Thoughts, take-aways, ideas, etc.–so much to unpack! – From one of NELA’s scholarship recipeints
Monday, August 6–Leadership Basecamp
Opening keynote was an adorable and inspiring talk by science and nature writer Sy Montgomery. It was charming to hear from an author who so obviously delights in her subjects–she actually convinced me that hyenas are lovable and relatable creatures. It was inspiring, too, to hear about her experiences with women scientists in the field. I even got a signed copy of her book The Hyena Scientistfor our collection! Her new book about inspiring animals is called How to Be a Good Creature; she noted that we could all benefit from these reminders! 👍
I loved when she talked about the Buddhist inspiration–when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. She asked us to consider that the “teacher” might have 2 legs, 4 legs, 8 legs, tentacles, wings…. 🐞 symontgomery.com
BREAKOUT SESSION I: Unlearning Librarianship: Developing a 21st-Century Research Mind-set with Students and Faculty
The speaker was Jenna Wolf, the director of library and technology integration at the Cambridge School of Weston (CSW), a progressive, private high school. @itsjennawolf https://www.csw.org/page
The workshop description emphasized building relationships with students in order to inspire research skills that include the librarian as a partner in learning. I liked the idea of “unlearning” what we do in order to reach our young library users in new and more effective ways.
Wolf talked about her role and the role of the library or “Lab-brary” at CSW. The school works on a modular system of study–classes are five weeks long, emphasize hands-on learning, and cross curricular definitions (for example, one student took a history class on ancient Rome AND a jewelry design class. For her final projects, she made a selection of jewelry inspired by the art and jewelry of ancient Rome, designed an exhibit for her work, and presented socio-economic demographics of who would be able to “buy” her jewelry today based on the class system of Rome. Wow!) Needless to say, the value of the librarian to the student goes without saying, but it does require the librarian to nimbly work and think way outside of the traditional box of standard reference/research. She works with 300 students who are essentially designing their own research projects for every class!
In order to effectively serve her students, she has adopted these guiding principles:
Library is an idea incubator.
Library is not confined to one space on campus.
Library offers choices in materials and tools to promote sound research strategies.
I think the RPL has been successful in all of these, especially given the Studio space and when we were doing lots of pop-up programs from General Way. I think our call to action is to remain on the cutting-edge (if not bleeding-edge!) of technology. Doing so means that we can confidently help all of our library users with the most current information, tools AND we can offer inspiration to learn more, explore a tangent, dig deeper, try something new, get out of a rut, etc. Good stuff for all of our patrons, not just the students, no?
Lots to stew on here (including my pipe-dream of sending my boys to this amazing school), so my other take-aways in no particular order of importance:
- Awesome collaboration tool for students and colleagues called Padlet that you can use to make documents, webpages, presentations https://padlet.com/features
- Cool presentation tool mentimeter.comthat let us answer her questions with our devices and we could see the survey results on the presentation screen
- the Fail/Fix evaluation tool that she uses with her students
- her Micro Master Demos–quick hit tutorials that she offers on all kinds of tech and tools that she gives to students and faculty on demand (and sometimes on-the-road)
- her off-kilter takes on “traditional” library programming like a costume contest for students well after Halloween called “Janu-ween” or her Makes on the Move which are small maker challenges that she leaves randomly around campus. Think of baggies with inexpensive materials inside and a simple challenge–“make something with this pen, this paperclip and this piece of sponge” (she got a gadget stylus back!) 👏
- I need to commit to learning and using more apps. I’m not a wide app user–just the basic weather, traffic, social media ones on my phone–but I have to broaden myself. And not just apps for kids! There are so many great apps for work, fun, parenting, educating, organizing….
GROUP SESSION: Inspiration and Illumination
We got to hear a discussion with picture book authors and artists which was such a treat. Rashin Kheiryeh, author and illustrator of Saffron Ice Cream, talked about her childhood in Iran. Daniel Minter, artist and illustrator of So Tall Within, a picture book bio of Sojourner Truth, talked about how he experimented with his art to illustrate this book about a larger-than-life historic figure. Last, we heard from Oge Mora, author and illustrator of Thank You, Omu!, which was a senior project at RISD and inspired by her Nigerian heritage. Got a free signed copy of Saffron Ice Creamfor our collection!
BREAKOUT SESSION II: Programs Steeped in Pop Culture
Fun workshop run by the public service team at the UMASS Law Library. https://www.facebook.com/umasslawlibrary/
They presented an overview of their successful pop culture-inspired programs for their mostly young adult students. They stressed their principle of “failing forward”–which means that programs or displays or projects might not be successful but they learn from everything they try. They also stressed authenticity especially when working with this age group. Things they have slam-dunked include funny videos that are also tutorials, a meme-contest about library resources, a library quiz show using Kahoot! (www.kahoot.com) with prizes during finals. We even did two librarian quizzes on Kahoot during the workshop and I came in second on the children’s TV shows! 😎 So proud!
BREAKOUT SESSION III: Tech Playground
Hands-on play time with a 360-degree camera, a Sphero robot, littleBits, Makey Makey, Ozobots, Google Cardboard VR goggles. Mentor was the director of library services at Worcester Academy. She also talked about the 3D printer for students and her favorite VR apps: Google Street View, NYT VR, Cedar Point, Dinosaurs!
BREAKOUT SESSION IV: From Community Assessment to Action with Design Thinking
Presented by April and Christi from MLS
This workshop introduced some strategies for creating successful programs and services. They stressed some fun and productive methods for generating ideas and some valuable tools for evaluating and implementing ideas.
Resources they cited or techniques we tried included:
- Useful, Usable, Desirableby Aaron Schmidt https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2L-ZbyXaG6Y
- Gamestorming — generating 6-8 ideas in five minutes http://gamestorming.com/6-8-5s/
- How Now Wow visual collaboration and vetting strategy https://weave.conteneo.co/framework/try?id=ACEZFUCFZGKABMLCG0N05XFWWGJQSBLK
- An evaluation suggestion–ask library users to draw the library or an area of the library from memory. Shows forgotten spaces, areas to highlight, collection positives and negatives, spaces that do/don’t need PR, etc.
- IDEAS: Invent, Design, Experiment, Act, Share
- my to-do list: re-brand the early literacy collection, prioritize collection management, evaluate my programs honestly
Random goodies for me to research: Edmodo app, a Museum Walk, the inquiry cycle
They did share a Google folder with tons of conference resources including presentations, handouts, etc. from ALL of the workshops–let me know if you want me to share it with you.
Tuesday, August 7–Diversity Workshop
Diversity and Cultural Literacy Toolkit
We started the day with a conference agreement–since we would be discussing topics of diversity and cultural competence, we were allowed to say “Ouch!” to let others know that whatever was said was hurtful. Band-aids were available which was a nice reminder that we are all able to hurt or be hurt.
What is Cultural Competency?It is the effective interaction of diverse population groups. The presentation was a review of the Bennett Model and a group exercise to identify various stages of competency.
For example, where on the above scale would the following be?
“I put together a great display and booklist of titles by and about Latino people every Hispanic Heritage Month.”
“I don’t see race or ethnicity. I just see people.”
“VERDICT: This novel is ideal for collections in need of diverse books.”
” When I help a library user find a book or information, I try to put myself in their shoes.”
“I know there are stereotypical and offensive scenes in certain books, but many of them are classics! Like Little House on the Prairie. I can’t remove that from my collection; that’s censorship.”
Dimensions of Diversity
We all have internal and external dimensions of diversity that define our identity. Internal dimensions include age, race, ethnicity, ability, sexual orientation, gender. External dimensions include income, religion, educational background, appearance, family status or situation, geographic location. We did an activity in which we self-identified the dimension that answered specific questions. For example, which identity do you think offers you the greatest advantage in society? Which identity most defines you? Which identity causes you the most day-to-day stress? On which identity are you regularly judged?
What is Intersectionality?
Intersectionality is when forms of discrimination overlap and thus combine to create an area of oppression that is unique to each individual. For example, a black woman can be discriminated on the basis of race and of gender (and of other identities) making her situation uniquely discriminatory. Intersectionality is important to understand for librarians because it means library programs and services can only serve a patron “at the intersection.” In other words, each person’s needs are defined by an intersection of identities that we must try to understand in order to best serve them.
Understanding and Exploring Privilege
Inspired by the the “invisible knapsack” model (https://nationalseedproject.org/white-privilege-unpacking-the-invisible-knapsack), we learned how discrimination and oppression are invisible systems that confer privileges on members of social identity groups. We did an amazing exercise with beads–I collected beads based on a variety of statements that I needed to acknowledge as my privileges. My bag was full of beads, some of which I received simply because of my race or age or sexuality, etc. Privilege is all around us and must be acknowledge in order to effect a change.
Implicit Bias, Red Flags, and Book Evaluation
A presentation about how unconscious prejudices affect book and material selection. We covered stereotypes that should raise a red flag, loaded words and phrases to avoid, evaluating authenticity, using theories of race to examine children’s books, cultural “appreciation” vs. cultural appropriation, non-complacency. We then discussed a variety of children’s books and the problematic areas for each: Tintin, Tikki Tikki Tembo, If I Ran the Zoo, Natalie’s Hair was Wild, A Fine Dessert, My Friend Has Autism, Skippy Jon Jones, Curious George,Five Chinese Brothers, Story about Ping, So You Want to Be President. There were some surprises here but the morning had really prepared all of us to look with a bias-free lens and honestly assess these books even if they were old favorites, Caldecott winners, etc.
Oppression, Allyship, and Emotional Labor
The final presentation was by Stacy Collins, the liaison librarian at Simmons; she created the Anti-Oppression Guide for Simmons College. https://simmons.libguides.com/anti-oppression
She discussed how members of marginalized groups must expend a great deal of emotional labor in order to maintain and continue their own learning. People in less marginalized groups can become allies in this on-going effort by Acknowledging Oppression, Decentering Yourself to the Margins, and Engaging as a Agent for Positive Change. Ally is a verb!
Other stuff for me to learn more about: the myth of the meritocracy in America, ALA’s We the People booklist, the Privilege Walk exercise