Could we dig deeper?
Contribution to the learning community
Sometimes I thought that my role in the learning community could probably be called that of antagonist, but this word has such negative connotations I am loathe to use it, so I have decided on a different title – ‘thought provoker’. According to the Oxford Dictionary, an antagonist is ‘a person who actively opposes or is hostile to someone or something’ but my aim was never to be oppositional, my aim was always to ask the question, both of myself and others, that would enable us to explore the topics from different angles. When everyone was agreeing that something was just a fantastic idea, I was one of the people who stood up and said, ‘just a minute, what if we think of this from a different point of view’ – at least I hope I was. Sometimes I even found myself questioning my own beliefs. One particular example was the maker space discussion – I love maker spaces as much as the next person, but I found myself questioning the role of makerspaces in the library and exploring if we, as libraries, have the mandate to provide these services. I felt the need to dig deeper and to question, even though this is an idea that I actually love. I feel like we need to be able to explore why we do things so that we can justify to others why we do them.
I hope this doesn’t sound arrogant, but I feel that this is an area of strength for me – the ability to see things and think of things from different points of views and perhaps ask the questions that no one else has thought to ask. I hope that it is something I have been able to do this semester without being downright annoying, because that is a very fine line that would be easy to overstep. Many nights after a Twitter chat I worried that I might have said too much. I hope I have stayed on the side of ‘thought provoker’ and not slipped to the darker side of ‘antagonist’! My aim at the start of the semester was to find the middle ground between leader and lurker. I think for the most part I managed to do that.
I was pleased to see on some of the comments to my blog posts and some of the posts of other people that some times I inspired people to consider new ideas.
I commented on other people’s blog posts when I thought I had something to add to their discussion – an experience to share, a related article that I thought was interesting, or just a different point of view. I didn’t want to go crazy commenting just for the sake of having lots of comments – I was aiming for genuine, quality contributions rather than quantity. I felt that in some weeks the discussions that arose were very similar to the discussions that we had last semester on our IFN612 Emerging Technologies blog and I found this was frustrating as I didn’t really feel inspired to have these same discussions again. The topics that I had the most input in were the ones that I had personal experiences that I could add – children and teens, maker spaces, and pop culture. I was really disappointed that we didn’t have a twitter chat or blog post about Participatory libraries because I think this is an area that could have had a lot more exploration (actually I did write a blog post about it, but it did not generate much discussion).
I have to admit, the Twitter chats were a lot better than I had expected them to be. The best thing about the Twitter chats was that we got to see contributions from people who are usually very quiet in class – people who never say a word in class had some really insightful comments in the Twitter chats and I thought this was really valuable. I did find I was often frustrated by not having enough characters to make the point I wanted to make, and also with the app I was using it was quite difficult to ‘like’ other people’s comments which was frustrating as well. I really liked the pace of the discussion and I think it was amazing how widely things were discussed in the context of the chat.
I have never used Twitter before starting this course, but I do use it a lot more regularly now. I find that when I would have, in the past, spent time checking my Facebook, I am now spending that time checking my Twitter feed instead. I have quite a few library contacts who I follow now and there is always something interesting to read. I have found Twitter really useful for sharing interesting articles or videos that I come across – I have a few followers now myself, and it is always a bit of a buzz when someone new starts following me (I always think that if they really like what I have to say maybe they will give me a job one day – fingers crossed!)
My learning in the IFN614
I really wanted it to go deeper. I wanted to get to the crux of the matter – who are we and what are we here for? I think some things were assumed – the public library should be a community centre, the public library should encourage creativity, librarians support open everything, librarians don’t support censoring anything, user needs rule – these are the big topics and I think these are the ones that we really need to have the big debates about rather than just accepting them as a given. I was disappointed that we did not.
The things that I learnt most about were pretty standard services – reference, readers advisory and research support. I didn’t even know that these were separate roles in the library and even the names were not familiar to me, so that was some great practical knowledge that I really appreciated. I especially liked learning about readers advisory because it has given me an excuse to indulge in some pleasure reading (as soon as these assignments are out of the way of course!)
I would have liked it if part of our assignments was for everyone to keep an eye out for really cool activities that are happening in libraries around the globe and to share these. Sometimes you stumble across something really innovative and inspirational and I think seeing these is a great way to learn to think more widely about what the library can do and to feel inspired. We saw a few in the blog posts, but most of the programs and services that people reviewed were fairly standard library services and not really innovative.
Something that I found really interesting and relevant to the course during the semester, but learnt outside of uni; I attended the SEQ Small Museums Conference a few weeks ago and the key note speaker was Emma Best from Newcastle Museum. She spoke about getting people to stay longer and look at things in a different way. She explained that people were always wanting her to have different exhibitions in her museum but instead they try to get people to see different things in the same exhibitions. I have been exploring this further through some talks by the founder of MuseumHack, Nick Gray. I really loved this idea and I wondered how this might apply in a library context – something I hope to explore more during my upcoming placement in the SLQ Visitor Experience section. (and another research idea to add to my list!)
Quality of my work
I think I worked to the best of my ability in this unit. A lot of the info covered was not new to me and the grant writing experience was also not new to me, so I feel like perhaps having flexibility to cover different areas would have been good. Of course, the debates were different and different people raised points that I had not considered before, so that was good. Overall, I think I was a valuable member of the learning community and I hope that others felt the same.
PS. the feature image is a public domain CC0 image from www.pixabay.com. We used to have a pet pig, his name was Ollie – this is exactly what he looked like when he dug up our entire backyard.