Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Libraries as a Third Place

Vancouver Public Library
Vancouver (BC) Public Library
Two weeks ago, I was asked to give a 10-minute presentation on "libraries as a third place" and was given a short amount of time to figure out what to say.  Having done it, I don't want my notes to go to waste, so I'm sharing them with you. (And I'm translating my bullet points into longer text.)

Everyone has a place besides home and work that is a social place.  It could be a coffee shop or some other physical place.  In 2018, that social place is likely to be online and likely to be Facebook.

We want libraries to the place people see as their third place, but what stops them?  What are the challenges?
  • Size - Let's be honest, if everyone in a library's service area came to the library, they all would not fit in the building.
  • Availability - Public library buildings es aren't available at all hours, which means that people can't use them whenever they want.
  • Limited online presence - While libraries do have an online presence, it is not a presence that allows for a truly social space for library users.  In other words, that library online space is not like Facebook.
  • Not a social space - Some libraries are not built to house social activities or loud discussions.  And some staff and library users are not tolerant of social activities in a library.
  • Coolness - The library may not a cool hangout spot for everyone.
  • Acceptance - While I might accept the library as my third place, do my friends?
The overarching challenge is that the library needs to be a place where each person values and accepts the other people in the space.  Those people who need to be accepted include:
  • Immigrants and refugees
  • Children and teens (who tend to be noisy)
  • Those who lack stable housing
  • People who aren't interested in "learning"
  • People who prefer media that is not books
To be that place where each person is valued and accepted, library staff need to:
  • Be more welcoming
  • Create and facilitate space that accommodates and is safe for everyone - both physically and virtually.
That will require:
  • Training - This could include listening skills, dealing with difficult people, understanding social service resources, and more. 
  • Experimentation - Staff need to be willing and able to experiment on activities that will help the library become a third place. 
  • Long-term efforts - The third place efforts can't be short term, but rather the library and its staff need to continue these efforts for the long-term.
It will mean learning from coffee shops, homeless shelters, and Facebook.  And recognizing that a library may not be a third place for everyone.  It may also require working with IMLS on a national digital platform for libraries to be virtual third places.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Podcast: The cost of a dream

Tribute to Rose Parks & MLK (Dallas)
Memorial to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks (Dallas)
The Marketplace Morning Report did a brief story on the fact that Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech is still protected by copyright.  The story is within the first two minutes of the seven-minute episode.

Years ago, I used to sleep with the radio on.  I have a fond memory of waking up early in the morning on his birthday in 1982 and hearing the entire "I Have a Dream" speech on the radio. Yes, all of it.  That was back when the family had not wrestled control of the copyright status and stopped it from being shared openly.  What a joy it was to hear the entire speech in his voice! I wish everyone now could have that same joy and the same experience of hearing the speech on the radio, TV, Facebook, etc. 

At this moment, that is my dream! Let's hope that the family (or whomever now controls its use) will make it so soon.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Recorded Webinar: Roam Your Community and Meet Them on Their Turf

On Wednesday (Jan. 10), I gave a webinar for the Southwest Florida Library Network (SWFLN) entitled " Roam Your Community and Meet Them on Their Turf."  SWFLN makes their webinars available through YouTube, so this one is now available for you to view, if the topic is of interest to you.

Webinar Description: We’ve heard the refrains of eliminating the reference desk, embedded librarians, and the like. We also hear of the need to get out into our communities. Yet meeting our community members where they are – not where we are – is still a challenge. If we are free to move about our communities, and deliver services outside of the library, what might that look like? What innovative or imaginative twist can we use, which will spark the community’s attention and interaction?

Learning Objectives: After this webinar, participants will be able to:
  • Explain the value of roaming the community
  • Propose activities which move the library out into it community
  • Support the activities of other staff, who want to move beyond the physical walls of the library

SWFLN normally has a sign language interpreter during a webinar, but one was not available on Wednesday.  However, this webinar is captioned.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

DMCA and Google search results

This is not new, but worth noting because we don't always pay attention to what's on a page.  

I ran a search in Google and at the bottom of the page of search results was this:
In response to a complaint we received under the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act, we have removed 2 result(s) from this page. If you wish, you may read the DMCA complaint that caused the removal(s) at LumenDatabase.org
Of course, you don't know exactly what was removed, whether the material truly was infringing, or if the material added anything to the results which you would not find elsewhere.  You can only hope that what was removed wasn't important to the research you were doing.

But then...you'll never know if it was important or not!  

We live in a time when threatening court action is much more common.  It has a chilling effect on many things, including the information available to us.  Let's hope that we can find ways of making (and keeping) more information available, not less. 

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Podcast: US Libraries Faced Up to Challenges in 2017

Andrew Albanese
Andrew Albanese
Christopher Kenneally
Christopher Kenneally
At the end of 2017, Christopher Kenneally and Andrew Albanese discussed the ‘top ten’ stories of the year for US libraries and librarians ahead of the list being published in Publishers Weekly. According to Albanese:
In 2017, the library community successfully beat back a Trump Administration proposal to eliminate all federal library funding – at least for now. As the American Library Association told me over the summer, the one thing Trump has done for members of the library community is to focus them.
Albanese also gave a preview of some activities which might occur in 2018.  The podcast is under 16 minutes in length, so easy to listen to on your morning walk or during a coffee break.

By the way, besides listening to Beyond the Book on its web site, the podcast can be listen to through iTunes and other podcast services.