Music to My Ears

By Michele Farrell
Senior Library Program Office, IMLS

icon for florida memory radio On a recent site visit to the Florida Department of Libraries I met with Jody Norman, Director of the Florida Memory Program at the State Archives.  Her staff includes Katrina Harkness, Mark Nicolou, Josh Goodman, Adam Watson, and Derek Long.  They really impressed me with their enthusiasm and team effort in producing Florida Memory Radio. I wasn’t the only one who was impressed, because this month, the Society of American Archivists awarded the Archival Innovator Award to Jody and her staff for their work on a 24-hour streaming Internet radio station featuring bluegrass, blues, folk, gospel, Latin, and world music.

The goal of this IMLS-funded project is to provide access to music that many people would not know exists.  Normally music is cataloged by performance rather than by song.  As a result, a single recording might have up to 20 songs.  Many of the recordings are from the Florida Folk Festival performances and field recordings. The Florida Folklife Festival began in 1953 and is the longest running folk festival in the U.S.

This cataloging approach might work for archivists, but not the public.  With the public in mind, the staff created “shows” that include each genre of music held by the archive.  The shows include messages from the Florida Secretary of State, Ken Detzner, and a “this day in Florida history” segment.  Where else could you hear the following recordings: “Apple Farm Blues” by Moses Williams, “Cruel Mother” by Jeanie Fitchen, “Back in the Saddle Again” by Jim Bob Tinsley, “Vietnamese Folk Song” by Pham Duy, “The Water is Wide” by the Beers Family, Ida Goodson performing “Careless Love,” James Kelly playing, “Wellington’s Reel,” and “In the Evening When the Sun Goes Down” by Alex McBride.

I listened to the recordings and was fascinated by Ida Goodson’s performance. Thanks to the archivist who expanded the folklife subjects and folklife people pages, I could find more information about the musicians.  When I went on the website I found information about her life, other recordings, and learned that she was in a movie about women who played the blues – something I would never have learned from listening to her music through another platform.

slaa archival innovator awardLike a good old recording, the Florida Memory Program, has been around for a long time now.  During its 12-year existence the staff has made photographs, video, exhibits, and online classroom materials available. There are plenty of materials for genealogists, teachers, and music lovers. Some of  items that have been recently added are the voter registration rolls from 1867-68, the Fernandina Death and Burial Records from 1896-1916, and by the end of August, automobile registrations from 1905-1917.  I strongly recommend that you visit the website and discover some great music!

Posted in Collections Care/Preservation, Cultural Heritage/Sustainability, Grants to State Library Administrative Agencies | Leave a comment

Setting an Agenda to Advance Learning in Libraries

By Tim Carrigan
Senior Library Program Officer, IMLS

In May, a group of thought leaders met at the Kansas City Public Library in Kansas City, Missouri, for an IMLS Focus convening on the subject of learning in libraries.  The event featured lively conversations on a variety of topics, including participatory learning, early learning; adult education and workforce development, continuing education and professional development, and digital literacy and inclusion.  Also discussed were the interdependent relationship between research and practice and the alignment of curriculum in the academy programs to meet the evolving needs of today’s libraries and the communities they serve.

Report cover for IMLS Focus: Learning in Libraries

Today we are excited to share a summary report outlining the major discussion points of the convening. The report, prepared by OCLC Research, highlights some of the key themes and issues raised by convening presenters and participants. We hope that these notes will be particularly useful for those interested in proposing projects related to our Learning in Libraries funding priority in both the Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program and the National Leadership Grants for Libraries Program.

During the day’s proceedings, four overarching themes emerged, which are offered as guidance to IMLS and potential grant applicants as recommended areas of focus for advancing learning in libraries.

1. Connect LIS Education and Professional Development to 21st Century Librarianship

Library and information schools should reflect the evolving needs of 21st century libraries and communities. Continuing education should be informed by other sectors and disciplines, and support librarians’ mastery of new skills that will encourage learning in libraries, such as project management and partnership development. There is real potential for change in our institutions when staff are encouraged to create and think in new ways about space and services. Apply participatory learning approaches toward professional development; provide students with hands-on experiences that complement their classroom instruction. We need best practices for diversifying our own workforce; broadening our ethnic makeup, languages spoken, and breadth of skill sets; and embedding librarians in community organizations.

 2. Pursue research that connects with library practice

Conduct relevant research on learning in libraries that both informs, and is informed by, practice. Develop mutually beneficial relationships between researchers and practitioners before a project is implemented, ideally at the design phase. Communicate research findings in ways that will lead to demonstrable improvements in library services. Find ways to ensure that new practices are easily adoptable, more affordable, and widely implemented. Design projects so that findings can be released iteratively, rather than at the conclusion of a project, and when possible, use existing data sources. Research dissemination should optimize impact and influence. Resulting outputs and data should be shared, including the unexpected and failed research. Extend what has been learned locally to other individuals, institutions, communities, states, and across the nation.

 3. Design Participatory Learning Programs that demonstrate Innovation and Scalability

Design and develop new library programming models that provide participatory learning experiences for patrons across the lifespan. Possible audiences might include, but are not limited to, young children and their families; teens and tweens, un- and underemployed adults, and senior citizens. Meaningfully include the underserved and underrepresented. Implement intentional strategies for broad dissemination and scaling up rather than single local implementations. Demonstrate the efficacy of programs through evidence based program evaluation.

4. Develop Cross-Disciplinary Collaborations That Advance Library Services Nationwide

Engage in mutually beneficial national partnerships with allied organizations beyond the library sector with the potential to broadly elevate the role of libraries and expand library services to new audiences.  We need to expand our notion of the communities we serve, making sure that universal, inclusive design principles result in services that meet the needs of those we may not see in our buildings on a regular basis: the underserved from all ages, ethnicities, socio-economic conditions, and locations, and those with varying abilities and disabilities. More research is needed for reaching historically underrepresented or marginalized groups. People want to see and hear themselves reflected in library staff and service.

We are very much looking forward to engaging with the library community as it continues to work collaboratively to develop new tools, services, and educational programs in support of this funding priority.

Posted in 21st Century Skills, Economic/Community Development, Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program, Learning Tools and Interactives (Information/Media literacy), Lifelong learning/ Intergenerational, National Leadership Grants, Workforce Development/Job Assistance | Leave a comment

Games & Learning Conference

By Lauren Hays
Instructional and Research Librarian
MidAmerica Nazarene University

On Friday, July 31, the Center for Games & Learning at MidAmerica Nazarene University hosted a Games & Learning Conference.  It was a fantastic day!  You can read one attendee’s write-up here, but to sum it up, she wrote, “The whole day was packed with activity, passion, and some really fantastic ideas.”  Librarians from the Northeast Kansas Library System also attended the conference, Jeanette Stromgren, Director of Osage City Public Library, found the day very worthwhile, “The conference demonstrated to me that no matter what age you are, you can improve or learn 21st century skills by playing tabletop and board games, and provided justification for purchasing and using the games in a school or library setting.” I’m thrilled attendees walked away with such positive feelings!

Lauren Hays, Co-Director of Center for Games and Learning; Glenn Wiebe, ESSDACK Presenter; Mark Hayse, Co-Director of Center for Games and Learning

Lauren Hays, Co-Director of Center for Games and Learning; Glenn Wiebe, ESSDACK Presenter; Mark Hayse, Co-Director of Center for Games and Learning

My goals for the conference included a) starting conversations about potential collaborations and ways the center can support professors, librarians, and K-12 educators in using gameplay in their educational settings b) generating ideas for using games in courses, and c) meeting others in the broad education community interested in gameplay.

The opening keynote speaker for the day was Glenn Wiebe from the Educational Services and Staff Development Association of Central Kansas (ESSDACK).  He discussed how games could help students learn.  He included a lot of information on brain research and suggested we read the following books:

  • The Game Believes in You by Greg Toppo
  • Don’t Bother Me, Mom—I’m Learning! by Marc Prensky
  • Libraries Got Game by Brian Mayer and Christopher Harris

Glenn’s presentation kicked off the day on a high note.

Throughout the day, there were tracks for librarians and educators.  Breakout sessions included:

As the co-director for the Center for Games & Learning, I felt that the day was very successful.  I met many passionate librarians and educators interested in using games to reach their communities and students.  It is my hope that the conference ignites a larger conversation about how librarians of all types (academic, public, school, and special) can support their communities through gameplay.

About the Center for Games & Learning at MidAmerica Nazarene University
In 2014, the Institute of Museum and Library Services awarded the Mabee Library at MidAmerica Nazarene University (MNU) a Sparks! Ignition Grant to create a library-based Center for Games and Learning.  Lauren Hays, Instructional and Research Librarian, and Mark Hayse PhD, Director of the Honors Program, co-direct the center.  The center’s mission is the following:

  • Curate an extensive game collection
  • Disseminate cutting-edge research on games and learning
  • Equip educators to become game designers
  • Seek renewal within P-12, homeschool, and post-secondary classrooms
  • Train librarians seeking to support their communities through gameplay

Contact Information:

About the Author
Head shot of Lauren HaysLauren Hays is the Instructional and Research Librarian and the Co-Director of the Center for Games and Learning at MidAmerica Nazarene University. She holds an undergraduate degree in education, a masters in library science, a masters in educational technology, and a graduate certificate in online teaching and learning. She is passionate about the learning process. Her professional interests include the librarian’s role in informal learning and the scholarship for teaching and learning.

Contact Information:

Posted in 21st Century Skills, Education Support, Learning Tools and Interactives (Information/Media literacy), Sparks! Ignition Grants | Leave a comment

Bringing Together Public Libraries and STEM

By Sandra Toro
Senior Library Program Officer, IMLS

As an IMLS program officer, I know that STEM learning is happening in public libraries all across the country. I am excited to be joining fellow program officer, Timothy Owens, at the first Public Libraries & STEM conference at the Denver Public Library.

There is so much to learn about what, exactly, makes for successful learning, and interest in STEM research and education has grown exponentially among the library and informal STEM fields. A new report, published by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, shows that STEM learning happens over time and across a range of settings (including libraries) during “dynamic interactions.” The report also documents that successful out-of-school learning contributes to interest in and understanding of STEM; helps young people connect with one another and caring adult role models; helps reduce the achievement gap between young people from low-income families and those from high-income families. Last year, at the Chicago Public Library, IMLS held a convening of library and informal STEM professionals who shared information about existing models of informal learning and discussed the challenges of scale, content expertise, and diversity.

The upcoming Public Libraries & STEM taking place at the Denver Public Library and other sites around downtown Denver will be a groundbreaking event. The conference was put together by Keliann LaConte, from the Lunar and Planetary Institute, and Paul Dusenbery, from the Space Science Institute’s National Center for Interactive Learning (NCIL) with funding from the National Science Foundation. Working with a national organizing committee that includes representatives from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Queens Library, Oregon State University, the Estherville Public Library, the Association of Science-Technology Centers, the Franklin Institute Science Museum, and other organizations committed to successful STEM learning, Paul and Keliann have put together an ambitious agenda for the conference.

Spanning three days, the conference program is designed to foster collaborations among library leaders, STEM professionals, informal science educators and researchers, evaluators, funders, and policy makers. They will explore promising practices, help define a new 21st century vision of STEM learning in public libraries, and develop a foundation for a future evaluation and research agenda for libraries and partner institutions. IMLS Senior Library Program Officer Timothy Owens and I will be participating in panels focused on helping library professionals learn more about funding opportunities as well as how to reach out to underserved populations.

If you cannot participate in person, please check out the background reports that are currently available on the conference website. These reports highlight research in how people learn through out-of-school-time (OST) experiences, the importance of collective impact, lessons learned about how to better engage audiences that libraries are serving, and the ways libraries are continuing to evolve to meet their community’s needs. And be on the lookout for tweets and future blog posts from us about lessons learned at the conference!

Sandra Annette Toro, Ph.D., is a Senior Program Officer in the Office of Library Services and a member of the Public Libraries & STEM National Organizing Committee.

Posted in 21st Century Skills, Afterschool/Out-of-School, Education Support, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) | Leave a comment