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Hyperlinked Communities

I’ve been interested in studying communities for a while now. I started about 7 years ago when I researched homeless communities. I have continued that research and given my time to learn more as the Operations Chair for a friend’s group that is fighting to end youth homeless. Recently, and especially since starting this MLIS program, I’ve switched to studying older adults and their relationship with technology. At the end of this lecture, Professor Stephens asks us “What populations do you want to serve?” At this point, I feel very confident that I want to continue to serve both communities. I’d like to continue to fight homelessness by volunteering and I’d like to use the knowledge I gain from this MLIS program to help older adults learn how to use technology.

In the Serving with Love article, Loida Garcia-Febo quotes Professor Stephens by saying:

Stephens says we should bring our hearts to work, and qualities such as empathy, emotional intelligence, and reflective action are all part of this process. Service steeped in humanism, compassion, and understanding should be the cornerstone of what we do, and why we do it, for all members of our communities, including the underserved.

– 2018

I believe my heart is in the two communities I serve. I actually dream (often) about a world where I teach older adults how to use technology and see them use their phones and tablets as a way to gain companionship and community. Some elders are immobile and feel depressed, while others can move but are placed far away from the neighborhoods they know to be closer to their children or to be taken care of in a home. I personally believe that technology can help ease the pain that loneliness brings. Christian Lauerson article talks about social inclusion. The definition below is a simple definition that should make us think if we’re actively improving the way individuals and groups take part in society. When we design the user interface for websites, do we think about how older folks will feel when they visit the site? Technology is confusing enough as it is but it’s so important that libraries move forward with technology in a way that helps people use their services, not hinder them. For example, the library I sometimes work in has very confusing print stations. They are so confusing that we basically had to assign a staff member to work the print station and answer questions. The older adults that patron the library often come and try to print but the confusing printing technology makes them feel helpless and frustrated rather than giving them the dignity to complete tasks on their own.

I guess you can say that I would personally love to have a lengthy conversation with Jessamyn West, the author of the 21st Century Digital Divide post. I think that the issues that they write about in the post are true, yes, for rural communities but many of the quotes are also things I heard from elderly adults. West does mention that seniors are a pretty big group that deal with usability issues for having problems with their vision, physical impairments, vocabulary (West).

I want older adults to take advantage of the Instagram marketing that libraries are taking part of (Williams, 2014) or try out an e-book or an audiobook from their phone. I want older adults to enjoy technology as much as I do and I want to help make that happen.

Garcia-Febo , L. (2018, October 29). Serving with Love. Retrieved February 23, 2020, from https://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/2018/11/01/serving-with-love/

Lauersen, C. (2018, June 7). Do you want to dance? Inclusion and belonging in libraries and beyond. Retrieved February 23, 2020, from https://christianlauersen.net/2018/06/07/inclusion-and-belonging-in-libraries-and-beyond/

Williams, S. & Lse. (2014, April 17). Five ways libraries are using Instagram to share collections and draw public interest. Retrieved from https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/2014/04/16/five-ways-libraries-are-using-instagram/

West, J. () 21st Century Digital Divide. Retrieved February 23, 2020, from http://www.librarian.net/talks/rlc14/

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BLINK: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking – A Review

You can call it a hunch, gut feeling, or intuition. Either way, decisions are made every day in a blink of an eye. A business person might choose not to merge their company because it doesn’t feel right, regardless of what the data says. A nurse can know that a baby is sick because of experience even though she can’t necessarily voice what seems wrong with the baby (Gladwell 2005). Or a librarian can start saving an extra snack for a specific teen that seems just like the rest but at the same time might seem a little more grateful for the afterschool treat. David Vabora is a former American football player who once played for the Rams and the Seahawks. He gives a power TedTalk on the power of listening to one’s gut.

Blink, by Malcom Gladwell, is a great book about the decisions we make in just a couple seconds of being presented something new. It’s what we decide before we start to analyze the problem and think things through. It’s our “adaptive unconscious.” Gladwell first wants the reader to know that decisions made quickly can be just as good as a decision made cautiously and deliberately (Gladwell 2005). He then wants us to learn the difference of when we should trust these instincts and when we should question them. Finally, Gladwell hopes the readers will know that these unconscious decisions can be educated and they can be controlled.  

What does this book have to do with our course content? So far, I’ve been intrigued by the concept of the Hyperlinked Library. In Module 3, Michael Stephens mentions that “adapting to change in a positive, forward thinking manner will also be important for libraries and information environments” (Stephens 2020). When I read Blink, and thought of what library services professional I thought of this idea of being open to change in order for libraries and information environments to stay relevant. For example, if a library has only four computers available but those four computers are always taken and there seems to be a line of patrons ready to use them, a thoughtful librarian who may have lived in a library space without technology may scowl those on a computer and reprimand them for not reading a book or instead of checking their social media sites. However, a librarian who is open to change may instead see a need for additional computers to allow for the service need. In Blink, Gladwell shows how our biases can unfortunately take over our snap judgements and corrupt our thoughts. He provides examples of an orchestra leader having a bias against women musicians. He raises the thought of how our legal system can be fairer if the people on trial were not present to protect against unconscious discrimination.

If interested in learning your own personal biases, or as researchers like to call them, implicit associations, you can take the Implicit Associate Test from Harvard. This test shows how we make faster connections with ideas that are already in our minds than those that are strange to us. You might think of yourself as a true feminist and that certainly may be true, but it can also be true that the world around you has brined you with its own biases. Our gut feeling and “thin sliced” decisions are important, yes. But we should be aware of possible prejudices.

Work Cited

(n.d.). Retrieved February 16, 2020, from https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/

Gladwell, M. (2005). Blink: the power of thinking without thinking. New York: Little, Brown and Co.

Stephens, M. (2020). Module 3: The Hyperlinked Library Model

Vabora D. (2016, Dec 9). Trust Your Gut [TEDxSMU]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=faGUQ06fR1Y

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The Hyperlinked Library

 “Using a library has been a very solitary activity.”

Michael Stevens

When I heard this sentence, I paused. Not because the quote was revolutionary or shocking. Instead, I paused to contemplate how far we’ve come. Libraries used to be a be a place of isolation but now, viewing libraries with the Hyperlinked Library in mind, we can see how collaborative they are! I used to manage a makerspace and, in that space, people would come in and sew, 3D print, and play with our VR machine all at the same time. The person who was 3D printing would then talk to the person sewing, and the VR gamer would chime in. It was a place to ask questions, learn and give input. Then those people, would write in various online forums and share their learnings with others.

The type of collaboration that is described above isn’t by accident. By creating spaces with the user in mind, library patrons will find it easier to start conversations and continue to share information. If libraries continue to think this way, and keep change as their goal, other communal areas might follow suite and change their ways as well. We should always keep users in mind and learn to figure out ways to create communal. So how do we do this and what can we do differently? I think we can start by observing the spaces that humans currently interact with each other and see how and why they do so. Are people most likely to make friends at a park? A school? A beach? Chatrooms? What’s the set up like? Is food encouraged? Is sharing encouraged? The readings take me to some of my favorite places as an extrovert and as a text lover. How can I create the same atmosphere and vibe that is found at Dolores Park in SF, in a library? How can online collaboration be like #Slack or Reddit? Hyperlinked library services are all about the positive and intentional changes made after taking the time to plan. I think questioning is the first step!