Reflecting on the Hyperlinked Library Model

One thing that stood out to me when reading about the hyperlinked library model was space. Space, as in the area that the library provides for patrons to use. The space provided isn’t always about the physical area. It also reflects the library’s ideas through the atmosphere. Libraries who abide by strict rules and require a certain level of silence don’t always have a welcoming atmosphere. Libraries who have created a community space are much more welcoming. More and more I think about libraries as a place for doing things, for learning how to 3D print in a maker space, collaborating with friends, or taking a cooking class. Libraries can be that “third place” for the community to gather and learn.

Students sitting in a reading area on beanbag chairs looking at ipads
Photo by: Denise Krebs

I really liked reading about the “unquiet” library at Creekview High School in Georgia. This library has provided a space that reflects what the students at the school need. Technology isn’t always isolating. For the students at Creekview High, the use of their cell phones in library activities has brought them together and allowed for more conversation.

Yellow sign with a mega phone that says No Shhh! Zone
Photo by: Ellen Forsyth

What stood out to me about the “unquiet” library was that these school librarians were creating a space that reflected how the students were learning and communicating. The students were used to using their cell phones for communication, so why not create a library activity that used their cell phones? It shows that libraries and librarians can grow and change with their communities in order to create a space that reflects how information is exchanged through technology and beyond. Students and young people are used to using technology in all aspects of their lives. Prohibiting them from using it for education only hinders their creativity.

The physical space provided by libraries matters, whether in the library’s building or through outreach . Librarians create an atmosphere through their rules and attitudes. I have the opportunity to go out to elementary schools and work with students directly through my library’s mobile van. For me, our van rules are more like guidelines. I’d much rather let the students check out what they want then tell them they are only allowed 2 books at a time. Being more relaxed has allowed me to create a relationship with the students that has them coming back each week and participating in my activities. Many of them can’t get to our main library and I have plans to start bringing more of the library to them. (We have a mini MakerBot that is perfect for taking on the road!) I think that welcoming technology into the fold and creating a space that moves beyond the traditional silent library is important in building a community space.

15 thoughts on “Reflecting on the Hyperlinked Library Model

  1. Lisa Semenza says:

    One of the best things we did was borrow a 3D printer a couple of times and show our patrons how it worked. People were fascinated! We made little medallions as one of the demonstrations. They were fast to make and didn’t use much of the material so people were able to take them with them and I had a pair made into earrings. We have a bunch of items we printed around the library. Our other biggest hit is “Science on the Lawn” in the summer. We have volunteers who come up with activities and that draws some of our biggest crowds. Because it is out on the lawn it gains attention when people drive by as well. We are always an “unquiet” library and definitely a community space!

    • Amanda Carey says:

      Hi @lisasemenza,

      Some of our most popular programs are the ones that are ‘unquiet’ and call attention to themselves. I can see how your Science on the Lawn program would be popular! For the recent Mars landing, we did an outdoor program with telescopes, demonstrations from scientists, and some model rovers that the local high schoolers had built. The kids (and adults) had a great time learning about space and playing with the rovers. It definitely wasn’t a quiet program, but everyone attending learned so much.

  2. Jaclyn says:

    I also reflected on space after working through module 3. I really enjoyed reading your takeaway and focus on the way sound impacts the spaces we try to create within libraries. Working in a public library, it can seem like a constant struggle trying to appease patrons who think the library should be quiet and those who come looking for a place to connect and communicate with others with no concept of libraries as “quiet” spaces. Staff also have differing ideas about what volume is “acceptable”. It’s really great we are having conversations around “shhhing” and noise level in libraries. While I don’t know there is one “right” or “wrong” answer in terms of noise level in libraries as people come with differing needs, it is wonderful to see spaces are being provided by librarians where, children especially, do not have to monitor their volume and phone use. It is more likely that those kids, I’m sure, will grow up with a positive association of the library than those who feel like they are constantly being told to “be quiet” or whose parents feel like their child is too loud for the library (yes, I’ve heard parents say this and it makes me so sad!). Thanks for your post!

    • Amanda Carey says:

      Hello @jackie1 ,

      I agree it is hard to find a balance between those who want/need a quiet space and also letting people do activities without restrictions. I’ve had both patrons and other staff members complain about noise in our children’s area and its hard to decide how to handle it. I love working on our mobile library because it’s outside and we can be loud without worrying about distracting anybody.

      • Jamie Fredericksen says:

        This is a great point and something I feel I’ve been exploring since starting this program and taking over a high school library. It’s a balance I feel I’m always striving for…

        I want students to feel comfortable and like the library is their space, but I also want students who need quiet to be successful in their work to have that space as well! We have a “Room of Requirement” that I try to have be the flexible space… if the main library is loud-ish, I offer it to students trying to quietly study, and conversely, if a group needs to be loud for a project (recording a video for example) they can work in the room and not disturb the rest of the library. I HATE being the shushing stereotype, but sometimes I find it’s necessary (when we have over 100 students in the library each lunch, which is awesome! But can end up disruptive…)

        • Amanda Carey says:

          Hi @jlynnfred , I love your “Room of Requirement” idea! A flexible space is a great way to offer both a study space or creative space depending on the current needs of the students. 🙂

      • Jaclyn says:

        Yes, there are so many factors to consider when dealing with noise level in the children’s library. I am more involved with adult services but whenever I work on the children’s reference desk, I am questioning myself about what is “okay” and what is too loud. Especially if there are many people in one area or room, the volume will just be higher and so I try to make sure there’s not one person or group being more loud than all the rest. It’s a struggle, and NOT how I see myself as a librarian, as being volume police! We are so much more than that and have so much more to offer. I’m glad we can have discussions around this.

    • Lisa Semenza says:

      @jackie1 We had one patron who would complain about the noise and not being able to use the computer he wanted when he would consistently come in during Story Hour time. There are 20 other hours in the week when it would be relatively quiet and all areas of the library are available. He finally got the point and adjusted his schedule a little.

      • Jaclyn says:

        Yes, that is a consistent issue at my public library as well. Adult patrons complaining about the noise level for after-school hours. Currently, we are dealing with a man who is at the library all day, every day and knows that the after-school crowd will make it noisier and still he feel compelled to either speak to the kids or to us about the kids and staff has told him, this is their library too. We will hold them to the same policies and rules that we hold you but a higher volume is not a violation of any policy.

  3. Greta Snyder says:

    I completely agree with your point of re-thinking the library as a community space. I think the future of libraries lies in embracing the power of technology as a means for connection, and also the importance for young people to interact with technology in order to develop skills for the current and future world.
    I really enjoyed your point that technology is a crucial tool for creativity. For example, I dabble in art design, but I cannot paint or draw worth anything. I loved doing printmaking in undergrad, but now when I don’t have affordable access to a physical art lab, I am still able to achieve my vision becauseI can use apps on my phone or use the (very reasonably priced as subscription service) Adobe Creative Suite on the computer to create anything I can envision. I am so happy to see how you have found ways to leverage technology in order to create exciting learning opportunities.
    In addition, I think you really hit the nail on the head your insight of being more relaxed about your approach and letting the students be your guide for future developments is brilliant.
    Thank you!

  4. You pulled some very cool pictures for this post. 🙂

    Locally, the library in a nearby village has been looking at an expansion. There was vocal pushback from a small group that turned rather nasty at times. They argued the library did not need to be bigger because everything is online. I actually spoke at a village council meeting about this and your post aligns well with my remarks. Community. Space.

    • Amanda Carey says:

      Thank you @michael , I always enjoy searching for images to use when blogging. 🙂

      My library has been looking into expansion as well. Fortunately, our library board and community have all been very supportive. I’m excited for all the community spaces that we will be creating (especially an outdoor space that has been planned to be built in the next couple years!)

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