December 4, 2014
The fall semester is ending with a nice big winter storm in Northern California – still nothing compared to the 10 and 20 digits my LWB partners in Canada and Connecticut are experiencing – but cold and wet enough for us Western folks.
My internship experience was just delightful, and I’m ending things on a very positive note: LWB has asked both of us interns to stick around and be dedicated LWB volunteers! It feels so good to know that LWB enjoyed having us around as much as we enjoyed working with them, and I’m excited to think about continuing with the group as the move into holiday donation season, their anniversary in 2015, and as they get ready for the next service trip to Guatemala. One day I’d love to be part of those trips, visit Limitless Horizons Ixil and the Miguel Angel Asturias Academy and see all the good, hard work happening in the name of libraries, and literacy. I’m also quite excited to see the first Librii library open up in Ghana, and to be a part of the LWB team assisting them along the way.
The internship has not only opened up a whole new world to me – that of the international librarian – but it’s also really allowed me to think about libraries in other countries, all of the services I have and take for granted, and how I can help others enjoy the same kind of library luxury as I do.
But for now, I’m going to wrap up the semester in true library style: by scheduling a series of posts on LWB’s Facebook page to make living examples Ranganathan’s Five Laws of Library Science through the work LWB is doing.
And then it’s off to start my winter reading list: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon; Huntress by Malinda Lo, and the much anticipated, publicized-for-all-the-wrong-reasons Brown Girl Dreaming, a memoir by one of my favorite YA authors, Jacqueline Woodson.
Happy reading, and happy holidays!
November 29, 2014
On my mind this week is the act of sharing information – willingly or not.
As someone who uses Google now at work, for my internship and personally – email, docs, calendar, searches – I’m at the point where I’m just accepting that my words are not private, that my browsing history is an open, searchable book, and that even something as simple as checking directions on a map can be used to locate me, or retrace my steps, at any time in the future. It’s pretty weird. But it’s what I’ve signed up for, and I don’t really know how to get around it.
I’m thinking about this because of two things this week: first, the codes of ethics for professionals – codes meant to reassure people – in human resources, that would be the employee, and in library terms that would be the users/patrons – that your information is safe with us. And secondly, after talking with LWB’s partner, David Dewane of Librii, who related to me all sorts of wonderful new information sharing tools becoming available for use in libraries – all tools that seem really helpful and intuitive, at first glance, and I was really excited about them. Then I spoke with library professionals at LWB, people who deal with this all the time, and I began to really question where we’re going with all of this. What if your library was in need of funds and so told you that it was going to start using a software that tracked your info seeking needs, while keeping your personal information totally private of course – but the data would be used to say, determine what types of websites made the most visual impact on searchers? It sounds innocent enough, and if you put it in the right terms is most likely something that users would sign up for, if it meant helping out the library. The real-life example I discussed with Dewane had the software helping the user by giving them helpful life hints, like – hey, there’s this new job that just opened up that you should apply for, based on your searching history. Or, this new drug might help you combat that asthma you seem to suffer from.
My point is – it all sounds good, on the surface. But data sharing comes with a price. I’m glad we still have professionals like librarians and hr advocates, who have their own codes of ethics to adhere to, and who really think through these issues, with a focus on protecting the human interest.
November 21, 2014
I have never been an early adopter. Deeply embedded in my person is a great dose of the old-school “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” mentality, and I have been burned too many times by the hype. The iPhone is a fine example: my first generation phone, clunky and big, worked just peachy, but Apple forced the issue through technology, and one day I woke up to find that my phone’s thousand functions no longer worked. And every iPhone I’ve had since then has worked in just about every aspect except the primary, crucial, function: making phone calls. I’ve become jaded, and now will wait months after new software releases to hear other opinions before I hit that Update button and have to get used to something new. Bright and shiny is not always best.
One of my personal goals in applying to be a Communications Intern with LWB was to overcome this lack of eagerness for All Things New, lose my antipathetic social media ways, and to embrace the myriad technologies popping up every few seconds. My thought was that, as an intern working to help promote an organization I deeply admire and whose mission I wanted to bring to the attention of the world, I would want and need to get to know the new technologies. And it’s worked out well so far. As part of my first assignment with LWB, I looked at social media post schedule tools, editorial calendar options, and story pitch sharing documents. The social media post-scheduling tools, in particular, really work best when you have several sites to schedule: I was on Facebook a lot, LinkedIn passively, but firmly stood opposed to Twitter and Instagram. So I was able to test the products, but not use them to their full extent.
I was still stubbornly holding out, but then fun things started to happen. I discovered Canva, the easy-peasy design creating tool, and started to use it exclusively for designing photos and images to go along with blog and Facebook posts. But what really turned the tide for me was a piece I wrote about LWB for BookRiot, which went – ok, I can’t say viral, I’m not a Kardashian getting married, but it reached A LOT of people, on BookRiot, through Facebook, via Twitter re-tweets, and I wanted to see the actin for myself. So I just took the plunge and created a Twitter handle, followed some folks, and one day later I’ve been re-tweeted, liked, followed, and mentioned, which is all social media speak for “I told you to just do it already!”
I would not have had the knowledge or, frankly, the courage to take these on if not for my research and work with LWB. And everything I did for them as part of the internship was thoroughly thought out, talked over, edited and then posted – holding my breath all the while, only breathing when the clicks, likes and comments started rolling in.
Project-based learning is LWB’s modus operandi. Not only have I learned about working with a nonprofit, and about international librarianship, but I’ve become comfortable with social media in a way I didn’t think possible. Now I’m sharing tips with others, eagerly checking out new programs and sites, and enjoying the whole thing. I’m not quite ready to move to early adopter status, but it’s a start.
November 15, 2014
This week saw me bested by a computer generated simulated life world – Second Life, or SL to those in the know. My first experience with SL, the virtual world where users design an avatar and participate in virtual learning experiences, tours, and socializing, was, I really want to say, dramatically, an unmitigated disaster – but it wasn’t really. I’m just taking the hubris matured by years of video gaming, and being a bit hard on myself, but while laughing. The idea was to get a tour of SJSU’s VCARA online world, where there are coffee shops for casual conversation, amphitheaters for larger lecture experiences, and a whole re-created French quarter complete with virtual Versailles – all with the idea of hosting an LWB anniversary party online, where the entire far-flung group could meet up and hang out. So I created a boldly inappropriate avatar – a busty blonde in a short dress, because come on, when in Rome! – and met up with Kerri, avatar aka Jane Awesome, for a tour of the world. And now I understand why most people’s fond recollections of their first time in SL end in back-slapping laughter. I got into the world all right, found Jane and even sat down at a bar for a nice glass of wine while we chatted – and that’s where my skills broke down. I blame it on the alcohol: after that I walked around, mostly backwards, occasionally stumbling down holes or getting lost in bushes with ambient music suddenly playing in the background. Walls became my enemy, and fences might as well have been made of barbed wire. But on the bright side, I mastered the art of flying around trying to find where I’d last seen Jane – who was the most patient, kind, and helpful guide – and using the handy in-world map to teleport myself out of random places and get back on track. It was insane, and, after two hours, I looked up and the sky in the real world was dark, the dog was looking at me in concern, and I had no idea how long I’d been gone. I felt like Geordi and Data in one of those episodes where the Enterprise’s computer takes over the holodeck, and nothing is at it seems. Second Life! Good times.
The good news is that I will be back, because I do think, with a little practice, a second life spot would be the perfect place for LWB’s student committee groups – who might be more familiar with it – to have an anniversary celebration. It’s not till February, so that should give me plenty of time to familiarize myself, see about a change of clothes for my avatar, and maybe even make some virtual friends.
November 6, 2014
I’m coming up on the 40th anniversary of myself, and LWB will soon be celebrating their 10th year in the world. It’s an exciting time!
For my own anniversary celebration, it’s going to be all about Disneyland, which I will forever maintain is the happiest place on earth. (Aside from my favorite libraries, that is.)
For LWB, the interns are researching ideas for virtual celebrations, starting with a guestbook where LWB site visitors can leave congratulatory and celebratory notes, available online forever! Or, at least until LWB removes the guest book from the site, and/or the world achieves a totally different version of the www. (I still remember, and love, tapes. I think the art of the perfect mixed tape leads to my love of creating graphics and the perfect Facebook post today.)
I’m checking out Bravenet guestbook and photo album hosting sites, and am trying out one of them here first. primed and ready for signing. And I think you can add pictures, so please go crazy! View my Guestbook
Other options for LWB include a timeline, in pictures, of their 10 years working with partner programs in Ghana, Guatemala, and with local Canadian causes. But what I’m really excited about is that Maryanne and I are going to suit-up (as in, create avatars) and venture into Second Life, in hopes of hosting a LWB anniversary party via SLIS’s world. I really know nothing about Second Life at present, except that it exists. I was inspired to suggest it for LWB’s party by two random events: an email from SLIS inviting students to take a Second Life tour; and by signing up on Pottermore.com, THE Harry Potter site where you create an avatar (black cat), get picked by a wand, and answer a series of soul-searching questions that allow the Sorting Hat to put you into a house (Hufflepuff!). All in the name of obtaining more Harry Potter fiction. But with all the action, it feels like a second life over there, and thus the idea was born.
See you in another life!
October 31, 2014
I took a trip home to visit my family in Pasadena this past weekend, and came home with my first cold of the season – and it completely knocked me down! I stayed at home for two sleepy days, resting and catching up on some much missed daytime tv. (I will watch reruns of just about anything from the 90’s, so I have a lot to choose from!)
But before the meltdown I had a wonderful interview/chat with David Dewane, founder and executive director of Librii in Ghana, one of LWB’s partner programs. We talked all about how Librii, which started out as Libraries Across Africa, got started from a research project and is now a 501c3 – well, let me describe the group in their own words, from their newly updated (and really awesome) website: Librii is a 501c3 made up of an incredibly intelligent team, backed by an unusually-handsome pantheon of advisers.
Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?
David described the thrills of rushing to enter (and win) a World Bank challenge to get from his initial idea to a working organization, the amazing partnership with LWB during Librii’s initial research process, and the current rush to the finish line to get the shipping-container-turned-library over to Accra, Ghana, and up and running!
Bottom line: David Dewane was one of the most interesting people I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing. He got me even more excited about Librii, and really showed me how just one person with one idea can make a huge, positive, difference in a community.
If you’re interested – and if you’re reading this, I’m sure you are – Librii still needs donations to reach its goal. For more information – stats, details, notes, case studies – you can read All About Librii.
The full account of our interview will be up on LWB’s website on Sunday, November 9th. Please check it out!
October 22, 2014
The weather in Northern California is not cooperating with my mood right now. We are in Fall, and there should be clouds, fog, rain, storms, cool days and cold nights! But instead it’s about 75+ degrees, full sun, and the much prayed for rain is nowhere in sight. (Full disclosure: one rain cloud passed over my house last night, dropping just enough to get my car wet on the way to the park. Then it vanished.)
We’re in the home stretch of the semester and internship, but I feel like I’m just getting into the groove and feeling comfortable with the duties of a Communications Assistant. Intern Maryanne and I are now fully responsible for LWB’s Blog and Facebook page updates, and have posts scheduled through December, using the lovely Google editorial calendar we worked on at the beginning of the internship. Working from our Story Pitch document, we are actively documenting events during Open Access week (this week!) and showing how LWB and its partners use Open Access tools to perform important research, and share ideas.
(The concept of Open Access is simply the freedom to have access to information – “free, immediate, online access to the results of scholarly research, and the right to use and re-use those results as you need.” (via Openaccessweek.org). It’s a simple concept that’s going to take some time to achieve. But we’ll get there.)
And while those posts are up and running, I’m working on the Carnegie Connection posts – where we highlight the link between Carnegie’s prolific library-building spree as compared to Librii’s model, which relies heavily on the Carnegie formula. Librii’s library is in the process of getting final coats of paint and preparing for transport to Ghana – it’s an exciting time, and a great reminder of what you can produce with hard work, a good team, and lots of helpful information.
In conclusion, open access for all!
October 15, 2014
It’s been a wonderfully hectic week working with LWB! After developing a bunch of story pitches for the group, Maryanne and I began working on writing the stories, putting our Google Editorial Calendar to good use and stacking up due dates: Blog posts on Sundays, Facebook on Monday and Wednesdays (12pm est for maximum visibility), and a whole lot of thinking/worrying/editing/rethinking in between. I am full-mind exhausted by the amount of thought that goes into one little social media post – but I love seeing the results (in the form of likes, shares, and comments) so I’m happy to keep going, full steam ahead.
We decided that first up would be the Q&A sessions with the three interns, Maryanne, Elise Aversa (working with the Guatemala Limitless Horizons Ixil group) and me. We sent each other a bunch of questions ranging from “what’s your favorite book?” to “what drew you to LWB?” Then formatted the Q&A for the blog, and began working on the Facebook part. For Facebook, the attention-grabbing posts always have pictures or eye-catching graphics, and I’d recently heard of Canva.com, which allows you to use custom backgrounds and photos to create your own graphics. So I tried it out and came up with a style I liked, to use to quote from Maryanne’s Q&A on Facebook, with the whole thing linking back to LWB’s blog, so readers would be directed to go there and check out the source. Here’s a look at the Facebook post:
And a link to the full article: http://lwb-online.org/getting-to-know-lwb-the-interns/
So far, we have 8 “likes” (one including my mom – thank you!) and the post has reached 283 people. I think it’s a great start, and there’s much more to come.
October 9, 2014
I made an unforgivable error this week when communicating with my Librarians Without Borders team – a team who, you might recall, is based out of the lovely country of Canada…
I did not recall that pretty big note.
Us interns are in the process of story pitching to LWB, to provide content for their blog and Facebook pages. As part of the research, I’m digging into LWB’s work with Librii, whose project to create library-pod-spaces in Accra, Ghana (to start!) is well underway. Turns out that Librii was inspired in its mission by one Andrew Carnegie and his Carnegie libraries project, which saw the creation of over 2500 libraries in just about 46 years at the turn of last century.
I’ve read about Carnegie’s philanthropic program and building spree in such library classics as Main Street Public Library; frequented the Carnegie outpost at Mills College in Oakland as a student; and had the pleasure of touring the beautiful (Carnegie) African American Library in Oakland as part of a San Jose State i-School student tour. Carnegie had a strict formula he used to determine who would benefit from his library funds, one of which was the willingness of people and government to raise taxes to support the library. Which aligns perfectly with Librii’s mission of creating “digitally-enhanced, community-based, revenue-generating librar(ies) on the frontiers of broadband connectivity.”
Carnegie started out creating libraries in Scotland (his hometown) and in Pennsylvania, where he lived in the U.S. And here’s where my error kicked in: I’d only ever read about Carnegie libraries here and there (US, UK). So when I wrote up a story pitch about The Carnegie Formula and Librii, I thought it might be nice to, as a comparison, include information on the prolific spread of Carnegie libraries in the US. Not Canada. Just the US.
This lovely Wikipedia-note will bring home the point: In Canada in 1901 Carnegie offered more than $2.5 million to build 125 libraries. Most cities at first turned him down—then relented and took the money.
Opps – Canada. It exists. It’s where my virtual internship has a physical home, which is also the primary residence of the site supervisors, and pretty much all of the LWB team, aside from us interns. My mistake was very nicely pointed out by the LWB supervisors, one of whom has her own fond memories of Canadian Carnegie library use.
I’m glad I had made this error early on, so I could remember who I’m working with before I start talking about the group over social media! Quick fix: think global, not local. It’s a small world, after all.
This week we wrapped up the social media research portion of the internship, and are moving onto content generation, or as I like to happily call it, The Writing Part!
(I say ‘wrapped up’ casually, but in reality I’m still thinking of ideas that LWB can use for their posting strategies – because the internet and its resources are VAST and I’m merely touching the surface. But it’s time to put that part down, for now….)
Co-internee Maryanne and I are just about chomping at the bit to start writing about this group we are growing to love and respect so much, and we’re dividing up writing about two of LWB’s primary groups: Librii, which is opening it’s first, really REALLY awesome library space in Ghana at the end of this year, and Limitless Horizons Ixil, the second Guatemala project.
Librii is making one of the coolest functional library spaces I’ve seen, using a repurposed shipping container to create a self-sustaining library for Ghanian school children as well as adults looking for a place to study, or just have great internet access. I might be as excited about the design, and potential for future spaces like it, as much as I am anxious just to see the working facility in place. Check out the artist rendering (courtesy of designboom.com) for a sneak peek:
And Limitless Horizons Ixil works to empower the indigenous women, children and families of Chajul, Guatemala, to help them develop skills that will best serve their communities. Starting with things like a community library, where a process I take completely for granted – checking out a book – is a revelation and wonder. Maryanne and I have this story working through our minds of the book that gets to go home with the happy child for the first time, and the adventures they have, together. Can’t you just picture it?
So while we’ll use a lot of research and actual case studies to write articles about these two programs for LWB’s Facebook and blog, we’re looking forward to bringing a bit of imagination to the work, translating what it means to have your first community library, your first dedicated internet access space, for those (like us!) who take all of this for granted. And hey, we’re in library school doing virtual internships, so we fall at the very top of that list.