Friday, June 20, 2014

Transforming Libraries

 Hearing Bill Derry from the Westport, CT. public library talk about transforming libraries is heady stuff, but it wasn't until I starting talking to young people myself that I realized the urgency of the mission.

Bill Derry talks about moving libraries from thinking "collection development" to "connection development." What does that mean? I think it means actively seeking out the people in your community who have skills to share and people who need to learn those skills. Then providing the community with a place and resources to facilitate making things.

He juxtaposes these old vs. new library polarities:
  • Library Centric vs. Learning Centric
  • Language Literacy vs. Multiple Literacies
  • Answers vs. Questions
  • Library as Grocery Store vs. Library as Kitchen
  • Little time for Science vs. Emphasis on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math)
Here is how South Carolina public librarian, Melanie Florencio, explains it in a TEDX Creative Coast 7 minute talk:

Talking to a few young people in my circle of connections reveals an urgent need to build new competencies and explore new job skills. No longer can you go to grad. school, pass your classes, get your diploma and be set in a career. In today's constantly evolving work world, acquiring new skills and competencies are a given and people need to have a place where they can come back again and again to study and practice new technologies and new ways to be productive.

Enter the new library. Place to learn and create, all at your own pace and featuring the freedom and support provided by the ever-evolving public library.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Duxbury Free Library hosts a Minecraft world

Do your teens play Minecraft on your public computers every afternoon? Ours do. We've been trying to figure out a way to host a Minecraft game for some time at the library and played around with setting up a LAN at a couple of Game Nights, but thought it would be more fun and good outreach to host a world on a more on-going basis. After all, do people have to be in the library to participate in a library program?

Last week we heard Bill Derry from Westport, CT Public Library say, "You don't have to do it all yourselves, tap into a cadre of enthusiasts."
Enter my former Bookmarks, Colby and Callum, both in college now and experienced gamers. With their help, we chose a Minecraft hosting company, set up an account, trouble-shot our initial obstacles,signed up a Beta testing group of eager 8th graders and we're off to the races.
Truth: I would never have been able to do this so quickly without my wing men.  Lord only knows how our Minecraft world will evolve. They've all signed waivers for good behavior. Let's hope that doesn't stifle them too much. Let the Games begin!

Here's a great practical article about what you can do in a library Minecraft world.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Lessons from the Big Guns: Westport Connecticut Public Library blazes the trail

We had the privilege of attending a Makerspace in Public Libraries session recently sponsored by the ITS sub-committee of NELA in the beautiful Portsmouth, New Hampshire Public Library. The highlight of it was hearing Bill Derry, the Assistant Director of Innovation and User Experience, talk about how Westport, CT Public Library "does" Makerspace.
Here is Bill's resource page.
Download his PPT from this page for use in your library.
It's really comprehensive.

Major take-aways were:
  1. The library is THE place in the community to get people started making.
  2.  You don't have to do everything: be the conduit into the Maker World by connecting folks with other Makers and grassroots Makerspaces in your area.
  3. Make your programs as intergenerational as possible.
  4. Don't assume that just because the schools are getting new equipment (e.g. 3D printers) that the public will have any access to them. Schools have to be very cautious and buttoned down. Libraries are THE place for the democratization of resources, tools, and knowledge - always has been, always will be IF we stay current.
  5. You shouldn't have to do it all: build a strong volunteer brigade to help staff and train people.
  6. Get a monthly or seasonal rotation of Makers-in-Residence. This give people the scope of what can be done.
  7. Let clubs and Makerspaces meet at the library and collaborate closely with others.
We are looking forward to creating our new Digital Media Lab in our Upper Level Reference Area and will be posting about that throughout the summer, we hope.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Guerilla Marketing for Summer Reading

Every year as children's librarians we ask ourselves, "What am I going to do when I visit the schools to promote summer reading?" We love schools visits. They have a direct impact on our summer reading statistics. Where else can you talk to a captive audience of 100 + kids who begin coming in THAT DAY to sign up? I cannot tell you how many years I have seen the summer reading report at the end of the year change based on which elementary school I had/had not visited in previous jobs. But once you get your foot in the door, how do you excite an auditorium full of kids who are eagerly counting down the days till the school is over? Some librarians act out plays, sing songs, dress in costumes, bring props or just rely on some personality and a loud voice.  This year, with science as the theme, it was an easy sell for me to incorporate littleBits into our poster props. Although ideally I had wanted to master Arduino by now, we have been too busy planning for summer events to make my interactive wall. I decided to use the next best thing, my favorite toy, littleBits.

Our slogan this year is Fizz, Boom, READ! with some catchy graphics thanks to the CSLP. My poster theme was based on the 6 questions to ask during the scientific process: What, Where, When, Why, Who and How? These were used to explain our summer reading program rules and events. The What question, as seen behind the main poster that stood for what else can I do besides READ? was an entirely different poster to highlight just events. It was great having some prompts to make sure I didn't forget anything.

For the main design of the logo using littleBits I wanted to get as close as I could to a FIZZ and BOOM with my bits so I used the vibrating motor underneath the Fizz beaker for a fizzing/buzzing sound.  The Boom beaker got an LED bargraph because of the clever placement of the OO's.  I really wanted to use the buzzer for BOOM but if anyone has ever played with that one they know that sound gets old FAST. The READ got the servo motor because it's flashy and fun. I used lots of tape.

littleBits used:  power, wire(s), vibrating motor, servo motor, bargraph, button
Once we are done with school visits, I think I might rig up the motion sensor in place of the button.

Fizz Boom Read Summer Reading Poster from Duxbury Free Library on Vimeo.

It worked like a charm. The first question I was asked after going through my explanation of the program was "What's that?" and of course everyone wanted to press the button after.  I told them they had to come into the library to press it, how's that for marketing?