Innovation

Enhancing Instruction and Reach with Flipped Learning

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Flipped learning is a phenomenon that has swept through the halls of academia and kindergarten through twelfth grade schools. When done well, it frees up classroom time for deeper exploration and application of instruction that is delivered in advance, often using current technology tools. Flipped learning enables instructors, particularly those with limited time in class, the opportunity to assess whether a student understands a concept or has mastered a skill, and to focus on areas of greatest need for extra support.

Libraries Cultivate Community Resilience

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At one time or another, most communities face the challenge of reestablishing stability after periods of disruption—whether human-created, natural, or some combination thereof. As civic anchors, libraries have played a critical role in meeting that challenge. The images of libraries in Ferguson and Baltimore as neighborhood beacons during the aftermath of the deaths of two young black men at the hands of police are particularly poignant. Yet those images belie the groundwork that was laid long in advance by committed librarians who listened, engaged, and prepared to respond to the needs of the communities they serve.

Leveling the Field: Libraries and Income Inequality

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Confronting inequality is integral to the history of libraries and remains at the heart of library service today. The same materials, programs and services are available to anyone who walks through the library’s doors, no matter the size (or existence) of their wallet. Yet librarians’ commitment to equity requires greater action, particularly during a sustained period of rising income inequality as we are experiencing in the United States. Across the country, in libraries of all types, librarians are taking that extra step.

Data Everywhere

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The exponential growth of data in our hyper-connected world raises a number of questions, starting with: what do we do with all of it? In response, librarians innovate and collaborate to serve their communities as they endeavor to locate, gather, analyze, and make meaning of information. As champions of both information access and privacy, librarians also build the capacities of communities to understand privacy implications and take measures to protect their own privacy as well as those of subjects whose data they gather.

Libraries and the IoT

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The Internet of Things, or IoT, has caused an explosion in the number of everyday devices that are able to collect and transmit data. Librarians recognize the balancing act required to implement IoT technologies in accordance with core principles of librarianship. Where IoT can improve access to materials or services, or provide learning opportunities, without compromising patron privacy, libraries are joining hands with their communities and diving in. Librarians are also leading the way on educating patrons about what IoT entails—its inner workings, uses, limits, and implications for our communities and society.

Adulthood: A Process, Not an Event

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From local practices to national policies, there is growing acknowledgement that becoming an adult is a process, not just a date on a calendar. This concept is rooted in research that identifies a unique stage of physiological and social development between the ages of 18 and 25, known as Emerging Adulthood.1 It also reflects the challenges of a post-recession reality in which young adults often delay leaving their parents’ homes and health insurance policies.
Libraries have responded to the concept of Emerging Adulthood in two major ways. First is the growth of educational programming that builds individual capacity, commonly referred to as “adulting.” A necessary step towards growing up is learning how to survive independently and, with a plethora of resources and deep connections to the community, libraries are well positioned to support that step.

Making an Imprint on the Community

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The Clear Lake City-County Freeman Branch Library is named after NASA astronaut Theodore Cordy “Ted” Freeman, who died after his T-38 jet crashed in 1964.  The name reflects Clear Lake City’s status as home to the NASA Johnson Space Center.

But the library, which belongs to the Harris County Public Library system in the Houston area, shows that NASA doesn’t corner the market on innovation.  That innovative spirit is palpable at the library’s Jocelyn H. Lee Innovation Lab, where the library connects in meaningful ways with the community it serves.

Libraries Highlight New Technologies

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Images of drones flying above us conjure a variety of conflicting emotions: a sense of wonder and possibility and, yet, concern about potential consequences—particularly in relation to their use in warfare and surveillance. With the Federal Aviation Authority’s release of new regulations for drones in late summer, one thing is certain: use of this emerging technology will become more widespread. As with many other modern-day tools, libraries are prepared to help patrons understand how drones work, how they can be utilized constructively, and how to navigate the complex implications of their widespread use.

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