Month: October 2019

Right speech and speaking rightly

I don’t think I need to read yet another “Buddhist approach to [insert tech]” article. The argument is well-worn and essentially a known entity. Nonetheless, I can’t resist the urge to throw them into my to-read queue.

Social media has the ability to connect us with many people, so we do have a responsibility to post things that are true, kind, beneficial, offered with good intention, and shared at the right time.

Lodro Rinzler, “Buddhism and Social Media

There is a lot wrong with Twitter these days. In my heart, there is still a spark of love for a possibly never-existing but perhaps always-possible inherent good of the internet, but that spark is quickly dying. I don’t expect the systems to correct themselves, but perhaps I can try to correct my own approach.

There’s more to quiet than decibels

In a recent Library Babel Fish post, the wise and always discerning Barbara Fister asks readers to consider for a brief moment the value of a quiet space in today’s society.

Libraries don’t bill themselves as quiet places these days. We like to think they are social, active, buzzing with energy, because that makes us seem vital and necessary. Besides, they often are noisy — noisy enough that students ask for areas to be set aside for quiet study. We set one of our three floors aside as a quiet floor years ago at the request of students. Some find it intimidatingly “serious,” but others gravitate to it at least for some of their study time. For students who don’t have a lot of quiet places in their lives, those spaces are particularly valuable.

Barbara Fister, Inside Higher Ed

We struggle with the same conflict where I work. The library is one of the busiest, most trafficked places on campus. We’re open late. We have a coffee shop. We host events sometimes daily. And my colleagues are a noisy bunch (proudly so!). And yet… students always ask us to police loud talkers, disruptive events, and other patrons who play music in their headphone too loudly.

We do what we can to address the noise. This continues to be an ongoing negotiation (There are headphones at the info desk!). However, there is one type of “noise” that we have stood firmly against: advertising. As one of the busiest places on campus, we often get requests from other units to “put up fliers in the library.” Sometimes, the flier and table-tents just show up (and are promptly recycled).

We have a policy against this. I like to think of it as a means toward reducing visual noise. When you walk into our library, you are not bombarded with visual stimuli: bright and flashy posters promoting campus events, clubs, scholarship deadlines, athletics, branding, or food options. These things are important (and we have a designated space where this material can go), but not when students are studying. Not in the spaces where they need focus. Not when they are in the library doing what they came to college to do: succeed academically and learn.

a pug laying on its back waiting for a belly rub

Beatrice the Pug would like nothing more than for you to rub her belly now

The persistent myth of the digital native

Digital native ≠ digitally competent. Librarians who work with college students in the classroom and at the reference desk are likely to understand this. Unfortunately, the assumption that today’s students naturally take to technology still persists in higher ed.

Today’s traditional-age students are digital natives. Google and Wi-Fi have been available for as long as they can remember; the first iPhone came out when they were in elementary school. But there’s a difference between familiarity and understanding. Quickly finding information online doesn’t mean you know how to evaluate its trustworthiness. Growing up using apps doesn’t mean you know how to build one. Some students are digitally savvy when they begin college. But others are not. How can a college ensure that all of its students graduate with the digital skills they will need to thrive in their careers and beyond?

Beckie Supiano, How One College Helps All Students Gain Digital Skills [paywalled]

For one, colleges can scaffold digital literacy competencies throughout the curriculum, or adapt already existing critical thinking or information literacy competencies to accommodate digital modes of existing and creating. Additionally, academic affairs units could strengthen their support (i.e. $$ and staffing) for academic libraries and the librarians that are doing this work all the time.