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).
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 https://www.libraryjournal.com/?detailStory=convening-community-conversations-programming#_
Stephens, M. (2016). The heart of librarianship: attentive, positive, and purposeful change [eBook version] Retrieved from https://web-b-ebscohost-com.libaccess.sjlibrary.org/ehost/ebookviewer/ebook/bmxlYmtfXzEzNTAzNTZfX0FO0?sid=4736ba9e-9eaa-4326-a44b-6b06d0450cef@pdc-v-sessmgr05&vid=0&format=EB&rid=1
Stephens, M. (2020). Hyperlinked Communities [Video lecture] Retrieved from https://sjsu-ischool.hosted.panopto.com/Panopto/Pages/Viewer.aspx?id=bdb39d41-e4a7-4b33-9da4-aab40117c7e8
Williams, S. (2014, April 16). Five ways libraries are using Instagram to share collections and draw public interest [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/2014/04/16/five-ways-libraries-are-using-instagram/