Pop Culture in Libraries – Steampunk Festival in Rockhampton

 

Contemporary libraries are offering patrons more than information and recreational resources by extending their services to include cultural resources (Gross, 2013). This concept is designed to connect with and engage patrons in cultural activities that have previously been outside the library domain. It is designed to bring people together to open discussions that deliver education and learning opportunities through a different medium.

Black Opium / Fiona Foley / SLQ Installation Art
Black Opium / Fiona Foley / SLQ Installation Art

Whether it is a series of regular exhibits as in Samuel J. Wood Library,   or an art installation like Black Opium, or a collection of photographs from a local history group – the concept of pop culture within libraries extends the outreach to a more diverse community. Communication with the creators of thèse works is key to understanding more about community, with many libraries running a program for artists in résidence.

 

Creative Spaces Framework
Creative Spaces Framework

Creative Spaces Framework, developed by State Library of Queensland, seeks to define libraries as creative spaces to encourage cultural participation through formal and informal discussions, ‘Continuous learning and informal approaches to éducation’.

 

 

Rockhampton Regional Library’s Steampunk and Pop Culture Convention ‘CapriCon’ in April this year embraced the opportunity to host a mammoth event featuring Steampunk games, Cosplayers, Tabletop gaming, Costume panels, Jewellery making and a Steampunk High Tea.

 

Time Machine
Time Machine

Steampunk enthusiasts revel in the Victorian era, Science Fiction and the remodelling and re-inventing of 19th Century engineering artefacts. The convention platform provided a venue for hobbyists, tinkerers and professional artists to enjoy a creative experience. Table Top Gaming included Dungeons and Dragons. It’s a great example of a community project that stimulates conversation and engagement.

Popular programs for Queensland library patrons have included vintage movies, dance performances, concert workshops, and themed events.

As creative spaces within libraries is a relatively new concept for State Library of Queensland, to date there is little evidence-based knowledge of the impact of the program. However, the educational outcomes from these programs might be raising cultural awareness, exploring the history of the culture and in developing understanding and tolerance for diversity and the joy of recreational and interactive learning within a community space.  The possibilities are endless.

 

 

 

Program Review – Gold Coast University Hospital Health Library – JBI training

The GCUH Health Library operates from with Queensland Health’s Gold Coast Hospital Services at Southport and Robina.  The mission of the library is to facilitate access to high quality information and customer service .. in information discovery, retrieval and management … deliver(ing) responsive and innovation services and resources in support of patient care, research, management…” for GCUH Health Service health professionals and students.

Within this overarching mission, the library  has sought to understand its users’ needs and information seeking behaviours through qualitative and quantitative analysis, including a consultative process with users, non-users, industry professionals and other stakeholders.  This aligns with a model recommended by Joanna Ludbrooke.    The library offers a suite of  regular short lunch-time programs to GCUH staff and students [patrons] designed to develop their navigation skills facilitating access to relevant information from any of the databases available online at any time.   In particular, nursing staff regularly refer to the Joanna Briggs Institute [JBI] database  in the course of their duty.  Therefore, their ability to quickly access information is essential, as it is can be critical to patient care.

The Joanna Briggs Institute database provides information to nursing staff and is designed to guide nurses to identify the issue, test their diagnosis, administer appropriate interventions at the point of care.   The two publication types most used are firstly, the evidence summaries based on structured searches of litérature and evidence-based health care databases and secondly, évidence based recommended practices providing the best available évidence including an equipment list, a recommended practice, OHS provisions and an évidence summary where available.

The éducation program for patrons was designed to run for approximately 20 minutes at 12.10 and again at 1.10 to fit with patrons’ regular lunch breaks.  The format of the program was an overview of the system, the main features, the popular publication types and the expected results from the program.  The research librarians created a PowerPoint présentation using screen captures and call-outs to indicate the preferred méthod of navigation.  The dedicated area within the library was set up with comfortable seating, side tables for note-taking and a projection screen connecter to a laptop.

A pre-run of the présentation ensured there were no technical glitches.    From my perspective with no health industry expérience and limited health library experience, the présentation logically and simply explained the pathways within the program for the benefit of any new users.

However, despite the well-planned structure of the program which had content, context, relevance, currency and relativity – busy hospital staff and health professionals did not attend.  Short lunch breaks are not long enough to include a serving of professional development,  as well as a deserved meal break.

Perhaps the library could consider delivering the présentations to staff rooms closer to clinics or wards so that patrons could benefit from their sharing of knowledge and information.  They could also trial social media as a means of communication.  However I believe that the major barrier to the ongoing délivery of this excellent program is dépendent on commitment and support of the parent organisation to give patrons more time to  take advantage of the librarians’ expertise and willingness to co-ordinate instructive sessions.

A further initiative of the GCUHH Library program was the issue of a Quality Scale Survey, enabling them to measure the success of the program and inviting comments about future programs.   The survey focussed on outcomes for the user asking questions about content, basis and navigation of JBI, ability to access JBI, available reports, understanding of advanced searching and overall satisfaction with JBI.   Unfortunately with the lack of patronage all of this excellent planning did not déliver results at this time.

Little steps into literacy – library programs for babies children and teens

 

My fieldwork placements at Hervey Bay and Helensvale public libraries gave me the chance to see public libraries at work, creating a hub for young families and teens to explore and discover literacy through a supported community environment.  I gained a deeper understanding of the value of providing communities with a meeting place, welcoming all ages and facilitating access to print, digital and electronic resources that may otherwise be unavailable or unknown.

 

Queensland Pubic Libraries Association, ALIA and State Library of Queensland have been proactive in formulating programs, products and services to meet the needs of young families in Queensland, guides by organisational policies and vision statements.

 

The recent Queensland Government initiative First 5 Forever is a literacy program freely available at public libraries, for ‘children and their families from babyhood’. The program is scheduled in public libraries and is designed to introduce babies and their parents or caregivers to literacy, rhymes and interaction developing both social and language skills.

 

Hervey Bay and Helensvale libraries offered additional programs, inviting young mums, dads and caregivers to bring their babies and toddlers to ‘Rattle and Rhyme’ sessions in a dedicated space within the library. The sessions include favourite rhymes and activities to engage participants through music and literacy. Toddler Stomp and Story Time similarly engaged young toddlers, aged 2 – 6 years in more active participation in the program – bringing a story to life with movement and playful actions.

 

The catalyst for increased funding for early literacy was the release of 2012 Australian Early Development Census data which revealed that 26.2% of Queensland children are ‘developmentally vulnerable or at risk on one or more  developmental domains – including language and cognitive skills’.  Follow the link to see a compréhensive report on early learning literacy.

Activity and play elements within these programs increases children’s learning according to The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia. Playing increases ‘physical, emotional, personal, spitirual, creative, cognitive and linguistic aspects, which are ‘intricately interwoven and interrelated’.   Playing in a non-confrontational environment with carers and library educators working together, gives children confidence to be creative, develop new friendships and to make connections with new concepts.

The literacy program extends to children over 5 years with school holiday programs to introduce coding and computer programs. These programs allow children without internet connectivity access to wifi and experience with programs not otherwise available to them.

 

Straw Maze in cardboard
Straw Maze in cardboard

After school programs conducted at Helensvale involved play activities based on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math [STEM] learning. By structuring the program on play and interaction with craft materials, children are guided through basic STEM activities interactively. Individual folders record the child’s participation with a token sticker of success. Using straws, pom poms, glue and cardboard, children constructed a maze board and blew the pom poms through the maze.

Paper Plate Marble Maze
Paper Plate Marble Maze

 

 

Another activity used marbles, paper plates and coloured paper to construct a rolling ball maze. Children learned about science (gravity and physics) and engineering (design of the maze).

 

 

Scratch programs also offered as an after-school activity are small group activities using a media room with eight children and instructor, following simple coding instructions to create an interactive computer game. Children can continue to navigate this program at home as it is an open access program freely available on the net.   The library facilitates that first step, giving the participants the confidence to try it.

 

Libraries in regional communities such as Fraser Coast, bridge the digital divide for children who may not have internet access at home. Coding programs are a major initiative of VISION 2017 to provide challenging learning experiences in digital literacy. The Kodu, Scratch and Python program was chosen by Fraser Coast Libraries as the preferred program for children based on consultation and collaboration with children, parents and educators. The critical first step in any program is to know what it is that your users want, when they want it and why they want it. Building a program around this foundation is key to connectedness and engagement.

 

Similarly, libraries and the library brand is still alive and well with children, teens and families. Summer Reading programs and  Reader’s Cup invite participation from older children and teens. Book series and themed collections offer a challenge to compete and to interact through discussion of the books, trivia quizzes, critical reviews.

ALIA’s primary guideline for providing services to young people is.. to assist in the development of early literacy and promote literacy.  A further guideline is to provide access to resources and materials identified as being needed by the community the library serves.

I think that the SLQ VISION 2017 framework is providing a realistic structure from which public libraries can develop literacy programs that relate to their communities.

 

 

 

 

 

Makerspaces – version 2

I do wonder what I was thinking when I opted to be twitter champion for the week of Makerspaces.  So much to say, so few characters – the dynamic medium of twitter communication with an intrinsic demand for being succinct did not fit well with the wide horizons of Makerspaces.

To makerspace or not to makerspace?  That is the question for many libraries that build a strategic plan based on community needs and expectations.   Continue reading “Makerspaces – version 2”

Makerspaces – empowering, engaging, making connections

Twitter Chats and Makerspaces

Twitter chats are short and sweet with a ton of content that is sometimes very hard to digest. This dynamic and challenging medium of communication demands preparation, concentration and the ability to be seriously succinct.

The introduction of  makerspaces to library environments is evolving so quickly and so diversely with so many platforms for exploration available that connecting makerspaces with the succinctness of twitter chat is in itself quite an oxymoron.

To makerspace or not to makerspace?

Rigorous discussion of reasons to establish or not establish a makerspace in libraries iterated the common theme of meeting user wants and needs within the community. Nura Firdawsi, Karen Parker, Kylie Burgess, Michele Smith and Katie Ferguson responded to Heidi Stevens’ early tweet questioning the notion of ‘trend based purchases seen out of scope’.

Competing arenas of STEM and GLAM also featured in discussions as to why libraries should provide spaces for these activities when previously community interest groups had filled this need. The discussion led to sharing experiences of learning within dedicated communities, where inexperienced people felt uncomfortable in that environment. Library programs are seen to provide a more encouraging and nurturing platform of learning supporting creativity and experiential learning.

The Edge – a masterpiece makerspace – styled by State Library of Queensland

The Edge is described as ‘a visionary space for ‘creating creatives’; a melting pot of ideas and innovation, capacity-building, experimentation and innovation’. The space provides a meeting place for creators to create and share ideas, using the space, tools, equipment and support network provided under the mandate of empowering Queenslanders to explore creativity across art science technology and enterprise’.

This aligns with [Lisa Hetherington’s] belief that libraries are a place to explore and learn and [Katie Ferguson’s] belief in meeting community needs and interests. It’s about accessing technology to enhance learning by bridging the technology gap that exists even in the middle of the city.

Events courses and programs described in the Edge E-News publication invite public participation in creative workshops and short courses; meet-ups to learn about calligraphy, book crafts, interactive technology, design and multimedia production; and an invitation to look at The Edge and all it has to offer.

Makerspaces are more than a haven for creativity – they’re about incubating new ideas – supporting creators with tools and equipment – building a platform for startups – giving innovators a place to design and prototype. Makerspaces empower people to have a go, without fear of failure, in a non-confronting space, with support, encouragement, tools and knowledge.  Makerspaces foster community engagement and peer-to-peer interactions that open conversations and share knowledge through the iterative processes of creativity.

Commercial Makerspaces

I listened to Chris Lau, general manager of Portland Oregon’s entrepreneurial makerspace Art Design “ADX” Portland, when he presented a forum hosted by The Edge, SLQ in May 2016.  This business has increased by an average of 61% annually over the past three years, due to what he describes as  American Makers of the Manufacturing Renaissance.  Essentially ADX is a warehouse space that provides small businesses with an opportunity to collaborate and share knowledge in their pursuit of a place in the market and product development.

The [Manufacturing] Renaissance is emerging where local economies become self-reliant and more robust.  Chris Lau proposed that ‘the politics of humanity eclipse the politics of globalisation’ – a great foundation statement for the maker movement where people are encouraged to work together, and work on what is available locally, coordinating these resources to work collectively to access the expertise within the ADX community.

Chris Lau spoke about the huge potential for partnerships between maker spaces and libraries especially where maker spaces are introduced into libraries to re-invigorate sharing spaces. While ADX  is a business model for social enterprise, makerspaces in public libraries create a plethora of opportunities for community engagement and connection among creators.  The focus for this informal and experiential learning is on upskilling rather than accreditation.

Driving interactive and collaborative learning through public space

Following this presentation, I toured the makerspace in the basement of The Edge, where an eclectic team whose skill levels are diverse,  offer support and services to makers. The Edge team shares a common commitment to supporting and encouraging ‘makers’ in a safe and secure environment, using a  professional standard of equipment that is properly maintained.

Libraries are evolving continually to accommodate the demands of  disruptive technology that sweeps away tradition paving the way for innovation and design.  Providing a makerspace is more than providing a 3D printer – it’s more about discovering what the 3D printer can do and why the library chooses to have it.  It is not about having the shiny new thing but about having the thing that is most needed and will be most used.

 

© <a href="http://sarabbit.openphoto.net/gallery/">Sarah Klockars-Clauser</a> for <a href="http://openphoto.net/gallery

Maryborough Toy and Special Needs Library

At Maryborough, a small regional centre, kilometres north of Brisbane, the Maryborough Toy and Special Needs Library [MTSNL]provides a specialised service offering toys, games, educational resources and devices for families with young children and children with special needs.

This community service is funded through local Council, State Government and Federal Government as well as specific grant funding when available.

The MTSNL is located within a community centre near the Fraser Coast Regional Council office in Maryborough city centre.  It is quite separate from the Fraser Coast Regional Council’s Maryborough Library service. The community centre  hosts family oriented community meetings such as prenatal and antenatal meet ups, support for ADHD families, disability support and teen pregnancy support – it’s a centre where the community is encouraged to support each other, share information and borrow resources and equipment that will assist them to have better quality of life.

Twice flooded, the MTSNL is new and purpose-built for storage of toys, puzzles, games, bikes, swings, slides and play-houses which are available for loan to  schools, therapists, health professionals and the general public for varying fees, according to circumstance.

A complex catalogue process, using a clearly defined thesaurus of descriptors, allows circulation of the resources which are categorised and classified into games and resources according to age and key learning areas – for example, numbers, alphabet, language, math, shapes, time, colours, visual perception, science, biology.  There are also tactile toys, building toys, bikes, balls and play equipment for under 5s separately stored on floor to ceiling shelves and in a large shed at the rear of the building with shelves of larger equipment which are loaned to users to  support children with disabilities. These resources are stored in order of recommended application for height and weight of the user.

The librarian who manages this centre has been at the library for more than 25 years.  Her local knowledge and awareness of the extent of the collection contributed to the accelerated operation of removal of all equipment, resources, furniture and office administration documentation and records from the building during the floods in 2011 and 2013.  During the second flood, the Mary River rose to the ceiling of the building within two hours of the removal of resources.

The collection is extensive and complex to administer because of the nature of the resources (pieces of puzzles, cards in a game, parts in Meccano, LEGO, teasets).  Health and Safety Legislation requires that equipment, toys and puzzles have to be cleaned and re-boxed or re-bagged to make sure that all pieces are available for the next borrower  Missing parts are noted on the resource. Even though this process is tedious and time-consuming it is always rigorously adhered to.

The service offers parents and carers a broad choice of educational resources and toys that will stimulate children’s imagination and develop cognitive skills.  Disability equipment is provided on a rotational basis so that it can be adjusted or replaced, aligned with the natural growth rate of the child, as advised by the health professional and guided by the manufacturer or supplier.

It is the librarian’s tacit knowledge and caring and informed interaction with the community that makes it a stand out service.  The librarian liaises with health professionals (physiotherapists, psychologists, doctors, disability advisors), educators, guidance officers, parents and carers to continually maintain and update the collection to meet the user needs.  Analyses of statistics in relation to circulation of the collection support regular grant applications which are submitted to fund the purchase of new equipment and resources.

According to Early Years Learning Framework, learning through play is a practice that is beneficial to children, developing imagination and social skills while engaging with ‘people, objects and representations’. Similarly Jenny Kidd from the Cerebral Palsy Association states that children with disabilities gain much from play, interaction and specific equipment. A toy library allows the children and their carers to choose from a variety of resources to identify the toy that meets their needs.

This is a wonderful service in a region where there is great need to support the community who has suffered due to extreme weather and the subsequent loss of quality of life through unemployment, disengagement and financial stress.

Congratulations to Fraser Coast Libraries and Maryborough Toy and Special Needs Library on their continued support and commitment.

 

Book Chat vs Book Club

Literally from the driver’s seat of my car this week, I tweeted merrily about readers’ advisory services.  As a newbie to public libraries, I am amazed at the different perspectives of librarians, borrowers and user groups that all revolve around reading.

Firstly the sophistication of the ‘Book Coasters’ reader’s advisory service is impressive with many new and not so new titles displayed giving readers a wide choice of genre and writing style to choose from together with advice on DIY Book Club.

At Fraser Coast Regional Council Libraries, both Book Chat and Book Clubs exist meeting the different needs of users.   Book Chat is an introduction to new publications, fiction and non fiction, in a range of genres and styles to suit the members.  Attendance at the monthly meetings fluctuates from as few as four readers to fifteen.  At the meeting on Wednesday all of the 12 female attendees were retirees. Two library staff guided the session, and four of the regular readers presented prepared critical appraisals of their recently read books.   The session was hilarious with plenty of rivalry for first speaking position and only mildly covert comments on the appraisals.  After a lengthy description of the plots and sub-plots of The Golden Key, one reader commented that: ‘Actually, I realised that I wasn’t really interested in what the secret was, where the golden key was, or whether they actually found any of it! It was all far too bizarre’.  Book Chat is about introducing readers to readers, readers to books, engagement with library staff and gathering information about what readers want.

Similarly Book Clubs build connections between readers and their library.  In Hervey Bay, Maryborough and the smaller communities of Howard, Burrum Heads, and Tiaro, readers meet either at the library or at a cafe or private home to share their reading experience.  Ten copies of the same title, often chosen from the recommendations from websites like Goodreads and Reading Group Choices and from popular demand, are supplied to the Book Club for up to three months.  It is up to the book club members to establish the ground rules for  the club.

In establishing a readers’ advisory service, both these programs provide great insight for librarians to gauge interest areas from their keenest readers while circulation statistics further support reviews of the reading and information trends within the community.

Becky Spratford’s comprehensive list of Readers’Advisory blogs, although published in 2012 would be a great starting point for any RAs as the diversity of blog sites gives librarians and RAs a guide to RA resources, library resources, major media outlets, general book blogs and podcasts.   Sifting through the myriad of advice online in relation to RA services is quite onerous and time consuming and confusing, if not overwhelming.

The most critical factors for an RA include communicating with the readers, taking on board suggestions, identifying trends, catering to interests/demographics and responding accordingly.  These were reflected in a recent advertisement for a Readers’ Advisory Librarian, where the Mosman Council specified a need for a qualified library professional ….with knowledge of literature and current reading trends … and experienced in social media for promotion and marketing.  It seems that RA services will become a critical part of information services as the volume and complexity of information continually evolves.

In different environments the user needs will be different and accordingly, a readers’ advisor’s knowledge of the physical collection as well as online sources of information will make a difference to the efficiency and completeness of the service provided, as will their soft people skills to understand what is needed and how best to provide it.

 

Community of Inquiry

if you give a man a fish, he’ll eat for a day; if you teach him how to fish, he’ll eat for a lifetime

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.

Twitter – the art of short sharp tweets

My Twitter experience

I have had a twitter account for about five years, but have never been as interactive on Twitter as I am on Facebook.  Maybe that’s because I don’t quite understand the concept fully and I don’t feel as confident using just 144 characters to say what I want to say.

I am a serial re-tweeter and love to browse the twitter feed to catch up on the twitter world – it’s quick, easy, sharp and on point so I can then re-visit sites or articles later and explore the subject of the tweet in more depth.

Twitter is just a little scary

Twitter is a powerful social media tool because it is so quickly shared among many, creating an opportunity for social change, marketing and sharing of information among like-minded people.  So, why do I not feel okay about it?  Maybe because it’s so powerful, and so fast and therefore if I make a mistake there’ll be so many people who will see it.  So? It doesn’t matter really unless that mistake is so silly, so controversial or so rude that it creates chaos.  On the other hand, making great comments succinctly is an art form I’d like to develop.  After all, sometimes a short response is all that is needed.

Twitter chats in IFN614

I aim to use the IFN614 Twitter experience to build my confidence in Twitter feeds and in constructing tweets that invite discussion and share information within the IFN614 community.   It’s about exploring the possibilities and experimenting a new concept in communication and learning.   Let the challenge begin!