The Hyperlinked Library and Librarian: Information Superheroes

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Reflection Blog – The Hyperlinked library: Tear Down the Walls


User input is a central feature in the Hyperlinked Library Model and continues the paradigm shift away from telling people and users what they need or want, but rather includes them in the decision making process. New approaches to looking at the library in varied ways, not as a problem but as a learning opportunity seems to fit the Hyperlinked Library Model. In contemplating ideas that are present and integral for the Hyperlinked Library, I kept recalling the poet, William Blake’s famous lines in a new way, and specifically reimagined for the Hyperlinked Library:

“If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.” (William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell)

Outdated libraries and librarians may cling to practices that no longer work, such as building up walls and other barriers instead of bridges, and seeing everything solely from their point of view. In planning ahead for the future, the Hyperlinked Library has to continue to alter its “perception” and perspectives or lens, to continue to incorporate new ideas and outlooks for its future.

In “Do We Still Need Libraries,” Steve Denning discusses the future of the modern library by pointing out changes in society as a whole. Many corporations have had to re-tool and adjust to a fast-moving mobile environment, or go out of business, think Radio Shack. Denning appropriately locates the shift from this top down flow or from big businesses to consumer mentality. That model has flipped and is a key factor to the flat structure of the Hyperlinked Library rather than a hierarchal model. Denning highlights this as he writes that technology has “shifted the balance of power in the marketplace from the seller to the buyer.” Analogous to this approach are the changes seen in libraries that actively encourage patron input. Placing Research Librarians in open, free-standing kiosks, as seen in @michael’s video on the Hyperlinked Library Model, demonstrates a move away from older practices and standards to one that actively “invite” community members to engage with them, equally and on the same level.

The Hyperlinked Library has more in common with the emerging, horizontally structured (think flat) Creative Economy, examples such as Lyft, Uber, and Apple versus the economic modes of the 20th century business models and traditional libraries in which a vertical structure is in play, and hierarchies flourish. Importantly, Denning directs us to look at the Creative Economy and successful libraries that enable users/consumers (stakeholders), that empower them, and incorporate them into the decision making process. The walls of separation are no longer present, and as a result, more communication and interaction may occur.


Blake, William.

Denning, S. (2015). Do We Need Libraries?

Stephens, Michael. View lecture


  1. This is such a strong statement: “The walls of separation are no longer present, and as a result, more communication and interaction may occur.” The businesses you mention have certainly been disruptors. I wonder if some of the notable libraries though the years would also be classified as such: Hennepin County was one of the first to enable commenting in the catalog. Others have tried a Netflix like mail service for materials. Those might be the “Ubers” of the past decade or so…with more innovation coming steadily.

  2. @steve Of course! Traverse City, Michigan (my nearest city center) just got Lyft this week. It’s been so interesting to see the community response on FB.

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