Given the opportunity and encouragement from Professor Michael Stephens to “choose your own adventure” by way of reading about hyperlinked communities, exploration of hyperlinked public libraries resonated well. As learned from earlier modules, in a hyperlinked environment “access” takes on a hybrid approach: being both physical and digital. Public Libraries today are investing time, research, and money into providing the best experience possible for patrons. Some hyperlinked library key terms that come to mind are: “equitable”, “accessible”, and “inclusive.”
With patrons in mind, many public libraries have added non-traditional circulation items like WiFi hotspots, laptops, instruments, tools, and cameras to name a few. These items that could have been out of reach are now equitable to patrons of all socioeconomic backgrounds. The Pew Research Center (2014) states, “One major finding in our research into Americans’ use of public libraries is the extent to which libraries are synonymous not only with knowledge and information, but with the tools needed to acquire it in the digital age” (para. 1).
Thinking of access, both physical and digital collections come to mind. Public Libraries are the gate keepers of information, constantly scanning to think of new opportunities to ease the burden of access for its patrons. Online resources like eBook applications are now user friendly, contain a wide variety of options, and are becoming more popular for many users.
A new innovative service initiative that I keep hearing about is “Library Curbside Pick-Up.” While attending the 2020 PLA Conference, Regional Manager Emily Archibald of Tulsa City-County Library discussed how this revolutionary service eased access of her patrons. She listed some of the distinct reasons for instating curbside service:
“Library customers expect the library to keep pace with innovations they experience in their daily lives” (Bringing Curbside Delivery to Your Library, slide 2).
“Library customers are increasingly growing accustom to conveniences offered at local businesses, like grocery stores and restaurants” (Bringing Curbside Delivery to Your Library, slide 2).
Emily shared that research went into this service by way of a pilot committee that developed the scope of the service, then three pilot libraries were eventually established. This service proved valuable to the patrons of Tulsa City-County Library and still is offered today.
The article “A Look at the Evolving Role – and Shifting Spaces – of Today’s Public Libraries,” written by Evie Hemphill literally “blew my mind.” For this blog post I want to share just one facet of her thought-provoking article: the golden nugget of information being “… the concept of “third place” comes into play” (para. 10). Libraries need to strive to become the third-home or “place” that patrons choose to visit both physically and digitally. Hemphill (2019) shares that JEMA’s John Mueller states, “the first place being our home, the second place being our work and the third place being this place in society where we go to make community,” Mueller explained” (para. 11).
This profound concept makes total sense to me. Libraries need to be the elusive “third place” that their patrons and community members choose to visit. The library system I work for implements out-of-the box programming and outreach opportunities, has inviting spaces, offers an inclusive collection, has non-traditional collection items like laptops and bicycles available, a plethora of online resources, and makerspaces; all to improve the livelihood of our patrons. This is just the “tip of the iceberg” when it comes to becoming the “third place.” Strategies for retention and inviting new patrons to our public libraries must be accounted for.
Hyperlinked public libraries are real, improving, thriving, and trending. I’d like to leave you all with a question: “How is your library striving to become the ever so coveted ‘third space?’”
Archibald, E. (2020). Bringing curbside delivery to your library [PowerPoint slides]. Tulsa City-County Library.
Hemphill, E. (2019, February 5). A look at the evolving role – and shifting spaces – of today’s public libraries. St. Louis Public Radio. https://news.stlpublicradio.org/post/look-evolving-role-and-shifting-spaces-todays-public-libraries#stream/0
Pew Research Center. (2014, July 9). Public libraries and technology: From “houses of knowledge” to “houses of access”. Pew Research Center. https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2014/07/09/public-libraries-and-technology-from-houses-of-knowledge-to-houses-of-access/
Stephens, M. (2020). The hyperlinked library: hyperlinked communities . https://sjsu-ischool.hosted.panopto.com/Panopto/Pages/Viewer.aspx?id=74c82b0d-bd96-4e81-9894-aab40123a319