It’s been a long while since I’ve posted anything on here. I’m so sorry. It’s been a busy several months, but once again I find myself horrified and nearly speechless at the actions of others.
I just don’t know what to think.
I’m not going to talk about guns (though something needs to change) or religion (though it really shouldn’t be blamed for this). I’m going to talk about people. Specifically, the people, most of whom were likely part of the LGBTQ+ community, who were murdered and injured on Sunday.
There have been enough mass shootings. One is enough too many, but there have been way more than just one. There are now enough people I know, myself and my boss included whose birthdays have been marked by a horrible mass shooting event.
There are now enough people who won’t get to celebrate another birthday because they’ve been murdered in a mass shooting. There are now enough parents and family members who won’t get to celebrate a birthday of a loved one because they were torn away from this world too early.
One is enough too many.
Enough judging others for who they are.
Enough telling others they aren’t good enough or are going to go to hell because of who they are or for this choice or that. Enough making yourself the judge of other people’s bodies, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, and anything else other people do.
Now is the time for action.
Now is the time to reconsider our policies.
Now is the time to stop judging others.
Now is the time to create a culture and society where everyone is welcome to be who they are.
Now is the time to be kind to others.
Now is the time to be the change.
Donate. Give back. Vote. Run for office. Call out others for hate. Stand up for people. Stop using language that perpetuates a view that others are less than you. Just do something good.
I’ve had enough of prayers, silence, inaction, false promises, hate, injustice, death, murder, and judgement.
I want you to know that you are loved and cared for and that you matter.
You are beautiful. Your soul is beautiful.
You are intelligent.
You are supported.
You are enough.
I want you to know that:
“We lived through times when hate and fear seemed stronger;
We rise and fall and light from dying embers, remembrances that hope and love last longer
And love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love cannot be killed or swept aside.” – Lin-Manuel Miranda
Additionally, I recently saw the play, Hand to God. This was a quote from the producer, which I felt was extremely relevant. How do we share the blame?
This is a post for my LIS S401 class: Computer-Based Information Tools.
This post has two parts: a description of an experience using a MUVE and ways libraries could use MUVEs.
For this post, I have interviewed my husband, Daniel, who has lots and lots of experience gaming and playing MUVEs.
A MUVE is a “Multi-Universe Virtual Environment,” where you can interact with a virtual world and other people inside of the virtual world.
Fun Fact: Daniel works for a local theatre which is currently running a show called The Nether, in which characters interact in a virtual reality (think The Matrix) MUVE called “The Hideaway.”
Daniel’s first experience with a MUVE was with the MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game, or MMO) Anarchy Online way back between 1999 and 2000, when he was around 9-10 years old. This is long before World of Warcraft came out, which is usually people’s first introduction to MMOs. Anarchy Online came out around when EverQuest was the ultimate MMO.
Daniel’s dad (my father-in-law) had bought a one-month subscription for him and his sons to it because he found the idea of MMOs intriguing and there weren’t many things like it. When the game first released, it was massively buggy and basically unplayable. When Daniel’s dad bought it, most of the bugs had been worked out and it was finally starting to gain its virtual land legs.
This was Daniel’s first time where he actually got to make and design a character in a game. Most games in those days just had standard basic characters (basic wizard, basic warrior, standard military dude, etc.), but in Anarchy, Daniel really had control over the character, and he liked that he had more flexibility with it. He could choose to play a male character, or he could choose to make a female character if he wanted to.
Anarchy Online is a futuristic game, so Daniel also had the option to play an alien race if he wanted to. He spent a long time flipping through the different options he could play until he finally decided on one: Liadon, a female solitus (human). On the next screen, he also had a large choice as to what profession he wanted his character could be. Each profession had a description, so Daniel spent time reading through each one until he settled on the Adventurer profession, which sounded similar to a Ranger. Daniel figured he could get an animal companion based on the image of the sample Adventurer, but he later found out Adventurers could become animals.
With character creation complete, Liadon (Daniel’s character) was dropped into a futuristic junk yard. There was no quest, there were no windows that popped up and told him what to do, he was just dropped in. He just had to figure out what to do.
He noticed some robots that were walking around, and as he walked around, he found a little green oasis that had a little shop with a shopkeeper. Daniel spent a long time playing with the buttons and options to figure out what he could do. It was really, really, really confusing for him. Eventually, he learned how to attack things, and after he would kill things, he would collect loot to sell to the shopkeeper in return for better gear.
Later on, Daniel came in contact with another player named “Romulan2,” another solitus, who had been playing the game for some time before Daniel joined. He just sat down with Daniel for hours talking about the game, how to do different things, and then he showed him how to get to a big city. If it wasn’t for Romulan2, Daniel thinks he probably would have quit the game because he was so lost.
This was the first time Daniel was ever in an open world that was absolutely gigantic where you can go anywhere, do anything, and it was weird for him not to have a purpose or someone telling him what to do. He had to make his own adventure, and it was the sense of exploration that kept him going.
The game became more enjoyable when he started meeting other people, making connections with them, and started exploring things together.
Daniel became “pretty obsessed” with the game, and he played it almost every day for three years. Even to this day, he still logs on to play (and he has even shown me the ropes).
Daniel and his brothers eventually started fighting over who got to play the game, because back then, they didn’t have a computer and account for everyone.
Daniel has formed really good friendships and connections with the people in the game. Looking back on some of the times that he’s played, he says they’re some of his most fond memories of gaming.
MUVEs are great ways for kids and people who have social issues to communicate and work together in a safe environment. It allows people to step into a world where you can be yourself without really showing who you are.
MUVEs can be a new way to learn for a generation who has grown up with video games.
Libraries could use MUVEs in several different ways.
One way would include either being a game designer or employing them. Libraries could build MUVEs that center around books and the exploration of books. Rather than just reading a book, they could really walk around in and explore the world that the book takes place in.
Another idea could be that libraries could use MUVEs as teaching tools. Whether it’s teaching students to work together or about a specific topic, a MUVE could be built so students can explore those topics and work together.
A third idea is to form a group inside an existing MUVE, such as a book group, or just a group that goes around exploring together. People could either come into the library to play together, or they could play from home. Librarians could make themselves available in the MUVEs to be moderators and also leaders.
Last week, the library system I work for held their annual Staff Day, which worked like a mini conference for all of our employees. I had a great time, and I left feeling validated and excited for my future in libraries. Below are some of the main concepts and ideas I took away from the meeting:
Teamwork and Outreach
One of the sessions I attended focused on outreach and collaboration between our library branches and the surrounding communities. However, I found a hidden message in the speech: teamwork is essential to the success of a library. One of the speakers, a manager from a branch in a neighborhood similar to mine, spoke about how she encourages her staff to work together to help their branch reach their potential.
Rather than taking on the job, as the branch manager, of reaching out to and forming partnerships with community organizations alone, she allows her employees to go to community meetings, form partnerships, maintain those partnerships, and so on. She shares the task of keeping the branch involved to her employees, and she trusts them to understand how partnerships work, how to keep them going, to know when to end partnerships, and how to enrich them.
Together, they have combined their knowledge and resources to bring in organizations that can help their patrons and they have made their branch a focal point and gathering place for the community. That is what I hope for every single library I will ever work for.
Libraries and Communities
Libraries are no longer a place to find books, they are community centers in disguise. They work with and for their patrons. They are information hubs, and they don’t just know books anymore. They know community resources. They know where to find help for struggling patrons. They either know it, or they know where they can find it.
However, a library can’t just open up and say, “We’re here; let’s get started.” They need to listen to and know their community. What her patrons need may not be what my patrons need; what my patrons need isn’t what a branch in a wealthy neighborhood needs. We, as libraries, can’t go into a community and assume we have all the answers. We need to know our patrons; we need to know the needs of our community; and we need to know what our community needs from us. Our job isn’t to tell them what we do; our job is to listen to our community and then work with them to figure out what we can do to best help our community grow stronger.
Whether we serve as a gathering place for community leaders, or whether we offer and instruct classes and programs that help our patrons succeed, we need to listen to our communities first.
Teamwork and Your Library
In this post, I have done my best to try and explain the importance of libraries and communities using teamwork to make the community stronger, and I have done my best to outline that it’s not the job of the library to determine what the community needs; the library has to listen to the community to best figure out what they can do to be a part of the community and make it grow.
I want to return to a point I made earlier about the branch manager and her staff. They did everything together and as a team. They demonstrated what makes libraries work best, and that is delegating tasks and trusting each other.
No one person can hold a library together. The community uses the library, the library needs the community, and the library staff makes sure nothing falls apart. A library works best when the tasks are delegated to all of the staff members. Being given responsibilities outside of their “regular” duties allows staff members to feel connected to their branch, and it gives them a sense of purpose.
When staff members feel like they matter to their business more than just their job outline, I think they are likely to perform better. This all is just my opinion of course, but I’ve seen it happen.
As always, there are people who are just there for the paycheck to survive, and that is absolutely fine. But for employees lower on the “totem pole” and who are passionate about the work they do, being given responsibilities encourages them to perform better, and it boosts their morale.
I’m thankful to have been given the chance to attend Staff Day and to have listened to such an inspiring and thought-provoking session. A lot of what I’ve said here is just my opinion, but I think there’s some merit to it.
To be a successful library, we have to work together with our fellow staff members, and most importantly, we have to work with our community.
I’m one of those people who has at least one dream every night. Usually I average two or three, and I typically remember most details from them. For the most part, I have good dreams, but there was a solid two weeks where I had nothing but nightmares.
I blame the news.
My current living situation has my husband and I living with my parents until the new year, and my dad watches the news nonstop.
What has been on the news in the past couple of months? ISIS, beheadings, Ebola, plane disasters (in the local news), MH370, shootings (local and national), Ferguson, serial killers (local), and so much more.
I am not ignoring the importance of these news stories; Ebola is killing thousands of people abroad, ISIS is a horrible organization that is also killing thousands of people, there are still almost 300 people missing in the MH370 disappearance, one local father is missing in another place tragedy, racial injustice and racially-motivated deaths are still prevalent in our society. I understand the importance of bringing awareness to these and other issues. These are important issues.
However, I have problems with how these important stories are written and presented.
When these stories are sensationalized, dehumanized, and blasted all over the television and internet, they miss out on the important conversations that need to happen about them, and they create hype and terror.
Here’s how the news affected me: I had two weeks of nightmares where planes crashed into my home, I was beheaded, and I was attacked in multiple ways. As happy as I am about the fact that I am alive and well, I would rather be having conversations about these issues rather than nightmares.
I expect the news to tell me what I need to know, not to scare me. The news should be a place I go to learn about what’s happening in the world around me and to hear important conversations about the root causes of some of the issues. I also expect the news to tell me what I can do to help improve the world around me.
I believe that every single person can make a difference in the world, as long as they are equipped with knowledge and (sometimes) given examples on what they can do to help.
For example, Babar Suleman, a local father and pilot, went missing after the plane piloted by his son, Haris, crashed during a world-round trip to raise money and awareness for education in Pakistan. I attended the launch party for the pair, and many of my friends knew them personally. After the crash, the family launched a #BringBabarHome campaign to keep the search for Babar and the plane going as long as possible. It was a fairly successful campaign, but the searchers were not able to recover Babar. Hopefully, the searchers will continue trying to find the wreckage and bring peace of mind to the family and friends of Babar.
My point is that people have power, and there is power in numbers. With a hashtag, we were able to encourage and support the searchers for the plane, we were able to bring further awareness to the Seeds of Learning campaign they were flying for, and it gave people here, on the other side of the world, the power to make change.
No, it wasn’t the greatest or most successful campaign to ever happen; it didn’t change the world, and it hasn’t yet brought Babar back, but we took up the cause because we were empowered, not scared, by the media to do something. That is what needs to happen with all of these issues.
The media should educate the public in an unbiased and helpful way. They shouldn’t search for what will bring them the most viewers. To be frank, I honestly would watch more of the news if they did hold conversations about the root causes of violence, poverty, etc. and what we can do to help. I get that the media wants us to know what happened, but instead of telling us what happened and moving on to the important conversation, they continue to repeat what happened in different ways. That doesn’t educate me; it makes me sad, angry, and feel completely helpless.
The media should simply do the job of sharing information.
Why the media chooses to present news in a way that gives some nightmares is beyond me, but it won’t stop me from trying to learn about the important issues in the world and what I can do to make things better. However, I might have to turn off the news first.
Of course, this is just how I feel about the news. If you have anything to add to the conversation, I’d be more than happy to read it. Keep Reading!