The Hyperlinked Public Library

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.”

Photo by mauro mora on Unsplash

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.

Photo by John Matychuk on Unsplash

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).

Photo by 🇸🇮 Janko Ferlič on Unsplash

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.

Pew Research Center. (2014, July 9). Public libraries and technology: From “houses of knowledge” to “houses of access”. Pew Research Center.

Stephens, M. (2020). The hyperlinked library: hyperlinked communities .

7 replies on “The Hyperlinked Public Library”

Hello David,
I don’t work in a public library but an academic library. The library has extended hours for students (open 24 hours 5 days a week) and in the same space we have a break room. In this space students can heat up their food, access to hot water and also when available free food/snacks that is donated by the Associated Student Inc. (ASI). It also offers free hygiene packs for them. One new element that we added last semester was offering a Cocoa, Tea, Cram night the week before finals. Working with ASI students received scantrons, green books, pencils, and pens. The library also had a librarian who helped students with research questions and ASI worked with our tutoring center to have tutors available to help. These are just a few things we are doing to meet the needs of our students and offer them a “third place”.

Hi @Rosa your academic library sounds amazing! Students being able to study 24hours five days a week is incredible. I remember going to SDSU and their library having a portion available at all times during the week (M-F).

The snacks and materials you all provide definitely provide that “home like feeling.” I can easily see some of your students thinking of the library as their “third place.”

Thanks for sharing! Keep up the good work.

Dave, the theory of the third space is something that I’ve been exploring in the context of school libraries, and especially when working with teens I think a lot of it has to do with making them feel comfortable to be who they are and to do what they do. The more comfortable students felt in the library, the more they would visit.

If they have permission to be themselves and to explore the things they love, they will not only spend more time in the library, but they will share joyfully those things with each other and with you. And because they share what’s important to them with you, then you have the ability to fashion the library as a space that better caters to their needs–a win-win.

@Naomi, what you said is so well put! Establishing a great rapport with teens is essential to building trust, which I feel ultimately leads to better programs that are teen driven, buy in, inviting spaces that attract more teens, etc.

It sounds like you are a stellar librarian Naomi. Keep up the good work.

Thank you Professor Stephens, I really am looking forward to seeing more libraries with Curbside. I loved attending the Wholehearted Librarian Conference by the way, great job on it!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *