Posts tagged under: Learning

Redefining the library experience: Global insights for future planning

Libraries are no stranger to change. As community expectations shift, so do our libraries. This adaptability was on full display during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. But as that pressure has subsided, we’re seeing widespread reflection around what libraries will look like in the future. Many library leaders are thinking about fundamental transformations, with the goal of creating a more impactful library experience for their users.

During the past year, OCLC Global Council and OCLC Research explored the idea of the changing library experience by focusing on topics such as community engagement, collaboration, and innovative programs that meet library users’ evolving needs and expectations. Planning for this work was informed by efforts associated with our New Model Library: Pandemic Effects and Library Directions research. And it was accomplished through online thought leadership webinars and a global survey that spanned all library sizes and types. What we learned is that libraries will continue to be necessary infrastructure for supporting local communities. And to deliver impact, there’s increasing need for partnership

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WebJunction, an evolution in library staff learning

WebJunction 20 Year Anniversary graphic

WebJunction is, first and foremost, the learning place for libraries. But what makes it special is our approach: We’re committed to listening, collaborating, and doing our own learning, too. It shows in how we’ve evolved over the past 20 years with projects—big and small—that truly reflect the library landscape and provide new ways of learning for all levels of staff.

What started in 2003 as a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that focused on helping library staff be more effective in offering public access computing has developed to include content reflecting all aspects of library learning needs. The WebJunction team is a vibrant group within OCLC Research, and our 20-year journey has produced significant contributions with and for the library community. We make learning practical and flexible, allowing individuals to modify and customize their experience to meet local needs. This has resulted in successful learning models that are both inclusive and actionable.

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DEI: A journey, not a destination

Last month, we received a very special honor. In a worldwide survey of technology organizations, Computerworld ranked OCLC first among midsized IT enterprises worldwide for demonstrating excellence in advancing workforce diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).

It’s gratifying to see our years of work in DEI acknowledged. Recognition like this is a milestone, a marker—and an opportunity to consider the questions that need to be answered as we continue our journey toward a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace.

It’s a journey because we cannot claim we have arrived. Persistent reflection and action are required to keep moving forward. We can share what has been achieved so far. What more needs to be done? What can we learn from each other?

In 2020, I shared a blog post calling all of us to action. On this day when we honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I’d like to provide an update on where we’ve been and what we’ve learned.

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New Model Library: Plan for positive change in the midst of challenges

Co-authors:  Lynn Silipigni Connaway, Ph.D. | Brittany BrannonBrooke Doyle | Brian Lavoie, Ph.D. 

When we did the research for the New Model Library: Pandemic Effects and Library Directions briefing, a term that came up often was “normal” (Is this change part of a new normal? When will this activity get back to normal?). While interesting, these questions don’t acknowledge that libraries are incredibly diverse in terms of culture, size, type, goals, and locations. And the term “normal” isn’t really helpful without additional context. At the same time, the COVID-19 pandemic is a singular, global upheaval that affects everyone who works at and uses libraries.

So how do we discuss the impact this global upheaval is having on a set of very different institutions and individuals and their plans for the future?

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The Wikipedia research conundrum: Is it citable?

There is a disconnect between how students are taught to use Wikipedia and the way that they actually use it. The notion of an encyclopedia that anyone can edit has led teachers to warn that Wikipedia is unreliable and should never be used or cited as a source of serious research. In reality, most of us use Wikipedia all the time in our research. Defenders of Wikipedia’s contribution model even point out that democratization of contribution is beneficial and necessary for the level of breadth, depth, and reliability it has achieved. If Wikipedia’s open contribution model doesn’t stop researchers from using it, why are students taught to avoid it?

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New Model Library. Welcome home.

Imagine heading out for a well-earned, two-week vacation. To a place you love to visit and know well. When you get there? It’s all as you remembered. And you packed perfectly. As a frequent tourist, you know what you can buy if you need and what the hotel shop has and where you can go for a good …

Then, abruptly, you’re told—you can’t go home. You’re no longer a visitor. You are now a resident. This place where you were so comfortable and relaxed as a tourist? You have to live and work here now.

For many students, professors, teachers, and researchers forced by the COVID-19 pandemic to work at home full-time, all the time, that’s what has happened.

They went from being skilled digital visitors to unwilling digital residents.

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Four surprising findings from community-centric space transformations

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There is always something creative and educational waiting for us at the library.

That’s what one library user and parent said about the Ronan District Library in Ronan, Montana, after the library participated in the Small Libraries Create Smart Spaces project, led by OCLC’s WebJunction program with funding from an IMLS National Leadership Grant. The Ronan library, along with 14 other small and rural libraries in the US, transformed library spaces into places for social, active learning.

Thanks to the original program’s success and supplemental funding from IMLS, the WebJunction team is bringing this opportunity to 15 more public libraries in 2019. We often say libraries are the heart of a community, but one key to successful transformations involves placing communities at the heart of the library. The libraries each led a community discovery process, which helps them see their library through the eyes of community members. This opened a path to rediscovering the unique personality of the library and the ways people interact with it.

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What is the top novel of all time?

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What is the top novel of all time? War and Peace? Moby Dick? Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone? Dream of the Red Chamber?

The answer is, of course, “it depends.” It depends on your definitions and measures. Sales? Number of copies published?

One way of measuring is to look at library collections. Libraries reflect popular interest. However, they also reflect scholarly and cultural interest over time. Libraries are where the world’s literature is stewarded and defined.

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Invite your community to shape smart spaces

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When 15 small and rural libraries joined the Small Libraries Create Smart Spaces project, they signed on for a journey toward transforming their physical spaces and library services. Their exploration was guided by principles of placemaking, design thinking, and active learning. Along the way, they connected with their communities in refreshing new ways that catalyzed relationships and opened up possibilities.

Transformation is a big, ambitious word, charged with expectation of profound change. It might seem like an oversized challenge for libraries that are defined by small: small town, small building, small budget. But these 15 intrepid libraries, serving populations of 560 to 16,000 people, discovered the key to unlocking true transformation: meaningful connection with the community.

Rather than a more familiar positioning of “the library as the heart of the community,” each sought to put their community at the heart of the library.

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Three things librarians wanting to engage with Wikipedia should think about first

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Wikipedia is big. Maybe not googol big, but 5.4+ million articles in English is up there. The platform is the fifth-most accessed website globally, and billions of edits have been saved since the online encyclopedia launched in 2001.

Though most librarians have read Wikipedia articles and work with patrons who use it regularly, few librarians actually edit Wikipedia. There are good reasons libraries need Wikipedia, and vice versa. So how could you get started with Wikipedia at your library?

One way to get a handle on something big is to start small. That’s what I’ve been learning from public library staff in my role as the OCLC Wikipedian-in-Residence for the past 16 months, which included interviewing public library staff and teaching a nine-week online training program.

Here are three surprisingly simple things about Wikipedia that public library staff involved with the Wikipedia + Libraries: Better Together project say their peers and colleagues should know.

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