Module 2 Reflections – Working with our users where they are

For me, the theme of the this week’s module was “It is important to meet and interact with your users regardless of location — and if they’re online, accept that they live and work in a place that is too much, messy, unsettled and unstructured.” Rather like the real world or this blog post.

It was really great to have @Kyle’s and @Sarahludwig’s lectures as a foundation to this module. They provided us with a filter through which to view the other content. Kyle provided the theoretical background for living with your users online and Sarah gave us a case study of actually living with your users online. On particular thing I really want to praise Sarah for is the way that she took the time to see what online places her faculty and students were using and then resolved to be there. I think this is advice librarians of every stripe should take to heart.

In my view it is much better to integrate your library (or museum or archives) into an existing user environment than insist on creating your own. I wish that ALA had taken this approach rather than creating their own walled garden with ALA Connect. Or that the Government Printing Office had taken that approach instead of building FDLP Community for documents librarians. I don’t think we do ourselves too many favors by walling off our professional conversations.

So after watching the lectures, the filter I took with me to the readings and viewings was – “What are the implications of these items for my users/patrons/clients? Are there implications about where they are or what they might be doing?”

Just so you don’t have to pop back and forth to the Module 2 page, here are the remaining items, along with a few comments:

Things to Read

These are assigned selected readings directly related to the module. Students should read as many as possible to incorporate into their work in the course overall.

For me, all three of these articles reinforced that idea that most of us live in communities where a significant proportion of the population spends a lot of time online. Mobile devices, texting, etc are in common use around the world. Even though not everyone is online, enough are that we have to pay attention. Unless we’ve surveyed our community and found no one is on the internet, doing nothing online simply isn’t an option. But being online sets up new expectations of availability and response times.

Aside from committing to have an engaged online presence for your users’ largest online communities, I’m not sure what the implications of the above articles for everybody.


Things to View

These are assigned media-based presentations that extend your knowledge and offer new dimensions to the topics. Students should view as many as possible to incorporate into their coursework.

Both of these talks were very inspirational. Weinberger excited me to want to start building a new knowledge infrastructure and Shirky sort of assures us that everybody will be involved. I thought Weinberger’s claim that the hyperlinked internet was more like the natural world than the world of books was in terms of knowledge was well taken.

I think the library can have a role in helping people break out of echo chambers through our presentation of materials and public events be they in person or online. As public institutions, we don’t have the option of only hanging out with people who share our views, we are accountable to the whole community.

Libraries, especially academic ones, may also have a role in building namespaces and mapping different classifications to one another to enhance the usability of web data for our patrons.

I am troubled by Weinberger’s idea that “We do not have one knowledge we can all agree upon, we have a shared world about which we disagree.” Especially in the social realm I can agree with the statement, but I am troubled by the implications in a world that seems more polarized with every passing day.


Things to Explore

These topics/links/materials are optional further enhancements to the course content that offer more insight for those who are interested.

While I think the Internet has changed many things, I don’t think the past 20 years have cancelled out three million years of human evolution. I also know older people very comfortable with technology and some younger people uncomfortable with it. I tend to think most arguments about how we are fundamentally changing is Kids These Days talk. That’s how I feel and while there’s some support for this idea in the article “The ‘digital natives’ debate: A critical review of the evidence”, though I admit more research may be needed. But I wasn’t really convinced by either “The critics need a reboot” or “Born with the chip.” Especially since there is evidence that multitasking degrades performance regardless of age. In fact, multitasking can even lead to physical injuries.

I don’t have anything to say about “Know your students” because the EBSCO copy was very light on the screen and also in print. It wasn’t a particularly readable copy for me, but that is probably due to my eyesight issues. Because it was an image PDF in two columns, I couldn’t magnify it well. I bring this up because as we provide digital resources to our patrons, we ought to keep readability and usability in mind.

 

References not included above:

Crawford, Walt Kids These Days and the Future of Reading. American Libraries, September 2002. Accessed at http://www.americanlibrariesmagazine.org/thecrawfordfiles/2002columns/september2002

Cellphone ‘distracted walking’ sending pedestrians to the ER. MedlinePlus HealthDay. Accessed at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_138144.html.

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