Dabble: Organizing One-off Classes

Dabble is a community marketplace for people to discover, teach & host unique and affordable one-time classes. Did we mention that all classes are held in-person and cost just 20 bucks?

Their explanatory video is a bit long, but you’ll get the drift quickly.

Are any libraries taking as user-generated of an approach to their programming? I’m not saying that all library should be taking an approach like this; there’s real value in librarians assessing what folks want and then providing events in response. But utilizing a mechanism like Dabble does could be a really nice compliment.

Pirate University

A similar service is available between libraries as “Interlibrary loan” or ILL-service. However, these schemes are slow and expensive.

The Pirate University is ILL organized by library users and fulfilled via the web. Request an article to which you don’t have access and someone with access might just upload it for you.

It is a new site – there have been only 29 article requests and less than a dozen responses – and it probably won’t gain much network effect but it is still interesting.

Sane Library Policy for Humans

I like this expression of library policy from Justin Hoeneke on Tame the Web.

While we do not have a print version of a lending agreement in place that the teens/parent/guardian has to sign, we do have a spiel that we do give the teens before we check them out to them. It’s not the same every time, but it goes something like this:

“Just so you know, but checking out iPod out is kind of a big deal. If it gets damaged, lost, or stolen, you’re going to have quite a hefty fine on your library card that you will have to pay before you can use the library again. So, if you’re ok with that and you can be responsible with the iPod, then you should totally borrow it.”

We usually end this conversation with a funny secret society type of handshake. My hope is that it resonates with the teens a lot more than signing some piece of paper.

Library Members

Members of The London Library have access to a unique humanities library for use in their own homes or workplaces, in addition to congenial spaces in which to read and work.

The London Library refers to the people that use it as members. Nice. Its a private library so the mechanism of joining is a bit more explicitly membership-like than how public library patrons (at least in the United States) get library cards.

I’ve heard Stephen Abram, David Lankes and Joan Frye Williams all advocate for calling the people who use public libraries “members” and I’m all for it too.

This label also leads to a great opportunity on library websites: a page detailing the benefits of membership. Here’s one from the London Library.

Is Library as Space Enough?

The Ubiquitous Librarian on a private learning space near campus:

What really surprised me though was seeing three VT students using it as a study/productivity space. TechPad offers a subscription model for “nomads” ($60 per month) providing access to a table and shared amenities. It was finals time and this was their hub.

This is a big challenge for academic libraries, right? Library space is important to students and that’s a legitimate need. But if librarians aren’t valued along with that space, there’s not much preventing students from finding other, perhaps more comfortable spaces, near campus.

An interesting aspect to this is that in conducting interview of students for Influx projects we’ve repeatedly heard students say that being in the library somehow increases their productivity. One person even told us that they visit the corners of the library where the wifi doesn’t reach to prevent distraction.

The Journal of Learning Spaces

The University of North Carolina at Greensboro just launched the Journal of Learning Spaces. It is an open access journal so the full text is available for all to read freely. 
Though the focus – at least of this first issue – is on classroom and not other learning spaces like libraries, there’s plenty of overlap that should be of interest to librarians.

I really nerded out with Use of swivel desks and aisle space to promote interaction in mid-sized college classrooms.

Library Use During Crunch Time

Project Information Literacy released a report of students’ behavior in academic library around exams time.

At the same time, we are deeply concerned by how few respondents said they had availed themselves of many of the library’s resources and services. For many students, the real allure of the library is as a place of refuge and not as a direct source of information and support.

I’ve heard this a lot anecdotally but here’s some hard data. It is worth a read, in particular because you can use it – knowledge about real student behavior – to think of ways to better meet student needs.

Download How College Students Manage Technology While in the Library during Crunch Time [6MB PDF].

Copenhagen’s Wish Library

The Library House in Copenhagen – a small public library – took a cue from the Malmö Public Library and is experimenting with participatory design. Their project is call the Wish Library. Here’s a translated page about the Wish Library.

They’re currently focused on young adults, asking them directly what they want to do in the library. The first wish granted? A place to paint fingernails.

This is a very direct form of participatory design and it has the benefit of being transparent. Library users are aware – and surely they’re appreciative – that their opinions are being solicited. Taking steps like this can help libraries get comfortable with the process of participatory design, priming them or less direct and perhaps more sophisticated way to have users help answer bigger questions about the library.

Stine Hoffmeyer gave me some more information about the project:

How it all began
For quite a long time we talked about how we really wished for something new to happen. Something visionary that could involve our users – but still hold on to our family-profile.

The 29th of June this year I went to visit the main library (“Stadsbiblioteket”) in Malmö, Sweden. During the past few years they have worked with some great new visions to simply become “The Darling Library in The World.” This working title really spoke to my heart, but was definitely way too big to match a small library like us.

Somewhere in the library a group of tweens had been asked to come up with a lot of wishes for the librarians, because they were planning to build a special department for tweens only. These wishes were written on post-its and were hanged on the wall for a nice colorful collage. This creative experiment gave rise to ‘The Wish Library’!

I came back to my colleagues the following day and told them about this post-it-wall, and they all thought it sounded like a fantastic thing to do. One thing led to another and suddenly the idea was born: Lets make “a wish library” where the users can come to us with all their wishes and we will make them come true and create their favorite library!

The concept
It’s up to the staff to decide which of the wishes we can fulfill, but we discuss all of them no matter how difficult and unrealistic they might seem.

‘The Wish Library’ is addressed to all users regardless of age. They can either send us their wishes online or write them on a post-it and hang it on a noticeboard. A couple of times every month we gather some of the wishes and discuss them on a staff meeting. As mentioned, all wishes are taken seriously, but not everything is possible to fulfill. Some of the wishes are things that we already have, and we see this as a hint to make it more visible to the users.?

‘The Wish Library’ is a permanent project – an expand of our library user profile. It officially opened in October with a red carpet, free popcorn and balloons all over the library. We had a great deal of wishes the first week and we still receive new wishes every day. At the moment we count about 200 wishes and we are all very busy trying to fulfill as many as possible.

The wishes are anything from coffee to certain books or events. But they are also about opening hours or the practical arrangement of the library. Most of them are about cozy things like hot chocolate and extra couches.

About one time every month we post a list and hang it on the notice board for the users to see what happened to their wishes – to give them an insight in the process. Some users even wish to be directly involved in the process and we are always very open to suggestions! The list is also published online.

The future
We like to think of ‘The Wish Library’ as a brand. The logo is designed by danish graphic designer Marie Louise Heger.

We don’t expect for the ‘The Wish Library’ to cost us a lot of extra money or working hours, although it obviously will cost us extra work in the beginning. It should only be viewed as a reallocation of our resources. Before ‘The Wish Library’ the staff decided on what to buy and create for the library – now the users do it instead!

So far ‘The Wish Library’ has only received a real positive response from both users and colleagues and we’re all looking forward to fulfilling more wishes in the future!