Hyperlinked Communities

Good afternoon fellow readers, today I’d like to share with you my thoughts regarding hyperlinked communities. Some of you may be thinking: “What’s a hyperlinked community?” or “Why do we even need them?” It’s my hope shed some light on what a hyperlinked community is and the massive benefits that come from being a part of one. The fact of the matter is, you’re probably already affiliated with a hyperlinked community – you may just not recognize it yet.

The premise of any hyperlinked community is to allow users with a common interest an avenue for discussion. Michael Stephens further explains in his lecture video titled Hyperlinked Communities that: “It is also about bringing people together to share, to have conversations, and to connect with each other.” Hyperlinked communities can be held both, in person and/or online; the latter allows for communication to happen on a global scale and makes time no barrier.

To elaborate on the sentence above, when a hyperlinked community allows its users an online platform for communication; two users from entirely different countries now can chat at any time of the day. Implementing a digital platform for communication really compliments any established hyperlinked community, not to mention it allows the community to become much more inclusive.

In reading the shared articles from Module 5, several come to mind that really provide strong examples of what the hyperlinked library should look like (both online and in person). First, let’s talk about hyperlinked communities that meet in person. There are some great outcomes that arise from meeting face to face, especially when those meeting share a common interest. In the article “Convening Community Conversations | Programming” written by Dixon (2017), we learn about multiple reoccurring programs held within libraries nationally, which provide patrons a platform for discussion regarding various topics. Dixon (2017) states, “Libraries are doing just that, training staff as facilitators, organizing thought-provoking discussions, and going out into the community as well as bringing users inside” (para. 2).

Providing a space for patrons to congregate and discuss amongst one another is necessary for hyperlinked communities. “Group discussions can flourish when the patrons develop programs with local staff and feel empowered, coming up with ideas that matter to them” (Dixon, 2017, para. 23). Allowing trained library personnel to act as organizers/mediators can really help elevate discussion outcomes and allow for everyone to have a voice. In any hyperlinked community, whatever the platform, we run the risk of patrons dominating the conversation.

Dixon (2017) shares that Austin Public Library holds well attended film screenings before their community conversations happen: “On each occasion, the film provides a structure for a conversation about hot-button topics, guided by library staffers or local experts” (para. 11). I’ve seen hyperlinked communities flourish even without library staff when there is a distinct group leader that’s both responsible and organized.

At my library we have self-running Mystery Book Club that always generates a great turnout. There is a great sense of fellowship among all its members, club meetings usually linger on because the group is having so much fun; this is exactly what we hope for in a hyperlinked community.

I’d like to swing the conversation toward hyperlinked communities that exist online, be it exclusively or in addition to physical meetups. The greatest perk of a hyperlinked community that’s online is accessibility. Users can participate from anywhere globally, long as they’re connected. Libraries have digitally opened their doors for learning, sharing, and communication to continue around the clock. Stephens (2016) states: “…one of the things that we always need to keep thinking about is how we can connect with our users, find ways to be present in their lives, and let them know what we can do for them” (p. 41).

Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

It’s quite common for libraries to have an Instagram account today. In Williams (2014) article “Five ways libraries are using Instagram to share collections and draw public interest,” we learn that social media helps libraries build interest and form an additional means of communication with its patrons. “Before an event, libraries are sharing photos of event posters, staff preparing for the event, and other related imagery” (Williams, 2014, para. 5). This obviously sparks joy and creates an interest in what’s happening at a given library. Showing-off the libraries physical features and collection via social media could generate some new foot traffic on a slow day. Willams (2014) shares: “Followers might easily be able to imagine themselves curled up with a book working in a quiet sunny corner of the reading room” (para. 4).

In my introductory paragraph I mentioned you may be unaware that you’re affiliated with a hyperlinked community. Outside of library hyperlinked communities, there a plethora to be found on social media. Perhaps you’re a member of group found on Facebook, use Twitter, or Instagram, all of which are digital hyperlinked communities. I’m personally a member of a Facebook Group called “Mix Engineers, Let’s Talk About Mix,” which is all about mixing audio (mostly music). I’m able to constantly seek out information and post questions that I have in hopes of getting help from fellow group members; it’s excellent!


Dixon, J. (2017). Convening community conversations | programming. Library Journal. Retrieved from 

Stephens, M. (2016). The heart of librarianship: attentive, positive, and purposeful change [eBook version] Retrieved from 

Stephens, M. (2020). Hyperlinked Communities [Video lecture] Retrieved from 

Williams, S. (2014, April 16). Five ways libraries are using Instagram to share collections and draw public interest [Blog post]. Retrieved from  


The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business

The Context Book Assignment was enlightening to say the least; a fun way to apply relevant life theories to library science. The book I chose to read by Charles Duhigg is titled The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business. This mostly enjoyable read provided a plethora of real-life examples regarding implementing and changing habits. In this short reflection it is my hope to share with you all how The Power of Habit aligns with our course content, including takeaways that can be applicable to library staff and patrons, philosophical approaches to library programming and services, and lastly incorporating new habits in the way libraries exchange information.  

Before I can address all that’s listed in the sentence above, I’d like to paraphrase what Duhigg (2012) coins as “The Habit Loop” (p. 3). Let’s use the example of one needing to wake up on a workday morning, and in this example my subject is a working adult with a “9-5” schedule. Most likely before bedtime the adult is “cued” to set his/her alarm clock for six or seven in the morning the next day. This is followed by the “routine” of sleeping (resting for the following work day). Last the individual’s “reward” is waking up on time to get ready for work. “Over time, this loop-cue, routine, reward; cue, routine, reward-becomes more and more automatic” (Duhigg, 2012, p. 19). In some cases, one may even wake before the alarm clock sounds off, further supporting Duhigg’s statement above. 

Photo by Sanah Suvarna on Unsplash

It’s shared by the author that not only can new habits form (for individuals, businesses, and societies), but existing habits: be it bad, outdated, etc. can be changed or reshaped. This growth mindset like approach can directly impact libraries and staffing. Loosely thinking of a library philosophy turned habit from the “library of yesterday” is the idea that everyone must be quiet. It’s like the classic skit found on television when the elderly librarian “shushes” the patron! Let’s break this habit down “a la” Duhigg (2012) style: 

1)  Cue – It’s reported to the librarian that a group of patrons are talking… 

2) Routine – Librarian walks to group of patrons talking and “shushes” them… 

3) Reward – Librarian can now rest assured that the library is silent… 

Thankfully today most public libraries have done away with this archaic habit. The mindset for the hyperlinked library and public libraries is that information needs to be shared within the community, not suppressed. Duhigg (2012) at length discusses ways how to change habits, “How it works: Use the same cue. Provide the same reward. Change the routine” (p. 63). For a library that’s trying to implement a tolerance change to noise level, that being for allowing conversations within the library, librarians would need to change their “routine” when it comes to noise complaints. A hypothetical scenario could be: 

1)  Cue – It’s reported to the librarian that a group of patrons are talking… 

2) Routine – Librarian walks nearby group to listen for noise level and deems it OK.       

3) Reward – Librarian can be assured that she did her job and followed the new protocol. 

There’s a direct impact when it comes to a library systematically implementing a new vision, be it procedures, practices, values, and even culturally that trickles down to its patrons. One would assume anytime new administrators or mangers step in they are attuned to their community and will create positive change. Often these changes can be met with resistance, at least at first.  

Amidst change, Duhigg (2012) shared an example from the book of alcoholics enrolled in Alcoholics Anonymous speaking to the missing ingredient that’s needed for change: “For a habit to stay changed, people must believe change is possible” (p. 92). It was shared by the author that those in AA that achieved sobriety attested the new change came from the highest power, “The secret, the alcoholics said, was God” (p. 84). 

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

To bring the conversation back to libraries; for any systematic change to take shape and be impactful, both employees and patrons will need to “buy in.” This is done by a combination of believing and with keystone habits. “Keystone habits transform us by creating cultures that make clear the values that, in the heat of a difficult decision or a moment of uncertainty, we might otherwise forget” (Duhigg, 2012, p. 125). 

 I can recall when our library system decided to go “fine free,” eliminating late fees associated with library collection items. Many patrons and staff wondered why the change, asking questions like “how will the library afford to keep the lights on?” Research determined the money received from fine collection was minimal and that it cost our system more to pay its employees to process these fines; employee time was better spent doing other tasks. This was an easy policy for us employees to get behind, and most our patrons loved it. This step-forward in customer service led to other keystone habits being shaped by our organization that ultimately allowed for putting the customer first. Not only was this move great for publicity, but really aligned with our culture! 

Last, when thinking of the hyperlinked library and the plethora of ways communication and information spreads; it’s important that users learn to embrace current technology trends. This mindset would ultimately call for a change in routine for users. The example of eBooks comes to mind when thinking of users needing a habit change to keep up with the times. When a patron determines a book is needed eBooks can be especially reliable in the area of access. Learning the simple process of downloading and accessing online library resources is life changing. 

  Let’s break this eBook scenario down: 

1)  Cue – Patron wants the latest Tom Clancy book. 

2) Routine – Patron now learns to use Libby by OverDrive to download and read eBook. 

3) Reward – Patron instantaneously achieves access to eBook. 

Habits can make or break individuals, corporations, and societies, instilling these values is of upmost importance.


Duhigg, C. (2012). The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business. New York, New York: Random House. 

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business. [Online image]. (2012).


A Hyperlinked State of Mind

Reflecting upon the Hyperlinked Library immediately sparks the word “connectedness,” in my mind. From reading the thought-provoking articles featured in Module 3, many provide doses of what a hyperlinked library user would need to know to keep moving forward. Being that we are living in the digital age, the internet is like the “web” that harbors all things linked; in addition I would argue that users (patrons and employees) are the “spiders” dictating/creating the intricate patterns of the spider web. Michael Stephens (2016) says it best, “My model for the “hyperlinked library” is born out of the ongoing evolution of libraries and library services” (p. 1). It’s my hope in this post to share with you just some of the facets of a hyperlinked library. 

Photo by Simon Maage on Unsplash

The hyperlinked library, its employees, and patrons need to all be acceptable of change. Knowing that we may not get a service or program right on the first time may be inevitable but looking to refine is where the true answer lies. Employees need to look for feedback (in person and online) from patrons, patrons need to express their interests to staff (in person and online) when seeking materials, programs, and services that will satisfy their information needs. This is the only way our libraries will truly rise to the occasion of enhancing the lives of its community members. 

Stephens (2016) drops a bombshell speaking towards a revolutionary service that Gwinnett County Public Library has implemented, “To extend services even further, the system became one of the first in North America to launch a fully self-service off-hours program that allows the library to open without staff” (para. 3). My jaw literally dropped reading this, I want this for my library! I see patrons arriving early daily only to make a quick U-turn from the entrance when they find out the library doesn’t open for another hour. This incentive was well thought out by GCPL administration and staff, surely looking to provide additional access for its patrons. I surely am hoping more library systems will adopt this forward-thinking approach.     

Libraries being “hyperlinked” allow patrons and staff to foster community not only in person, but also online (this is key). Information be it catalogs, courses, online resources, calendars, and communication are now easily accessible via computer or mobile device. Patrons remain connected to their local library without ever having to set foot inside the physical walls of the library. In terms of access this makes the library’s collection open around the clock, this is just one of the many benefits of the “hyperlinked” library. 

Photo by timothy muza on Unsplash

An article transcribed from a keynote speech by Michael Stephens (2009) advocates for how the web is a social place, “Its impact on every facet of our lives — home, work and school — would be difficult to measure but the ‘always on, always available’ Internet is certainly a game changer” (para. 1). Surely this game changer effect also affects the way our patrons learn and perceive the world. Stephens (2009) goes on to mention how today’s youth (born digital natives) learn differently from the rest of the world and then poses the question, “What tools could you use to extend the reach and potential of your library services?” (para. 21). Stephens (2009) then points toward blogging, social media, video conferencing tools (Skype), custom content videos made in-house as being acceptable media that could appeal to fostering a connectedness for this demographic. On the flip side, being that it is the year 2020, this approach is tried, true, and applicable to almost all library patrons; I’d like to see it continue to be a reality for libraries.  

Given that we received quite a variety of articles to read, clearly sharing something from each of them would be more appropriate for a more formal paper of some sort; I would like to share one last fascinating article from the bunch that’s a bit more lighthearted. Visser (2011) shares his favorite takeaways from the DOK Library in the city of Delft (Netherlands). He states, “DOK is more an “information community centre” than a library. They have an art library in the building, organize debates about literature but also finance, …” (para. 2). This really seems to be the direction many libraries are moving, being a community gathering center in addition to the vast collections they house. Interaction is encouraged in the hyperlinked library model; Visser (2011) says the same of the DOK library, “At DOK they understand that to increase participation, the entire design should be focused at doing stuff” (para. 4). 

These articles have really shed a great light for me in understanding what it means to be a hyperlinked library, but for me it’s just the tip of the iceberg! So, here’s to fostering connectedness among libraries and the world they exist in.   

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash


Stephens, M. (2010, March 02). The hyperlinked school library: engage, explore, celebrate. Tame the web.  

Stephens, M. (2016). The heart of librarianship: Attentive, positive, and purposeful change. Chicago: ALA Editions, an imprint of the American Library Association. 

Stephens, M. (2016, November 17). Open to change. Library Journal. 

Visser, J. (2011, January 22). DOK Delft, inspirational library concepts. The museum of the future.