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

Lauersen, C. (2018, June 7). Do you want to dance? Inclusion and belonging in libraries and beyond. Retrieved February 23, 2020, from

Williams, S. & Lse. (2014, April 17). Five ways libraries are using Instagram to share collections and draw public interest. Retrieved from

West, J. () 21st Century Digital Divide. Retrieved February 23, 2020, from

3 replies on “Hyperlinked Communities”

So much good here. This:

” 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. ”

I would urge you to pursue this in your professional career. It might lead to some amazing things and amazing opportunities.

Hi Prof. Stephens,

Thank you for your comment. I don’t really have anyone in my life who encourages me to purse this and your comment really helped me visual this passion project. I will start working on it as the topic for our next assignment!

This is awesome. It is inspiring to see you so passionate about helping two different communities that in reality do have some overlap. Homelessness is a huge issue and I have recently been looking at it in terms of students due to my interest in academic libraries and services that academic libraries should offer. A technology divide can help to hinder a person and keep them in poverty and/or homelessness due to lack of access. Students suffer from extreme mental health issues because of the stress and fear that can come from being a homeless student.

In terms of adults and the technology divide, I agree with everything you said. Helping them learn to use their technologies can help minimize their loneliness and isolation, especially for those who are not mobile.

I think you are going to do great things and change the world with your passion and determination.

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