This is so within a community of learning, for if we simply read and absorb the information presented by another, then that answers just that one query at that one time; but if we read the answer, then de-construct and analyse that information, investigate it further and add another facet then the answer creates a broader perspective and deeper understanding.
The concept of community of inquiry opens discussion, inviting analysis and investigation to improve understanding and increase knowledge. Creating a culture of critical analysis offers opportunity to experiment and to think laterally to really make a difference.
We’re continually exposed to these opportunities through informal forums like think tanks and brain storming, and formal processes like investigation and research and analysis. When I am in a Community of Inquity, I tend to try to fly under the radar, only venturing a strong opinion when I’m sure of supporting evidence.
This aligns with my ‘ideal’ personal profile of contributing to the online discussion with factual information that is in context with the discussion. This doesn’t always work of course, but it is my ‘ideal’ profile. I like to think that I am responsible and responsive to queries and genuinely seek information to share either online or offline. I am respectful and courteous, non-discriminatory and compassionate with a commitment to practically and proactively supporting those within the community.
Having completed my first week of fieldwork placement at Helensvale Library this week my perspective of the services provided by public libraries was informed by the diverse programs and products run by the library. The team of librarians, library technicians, library assistants, IT specialists and community organisations work together at Helensvale to provide the public with the information and services they need. Community programs provided young families with an introduction to rhyme and literature through regular morning meetings with singing, dancing and a bubble machine. School-age children were invited to undertake STEM experiments working individually and in teams to discover simple scientific and engineering concepts through craft-type play activities. Older children were encouraged to experiment with Minecraft, Scratch and Digiworks programs run by librarians and other tech-savvy team members. Adolescent and adult patrons were offered assistance in access to the internet, use of computers, operation of the printer/copier/scanner and basic access to resources including DVDs, music scores, CDs, audio books, books and magazines.
The library team was cohesive and collaborative in its delivery of information and literacy services, respecting the diverse levels of ability of its patrons and taking care to understand their needs and respond to their queries. This kind of collaborative culture has been developed through an environment where experimentation and exploration is encouraged throughout the team. It has evolved from observation and survey of users to asssess their needs and to meet their expecations.
Technology has changed the nature of library ‘business’. Self check-out and check-in is accepted by an estimated 96% of the branch patrons, with patrons encouraged to manage their individual accounts online using their library membership card to access the catalogue, information about loans, holds and upcoming events at the library.
Access to computers, printing, copying and scanning services, together with free wi-fi access has brought a different vibe to the library with many arriving at the library at 9am with their laptops, phones and briefcases as if the library is their office. Visitors to the area use library services to access free wifi to check emails. New residents join the library so that they can use the products and services and become involved in programs of learning. It’s a vibrant community of people who work together to engage in self-education, self-improvement, recreational learning and reading and discovery of new and not so new technology.
This sharing of knowledge and information and making available the tools and facilities needed to support self-education supports many within the community who may not otherwise have access to formal learning. It also provides an open forum for sharing of knowledge, information and skills. While Helensvale library does not currently have a formal Makerspace, programs and events provide activities that fit within the regulatory frameworks of health and safety.
As Liz McGettigan stated we need to ensure that the 21st Century library will continue to engage with community in the format and with the content that the users desire.