This past weekend was a blast! I think I worried too much but otherwise it was an awesome library conference and I’m glad I went.
More or less that was how I felt both days. What a whirlwind! Thanks to everyone at the Hawaii Library Association for a wonderful joint conference with the Hawaii Association of School Librarians. A listing of the schedule found here!
Day 1 had interesting panels, two of which sparked interest and an ongoing situation in public libraries here.
Sustainability of Public Libraries in this Digital Climate: Transforming Communities Through Digital and Information Literacy (presented by Sharrese C. and Kelsey D.)
“Welcome to the Public Library. May I help you find a good website?” More and more public libraries are shifting their focus from helping patrons find book resources to digital resources. And with that push, patrons visit the library needing help with online job applications, using smart devices like smart phones and tablets, or accessing the library’s digital resources. Digital and information literacy instruction in libraries addresses this issue while promoting the Public Library’s basic tenet of lifelong learning. In this presentation, we will look at how public libraries can sustain and empower our diverse communities through digital and information instruction and engage with patrons on the importance of digital and information literacy. We will also discuss some examples of what some public libraries are doing to promote digital and information literacy and provide tips and tools for implementing digital and information literacy instruction in your library.
Indeed we need to provide the best service we can in an age where technology is becoming the norm and the public is attempting to keep up. However how much is too much help? Do we go by a case by case basis determining if a patron needs help setting up an email account or if they want you to write their personal letters? This presentation helped put into perspective how public libraries are helping their patrons out using technology. I reflected on this, yes we should provide the best service we can offer but we also cannot be there at every little thing but how can we get this started? Sharrese and Kelsey, managers in the public library system, bring up good points and here I also reflect upon what librarians can do.
- Ensure the library staff knows about technology or common questions patrons might have regarding technology. Many libraries might have a staff of three versus a staff of fifteen so it is always helpful when library staff–not just the librarians–have knowledge of technology and customer service.
- Know your limits. Helping someone print their resume is one thing but being asked to type the resume out to the letter can be going too far. Assess the situation and guide the patron so they see what you’re doing and can emulate the procedure.
- Build repertoire with the patron and ease them into technology situations they may normally push away.
- Customer service. Assisting patrons is what we do as library staff but understandably we all do not have teaching degrees nor have formal experience as teachers. Here is our time to shine showing empathy with patrons while guiding them to use a computer or understand technology in a positive way.
Next we had a cool presentation about professional development via social media.
Unbusying the Busy: Public Librarians Employing Social Media for Professional Development (presented by Dr. Irvin, Michelle M. and Michelle Y.)
The Librarians’ Inquiry Forum (LINQ) is a professional development model that uses social media as a means to create sustainable librarian communities of practice for the purpose of professional development. Librarians working with the Hawaiʻi State Public Library System gathered across the islands, online, via the social media platform, Slack, to enact ongoing, real-time professional networking and learning in inquiry-based discussions to learn the intersections between one another’s practices, questions, and concerns about public librarianship. The goal of LINQ was to have front-line “busy” librarians learn how a social media-based community of practice can be employed to “unbusy their busy” via collaborative inquiry, reflection, and learning for the purpose of ongoing professional development. This session will present data from the LINQ project that conveys ways in which front-line librarians learned how collaborative inquiry transformed their “busy-ness” to enhanced, more effective professional practice and identity.
We are busy. At times we can get overwhelmed. We definitely love what we do but there are times when there is a feeling of there is so much to do! Never a dull moment is what I say. Two points stood out in this presentation and I thank the presenters, Dr. Irvin from the University of Hawaii at Manoa and two managers from the public library system, Michelle Y. and Michelle M.
- The definition of “busy”. Are we busy because without being busy, we are no one? Are we busy because being busy is our identity tied to our job? Are we busy because we resist (change/work/specific duties)?
- Slack as a social media platform for building ideas and communication between librarians! Similar to the platform I use for video games (Discord), it really is something to consider. The pros of Slack being that we can communicate instantly versus creating a long email while sharing documents and pictures. The downside being that unless there was a something similar to a storage locker that has all the documents shared and properly labeled so it can be easily accessible, it is limited. The other thing being that not every librarian has their own staff computer so there is the risk of being met with a block of text when checking back on Slack.
I’ve been looking to plan a website for librarians in our system to communicate and share ideas. Thankfully going to this panel and hearing how Slack can be used as a professional development tool as well as a communication tool brings hope that we may be able to implement this into our work lives.
*Apologies for the quality of pictures.