Week 12: What’s next?

This week is the last week of school, and by extension the last week of this directed study (but not necessarily the last week of this blog) — so what comes next? A few things are on the horizon.

First, I started this directed study as a way to prepare for the presentation I’m giving at ALA Midwinter in Seattle next month, and that’s still on the schedule so I’ll be getting started on that & working with my friend Colleen Theisen who used to run the University of Iowa Special Collections YouTube channel, and is now the Chief Curator of Exhibitions, Programs, and Education at Syracuse University. I invited her to present on the panel with me because while I’ve been doing videos about libraries for a year and a half or so, she’s been at it much longer and for an institution, which is a perspective I can’t provide.

Second, this month I went to two (!) conferences: OpenCon and ThinkerCon. They were both awesome, with OpenCon being very library-issues related (something like 50% of the folks there were librarians,which is no surprise), while ThinkerCon was 90% folks who create smart content for the Internet — not just YouTubers, but also comics, bloggers, and podcasters. But there were also industry sponsors, community members from Huntsville, Alabama (our host city, which was amazing), a copyright lawyer, and others.

The result of both of these conferences was, on my part, a big drive that I’m doing important work. Seeing what people in both of these realms are doing, and seeing where they could really support each other, it’s been a big kick in the pants to go big. So while I’ll keep plugging away at the Librarian Toolkit, I’ve decided to pivot hard to another, bigger initiative. I’m tentatively calling it the Creators Public Library.

I put together a really quick wireframe of what I want it to look like which you can check out here, but here are a few highlights:

A calendar of Internet Creator industry events

This calendar will have events that are relevant to internet creators from every sector. While the calendar’s default view will show all events, patrons will be able to easily filter according to either their industry, or the name of the specific event they’re interested in, and calendar items will give important information: dates obviously, but also prices, URL’s, and some highlights.

Library Map with enriched results

Probably the most ambitious part of this project, this map will provide the locations and details of every library in North America. Some rudimentary work has already been done in this field, but there’s still plenty to do — especially since the goal is to bring Creators through the doors.

Rather than just giving the fundamentals of library locations (their address, open hours, and a picture or two), the locations on this map will be enriched with filterable information about what the library actually offers that’s relevant to Creators. Things like technology offerings, classes and workshops, business services, internet speeds, room rentals, etc… will all be listed and searchable so that Creators can immediately see what’s relevant.

Featured work between libraries & creators

This section will highlight collaborations between libraries and Creators so that folks from both sides can see that it’s worth working together. I see this as a great way to help begin the process of breaking down barriers that exist between the two communities — many of which, I think, are grounded in stereotypes of each side that aren’t particularly helpful.

A secondary benefit of this is that it becomes a second avenue of advertising/outreach, something that has historically been a struggle of each side. Creators can benefit from the increased reach that libraries can provide through their communities, while libraries can benefit from showing the results of modernization initiatives to Creators’ communities — the public.

Another secondary benefit is that this becomes a single repository of collaborative work. This would be useful for both Creators and libraries to draw inspiration from, as well as for advocates who need a quick way to show that libraries are innovating, and to show what they can do when they are able to afford access to technology for their communities.

Get Help/Resources/Collections

This section will be not just a collection of links to other places online (does the internet really need another Libguide?), but will be home to actual resources that have been collected for people’s use. Creators as a community have specific information needs, both around learning and improving their craft, as well as becoming entrepreneurs who support themselves either through incorporation or contract work. I envision a lot of the collections to be tailored toward these two main purposes, so things like boilerplate and sample contracts, tax forms and resources, and access to MOOC’s, training materials, and other things can be here.

This would also be a great place for curated video content; specifically educational stuff, because that’s what I care about, but there could also be content curated around special events & holidays.

So that’s what I have in the works for now. There’s still a lot of planning to do; for one, I need to figure out how to make it sustainable economically (how does one levy a property tax on people who reside online, and are all basically renting the space from companies?) as well as understand how to scale it without duplicating work that’s somewhere else. But I think it’s doable, and I think that’s what’s coming next.


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