Let’s do a book review.

Book Review: Quiet: The power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking

quiet_book_cover

Image retrieved from http://thehelpsychgazette.com/main/tag/psychology/

Quiet: The power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking is about people who prefer listening to speaking, reading to partying, and working alone to brainstorming in teams. It is about the people who are often labeled “quiet”, the introverts. It is about people I very strongly identify with.

Author Susan Cain, a self-proclaimed introvert, says that one-third to one-half of the people we know are introverts. Her book cites many examples of people who have made major contributions who were in fact shy, quiet, introverts. People such as Vincent van Gogh, Rosa Parks, Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, Dr. Seuss, Steven Spielberg, Gandhi, and many more. The stories of such introverts contribute to a well researched and well argued point that introverts are undervalued.

Yet the book is not about the bashing of the extrovert. It espouses that extraversion is good, but that we have made it into an “oppressive standard” which we expect introverts to conform to.

Cain talks about this as the Extrovert Ideal and the effects that it has, addressing society’s bias against introversion. She writes about American business culture and American schools and forced collaboration. From childhood we are taught that to be social is to be happy and introversion has come to be viewed as “somewhere between a disappointment and pathology.” Cain explains that introverts can actually be very good in areas where extroverts are often expected or preferred. For example, introverts can actually make good leaders because they are good listeners and often more willing to accept the input of others.

Reading the book actually led me to look up the author’s Ted Talk as well as an npr interview with the author. Seeing her on the stage and hearing her speak about this topic was rather enlightening. She used many of the same examples from her book. It was however, what she had to say about herself that was so interesting. She walked onto the stage holding a bag. She proceeded to share the story of being sent to camp as a child and taking a suitcase of books which ended up being hidden under her bed for the summer. She then opened her suitcase to reveal what she had packed… books. Her point was that we should not be ashamed of what is in our suitcase. We all have something valuable to contribute.

This had me thinking about how introverts and extroverts seek information differently and how they interact in the library differently. Perhaps the extrovert boldly walks up to the service desk and asks for exactly what they need, while the introvert ferrets out the information from the library website, or texts a librarian, or even quietly approaches the service desk to ask for instructions they intently listen to. While the extrovert may easily and readily engage in an annual library party with music and games and prize drawings, the introvert may be more drawn to Stress Free Zone activities or a Blind Date with a Book display. Library professionals need to be aware that different types of people approach things differently and seek and accept assistance differently. Most importantly, library professionals need to have an acceptance that this is okay.

The premise behind this book and the thoughts that it provoked actually inspired my interest in the information community I have chosen to look at this semester, the socially anxious college student. While introversion and social anxiety are not the same, this is where my thought process took me. From the introverted individual to the student experiencing library anxiety. It may be a bit of a stretch from the topic of the book to the topic of my research but the connection is there.

I would definitely recommend this book to others. I would also recommend checking out Susan Cain’s Ted Talk and her npr interview. While I can not say that I agree with every point made by the author, I do find the topic fascinating and many of her arguments valid.

References

Cain, S. (2012). Quiet: The power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking. New York: Crown Publishers

http://www.npr.org/2012/01/30/145930229/quiet-please-unleashing-the-power-of-introverts

http://www.ted.com/talks/susan_cain_the_power_of_introverts

Socially Anxious College Students Can Be Their Own Information Community…

Most people can say that they have heard of various forms of anxiety, including social anxiety. Most have felt the effects of some form of anxiety at one time or another, while others battle it every moment of every day.

Many college students suffer from varying forms and degrees of social anxiety. One specific type of social anxiety is library anxiety. Considering my interest in academic librarianship, I have chosen to look at socially anxious college students as an information community. “Information communities form primarily around people’s needs to get and use information” (Fisher & Bishop, 2015). I am interested to explore the information needs and behaviors of these college students and how academic libraries can better serve them while alleviating their library anxiety.

Fisher & Bishop (2015) quote Joan Durrance as defining information communities as “constituencies united by common interest in building and increasing access to a set of dynamic, linked, and varying information resources.” Durrance is further quoted as saying that such a group “blurs the boundaries between information seekers, users, and providers, recognizing that a single person or institution can embody multiple segments of the information cycle” (Fisher & Bishop, 2015). It is clear from my preliminary research that those who suffer from social anxiety could be referred to as such a group. In focusing on the academic setting, I have narrowed that group to those college students who find themselves facing social anxieties, specifically library anxiety. Through my research I will seek to determine just what library anxiety is, who faces it, and how it can be addressed.

It is my opinion that by emphasizing the key characteristics of any information community, academic libraries could seek to deter library anxiety by bringing students facing these social anxieties together. “Information communities form mainly around people’s needs to use information from distributed information resources” (Fisher & Durrance, 2003.) These are exactly the needs of any student. Making it easier for those students facing these challenges is my interest. Fisher & Durrance (2003) state that “Information communities “emphasize collaboration among diverse groups that provide information and may share joint responsibility and resources.” I hope to find out how these students may be doing this on their own and what the library can do to help. Fisher & Durrance (2003) also state that information communities “exploit the information sharing qualities of technology and yield multiplier effects for stakeholders.” Through scholarly research as well as surveys of college students, I hope to determine what, if any, technologies (i.e. blogs, forums, listservs, etc) may be used or could be established by and/or for these students. Information communities “anticipate and often form around people’s needs to access and use information in ways that people perceive as helpful” (Fisher & Durrance 2003).  To that end, I seek to establish what is and would be most helpful in order to “remove barriers to information about acquiring needed services and participating in civic life”  as well as to “foster social connectedness within the larger community” (Fisher & Durrance 2003).  The ultimate goal is to establish that this s in fact an information community that the academic library should be seeking to better serve in order to support the success of individual students and the overall retention and graduation goals of the institution (i.e. university) it serves.

References:

Fisher, K., & Durrance, J. (2003). Information communities. In K. Christensen, & D. Levinson (Eds.), Encyclopedia of community: From the village to the virtual world. (pp. 658-661). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Fisher, K. & Bishop, A.P. Information communities: Defining the focus of information service. In S. Hirsh (Ed.) Information services today:An introduction (pp. 20 – 26).Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield.

Let’s try this again.

Well, hello. If you have looked at my previous posts, you have likely noted that this is not my first go at INFO (LIBR) 200. There were some technical difficulties with the first go around, so here I am again.

For anyone who hasn’t scrolled through previous posts, here is a recap of me:

“My name is Elisha Wells (pronounced like Alicia). I live in Greenup County, Kentucky. I work as a Library Specialist at Clark Memorial Library at Shawnee State University in Portsmouth, Ohio. I started out as a student reference assistant while working on my undergrad. After graduating with a BA in Social Science in 2011, I was hired on as the part time Government Documents Clerk. I am now the Cataloger. I am interested in academic librarianship.”

I have to say I really enjoyed this class the first time and felt that I learned a lot about Deaf Culture as an information community. Now to decide on a new community to research… I have a few ideas, it’s just narrowing it down to one. I’m really looking forward to this semester.

The end is only the beginning.

It has been a jam-packed semester, but it is almost done. Seems like it has passed in a flash.

Taking a moment to reflect on all that has passed during the past weeks in LIBR 200 Information Communities leaves me almost shaking my head. The various lectures and readings have provided a wealth of information. I find that I certainly look at providing access in a different light now. Not the least of this has come from learning of the various communities represented in this course. It has been interesting to read the blogs of my classmates and learn about their various information communities. I hope that others have found mine to be as helpful and informative.

For my part, I found it a little rough connecting to members of the D/deaf community. Interestingly enough, just today (as the semester draws to a close) I received a reply to one of the many emails I have sent this semester attempting to get the perspective of members of the Deaf community. The founder of deafnewspaper.com responded to say that he would be happy to post a video if I would like to make one. So, it would appear that after a semester of banging my head against a wall,  I finally have an in. I intend to shake the dust off my signing and attempt to make a video in ASL asking for feedback from D/deaf community on the various topics we have discussed.

So, though the course comes to an end, my exploration of information communities continues. I have learned a lot from research, but I hope to gain more first hand intelligence on how, as an information professional, to better serve the D/deaf community. It is my hope to take this knowledge and, reaching past stereotypes and norms, find a way to apply it in my current and future library positions.  For certain, in my case, the end is only the beginning.

Interest does not equal acceptance.

One thing I have certainly learned this semester is that no matter how interested you are in learning about or helping to facilitate better services for an information community it can be nearly impossible to break into that inner circle.

Week after week I have sent out emails and Facebook messages to various members of the deaf community explaining who I am and why I am contacting them. I have received limited, if any, response. My latest attempts were to gain first hand information about the use of emerging technologies within the community. I received not a single reply.

During my undergraduate career, as I worked on my Deaf Studies certificate, I did not meet with quite the same resistance. At the time, however, I was directly connected to a couple of members of the deaf community.  This apparently made more of a difference than I could have possibly realized. I have come to the conclusion that in order to pursue my interest in providing better information services to this community I will have to again become personally involved. Fortunately, I do have a few ideas (though still a little fuzzy) of how I might do this. So far I have had to rely on the research others. While very interesting and informative, I hope to eventually be able to add my own research and broaden the scope of the available information.

Through various searches and much reading, I have found what I would not have doubted to be true. Deaf culture and the D/deaf community widely use various forms of technology.

images (4) images3EAG5PMQ images (3) images (2) imagesFOLVXLZB imagesR7AOVBU5 imagesZHQHPHGD

These images show only a fraction of the ways that the D/deaf community uses emerging technologies to advance their community and to share information. The very nature of the deaf experience lends itself to the embracing of technology and the opportunities that it opens up.

In the future I hope to be able to speak more fully to this idea and to apply that information in my future work as an information professional in whatever capacity I may find myself.

What does “librarian” bring to mind??

Just hearing the word conjures images in ones mind. Librarian….

Buns and glasses, long skirts and sensible shoes… geeky, nerdish, innocent, naïve, socially awkward… or maybe the sexy librarian… or the hero… So many images come to mind.

I have to be honest, when I first considered how librarians are stereotyped in the movies and on tv, I kind of had to think about it. My thoughts ran first to those shows I remembered as a kid, like Between the Lions and Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood and Reading Rainbow. But, my favorite librarian character as a kid was probably Linda Bove, the Deaf librarian on Sesame Street. Then I though of several television shows where librarians and libraries were prominent, like Buffy, the Vampire Slayer or one of my current favorites, Once Upon a Time. Then of course there are movies… I had never honestly thought about how many references there are to librarians and libraries in pop culture. So, I started with some google searches and then I started a Pinterest board of library stuff to gather my thoughts. It was crazy how quickly I had all those pins and how stereotypical most of them actually were. (And how addicted I now am to pinning to that board!)

It was interesting how many examples I found that related to Deaf culture and sign language. Of course, there was Linda the Librarian from Sesame Street. I was not at all surprised by that. I was more surprised by some of the other examples I found. I was pleasantly surprised as I was not actually expecting to see much result from searching for Deaf culture, librarians, and media. I now specifically want to see Universal Signs,a 2008 independent film in American Sign language with English subtitles about an academic librarian who gains the trust of a deaf patron. I am interested to see more of how the Deaf community sees librarians.

My personal favorites among my Pinterest finds were pins for the movies and television series starring Noah Wyle. I have seen, even own, The Librarian: Quest for the Spear. Wyle plays Flynn Carsen, a geeky, socially awkward guy who lands a job at the Met as the Librarian and ends up being the hero who must save the world. Now that I realize they exist, I find myself wanting to see Wyle’s two subsequent movies The Librarian: Return to King Solomon’s Mines and The Librarian: Curse of the Judas Chalice, as well as the 2014 series The Librarians, in all of which he stars as Flynn Carsen.

If I could have Flynn Carsen’s job, I would definitely take it. Some day I will probably be that stereotypical hair in a bun, glasses on my nose librarian… but if I could pick? Definitely , the hero. Oh, I’ll freely admit I am not cut out for jumping off cliffs and roaming jungles, but the idea is intriguing. Carsen goes to the Met for what he thinks is a normal interview and ends up in a secret , magical library world that protects artifacts like Excalibur and Pandora’s box.  He may be geeky and socially awkward, but he is the only one who can decipher the ancient dead language that is the key to saving the world. It’s a dream adventure.

It is almost amusing how many different stereotypes there are for a librarian. The sheer number of stereotypes for one title is an oxymoron. Though we like to put people in a box and certain titles bring to mind certain ideas, at the end of the day no two librarians are cut from the same cloth.

Ethics can be a tricky business.

It is the job of the librarian to ensure that library users have access to materials of all types that represent any subject and/or perspective. It is also their responsibility to make sure that the materials are available to all users, making accommodations and ensuring appropriate formats as required.

However, when it comes to providing access and appropriate accommodations for the d/Deaf it can prove to be a tricky ethical issue for libraries. In order to eliminate discrimination and ensure access legislation has been put in place for hose who have disabilities. The problem with this comes down to a matter of perspective. Those outside of Deaf culture see the d/Deaf from their mainstream concepts of disability. Those who identify themselves as a part of Deaf culture do not see themselves as disabled. They identify as a distinct linguistic minority group (McQuigg 2003).

This is made even murkier by the different concepts of deaf and Deaf. While the Deaf see themselves as a cultural, linguistic group, the deaf do not necessarily identify themselves with Deaf culture. The library, as an access point for information, needs to be prepared to deal with either circumstance and to be aware of the difference and sensitive to the needs of both. That can be far easier said than done. In trying to be sensitive and accommodating to those with disabilities, it is very possible to offend the culture of others. However, in attempting to be sensitive to the needs of Deaf culture libraries must remain aware of those who do not identify with those needs.

When dealing with this unique and diverse information community, determining the needs of individual users can definitely be a tricky business.

Reference

McQuigg, K. (2003). Are the deaf a disabled group,or a linquistic minority? The Australian Library Journal, 52(4), 367-486.