Archive for category Social Library Issues

ConnectED – Build Physical and Virtual Library Space

President Obama unveiled a new initiative called ConnectED to connect 99 percent of America’s students to the internet through high-speed broadband and high-speed wireless within 5 years, calling on the FCC to modernize and leverage its existing E-Rate program to meet that goal.

The E-rate program allows US libraries to connect to the internet, but is it limited in scope and funding. By expanding the investment in the E-Rate funding program, it will help pay for investments in school and library networks. According to EdTech Magazine, “One of the creators of the E-Rate program, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), said it was time for E-Rate 2.0.”

The ConnectED program, as outlined by Arne Duncan Secretary of Education, should include the development of a network of educational (library) spaces to facilitate the efficient use of the E-rate program. For ConnectED (#ConnectED) to be successful, it should expand beyond a mere connection and examine public access; strategies that enable and empower people to visit, use and do research with the Internet.

Andrew Carnegie believed that the library building should have steps, inspiring people to rise up and enter to learn. He stated, “There is not such a cradle of democracy upon the earth as the Free Public Library.”

The Schools and Libraries program, also known as the E-rate program, makes telecommunications and information services more affordable for schools and libraries in America. Congress mandated in 1996 that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) use the federal Universal Service Fund (USF) to provide discounted eligible telecommunications, Internet access, and internal connections to eligible schools and libraries.

Below is a outline of why the library is an important part of our community. It was developed by the California Library Association – PRToolkit

They provide a dynamic array of resources, services and programming that help make their communities attractive, vital places for businesses and their employees.

They help people of all ages and backgrounds to lead better, more satisfying lives. Many libraries offer English classes, foreign language collections and other services to help newcomers adjust to life in a new country.

They protect our right to know by providing access to a full spectrum of ideas, resources and services. Admission is free. No questions are asked.

Libraries connect us with books and other materials that help us to learn from the past and prepare for the future. Not just books, but photographs, artifacts, historical documents and other pieces of our heritage that the Internet will never offer.

From cradle to grave, libraries provide books, classes and other resources to help us keep learning. “Tuition” is free. All it takes is a library card.

Check out a couple of novels and audio books, some picture books for the kids, some CDs and DVDs and the savings quickly add up. Libraries are paid for with less than 2 percent of all public tax dollars and used by almost two-thirds of the population.

Libraries provide resources and services that help people of all incomes learn to read, use computers and develop other skills they need to succeed. A report titled “Toward Equality of Access” from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation says “.. .if you can reach a public library, you can reach the Internet.”

Starting with picture books and story-hour and continuing with summer reading and other programs, the library opens the door to learning, imagination and wonder. Kids learn both the thrill and responsibility of owning their own “charge card”¬ one that lets them borrow books, movies, music, games and more.

Libraries promote a lifelong reading habit starting with story-times for preschoolers and continuing
with special collections and programs for teens. Many libraries offer book discussion groups, presentations by authors and other book-themed programming for children and adults, also literacy classes for adults.

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Crowdfunding for Libraries (8 steps)

As the world gets smaller and more people have access to the internet, we are getting requests to fund local library projects all over the world. These projects are important “peace centers” where young and old can be trained, read a book or meet for a cup of coffee.

The concept of fundraising for libraries isn’t a new topic. Roberta Stevens, past ALA president 2010-2011 from the Library of Congress, helped develop a framework to help librarians do fundraising. In the past year, technology platforms for fundraising started to offer libraries new ways to raise funds. These programs can be done anywhere in the world. However, a US partner is a good way to make all the connections and validate the process. The Leeway Foundation created a web page as a starting point for anyone looking to do crowdfunding for libraries.

On the academic side, movement towards crowdfunding is increasing. For example, in U. of Virginia Teams Up With ‘Crowdfunding’ Site to Finance Research stated, “The University of Virginia is one of the first to start such a fund-raising effort through a partnership with a crowdfunding start-up company. UVa is teaming up with Useed, a company focused on promoting fund raising in higher education by soliciting donations for university research projects or student-proposed entrepreneurial projects.”

According to the Fundraising Toolkit by the American Library Association, there are 8 easy steps to follow:

1. Recruit Help

In small or rural libraries, most of the responsibility for leading this effort will fall on the shoulders of the library director or manager, but he or she need not embark on this alone.

2. Examine your library’s community

Work with your committee to look at your community’s political, economic, social and cultural environment. What are your community’s strengths? Its challenges? Its important issues? What is happening with education, business, jobs, the arts?

3. Tie your library to community issues

If you’ve done a good job evaluating your community, connecting your library with its issues and values should be fairly straightforward. Take the checklist you have created and determine how the library relates to each one.

4. Develop your case

People will give to you because you meet needs, not just because you have needs. What are you raising money for, and why is it important?

5. Identify potential donors

Who is in a position to support your library? Is it local businesses? A civic or fraternal organization? A book club or garden club? Parents? Which individuals are likely in a position to write a check?

6. Make your fundraising visible

Consider planning activities that call attention to your library’s role in the community and its vital services. Events such as book sales, contests, read-a-thons, speaker programs, and others are all great ways to add some spin to your fundraising efforts.

7. Be realistic about the kinds of fundraising your library can succeed at.

Be honest. Set goals that are ambitious, but achievable in the context of your community’s size, its resources, and the environment you have evaluated.

8. Have fun with fundraising!

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Library Planning – Kickstarting the Design Process

It is important to remember that funding a library improvement project does not have to follow a prescribed linear course. In Crowdfunding the Library, we noted that librarians and educators can generate interest to improve libraries.

Crowd-funding is a way to kick-start a library building improvement plan. For example, there are web sites ( and if you are an academic library Bill Gates recommends ( Both are websites offer funding opportunities with a solid plan.

Organizing the funding process can trigger additional opportunities that will gain traction in your community. One way to begin this process is to ask the community – What makes a beautiful library?25 Stunning Libraries From Around The World” provides inspiration – ideas that you can use to get people excited about libraries.

Remember libraries are not just about books or e-books. They are social spaces, places for tutoring and collaboration, culture and programming. We are planning libraries that are digital as well as social. They are integrated with library information systems that enable circulation, reference, access and ebook access. According to Publishers Weekly – Bookstats trade publishing “Total e-book sales rose 44.2% in 2012, to $3.04 billion and accounted for 20% of trade revenue in the year, up from 16% in 2011.” The 44% increase in e-book sales is an important indicator that access to the library is digital as well as physical. Kick-starting the fundraising process will help the community understanding that these changes are an opportunity.

The practice of library master planning helps and supports local fundraising efforts. The studies help answer questions about the future, providing opportunities to align the community. Fundraising effors will help your library solve problems and generate experiments with new services.

Kick-start the programming process and start communicating new ideas. Use Kickstarter to get the ball rolling, enabling your library to create an improvement plan. If you are a global library in need of support, Deborah Jacobs blog about the development of libraries with Gates funding may be a starting point.

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I-Library – What about the Learning Commons?

The Bexar County library will open a prototype digital public library. According to “Paperless Libraries Switch to Digital” – It will have 100 e-readers on loan, and dozens of screens where the public will be able to browse, study, and learn digital skills. However, it’s likely most users will access BiblioTech’s initial holding of 10,000 digital titles anywhere.

The Learning Commons is a library space that the community can use for multipurpose / multi-functional activities. Conceptually, it is a public space that functions as a modern learning environment. A bookless library that offers just e-readers and desktop computers will find out that the “library as place” is the key their success; a motivating seating space that allows people to work collaboratively or individually.

According to Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolf in NPR’s “A New Chapter? A Launch Of The Bookless Library – The library is a chance to expand the scope of opportunities for people to learn technology. The world is changing.”

According to an NPR comment by Michael Hale – “For the past 15 years or so, the public library has become as much of a community center as a place to house a collection. It provides computers for those who cannot afford them, which allows them to construct resumes and do daily activities such as banking or renewing their driver’s license.”

Below is a picture from our studio. We are working on understanding how spaces relate to each other in the new learning commons. It is a good example of our visualization process and something that is critical to the development of new types of learning spaces.

Learning Commons Visualization Work

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Making the Learning Commons Mobile

According to MIT Technology Review “Mobile Computing Is Just Getting Started,” mobile computing is spreading faster than any other consumer technology in history. Almost half of the “late technophobes” have a smartphone, potentially transforming the way we make transactions in the library. In fact, 65% of the worlds citizens don’t have a smartphone yet. By bringing personal computing to the phone means that sharing information from the palm of your hand is really only beginning.

Mobile computing is changing the way we use information and the way we use the library. For example, Facebook’s share of the time a US smartphone users spends on their apps – 23%. According to Gartner’s “Big Data, Bigger Opportunities Investing in Information Analytics Report,” almost 27% percent of consumers ages 18 to 34 use QR codes. Indeed, the library of the future will be built on various physical + virtual apps – ones that help us find a group study room or arrange to meet at the learning commons for a tutoring session or helps us understand the physical landmarks in a library.

The killer app isn’t Angry Birds. It is access to computing, library discovery systems, online learning programs and online education. The wireless smart phones and tablets have arrived – it is time to design our learning spaces to take advantage of the mobility of information and our ability to share content to gain knowledge. The blended librarian was correct; its all going mobile.

Yes, the MOBILE COMMONS is the next interactive space we will be studying at ACA. Below are some visualizations of learning spaces; How will seating change now that we are mobile?

Contact us via Twitter – libraryconsultant

learning commons

visualizations of the learning commons

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Education for $10,000 – Use the Library

Recently, the University of Texas president Bill Powers addressed the need to lower the cost for college. He argued that is it already possible for some students to get a degree for $10,000 and that the cost model for innovation requires more funding not less. We believe that the University library is an agile way to deliver discovery tools for more not less. The library can provide virtual services that enables a paradigm shift away from costly models of discovery. The library can be part of a new way to educate our students and lower the cost of education.

The diagram below outlines the way a student in Texas can get a degree for $10,000. It shows that a student who completes credits outside of a traditional campus settings i.e. before entering college has an advantage. In Texas, they have found ways to lower the cost of education by allowing students to gain college credits in high schools and two year schools such as community colleges in preparation for University.

It is no secret that graduating college in debt limits our young people. Often, their debt is substantial. They have no job and they have difficulty paying off their student loan. To survive what David Brooks calls a “brutal cascade” – the colleges and universities need to embrace the collaborative environment both online and in the library. They need to find ways to integrate the library (learning commons) to enhance tutoring, mentoring, community and sharing.

Colleges need to move away from their standard and costly teaching models. They need to explore how the flipped classroom combined with a library/learning commons and/or blended learning environment creates a positive feedback loop. They need to provide connections in house. They need to use the library as a virtual connector, allowing the student access 24/7 while they go to school.

In all of the discussions about lowering the cost of education, we need to remember the personal one-on-one exchanges that can happen in a library or learning commons. There can be skills building opportunities, activated by people sharing a space. It can be a visualization space with flexible technology, tables and seats on casters. It can include media / technology carts and/or book trucks with pre-arranged materials. This blended learning environment is like no other – flexible and multifunctional.

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As Search Goes Mobile, Apps Change the Way We Use the Library

A couple of months ago, it seamed like all of the library information systems – ILS vendors were developing apps. The business of finding information had gone mobile; everyone was trying to develop a way to reach their customer more effectively. The New York Times article “As Search Goes Mobile, Apps Chip at Google’s Lead” discussed how searching for information is mobile. It states that Google is under pressure to change, because the behavior of searching for information is changing.

Entering the library to find answers is going to be a lot more mobile for users. The mobile user will search for information in different types of environments. Shar VanBoskirk stated “there is a lot of pressure on search engines to delivery more customize, more relevant results. Users don’t need links to web pages. We need answers, solutions, whatever intel we were searching for.”

We like to visualize and think about Apps as virtual “touch points” for content; providing new opportunities to find information. The mobile App can be combined with a physical “touch point” in and around a campus or in a community library.

A synergy of positive feedback can be created in the library to enhance learning activities. Libraries act as connectors for social and public spaces. They can be flexible “research commons” – places with an enhanced wireless network, lighting controls, heating and cooling and flexible furniture.

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Kickstarting “the library” as a hub of empowerment.

A low cost education system is critical to building up the youth in the 21st century knowledge economy. The ability to generate new ideas is critical for educational advancement. The social conditions are changing the way libraries are used. The economy is changing and libraries need to be able to do fundraising in the knowledge economy.

The invention of funding platforms is beginning. During our investigations into innovation we found Kickstarter, a micro funding web site that creates tools for the average person to start a building project. For example, Architect David Dewane – Gensler, started a project to create educational hubs that are creation, generation, dissemination and production zones for the youth of Africa. CLICK HERE TO SEE LIBRII: NEW MODEL LIBRARY IN AFRICA

In a “New Kind of Library” by Kira Gould – Dewane states – “This is a new kind of library. It will be the first that will actively engage users as content creators, the first that will operate on a sustainable business model, and the first designed to maximize the potential of high-speed information exchange in developing markets.” These strategies are helpful to include in the fundraising plan.

What if you could create a network of libraries in Africa to feed communities with knowledge, creativity conduits, and revenue?

What if you could create an innovative space in your library that will generate knowledge? Try Kickstarter to start the fundraising efforts.

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Learning with Technology

The most visible signs of our embrace of digital media belongs to the students – young and old. The way they learn using computers, iPads, e-readers and smartphones are different than the past. They are quick to embrace the “library in the cloud” as Sugata Mitra describes in Build a School in the Cloud. It is natural for them to work in groups to learn. With just a little support from a “grandma” or someone who is older that encourages them as Mitra points out, the students can learn anything from a device connected to the net.

The shift taking place in libraries is proving to be transformative in the ways we use information. It is not only Community Colleges and Universities that are being transformed, but as the Strategic Content Alliance stated in Sustaining Our Digital Future: Institutional Strategies for Digital Content – “The use of dynamic digital resources — websites, digital collections, databases of crowdsourced or born digital content pose opportunities and challenges that are all their own.”

Our universities are working to understand the impact of globalization on higher education in an increasingly transformed environment. This ranges from overseas universities offering cheaper undergraduate and graduate programs to the development of “massive open online courses”, or MOOC’s.”

It has become clear that a great deal of the content that libraries are holding today is expected to endure because of our natural embrace of technology. We need to start rethinking how libraries and learning centers can support this paradigm shift in the 21st century.


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Education for Half the Price

The transformation of education through the use of technology is beginning to intersect with real companies and big money. The high cost of education and the options for sharing online services is an opportunity that is beginning to take shape. The integration of research databases, online faculty and facilitated courses is part of this big change.

In “Online Startup Plans To Create ‘Ivy Caliber’ Education For Half The Price,” we start to understand that there’s a massive problem in higher education. The number of people qualified to attend the world’s best universities who don’t get the chance to do so is growing. At the same time, the cost of attending college has risen to the point where people question its value, and student debt is skyrocketing.

According to Ben Nelson CEO of Minerva Project, “as we redefine every aspect of the traditional tier 1 research university, we are also re-envisioning the university business model to create a new way of operating that is more effective and efficient.” We see the library playing a strong role in breaking down the barriers of learning, supporting the creation of higher learning. The library is a place – physical and virtual – it will support higher learning – its time to build more libraries to support online learning.

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