I have a Google doc shared with all my ILA observations/summaries (including links!) -- a lot of it relates to cataloging, but I also was really interested in the some other public service/promotion sessions I attended.
I have a Google doc shared with all my ILA observations/summaries (including links!) -- a lot of it relates to cataloging, but I also was really interested in the some other public service/promotion sessions I attended.
Emily Sheketoff from the ALA Washington Office was a highlight of this year’s Iowa Library Association conference. Her knowledgeable, straight-from-the shoulder approach to the role of library as government agency and equalizer was just what Iowa’s librarians need.
Sheketoff doesn’t pass the buck on library advocacy. She lays it at the feet of the librarians. Emily states that we are responsible for informing, assisting and sponsoring life-long learning for Iowans. She reminds us this does not exclude the political process.
Half of our job consists of the very thing Congress in crying about right now: access and info tech facilitation. The headache that is the digital execution of the Affordable Healthcare Plan is what we call a regular day.
Explaining information, helping folks fill forms and create email accounts for information access, as well as instruction on navigation, language and searching are activities librarians do every minute of the work day. This half of our job will never be appreciated in it fullest influence, but we rock at it and it is essential to democracy. Case in point, Healthcare.gov.
Let’s not forget customer service, reader’s advisory, job searching, life-long learning, local history, ancestry and reference, ad infinitum either…
The other half our job is making services available to those who depend on us. This doesn’t mean more money or lack of stupid legislation, but rather having a governing body that won’t stop permitting services to those that need them.
Quick, let’s define what an American governing body is: of the people, by the people, for the people… This means Johnny and Jane Voter are the lynchpins of our great political enterprise.
For librarians, this means educating people who depend on our institutions. The most influential voice is the voice of the people. At best, we are all considered crazy cat ladies (librarian boys too!) begging for more dusty books by our Congressional Reps. We are a nagging voice distracting from the real issues.
At best we are considered at all…
Professional voices from the library field are not enough. Storytime parents, board members, job seekers, library users of public computers, databases, local collections, meeting room spaces, music, video and reference are needed for our leaders to see the issues.
Librarians are obliged to assist this process, not only in the name of self-preservation but because no less should be expected by their tax base. Even if you don’t use your library, you live in a town of students, voters, and employers that do…libraries leave their mark on all aspects of civic interaction.
Iowa is unique because we are the first in Presidential sweepstakes. We always have our own game going in civil rights, marriage equality, and protection of our Amendments and are typically first in the nation. A nation which is still quite influential around the globe.
Iowa librarians need to share our importance and what we need for our citizens. We need to communicate with our users and legislators and we need to communicate with them all the time. Librarians have the right and the responsibility to talk about what is happening in their community. (In my example, we are the 19th largest city in the state, but have the 13th largest checkout rate. We clearly need a library which has advocates from state and local government.)
We are obliged to ask for what is needed for the people of your community. So let’s drop some information on our library users.
Iowa Senator Tom Harkin strongly supports education and health. He is a chairman on several committees that could influence a national library culture. If anyone could lead the way, surely it would be Iowa’s Tom Harkin. http://www.harkin.senate.gov/
Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley holds the record for the longest streak of not missing a vote in the United States Senate. Senator Grassley is a legislative leader with senior positions on key Senate committees including the Budget and Finance.
He has the experience and the Iowan know-how to see the financial benefits of libraries to communities during the good times and the hard. (In my example, we conducted a study that showed our library’s 572% return on investment which is quite the accomplishment for any government institution.) http://www.grassley.senate.gov/
U.S. Congressman, Dave Loebsack, endorses education, health and a reduction to the barriers of learning. I would share a brief history of our amazing High School wrestling team and remind him how a public/school library eliminates many socio-economic obstacles presence in education. I would tell him what we need from him to continue to raise our graduation and retention rates in my area. http://loebsack.house.gov/
Give your library users a cheat sheet:
*Learn about your legislators and relate to them on a personal level to support your interests and needs as a citizen.
*Subscribe to your District Dispatch http://www.districtdispatch.org/
*When you can, personally visit your Reps. (It’s one of the greatest things citizens can do to forward the process.)
*Talk to libraries about lobby days for your needs, we’ll hook you up where we can.
*Always be respectful and appreciative but don’t get stuck with an intern. (Citizens are not check marks on a chart. You are valuable, your library is vital, and your community is important enough to have conversations and build relationships about them.)
*Know your community stats and refer to the actual number of specific bills. (Need help with community stats? I think your friendly librarian could help you out.)
*Share the local impact of the Legislator’s decisions to them.
*Email your legislators on a regular basis and invite them to your library.
*Iowa Nice! Be brief, grateful for time, informative and courteous, be flexible and adaptable. Like librarians, Congress members are busy, their work is taken for granted and much of it is completed seamlessly behind the scenes.
*Enlist the community voices of your friends, neighbors and civic groups.
We live in a day where saying you love the library and your librarian sounds like bullshit. If you love your library, adequately fund it. If you love your librarian, allow them to work outside the constant fear of layoffs. Librarians, this goes for you too!
Be active. Tell your story. Library advocacy may be your greatest crusade as it impacts many more people than can be easily quantified.
Remember, librarians are first responders for people that need an education. They are first responders to every citizen in their service community at any given moment. (It’s true, we suggest books at the doctor’s office and give reference assistance in the grocery line. We love learning and our community, and have become 24/7 proponents of information access.)
However, we cannot be prepared as a nation by permitting information tech and literacy to take a back seat. Now that we know how government works, let us teach them how libraries work.
As an easily intimidated and shy child, I found the library monolithic. My mother would guide me through each visit with words of encouragement and the occasional drag of my arm. My first memory of my library is the milky glass floors in the adult stacks. Walking on the glass was my most dreaded experience of our family trips. The combination of fears from walking on glass made it one of the most hated elements for many users of our old library.
The belief that glass would support your weight on the second story of adult fiction took a tremendous leap of faith for those perpetually nervous like myself. The opaque quality of the glass made walking on glass akin to waking a plank blindfolded. The unknown beneath your feet made each step that much more fragile. Walking on glass pretty much kept me out of the library from ages 9-22.
I didn’t utilize my library. It held no appeal to me: glass floors, one tiny shelf of teen books and magazines, no programming for demographic and interests, no internet. Because I didn’t use it, I didn’t value or really perceive it’s benefits to other people in my community. In fact, I cared little about my community. I homeschooled, buried myself into my personal (and frankly quite impressive) library and couldn’t wait to attend college to find my true community. The home I was always intended to live.
I voted against the new library, more than once. I glared at supporters along Roosevelt Avenue and their ridiculous signs for more room and resources. I even wrote a persuasive paper in Comp II on why we didn’t need a fancy new library or expanded services. No one went to the library anyway way was my paltry thesis statement.
Although I aced the class, I was clearly wrong. The library found major supporters to build and grow. By the time I needed to fulfill a service to community requirement to graduate, the library was a busy bastion on services accepting students from my college every semester. I shamelessly applied to volunteer.
I was quite relieved to find zero glass floors upon my initial observations of the new library. I was mildly surprised that I didn’t have to whisper. I was met with smiles and eye contact and given a full tour. I was lulled into a tentative sense of security and had a quiet start into volunteering. I even signed up for a new card (free books, magazines, database access, films and music is just too much for a poor college kid to pass up.)
Then the first day of summer reading happened. Hundreds of children and caregivers flooded into what was slowly developing in my head as my library. Mothers weren’t dragging kids into the library. They all seemed to love to see their librarians, attend fantastic programs and demonstrate how much they could read each week .
I talked to more people in those three months than I had previously in my entire lifetime before volunteering. I connected to all ages, walks of life, culture and race, and socio-economic backgrounds. The librarians and library users were very patient with me as I came to learn that: yes, we have a teen space and an advisory program, yes we help people find jobs, yes we do tech support, yes we can guide you in reference and yes we offer fantastic reader’s advisory.
Through the library, I saw my community for the first time. I fell in love. I applied for a shelver job and was fortunate to find myself in the position of Public Services Manager five or so years later. I attended library school and followed a new dream to make this community the home in which I was always intended to live. On my graduation day, I donned my cap and gown before I started my four hour trip into the heart of Illinois and stopped to take a photo in front of the library that represented all the support I received to the academic goal line.
In graduate school, we were taught that library and information technology work must be its own reward. Libraries are consistently underrated and in crisis. If you can’t take the pressure of constantly learning new information, applying new methods, adapting to new needs and social structures and facing massive cuts, then (as Miss Debbie would say during a storytime) out the door, dinosaur.
It has been my honor to be among you. To walk with library users through living wills, mouse skills, family history, family planning, applying for school, nailing the job interview, the grieving process that comes with the death of a loved one, buying a car, mortgaging a house, financing college, ruining a recipe and trying it again, the job search, the book search, discovering new music, discovering faith, discovering science and so much more.
I brag about my job, because I may never be a parent, but I still can give a guiding hand across whatever glass floors folks are walking across. Today, working at my library is like walking on milky glass. Some days it feels like broken, sharp glass in insensible shoes. I can’t see where we are going very clearly and I wonder at how the situation can support me during this trying time. However, because of my library, my community that connects, learns and imagines with me every day and some terrific coworkers, I’m no longer frightened. We’ll walk these book stacks together, one careful step at a time.
My rant breaks down to two words: exposure hypothesis.
Many schools of thought suggest that exposure to library programming and services and the practice of literate activities (e.g. listening, reading, speaking, watching, writing) promotes skills in those activities in much the same way that athletes hone their competitive skills through repetitive practice and access to training and equipment.
So, library users who read, watch and participate in a wide variety of media and activities will demonstrate higher levels of reading, comprehension and social skills than those who have limited literacy contact.
To put it in a homespun Iowan way: If we build it they will come and if they come they will grow better.
Adult library services do make a community greater. According to Gregory Currie, a professor of philosophy at the University of Nottingham, compelling evidence shows that adults are morally and socially better for reading.
Reading gives adults a stronger ability to understand others as well as empathize and comprehend various world perspectives. A 2009 study at the University of Toronto reported higher levels of cognitive philosophy in adults that read books for life-long learning or even pleasure.
We continue to learn or to remember that our world is a sea of people. When we touch a book, or an idea, or a face, to some measure, we actually touch our own existence. Literate activities and programs are safe and productive ways to create bonds with our wider community and to gain better understanding of each other. Both are cost effective and available to all at the local library.
Reading for pleasure gives adults time to enrich their lives with reflection, analysis, and exploration of their own memories and opinions. Adults may not be as imaginative as children, but reading gives them the opportunity to commune with authors; engaging in a deep conversation of rumination and connection. This process is expanded during book discussion groups, educational programming and intriguing events at the library.
Sadly, much of the time we build it and they don’t come. We build libraries but adults don’t grow better. In part, our consumer culture reminds us that the library is a great location for economic entertainment and enrichment for our children, but by the time we have a driver’s license we place value in things we pay to see.
Teen and Adult programming are difficult to justify in libraries because while we all know the importance of early literacy, the significance of young adult and adult literacy is less axiomatic.
Some of the most obvious benefits of adult literacy are: the development of natural abilities, improved knowledge, increase in adaptability to change, self-fulfillment, and keeping our brains consistently engaged so our neurons continue to fire across our synapses to prevent intellectual atrophy.
Adults are too large of a group for libraries to forget. In Iowa, a state populated by 3 million people more than 2 million residents are older than 50. (13.5 percent of all Americans are categorized as senior citizens.) With retirement confidence in a 23-year low, communities can’t afford to let libraries drop services such as job searching, resume help and interview prep from their regular programming.
Primary services that teach basic computer skills will always be necessary at the library to adults while some library users can define the digital divide as the rapid release schedule of Internet browsers. Adults still want the library’s help and at the end of the day when Firefox updates or a new recipe is to be tried and adults are the library user group that get to vote on how much libraries can do for their community.
By 2015, citizen ages 18-29 will constitute one-third of the electorate. This means that the ever-censured group of loud, intimidating hormones aggregated in the teen space will ultimately decide if your kids have a Storytime in about four years. Perhaps this gives us incentive to offer programming or at least a Teen Advisory Board.
It’s interesting to note that 35% of youth who didn’t attend college voted vs. 66% of youth who did in the 2012 Presidential election. Libraries can play an important role in the creation of an educated electorate.
For a minute, could we please remember that like free public education, free as a term in a public library, translates as equitable; education and culture via our shared literary heritage funded by the people for the people.
An adult library program or service may superficially seem like an additional perk in an atmosphere that already promotes free access, free assistance, free information, etc. However, each event promotes the life-long learning commitment of the library’s community, showcases the public library in an attractive light for adults (voters) and is appropriateness to a significant faction of our culture.
Feeling better. Last treatment was Monday…
Mallorie planning events with some help.
SOME OF OUR SPEAKERS:
*John Ira Thomas
John Ira Thomas writes books for Candle Light Press. He also puts things on
the internet, as putting them in the hollow oak hasn’t worked so well. John
resides in Iowa City, Iowa, and is the author of many graphic novels including
the Zoo Force Series, Lost in the Wash, and Man is Vox, which has been
described as the “one of the strangest graphic novels ever.”
Ryan Schrodt is a freelance comic book writer and creator of Matinee
Electica, MAKEbelieve, and Shakespeare Shaken. He is a regular at ICon and
successfully launched a KickStarter campaign to put his hilarious comic in
mass print in 2012. Ryan recently co-authored Youngblood #78 with Rob Liefe
for Imange Comics. Check out Schrodt’s weekly webcomic Dear Dinosaur every
Thursday at http://www.twoforonecomics.com.
Zombie Squad’s mission is to educate the public about the importance of
personal preparedness and self reliance, to increase its readiness to respond
to a number of disasters such as Earthquakes, Floods or Zombie Outbreaks.
Zombie Squad provides training to endangered communities through a bureau of
trained, motivated, skilled zombie extermination professionals and zombie
survival consultants. When the apocalypse comes, and the revivified corpses of
your neighbors are tearing down the walls of your home, you’ll be comfortable
in the knowledge that you’ve been trained by the best. You’ll survive, because
we’ve taught you how.
Sharean Morishita is a stay-at-home Mother of three and graphic artist in the
state of Iowa. Sherean gained much graphic experience for MangaMagazine.net
but decided to venture out on her own to create her fantastic manga series
Bottled Prince and Love! Love! Fighting! which are hosted on her site,
*Austin Allen Hamblin
Austin Allen Hamblin is an aspiring comic book writer from Iowa. He enjoys
penning horror, but writes any and all things comics because he loves them.
Austin’s work will be seen in the near future from Evil Moose press, Pilot
Comics, and SinnerSaintComX. He also writes as the head of the Comics section
Adding speakers, booths, events and crafts.
Also in talks with Batman and the 501st Legion. Too exciting! Already getting good feedback and volunteers. Super sweet!
I’m really looking forward to seeing some library and comic book peeps at C2E2 next week. Two of my best friends are going with me and have planned out a fantastic time in Chicago.
The mobile app to plan your con is terrific. Mallorie, my coworker, is like me in that she really like to plan out what we see so it’s been nice to schedule panels on my phone. http://www.c2e2.com/About-C2E2/C2E2s-Going-Mobile/
I did take the time to investigate and rank every booth that I will need to see this year: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AjSdNc4MGrQYdGd5WW4zMjRndG1jbzBCXzd5NGZyTkE#gid=0
My spreadsheet is color coded. Purple is “professional interest.” “Green is must see!” Red is “interesting.” Yellow is “mildly interesting.” I have included websites when available and exactly what I hope to learn/discover/purchase at each booth. Yep, a little too much time on my hands.
Mallorie wants to check out the Brookfield Zoo while we are in town. There are three things about the Brookfield Zoo that are just awesome to me:
1. The Dinosaurs Alive Exhibit
This wooded trailed allows you to walk through live sized exhibits of dinosaurs, observe fossils, and enjoy a Dino Dig. Too darn cool if I may say so. Just thinking about it has be giddy…which is diggy spelled backwards.
2. The Connection to Wildlife and Nature
The Brookfield Zoo has been around 1934. The Chicago Brookfield Zoo Society has had an international reputation for taking a cutting-edge role in animal care and conservation of the natural world. If you ever have a chance to see this zoo, it is truly a treasure of the Midwest.
3. Mold O Rama + Smashes Pennies!
I am part of the market subset that collects smashed pennies from every vacation. The Brookfield Zoo has a list of all the Penny Smasher in the entire zoo. I have been collecting quarters and shiny pennies like a fiend!
But, for the first time, I will see a Mold O Rama and plan to pick up all molds. You throw in your change and then select which animal mold/toy you want and then watch it made before your eyes. It’s like an abbreviated episode of “How It Works” with a prize at the end. If you don’t know about Mold O Rama machines (which became pretty popular at the 1964 World’s Fair) please check this link out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mold-A-Rama
My other friend wants to see Medieval Times which is always a treat. I heard that they will have a booth at C2E2 too! It’s always good to have a legitimate excuse to smash my mug on the ground and declare “More Mead!” in public.
Well, this was really just a distraction. I better go write my bio and send it off. I’m looking forward to speaking at C2E2 on Friday with some excellent people about the love a graphic storytelling and how to create a mini-con at your library.
I’ve been saturated in enough Cytarbine and treatment books, blogs and brochures to know that it is normal to be down while in treatment for Leukemia. As a patient, I have learned from my readings and personal experience that depression and anger make the fight much more difficult.
The fatigue and pain and bruises had become so commonplace that I had come to accept them. However, upon hearing those words “You have leukemia,” my world turned upside down as I now fight to juggle doctor visits, treatment, questions and concerns for family and friends, unforeseen daily struggles and my emotions.
So many times the grief and shock are so swirled together it feels more like a new emotional color, like shief or grock. Other times I feel sadness and guilt. I’m finding that much of the time I’m feeling anger. A base line of frustration drums through every thought, each interaction and most moments of my days.
The standout emotions from my diagnosis to this stage of treatment are the following, in no order of importance or sequence:
Shock - Feeling shocked, they say, is often the initial reaction when leukemia is diagnosed. I felt numb. At times, I have disbelief that this is actually happening. I wonder how I come across to my parents and best friends when I am unable to express any emotion. Because while it may not be an emotion – an overwhelming sense of being drained or hollow is all that comes across when they ask me how I’m handling “all this.”
Anxiety - My first few weeks were very stressful. I naively assumed this would ebb but find that it compounds with each appointment, test, treatment, and series of paperwork. The small sacrifices of my former lifestyle build up in to an eventual panic. The burdens to my spirit, family, friends, coworkers, and finances are individual Kibo Summits on this climb up Mt. Kiloleukemiamanjaro.
At first I was drowning in information and statistics but now I find peace in feeling informed as my treatment progresses. I’ve learned to watch out for unexpected work schedule shifts or incentive comments. I’ve learned to breathe. I’m learning to control my response to all the uncontrollable parts of my environment.
Sadness - I want to mentally shake the hands of those who are currently in treatment and are maintaining an active involvement in daily life activities and functioning in daily roles. Many studies have indicated that this behavior is evidence that we are adjusting well to our diagnosis.
So, I either congratulation you on your ability to adapt and adjust…or I marvel at your ability to camouflage your grief so well from observation…or I relate to your sense of waffling back and forth between the fight to stay normal and the fight to allow yourself to fall apart.
I didn’t cry when I told my parents about my diagnosis or during my first rounds of biopsies and chemotherapy. I thought I would lose it when my hair started falling out in spots or when the first, second or seventh person kindly pointed it out. However, luck would have it that I finally cried long and loud during a difficult Saturday morning as I was trying to work around my stent in the shower. It really helped.
I’m not sure this early in the fight if I’m in a deep depression or unable to adjust to my diagnosis because I have lost interest in usual activities. I feel more like Jane Eyre and share her realization that “everything has changed around me, I must change too—there is no doubt of that.”
When faced with your mortality in such an acute way, one is bound to reexamine their priorities and time spent thus far. So yes, I have lost pleasure and interest in many things, have trouble experiencing joy, have changed how I eat and sleep, have poor concentration and constant thoughts about death. I believe it would be out of step to not be this way at this point in my life.
Anger - Perhaps my most common reaction to leukemia has been anger. I find anger easier to grasp than sadness when reaching for my quiver of emotions. My anger ranges from mild irritation to fury. It is directed at me, my family, my coworkers and circumstance. I fight these targets of my aggression. I fight the anger with humor, exposure to new activities, cultures and information that I never perused before my diagnosis, and confiding about my fight in trusted family and friends.
Guilt - I know my parents feel guilty because their child has leukemia. I consider my health to be such a hardship to them and my family. While guilt is common with coping it is simple to bottle feelings of guilt until they engulf you and separate you from support.
I feel guilt as a team member for my work. My stress and chemo brain are obstacles each day. Working in the public offers a show case of sufferings and I see the strength, grace, and beauty in so many others who suffer worse than I do. Even as I wrote this, I paused to speak with a client who has just discovered that her Mother has terminal cancer. I feel guilt at these times for not being terminal and for being so tired, sad and upset when others are fighting bigger battles.
My overall conclusion is that leukemia treatment is a series of fights. Fighting cancer and the emotions that can spiral down and detract from treatment is an important part of my life right now. I’m learning new coping skills each day to deal with bad news, fatigue and adversity. I’m learning to fight.
Here are a few strategies that are working for me:
Staying active: Since I was diagnosed with leukemia, I have run a Couch to 5K color run, attended several concerts, learned to knit, had my ears pierced again, took up guitar lessons again, successfully submitted poetry to two journals, experienced the stress and joy of a wonderful job interview, become a Google Glass explorer and volunteered to speak at comic book expo in Chicago.
Keeping busy helps me to define myself beyond this diagnosis and has enhanced meaning to my life.
Structure: So little can be predicted during treatment. In fact that only thing that you may be able to predict is that leukemia is unpredictable. By setting my Google Calendar to stun I have been able to check out tasks, stay focus, feel some semblance of control and push away some negative thinking.
Connecting: A renewed layer of connection has come about from my treatment. I make more time to stay in touch with my family and friends which has enriched my life and offered an excellent support system. Sometimes it’s easy to overlook the gravity of a phone call or card but right now each instance is the weight of the world to me.
Even adding to this void through this blog of my not fully formed thoughts is a connection that I appreciate.
It can be difficult for public librarians, such as myself, to reconcile the concepts of marketing and outreach. Marketing can leave a funny taste in the mouth. Make us think that we’re going corporate like some WTO. The loftiness of outreach is too complex to articulate or at the very least agreeably define within the field.
Like any other information tech purveyor, public libraries are changing staggeringly. The reference interview is adapting to ever evolving access and comprehension standards. The physical building is less important. Books are no longer our single or even primary product. Because of these facts, many predict libraries will become obsolete.
The above paragraphs could leave an early career professional librarian terrified or even biter. I’m not. It could be simply home grown denial or unflappable (naïve) optimism in the face of extinction, but I think we going to be all right.
I’m as much of a consumer of the digital market as the next LIS grad. I live during a time of knowledge explosion, remarkable access to information and attainable media but I still find value in making connections that matter. Here are a few examples from this week:
An example of a connection that matters is our Adult Pinterest Party programming at the library. While most folks go online to find quilting patterns, scrapbooking diagrams, and crafting ideas, we can still engage them with our online presence. The 680 section of non-fiction isn’t as thumbed through as we would like it to be anymore but we all still like to learn together, remain social, and connect through meaningful experiences.
The library’s Pinterest page may be a form of soft outreach but the return on investment and participation have surprised our staff.
Another form of soft outreach is the groundwork for our Specifically for Seniors events. A remarkable librarian upon her retirement passed this torch to me. Her knowledge of our community and connection to our senior citizenry has established this monthly program’s success and permitted us to make head way in concern to outreach for senior tech classes, senior book groups, Homebound Services and much more.
I am thrilled to work with the Altrusa, AARP, the Iowa Agency on Aging, the Senior Center and local care facilities to ensure that seniors have opportunities for life long learning and socialization. Even if I’m speaking briefly at a rest home or placing posters in familiar senior haunts, the outreach is working to promote service and to establish rapport.
I was humbled to speak on Social Networking for Young Professionals this week at a lunch and learn. Even though I had to bring up my frenemies, Google, this event taught me the commonality between all young professionals in my community. We are all working hard to create services, products and experiences that enhance the lives of our clients. In an ever-changing market that can be more than ambitious for anyone let alone all the librarians out there.
It was insightful to take my knowledge of Google, Amazon, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and other quote unquote digital competitions of the library and offer useful information to professionals. After the lunch and learn, I gave a class on social media hacks which allowed for an even deeper connection to be made as we all learned together. In truth, the afternoon was quite cathartic as we removed stigma from the unknown and potential threat of outspread digital literacy and grabbed ownership of our place in this market.
The evening of the Lunch & Learn I went to The Capitol with some friends to see the fantastic musicians of the Iowa Opera House Project. http://www.theiowaoperahouseproject.org/
Even though I could have downloaded their music, in many cases legally for free, the experience of sitting in The Capitol listening to a live performance that like a river can never be stepped into again twice, was an enriching life experience for me. It was a connection to history, music and community in a beautiful atmosphere that mattered. This project is a harder form of outreach as they travel the state and play small opera houses and teach the historical value of blues in our community.
If you haven’t heard of Sam Knutson or the Iowa Opera House Project, I hope you will check out the link.
Lastly, I’m looking forward to speaking in Chicago about one of my babies – the Comic Books Days mini-cons at my library. The Comics Books Day is a day that promotes comics, literacy, and storytelling but is mainly based in the enriching experience of visiting the library and learning/playing with other comic book and manga nerds. It’s one day a year where the freak flag is flown proudly at the library as cosplayers, artists and authors converge to celebrate their life interests and goals together. Without groups life the Greater Burlington Young Professionals, the Iowa Opera House Project and the Burlington Public Library these connections could never happen in today’s market.
We create organic socialization and life occurrences that are loved. When things are loved they are valued, which is why I’m not too worried about public libraries right now and why I’m tremendously relieved to observe other librarians and groups understand the value of community engagement beyond an afterthought to library services and programming.
The printed word has been one of the most influential technologies in human antiquity. While this technology has evolved outside of the printing press to inside your Kindle, its basic applications continue. Contemporary readers live simultaneously as literates, information technology literates, digital literates, graphic literates and are creeping up on the accolade of gamification literates.
The gamification of literacy infuses the foundation of language and of printed/hyper text to offer the reader a deeper level of engagement and problem solving. We can observe the technology examples of gamification in literacy from Bantam Books’ Choose Your Own Adventure series from the late 1970s, where a reader would actively consider the gaming mechanics of fiction to choose their own outcome, to Santa Monica Studio’s God of War: Ascension, a PS3 game which is the third installment of a series of stories based in Greek mythology and involves simple and complex puzzles through a narrative written by two authors and a composer.
LibTech and trend spotters can attest that this form of media will continue to be on the rise. Computer gaming alone has grown into a $25 billion-a year industry. The entertainment business of video games made approximately $65 billion in 2012. Like digital magazines and ebooks, gamification literature is a growing source for education, pleasure and research. The popularity of this literature continues to spawn studies and controversy on the effects gamification has on readers, just as the presence of fictional genres, graphic novels, eResources, and digital media caused interest and concern.
As libraries expand collections to include literacy innovation and provide the best access to information to their communities the need for knowledge and understanding increases. Librarians are elbow deep in articles, pilot initiatives and webinars on gaming to learn new information tech and literacy trends and how to develop collections to serve users. Their labor is showing short and long term fruits as the benefits to gamifcation literacy access are manifold.
Spatial-reasoning skills developed through the manipulation of three dimensional objects in games have shown to improve students’ acumen in geometry, navigation and engineering. These skills are more prominent in male students, but spatial-reasoning can be learned, which gives the 42% of gamers that are female a more level playing field.
Visual search skills a honed when playing shooting and driving games. Gamers become faster and more accurate at searching for information. This aptitude is a prominent feature of echo boomers who frenetically multitask as they process information during intake. Studies have observed that action based gamers make decisions 25% faster without sacrificing accuracy than non gamers. Video games have been used to educate physicians to read x-rays and scientists to comprehend satellite imagery. This ability to make split second research will be valuable to the next generation of digital natives as they enter the academic and professional realms.
Critical thinking skills enable life-long learners to mentally manage concepts. Beyond memorizing skills and facts for an end goal such as a test, gamification literates are expected to maneuver through novel problems which must be solved in rapid succession. In fact, gamification literates undergo similar neurologic changes to their brain structure that accompanies learning to read, playing an instrument or navigating through the streets of a foreign city. These skills are very useful in the sciences, maths and humanities fields.
Collaborative and Social proclivities go hand-in-hand with gamifaction literacy. Video games are often used in classrooms to develop confidence, the capacity to create good relationships with peers, concentration and persistence with challenging tasks, attention and listening skills, and communication of thoughts and emotions.
Gamification literates are often required to crowd source an objective and establish team roles to successfully work and play together. An excellent example of this success was Firas Khatib’s multi-user game, Foldit, which asked teams to work out three dimensional structures of different proteins and allowed computer gamers to solve a problem in AIDS research that had puzzled scientists for years.
So as the wheel is still integral to the modern Ford Mustang GT and neither piece of technology has accomplished the elimination of the horse as transportation, the printed word is necessary to the intellectual development of gamification literates and all learners through public libraries. Gaming is complimentary and in addition to library services rather than in competition or a viable threat. The emergence of new formats and media is elemental to the progress of a constituency and for the continued relevancy of libraries in the mind of the modern reader.
As champions of information access and literacy, libraries must continue to support all formats of intelligence including gamification. Today’s librarians will face the challenges that their predecessors faced in concern to censorship, technological divides, administrative apathy, digital exceptionalism and perhaps above all else budget constraints. However, there is hope for the implementation of au courant literacy in public libraries with each supportive community member, devoted library staff and because gamification literates are among the information technology ranks.
Good Therapy, “Five Surprising Benefits of Video Games” by Zawn Villines (Jan. 2013)
Education and Health, “The Education Benefits of Video Games” by M. Griffiths (2002)
TEB Blog, “7 Talkers on the Benefits of Gaming” by K. Torgovnik (Nov. 2012)
Teaching Kid News, “Playing Video Games Can Make You A Better Searcher” by Joyce Grant (April 2013)
Discover Magazine, “Computers Games Solve Problem in AIDS Research that Puzzled Scientists for Years” by Ed Young (Sept. 2011)
The Wall Street Jounral, “When Gaming Is Good for You” by Robert Lee Hotz (March 2012)
The Phoenix, “Why I Play Violent Video Games” by Maddy Myers (Feb. 2012)
So here’s the rundown (ha! pun!) of my trials and errors in ten easy steps:
1. Learn about the 5K from your coworkers.
Working in a library is so much fun because your clientele and coworkers come from all walks and interests of life. Many folks that I have the fortune to be around are athletics, active community members, and highly supportive.
The event raised money for after school programming in Burlington area middle schools and I learned about Color Runs where participants are pelted with food coloring and corn starch. Fun fun fun!
2. Briefly consider doing the 5K and then completely forget about it.
So, this 5K sounded great. I totally anticipated training and participating. I think I may have briefly played Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” to pump myself up. Then, you know, life happened.
3. Seriously consider the 5K and start hitting a gym.
Along with treatment, I’ve been committed to a regiment of EQUAL or Exercise and Quality of Life in Leukemia. It has helped to combat fatigue and keep me positive. Yah endorphins!
As a big girl, let me say, starting at a gym can be one of the most uncomfortable and humbling experiences in life.
Two things really helped me out: First, have an exercise partner. My good friend and coworker Mallorie trained with me for this Shamrock Shuffle Shindig. She gave me a confidant to talk to and confidence to walk into a locker room, or fumble on a treadmill and even call MIT to figure out the butterfly machine. Second, have a sense of humor. Treatment is damn near impossible without it. I don’t think I could have started working out or even attempted a 5K without seeing it all for how funny it can be. My fears and discomfort were very real to me, but I try to make them into fodder for storytelling or to share a laugh with others which has helped me through.
4. Go to the gym a little bit.
Life Hack: The gym is like a spider.
The gym is like a spider because the staff and users are as keen to be accepted as I am. They are potentially as afraid of us as we are of them. Yippee! Remembering this fact helped me when I needed to ask a question or when I accidentally dropped my iPod off the balcony track above the basketball court.
5. Go to the gym a lot.
Eventually, regular workouts became less intrusive and stressful. When I began my new activity, I would Instagram each new discovery of this foreign land and write brief stories about unique interludes from this species called “Homo Exerceo.”
Tracking my progress helped as it allowed me to gage how close I was working toward completing a 5K within the allotted time.
I even took pics of the treadmill screen for Facebook each day.
6. Start going to the gym infrequently again.
I blame social media. I stopped getting as many likes or WTGs on my news feed.
Also, a slight shift in my schedule would throw me off track… I mean, sure, I’ll drive in the snow to go to the cinema, but who in their right mind would brave three deadly inches and trek across frozen parking lots just to exercise?
This was about the time I began to consider my motives and priorities.
Either this is for you and this is a way of life or it’s not going to work.
7. Register for the 5K so late in the game that you can’t get a t-shirt.
Visualize this 5K happening and finally remember that registration is a part and parcel to most marathons. Whoops! Sign up too late to get the blasting t-shirt. Do sign up in time to receive a number. Yes, they number you like cattle in these things. Read all of the amazing things that they will do with your fees and fall in love with your community a little more.
8. Make your own t-shirt. Glitter!
Realize that you are sad that you forgot to sign up but that you are all about the bling. Realize that it is just a 5K, but that it is your first 5K, and that you are allowed to be super excited. Run to your local craft store and design yourself a t-shirt.
9. Flip out.
Check out books, magazines and documentaries about running from your local library. Worry about parking. Figure out parking. Worry about the track. Go through a practice walk of the track. Check the weather predictions and lay out three our four possible ensembles. (Consider for a moment that you spend less time packing for international travel than this.)
Create your 5K music playlist. Consider wearing your newer sneakers. Go online to read the pro and cons of this idea and change your mind and wear the pair you’ve used to train. Try to sleep well the night before.
10. Run from the imaginary Zombies!
There are many fun strategies to help you through a race. Some folks repeat a mantra, others find a “nemesis” to tail during the track, others turn up their volume and find their grove.
I’m not a runner. So I don’t have a really cool catchphrase to get me through a race yet. I’m not a competitive person so I had trouble picking out a nemesis from all the troller pushers, tutu wearers and long time runners.
However, I am a gamer. So I kicked up my volume and imagined that I was running for my life from zombies. Instead of looking at my feet (big mistake by the way) I looked around and daydreamed about all the hiding places the last survivors of civilization could hide and fight.
When my ankles started to protest, I clung to life and visualized health packs on the path just ahead.
During the last round when I started to really feel the burn/ache and had to walk, I knew that I have been bitten. I knew I had to finish the race too, so that I could eat all the delicious brains of the other racers. Errhhhmmmm….BRAINSsssss….!
WootZ! I made it! Just in time for the color burst! Miraculously, zombie-mode switched off, I was too happy and we were all throwing color and I will do this again! Hopefully, a little less half assed next time.
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