After the course: Using technology for community engagement

In February 2016 Barbara Alvarez taught a great new c3_fingers_in_circleourse for Infopeople called “Using Technology for Community Engagement.” Participants learned to use readily accessible equipment (such as a smart phone and free or low-cost software) to facilitate the sharing of community stories. Alvarez taught learners to record and upload videos, create podcasts, and virtually broadcast community conversations and events.

As the course wrapped up, learners created action plans in which they outlined their intentions for using technology to engage their communities.  They were enthusiastic about what they had learned and about what they were going to be able to do, “I learned so many things that I could now apply to my job. This course was full of practical ideas and tips on how to get started” and “This has to be one of the most inspiring courses that I’ve taken in a long time. I love technology and social media, so everything in this course: the podcasting, the video production and the broadcasting has set my creativity in motion. There are endless possibilities for Community Engagement.”

A few months after the course ended, we checked in with learners to see what they had done. Here are a few of the sharing_community_storiesresponses we received:

  •  Videos – Jane Dobija, Senior Librarian with the Los Angeles Public Library’s Woodland Hills Branch Library feels “so much more confident” about her awareness of technology’s potential for libraries and community engagement. She’s created a great little video on her tablet about the library’s balcony garden project.
  • Podcasts – Wanangwa Dever, Technical Services Librarian with the Polk County Public Library in Columbus, NC, said that the biggest way the course was helpful for her was with podcasting. She shared information from the class with her co-workers, including programming assistant Amelia Derr, who was just getting ready to start podcasting with teens at their programs. Wanangwa connected Amelia with a classmate who had already done some podcasting with the teens at her library. Here’s a Google Hangouts on Air that Wanangwa and Amelia created to introduce the library’s Teen Scene and here’s a podcast featuring teen book reviews, too.
  • Videos – Katrina E. Laws, Web Librarian at Solano County Library (CA) has created several things since the course.  In March, the library celebrated Women’s History Month by honoring women in the community and Katrina created videos featuring local women, shared on Facebook and on Twitter.  She created a video to promote feminist books in the library’s collection, too!
  •  Podcasts – Pamela Hoppock, Youth Services Consultant at the South Carolina State Library and her coworker are getting ready to start producing two short podcasts every month. They will kick off the series with a podcast talking about summer reading and StoryfestSC (the statewide kick off to summer reading). Hoppock says, “…our purpose is really three-fold:  promote our own services and resources and those of other libraries, educate our listeners—library staff and the non-library staff, and hopefully entertain along the way. We are planning on using social media as the primary way to market our new podcast series.”
  • Social Media – Since taking the online class, Tamara Evans, Digital Services Librarian at the Kings County Library – Hanford Branch (CA), has used social media in order to engage with the community and publicize library events. They recently debuted a Veteran Resource Center and had a successful turnout via people sharing the event from the library’s Facebook page.
  • Podcasts & Live Events & Videos – Crystal Miller, Circulation Manager at the Coeur d’Alene Public Library ID)) says they have added podcasts the library’s long range plan and are also looking into possibly recording more library events and airing them on the local government channel. They are also trying to reinvigorate a Story Catcher program, which collects videos of local oral stories.

Thank you to Barbara for teaching this course and thank you to these learners for sharing the stories of how the course impacted their ability to engage their communities using technology.

(Missed the February course? Good news – it will be offered again in November!)










Emerging Tech Trends and Libraries

How are emerging technology trends impacting libraries? Tech gurus Lrobot armaura Solomon and David Lee King are delivering a 4-part webinar series for Infopeople to explore this question.

  • Part 1: Laura Solomon kicked off the series in December 2015. She discussed Gartner’s Hype Cycle, Internet of Things, wearables, the evolution of social media, and more. You can listen here (one-hour).
  • Part 2: David Lee King presented the second session in the series. His session covered trends and tipping points, including mobile, games, smart machines – all through the lens of “What does this mean for the library?”. You can listen here (one-hour).
  • Part 3: David Lee King returned to host the third session. This time he covered maker spaces, digital media labs, co-working spaces, and more. You can listen here (one-hour).

Part 4 in the series will be presented by Laura Solomon on June 15, 2016. You can register here.



What’s going ’round

The past month (and in almost any “past month”), tech media stories have been awash with a few high profile stories that cry out for library-level responses. The pair selected for highlighting here involve a collection-oriented concern and one related to community information needs.

The We Need Diverse Books Campaign became solidified and systematized across the past couple weeks, although the concerns it addresses have been real and compelling for a century. Major publishing houses, the work horses that supply our libraries with books for youth, have a lot of responsibilities: finding, editing, publishing promoting works of fiction and nonfiction comprise a gargantuan job, undertaken by those who work as editors, editorial assistants, agents and other proposal and manuscript readers, cover designers, packagers, sales jobbers, reviewers…and only then do new works reach the point of audience discovery, and individual reader enhancement or rejection.

When a panel planned for 2014’s Book Expo America was first revealed to be exclusively white and male, years of discontent with this long outmoded staging of how-we-show-kids-their-world erupted into a groundswell of activist author, editor, librarian, bookshop staff, and reader response. Social media, including most particularly Tumblr and Twitter, became the stage for days of concentrated demonstration, and helped to establish a presence of alternatives. To catch up with how swiftly such a demonstration of needs can foment, articulately and cogently, serves as an ancillary lesson for library staff who have been slow to credit social media with relevant and awesome power.

This story, then, offers two bottom lines: no matter what you think your community looks like/identifies with, they (and you, in service to that community) need diverse books; and you, in the position of learning quickly and authoritatively, need to engage in linking to what is happening in the publishing world, now that it can be altered in direction by skilled social mediators.

The second story is one that originates with the discovery of the devastating breadth of the Heartbleed bug, news of which began to reach the general public at the end of the first week of April. What has developed across the six weeks since this news broke is a secondary story that implicitly addresses us as library staffers: a month after Heartbleed’s reported presence and publicity about how to mitigate its damages at the personal online security level, a majority of American computer users were not taking the steps required to rid their online presence of this security flaw. That is where we need to step up our game, taking a proactive stance toward educating, coaching, and actively supporting good online hygiene in our communities, instead of waiting to be asked for guidance.

We can be information sources for our communities. However, doing the informing, doing information, is a far more powerful and valuable approach. And to take that on, we need to address our own never-ending need to know and understand how big news doesn’t happen in a silo: we have a role in connecting news and our community in ways that enhance and promote the community’s interests.

George and Joan, Thinking Out Loud about the Great Tech War of 2012

podcastIn this edition of Thinking Out Loud, George and Joan discuss an article that George recently read in the magazine Fast Company, The Great Tech War of 2012. The article predicts an upcoming battle for supremacy among Apple, Amazon, Google and Facebook in the markets for smartphones, tablets and more.

What impact, if any, does this looming tech war have on libraries? Would they benefit? Would they suffer? Libraries may not directly benefit but they will have a stake in the outcome. Each of these organizations are moving in similar directions. As Joan says they are verticalizing. And that is something that libraries can think about doing. Tune in to hear all of their ideas!