With public, academic, corporate and other work spaces closed, librarians and information professionals can create the engagement environments that we have as yet only imagined. More than ever we need to be there for people and with people with facts, programs, answers, guidance and learning sources and platforms. The technology is there. Let’s match the technology with our know-how, our values and our innovation. This will be the game changer for everyone.
3 ways to Change the Game:
- Transform work processes and business models from being a public gathering space or the physical heart of the academy to being that space virtually. Use technology to virtually engage with students, faculty, the community, virtually. Use Zoom, Google Hangouts, Facetime – at the very least, and, at the most – try out AR or VR (augmented or virtual reality). Check out Spacial.oi that let’s you try their services for free for 4 people. Chad Mairn, manager of the Innovation Lab @ St. Petersburg College in Florida and Brian Pichman is the Director of Strategic Innovation for the Evolve Project have been experimenting with AR and VR for years; follow them and talk with them. They are both incredible and very candid. Chad just showed how using Spacial AR with 10 people around the world was akin to having everyone in the same room.
- 2. Equip everyone in your workplace with the know-how and devices. It’s the role of everyone working in libraries and information management functions to, in one way or another, help people engage with information. That ‘information’ may be in a paperback novel, a DVD, a learning object in the university’s LMS, or it may be guidance in learning how to use a device or locate directions. People use libraries and information services to learn something, solve a problem, make a decision, or for entertainment. Every staff member, regardless of their job, should be able to meet people where they are and confident in guiding those people – even if that guidance is to another staff member. And where are people? Very often they are on a phone or some type of device — all with camera and audio. How many staff in your library or work area have the equipment and confidence to talk visually with people on any device? It’s time. Cameras for desk-tops or laptops, when purchased in bulk, are about $25 (Cdn……in the US it is considerably less). We are reallocating work; we also need to reallocate resources and funds.
- 3. Risk some hiccups to learn, laugh, improve and repeat. Will your efforts to virtually engage storytime or tutoring or programming work perfectly the 1st or 2nd time you try? Probably not. Will you learn anything until you try it? Pretty difficult. Are libraries and information services places of learning and innovation? There ya have it. I don’t even need to put an answer to that last question.
We are perfectly situated to continue to fulfill our mandates and realize our visions with different service models. We have the passion, the know-how, the know-that, and the drive. Just because the game field is torn up a bit doesn’t mean we stop playing. Let’s make it a level playing field for more people. Let’s change the game so that everyone wins.