Mission Statement Analysis article

My research looking at 32 public library mission statements has just been published by The Library Quarterly. Check it out if you’re interested in how these libraries position themselves in relation to their users, what roles they highlight, and the implications of these missions for real user-centered service.

SPOILER ALERT: It’s not looking so good for user-centered service.

Deconstructing the Mission: A Critical Content Analysis of Public Library Mission Statements

Use PLA in your printer

A new study just came out regarding air quality safety and 3D printing. To my mind, it just reinforced my choice to only use PLA instead of ABS, because of the KNOWN hazards of ABS. PLA may also be hazardous, but:

the primary individual VOC emitted from PLA filaments was lactide … albeit in relatively low quantities (p. F)

and

We are not aware of any relevant information regarding the inhalation toxicity of lactide, the primary individual VOC emitted from PLA filaments. (p. G)

I spoke about this issue here 2 years ago, and I still feel like a large, well-ventilated room with a PLA printer is unlikely to harm anyone–unless someone sits next to it all day everyday. Then an air filter is a good idea. But I am not a plastics scientist or health expert, so be cautious!

 

Reference

Azimi, P., Zhao, D., Pouzet, C., Crain, N., & Stephens, B. (2016, preprint). Emissions of ultrafine particles and volatile organic compounds from commercially available desktop 3D printers with multiple filaments. Environmental science & technology.

ALISE 2016 Conference Poster

I extracted a short piece from my dissertation on power and public library creative spaces to look at the “library faith.” This faith grounds library funding and missions, and is really a set of social goals and values that shift over time. For example, the library faith was initially a faith in books and reading, as instrumental toward a better democracy and well-behaved and acculturated public. Makerspaces evidence a change in this faith–it’s grounded in technology, with largely economic aims. Quite a difference from the civic engagement and democracy aims of earlier faiths!

Here’s a draft of the poster.

Imaginaire poster_crawford barniskis.jpg

Imaginaire poster_crawford barniskis pdf

An Imaginaire text only–with some more information on how this aligns with my dissertation research.

For more on this topic, my dissertation is forthcoming within the year, and I have a couple of papers currently in review. I’ll update here when they are published.

 

FAQ: Policy & Procedures

Recently I was told by a librarian that they have never heard a compelling reason to work on policy. And we’ve all heard some librarian say (or said ourselves) we want practical solutions, not more theory. Some libraries don’t even have a procedures manual, because they think they can just figure things out as they go along–and of course, all the library’s personnel are on the same page, and implement policy equitably, right?

But policy, procedures, & theory are interconnected and all utterly necessary to public library practice.

Policy is not only cover-your-ass legalese considering the worst possible outcomes, but is also a statement of what you are doing and why. It is your first (and 2nd and 3rd…) line of defense against challenges, an outline of your goals and visions, and a map to the services you provide.  It should reveal your hopes and dreams for your community and your library’s place in it.

All of this rests on theory.

You want to make your community better and stronger, right? (I’m going to assume you do, because NO ONE goes into public libraries for the money!) Well, you have some theories on how you can accommodate this desire, which may involve literacies, or making things, or balanced collections, or storytimes, or a caring staff engaged in community affairs. These theories evolve into services and collections through practice and policy.

  • First, you decide x is the thing to do to make the world a better place (this is the theory).
  • Second, you write the roadmap for getting you there (this is the policy).
  • Finally, you follow the map, hopefully in an equitable and helpful way (these are the procedures).

Without a coherent set of policies, grounded in a strong mission statement, and elaborated in a comprehensive set of procedures, it is all too easy for public libraries to get their reputation for fussy, arbitrary, power-grabs. All too often a lack of coherent and visionary policies and procedures reads as “because I said so” bureaucratic bullshit. One staffer will require one set of behaviors, while another staffer allows another. And the rules don’t seem connected to the sense of welcoming, even revolutionary free open-access and social engagement that public libraries are actually about (in my opinion).

In light of public library makerspaces, many people are fumbling around with creating policies and procedures. I have been asked about policies and procedures a lot. I have spoken about the excellent East Troy Library’s makerspace policy, in a previous post.

Now, I’ve revised that policy to something that would have worked well in the library where I was a director, included some of the policies and procedures I created there, and offer you this sample Policy & Procedure Manual.

My goal is to ensure that creative spaces in libraries are socially just. This means that all people should have access to tools and information that they can use to pursue whichever dreams, visions, or ideas they deem fit. This should happen in an environment that is collaborative and supportive, so not only the education, job-skills, or even creative needs of the community are met, but also social and emotional needs, such as confidence, resilience, friendship, wonder, and plain old happiness.

I engineer these goals (my theories!) into the policies and procedures by trying to balance the needs of the many and the needs of the few, ensuring as many uses as possible are enabled, and that all sorts of social-emotional-creative needs are able to be met, instead o simply focusing on “don’t burn yourself on the extruder” types of policy/procedures.

BananaPiano2

Metaphors of Privilege

Latest discourse analysis of makerspace rhetoric–this one examining the metaphors and metanyms that librarians who offer makerspace services use, versus those used in the professional literature and blogs. The image of the poster looks VERY pink on my screen, apologies if this is true for you as well. You can download the pdf here.

EDIT: I’m proud (and surprised!) to say this poster won the Best Poster Award at iConference.

metaphors of privilege

ABSTRACT and references–at least the prepublication version. Please see iConference proceedings for 2015 for the citable abstract.

 

 

Policy for library makerspaces

owl oopsI am regularly asked for a policy for a library’s makerspace offerings. I’ve seen many of these, and provided a brief one elsewhere on this blog. But I was thrilled to recently be offered a shot at looking over East Troy Public Library’s policy. East Troy is a small town in Wisconsin, and is part of a group of libraries offering a mobile makerspace. I’ve been consulting with them for the past couple of years.

This file is the DRAFT policy penned by the wonderful director Alison Senkevich, along with my comments and suggestions. While it is not the final, approved policy, I love the thoroughness and thoughtfulness of the policy.

My main recommendation: Ensure that a comprehensive procedures book is created alongside the policy to guide specific, quantitative guidelines for staff to follow when training, and ensuring use of the materials is up to the policy’s standards. If they do that, I hope to be able to share that as well!

Let me know if you have ideas, recommendations, or amendments you’d like to propose. The makerspace model in libraries is full of promise, but without strong policy, any makerspace will probably look like the 3D printed owl on the left of the photo above–starting out well, but devolving into chaos. (Note: the cat you see in the background was responsible for this mess. We call her Pandora for a reason–she is the original curious, and destructive, cat.)

East Troy Library General Makerspace Policy_comments