Professor Stephens’ latest lecture, the hyperlinked library: hyperlinked communities, really resonated with me, especially when he makes the point of adapting resources to your community; for instance, don’t spend tons of money on makerspace programs if most of your patrons don’t even have internet access.

But what do you do, if you your community serves both types of patrons: those with affluence contrasted with those who are barely scraping by?

I mull this over in my mind quite often.

Like the parent who comes in and wants AR (augmented reality) events and wants to know if we have tutors to help motivate her child to read. I inform her of upcoming AR events and try to brainstorm ideas on how she can motivate her child. Maybe try for a different genre such as graphic novels? (it helped in my son’s case). I also recommend taping into the reading volunteers we have.

Contrast this mom was another, one who is a non-English speaker, and she doesn’t possess computer skills to help her child do a PowerPoint presentation for a school report on hurricanes. And, to make matters more complicated, the mom doesn’t want to get a library card, even though the library has a policy for granting them with a passport or green card. (By the way, I can’t help but notice the uptick of immigrants who come in fearful in this political climate).

I explain this to mother and child. The mother politely declines.

Her child reads the book there in the library. Unfortunately, she is unable to use the computer without a library card.

Stephens asks us to think about the populations we wish to serve, and asks us to think about how we reach them.

Pewhairangi suggests libraries target their key customers. And, once identified, you become “obsessed with your most valuable members within that community”.

Lately, I find myself obsessing about barriers. And how libraries sometimes fail to reach those patrons they need to reach the most.

The library where I work grants teen cards to kids with student IDs (with teacher or parental permission), and I must admit, I do bend the rules here. I’ve seen my share of latchkey children who come to the library after school. However, they don’t have a parent or teacher with them. Shouldn’t we make exceptions here?

Or, do we automatically make assumptions—hell no, they’ll just act up!

Do we give the teens the benefit of the doubt?

If given the choice, facing the risk of teens possibly acting up in the teen room, versus tossing those kids out into the street, I’d like to think I’d choose the former. With open arms.


Stephens, M. (n.d.) The Hyperlinked liibrary: hyperlinked communities. [Panotpo Lecture]. Retrieved from

Pewhairangi, S., Ingle, M. (2014, May). A beautiful obsession. Weve. [website].

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