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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!

6 replies on “The Hyperlinked Library”

Hi David,

Thanks for sharing the link! I still walk into some older libraries and feel nervous and a bit anxious. Last summer, I had a bad experience at one of these libraries when I was hoping to print 15 pages. I asked the library staff member how much it would cost and she said 15 cents a page and color would be a bit more. I decided to print my document in color and the pages shot out behind the reference desk. When I went to retrieve my pages I was told I owed about 20 dollars. I wasn’t expecting to pay so much money on a few sheets but when I asked about the price, I felt reprimanded instead of feeling empathy. At my library workplace, we would have just given the frazzled patron the pages for free since there was a miscommunication. Needless to say, I didn’t feel like ever going back to that libary.

Wow – this resonates: “By creating spaces with the user in mind, library patrons will find it easier to start conversations and continue to share information. ”

I appreciate your connections to the park and Slack etc to demonstrate how we might pull in places and online spaces that “click” with users. (I think I mixed a bunch of metaphors there.) 🙂

Thank you! I truly believe that the key to success in any business or organization, is keeping the user in mind when proposing any initiative. For example, if there is a community that litters in a teen room at the library, adding more trash cans can be a good way to prevent that however it could help to take it another step forward and having a sign over one of the trash cans saying “Justin Beaber” and a sign over another trash can saying “Post Malone.” Teens can then “vote” for their favorite by putting their trash in the trash can they think is best!

What a wonderful program to have managed! It sounds like you were very successful in getting different kinds of patrons to engage with each other. I love the idea of bringing the energy of Dolores Park into the library–my dad lived in the Mission District for almost my whole life, and the idea of bringing the vibrant connection and diversity of the community into a library is an insightful way to describe the hyperlinked model. When I started working as a teacher librarian, I was pleasantly surprised by the way in which the library had changed from a silent space to one of bustling activity. No more shushing! While I do appreciate the quiet now and then, my favorite sound is when my students’ laughter rings through the stacks.

Hi Naomi! I just want to say that I personally love that you said “…my favorite sound is when my students’ laughter rings through the stacks.” I totally agree! There’s something beautiful about people having wholesome fun in a community space. I also love it when adults take pictures of our books on display, or run into a friend at the library.

Oh – my parent’s are from the Mission District as well!

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