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Reflection: Hyperlinked Communities

Earlier this week, I made a short trip to Maastricht, Netherlands, with a family member who is visiting from the U.S. It was a timely trip for me because she is a photographer and social media manager, which gave me a chance to talk (through a lot of road trip hours) about the use of Instagram for creating community in the way we read about in Five ways libraries are using Instagram to share collections and draw public interest. That is definitely not an area of expertise for me, but she had a lot to share about the amount of engagement her clients get from social media, primarily Instagram, but also Facebook, TikTok, Pinterest, and even e-mail newsletters for those who are less engaged with social media.

Unfortunately, I can’t embed my Instagram post here,
but I put up some photos today so everyone could see this amazing Maastricht bookstore.
It features books in multiple languages for its very international community
and it also has a coffee shop and workspaces.
On Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/p/CUAG8ipInI8/

I’m a reluctant social media user, but it gave me some perspective about meeting people where they are rather than where I want them to be, as mentioned by Schneider (2006). The opportunity to serve people who need it in so many different ways is exciting, but it’s also overwhelming; there are so many people to reach digitally, and to build such community online involves intentional engagement. I know it works, though; I love following the Allen County Public Library and both the U.S. and U.K National Archives for images from their collections, especially, but also love the interior photos and hearing about their events.

Of course, the online environment is just part of creating community. There were so many interesting examples in the readings about ways libraries are meeting people where they are and where they are needed, but I found that Do you want to dance? Inclusion and belonging in libraries and beyond especially relatable in so many ways, having been both an international student and someone who has moved to a country where I couldn’t necessarily find buildings by their signage (Lauersen, 2018). I love the ideas mentioned for integrating international students—my experience was exactly as he described, with international students creating their own communities and not participating in the larger one. l found the library’s outreach a wonderful example of inclusion and an amazing way to give students the kind of buy-in that helps build community. It may only be one way to reach potential users, but as was noted, inspiring feelings of belonging is a powerful way to start, online and for in person programming.


Lauersen, C. (2018, June 7). Do you want to dance? Inclusion and belonging in the libraries and beyond. The Library Lab. https://christianlauersen.net/2018/06/07/inclusion-and-belonging-in-libraries-and-beyond/

Schneider, K.G. (2006, June 3). The user is not broken: A meme masquerading as a manifesto. Free Range Librarian. http://freerangelibrarian.com/2006/06/03/the-user-is-not-broken-a-meme-masquerading-as-a-manifesto/

Williams, S. (2014, April 16). Five ways libraries are using Instagram to share collections and draw public interest. London School of Economics. https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/2014/04/16/five-ways-libraries-are-using-instagram/


  1. Shannon Rosenblat

    What a gorgeous bookstore! That is definitely somewhere I’d be interested in hanging out.

    I appreciated your honesty about your social media reluctance. In previous jobs, I have been responsible for creating social media posts (thank goodness for Canva!), and while I think I get by in this area, it issn’t an area in which I have a ton of confidence. This is why I decided to take the Graphic Design for Librarians Summer course. If you have time for it, I’d highly recommend it. I learned a ton, and while I’m by no means a natural, I feel much more confident in creating simple social media graphic designs.

    • Annie Papy


      Thank you for the suggestion! That sounds like a really useful class; I will definitely check it out. Some solid graphic design instruction would probably boost the social media confidence a little!

  2. Joel Webb

    Hi Annie –
    Love the approach that you highlight from Do You Want to Dance? about integrating international students into the community. Like you say, it is an intimidating and difficult thing being an international student, so directly inviting them to participate into the larger University community, through the candlelight dinner (or whatever else), is a beautiful approach to make them feel more included, less isolated, and to give them a place to network and socialize with those they might not have otherwise.

  3. Michael Stephens

    @annie Wow – what an amazing bookstore… looks to be an old cathedral or similar.

    I appreciate your thoughts on Lauersen and I pictured myself while reading your post as a student in Denmark or Germany. I am sure I would cling to others in my cohort! It would be nice to have options provided by cultural institutions to meet local folk too.

  4. Eileen Wu

    Hi Annie,
    What an adventure to be able to travel across the world to the Netherlands! Creating and building community are so essential to library professionals. You mentioned being an international student. I’m also taking a class called International Librarianship which addresses relationships between two parties from different countries where there is reciprocity, exchange, and co-operation. As the world gets “smaller” I think we will see a lot more international connections.

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