical change, not as a citadel amidst the barbarians, but rather as the future at hand, as the radical agent of change, as the barbarian. The business of literature is blowing shit up.
Kenneth Cukier and Viktor Mayer-Schönberger, The Dictatorship of Data
Anyone with even a passing interest in information and its management will remember 2013 as the year ‘Big Data’ went mainstream. I liked Cukier and Mayer-Schönberger’s article in MIT Technology Review because it dared to question the zeitgeist and point out the dangers and limitations of the Big Data craze. Discussing Robert McNamara’s obsession with metrics in his management of the Vietnam War, they write:
As the Vietnam conflict escalated and the United States sent more troops, it became clear that this was a war of wills, not of territory. America’s strategy was to pound the Viet Cong to the negotiation table. The way to measure progress, therefore, was by the number of enemy killed. The body count was published daily in the newspapers. To the war’s supporters it was proof of progress; to critics, evidence of its immorality.
Tim Sherratt, A Map and Some Pins; Open Data and Unlimited Horizons
Tim Sherratt is now the Manager of the Trove portal at the National Library of Australia. When he gave this keynote address at the Digisam conference in Malmö, however, Tim had only worked with Trove on his own time by using their API. Amongst several insights,Tim reminds us of two extremely important things here with regards to open data, and the neutrality of librarians and archivists:
…open data must always, to some extent, be closed. Categories have been determined, data has been normalised, decisions made about what is significant and why. There is power embedded in every CSV file, arguments in every API.
This is inevitable. There is no neutral position. All we can do is encourage re-use of the data, recognising that every such use represents an opening out into new contexts and meanings. Beyond questions of access or format, data starts to become open through its use. In Duff and Harris’s words, we should see open data ‘as always in the process of being made’.
Cherian George, The Unknowing of Public Knowledge
Alas, I didn’t attend the IFLA World Congress in August, but shortly after Cherian George gave this extraordinary plenary address, an abridged version appeared in my streams. In this paper, George explores the conundrum that in a world of unprecedented access to information we simultaneously find ourselves in an age of unprecedented censorship, truthiness, and New Speak. George worries about a tendency towards public forgetting. Reminding us of Donald Rumsfeld’s famous “known unknowns” speech, he notes:
Rumsfeld left out a fourth category that forms a central concern of this essay.
The unknown knowns.
These are the things of which reliable knowledge is out there —yet it is studiously avoided, because the truth is too inconvenient to some.
I found Cherian George’s paper invigorating, because it reminds us that libraries and librarians (especially public and state/national libraries) are a public good, and that what we do is more than just a social safety net or cheaper way to read. George tells us we should be more proactive about sharing the knowledge we care for, and that “The role of journalists and librarians as guardians of public knowledge and public reason remains as important as ever.”
Marcus Westbury, What’s the Difference Between Enabling and Programming?
Marcus Westbury and his work have intrigued me for several years. In this piece (and the post he published just prior to it) he lays out a framework to distinguish between programming and enabling when it comes to the activities of cultural organisations. Westbury had in mind arts organisations such as the ones he has spent most of his life running, but I think this is an extremely useful model for public libraries. As I see it, public libraries are above all an enabler. With new models of librarianship increasingly focused more on events and programs, it is important that we don’t lose sight of this crucial role as an enabler rather than simply a deliverer of ‘programs’.
Like Hugh, I feel a little guilty about not highlighting articles published in academic journals since the article he wrote earlier this year about public librarians’ involvement in library research resonated with me, but I can’t deny how much of my professional development and learning comes from blogs, conferences, and colleagues in addition to more academic reading. Here, then, are three articles that I found personally meaningful, practical, and timely, plus two items that made me think more deeply about what I do.
At the beginning of 2013, I took a new job supervising a teen services department in a branch of a large urban library. My patrons are almost exclusively teens of color and many are low-income, so most of my reading and learning this year has centered around management, urban librarianship, and underserved populations.
Tiffany Williams, Being Diverse in Our Support for STEM
My library has made it a point in recent years to position itself as a leader in education in the city, and my branch is in an area where it frequently feels like schools are failing their students. STEM is a hot topic in young adult librarianship right now, so integrating STEM programs, activities, and perspectives into the library services my department is offering has been at the forefront of my mind. In this article, Williams points out that minority students are dramatically underrepresented in STEM classes and careers; examines how and why racial and ethnic minorities are excluded from STEM fields; details methods to incorporate a multicultural point of view in STEM classes; and suggests ways that librarians can help students of color overcome barriers to STEM participation. While her findings and advice are practical, I also appreciate how she digs deeper into, and finds important new facets in, something that feels very buzzword-y.
K-Fai Steele, ‘What We Think Actually Matters?’ Teen Participatory Design and Action Research at the Free Library of Philadelphia
One of the most important aspects of providing truly meaningful, effective library services to teens is giving those teens agency in what the library does. Giving teens a voice provides them with an opportunity to practice critical thinking and to develop leadership and communication skills—part of helping them develop into happy, healthy adults. Steele outlines how the Free Library of Philadelphia involved teens in the design of the new teen center at the Parkway Central Library: teens weren’t just recruited for focus groups, but were hired as assistants and engaged in interactive feedback and visioning activities over a period of months. This article provides a great showcase of how to involve teens in a major capital project, take them seriously, and make them a meaningful part of the process, creating a conversation between the library and teens rather than merely soliciting one-way feedback. I was particularly impressed with how getting teens involved was something that had the whole institution’s support, and that it was so successful that they were able to use what they’d done as a model for use at other branches. Photos of the teens and some of the work they did were posted on the YALS site.
Sarah Flowers, What Your Manager Wishes You Knew
Okay, I’m cheating a little: this is actually a series of blog posts. Last year I took on a new role in a supervisory position, and after having to be the boss, I now understand how to communicate with my boss and administrators to my own advantage much more effectively. In my experience, teen services librarians (and others who work with teens in libraries) often love their work and believe in what they do, but they’re not always able to communicate the value of their work to their supervisors—and it doesn’t matter how good you are at what you do or how much what you do matters if you can’t get the people in power on board with you. These six blog posts—on presenting oneself as a professional, speaking the language of administration, collecting and understanding data, “sharing information up the ladder,” thinking big picture, and advocating widely—will help any frontline library worker who engages teens become more powerful in their ability to speak up for themselves and their teens, and get the administrative support they need.
Lee Rainie, The New Library Patron
I adore the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. Rainie’s keynote address summarizes and synthesizes findings from many of their reports from the past few years of research they’ve done on public libraries. He talks about who library patrons are, how they use libraries, how they perceive libraries, and what they want from libraries. What made this really interesting for me was his dissection of what different populations and groups—people of color, people without Internet access at home, parents, young people—want from libraries. The Pew Research Center is one of the few organizations that has the resources to conduct rigorous nationwide research about libraries, and being able to digest its findings and understand how to apply them to the planning my library does is valuable. On top of all of that, Rainie’s a delightfully engaging speaker.
Linda Braun, Maureen Hartman, Sandra Hughes-Hassell, Kafi Kumasi, and Beth Yoke, The Future of Library Services for and with Teens: A Call to Action
This report (the culmination of an effort begun at the National Forum on Libraries & Teens) looks at the current state of teens, education, and libraries; explains the purpose and outcomes of the summit held earlier this year; and points to the future. Youth librarianship often feels very practical—here are new storytime ideas! How long do you let a book sit on the shelf before you read it?—so I appreciate things that help us pull back and look at the big picture. I found this report particularly useful because it gathers data and information from a wide variety of sources, creating a comprehensive view of youth and libraries, and because it’s forward-thinking. In the same way the Pew Research Center is one of the only sources for wide-ranging research on libraries, it’s good to see YALSA creating a document that steps back for a wider view and indicates future directions for meaningful library services to teens.
References and Further Reading
Anderson, R. (2013, July 15). The Moab design for digital object versioning. Code4Lib Journal (21). http://journal.code4lib.org/articles/8482
Booth, C. (2013, October 3). Banishing your imposter: Metacognition and myths of self. http://infomational.wordpress.com/2013/10/03/banishing-your-impostor-metacognition-and-myths-of-self/
Booth, C. (2013, November 6). Information privilege: Critical approaches to access and advocacy. http://mediasite.engr.utexas.edu/UTMediasite/Play/15fef35f23364ca0bbe4f0ee5f04a3e71d
Braun, L.W., Hartman, M.L., Hughes-Hassell, S., Kumasi, K., and Yoke, B. (2014, January 8) The future of library services for and with teens: A call to action. National Forum on Teens & Libraries. http://www.ala.org/yaforum/sites/ala.org.yaforum/files/content/YALSA_nationalforum_final.pdf
Brito, M. & Fink, A. (2013, July 2). Learning from early childhood education: Higher ed and the process of becoming. http://www.hybridpedagogy.com/Journal/files/Learning_from_Early_Childhood_Education.html
Chevalier , T. (2013, July 11). When who you are is off-topic. http://geekfeminism.org/2013/07/11/when-who-you-are-is-off-topic/
Cirasella, J., & Bowdoin, S. (2013). Just roll with It? Rolling volumes vs. discrete Issues in open access library and information science journals. Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication, 1(4). http://dx.doi.org/10.7710/2162-3309.1086
Cukier, K., & Mayer-Schönberger, V. (2013, May 31). The dictatorship of data: Big data gets personal. MIT Technology Review. http://www.technologyreview.com/news/514591/the-dictatorship-of-data/
Dinno, A. & Whitney, C. (2013). Same sex marriage and the perceived assault on opposite sex Marriage. PLoS ONE 8(6): e65730. http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0065730
Dupont, C., & Yakel, E. (2013). “What’s so special about special collections?” or, assessing the value special collections bring to academic libraries. Evidence Based Library And Information Practice, 8(2), 9-21. http://ejournals.library.ualberta.ca/index.php/EBLIP/article/view/19615
Farkas, M. G., & Hinchliffe, L. J. (2013). Library faculty and instructional assessment: Creating a culture of assessment through the high performance programming model of organizational transformation. Collaborative Librarianship, 5(3), 177-188. http://collaborativelibrarianship.org/index.php/jocl/article/viewArticle/250
Flowers, S. (2013, May-Jun.). What your manager wishes you knew. http://yalsa.ala.org/blog/tag/what-your-manager-wishes-you-knew/
Ford, E. (2013). Defining and characterizing open peer review: A review of the literature. Journal of Scholarly Communication, 44(4), 311-326. http://dx.doi.org/10.3138/jsp.44-4-001
Hall, K., Murdock Ames, C., & Brice, J. (2013, October 14). Open source library software development in a small rural library system. Code4Lib Journal (22). http://journal.code4lib.org/articles/7939
Herrington, V. (2013). The academic library: Cowpath or path to the future? Journal of Library Innovation, 4(2), 54-68. http://www.libraryinnovation.org/article/view/278
Klein, M., & Kyrios, A. (2013, October 14). VIAFbot and the integration of library data on Wikipedia. Code4Lib Journal (22). http://journal.code4lib.org/articles/8964
George, C. (2013, August 20). The unknowing of public knowledge http://www.mediaasia.info/the-unknowing-of-public-knowledge/
McGrath, G. (2013, January 15). The format registry problem. Code4Lib Journal (19). http://journal.code4lib.org/articles/8029
Nash, R. (2013, Spring). What is the business of Literature? Virginia Quarterly Review, 14-27. http://www.vqronline.org/articles/2013/spring/nash-business-literature/
Pandita, R. & Ramesha, B. (2013). Global scenario of open access publishing: A decadal analysis of Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) 2003-2012. Journal of Information Science Theory and Practice, 1(3), 47-59. http://dx.doi.org/10.1633/JISTaP.2013.1.3.4
Pandita, R. (2013). Growing trend towards open access publishing at global level: An analysis of Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). International Research: Journal of Library and Information Science, 3(3). http://irjlis.com/growing-trend-towards-open-access-publishing-at-global-level-an-analysis-of-directory-of-open-access-journals-doaj/
Rainie, L. (2013, October 29). The new library patron. Speech presented at Internet Librarian 2013, Monterey Conference Center, Monterey, CA. http://www.libconf.com/2013/10/28/internet-librarian-lee-rainie-keynote/
Rochkind, J. (2013, January 15). A comparison of article search APIs via blinded experiment and developer review. Code4Lib Journal (19). http://journal.code4lib.org/articles/7738
Rundle, H. (2014). Free range librarianship: Public librarian as park ranger. In K. Leeder & E. Frierson (Eds.), Planning our future libraries: Blueprints for 2025 (pp. 55-68). Chicago: ALA Editions. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/857141238
Salo, D. (2013). How to scuttle a scholarly communication initiative. Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication, 1(4). http://dx.doi.org/10.7710/2162-3309.1075
Sherratt, T (2013, June 11). A map and some pins; Open data and unlimited horizons, http://discontents.com.au/a-map-and-some-pins-open-data-and-unlimited-horizons/
Simpson, B. (2013). Hiring non-MLS librarians: Trends and training implications. Library Leadership & Management, 28(1). http://journals.tdl.org/llm/index.php/llm/article/view/7019
Southwell, K. L., & Slater, J. (2013). An evaluation of finding aid accessibility for screen readers. Information Technology and Libraries, 32(3), 34-46. http://dx.doi.org/10.6017/ital.v32i3.3423
Steele, K. (2013). ‘What we think actually matters?’ Teen participatory design and action research at the Free Library of Philadelphia. Young Adult Library Services, 11(4), 12-15.
Stoddart, R. A. (2013, October 29). “Straight to the heart of things”—Reflecting on library metaphors for impact and assessment. Journal of Creative Library Practice. http://creativelibrarypractice.org/2013/10/29/straight-to-the-heart-of-things/
Vance, J. (2013). Staplercide! College & Research Libraries News, 74(11), 50-57. http://crln.acrl.org/content/74/11/570.full
Westbury, M. (2013, October 26). What’s the difference between enabling and programming? http://www.marcuswestbury.net/2013/10/26/whats-the-difference-between-an-enabling-and-programming/
Williams, T. (2013). Being diverse in our support for STEM. Young Adult Library Services, 12(1), 24-28. Retrieved from http://www.ebscohost.com/academic/academic-search-premier (Will also be available in a month or two on the YALS online archive.)
Yelton, A. (2013, November 20). #libtechgender: Your world and mine. http://andromedayelton.com/blog/2013/11/20/libtechgender-your-world-and-mine/
Wow! I am so surprised, and so grateful! Thank you very much for the kind words.
Also for the nine open browser tabs I have now…
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Dr. Dinno reports the following: “also, our article has been cited in two amicus briefs for state cases being heard on appeal in u.s. district courts for va, nv and hi (now mooted):
Coakley, M., Nadeau, G. C., Millar, J. B., Harris, K., Jepsen, G., III, J. R. B., Nathan, I. B., Madigan, L., Miller, T., Mills, J. T., Gansler, D. F., Foster, J. A., King, G. K., Scheiderman, E. T., Rosenblum, E. F., Sorrell, W. H., and Ferguson, R. F. (2013). BRIEF OF MASSACHUSETTS, CALIFOR- NIA, CONNECTICUT, DELAWARE, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, ILLINOIS, IOWA, MAINE, MARY- LAND, NEW HAMPSHIRE, NEW MEXICO, NEW YORK, OREGON, VERMONT, AND WASHING- TON AS AMICI CURIAE IN SUPPORT OF APPELLANTS. Amicus Brief. BEVERLY SEVCIK, ET AL. vs. BRIAN SANDOVAL, ET AL. (United States District Court for the District of Nevada) and NATASHA N. JACKSON, ET AL. vs. NEIL S. ABERCROMBIE, GOVERNOR, STATE OF HAWAI’I, LORETTA J. FUDDY, DIRECTOR, DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, STATE OF HAWAI’I and HAWAII FAMILY FORUM (United States District Court for the District of Hawaii).
Lustig, C. B., Shuttleworth, T. B., Ruloff, R. E., Boies, D., Silver, R. B., Schiller, J. I., Olson, T. B., McGill, M. D., Tayrani, A., Fiebig, C., Theodore J. Boutrous, J., Lipshutz, J. S., Isaacson, W. A., and Goldman, J. M. (2013). Memorandum in support of plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment or, in the alternative, preliminary injunction. Amicus Brief. TIMOTHY B. BOSTIC, TONY C. LONDON, CAROL SCHALL, and MARY TOWNLEY vs. JANET M. RAINEY, in her official capacity as State Registrar of Vital Records, and GEORGE E. SCHAEFER, III, in his official capacity as the Clerk of Court for Norfolk Circuit Court.”