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The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business – A Review. Context Book Assignment a book review by Ismael Betancourt – INFO 287 – Fall 2020

When I was growing up in a small town in Mexico, I never thought that I would teach and learn cutting edge technology when I got older. For the first 11 years of my life, I lived on a farm in rural Mexico, in a house with no electricity or indoor plumbing. I did not know how to control a television set or use a house phone. The first time I learned to use a computer was when I attended community college. During my first semester, I stayed for 3 hours every day in the computer lab. Each day I stayed after class learning basic computer functions through trial and error. The following semester I volunteered to be the class lab monitor and would assist the teacher with helping students learn basic software skills to newcomers. As time passed my interest in technology grew stronger and so did my skills. As a result, I decided to pursue higher education and get degrees in Graphic Design and Digital Media. Moving forward to now, I find myself teaching patrons how to use 3D printers, VR systems, Computer Software, Apps and Robotics. So how did an immigrant to the US with no experience in technology end up teaching others emerging technologies? I will answer this question in the following paragraphs.

The Book

In the book by Duhigg, C. (2012) The power of habit: why we do what we do in life and business, he examines the power of habits and how the human brain is able to do extraordinary things. The book highlights many cases where individuals and corporations were able to change course by understanding the power of habits. Some habits are formed because they are taught to us and other habits are formed base on the environment that surrounds us.

Duhigg explains that once habits are formed they are difficult to break and can take years to learn how to modify them. For example, let’s look at the habit of brushing our teeth in the mornings. We do it without thinking about it, it is just something that we do every morning when we wake up. Specifically, in chapter 2, Duhigg gives an example of how new habits are created. In the early 1900s, Claude C. Hopkins was approached by an old friend with a business idea. He needed help creating a marketing campaign for a toothpaste he called “Pepsodent.” Hopkins used a marketing technique called the habit loop. In his ad campaign, he told people to brush their teeth with “Pepsodent” because the toothpaste will help clean their teeth and give them a fresh clean smile. Hopkin’s marketing strategy worked because he created a cue, routine, and reward that eventually become a habit.

In connection, when I started to learn about computers, I was using Hopkins loop habit without knowing it. When I made the choice to stay every day after class to learn how to use the computer I created a habit of learning new technologies. My cue was to go to class, the routine was to stay after class practicing on the computer, and my reward was to teach others what I had learned.

The power of the habit and the hyperlinked library

Information in libraries is no longer static, now libraries can share information with patrons across towns, cities, and countries with faster speeds than ever before. By using new technologies like apps, social media, databases and search engines libraries can reach patrons who are not regular library users. Why are libraries embracing new technologies? In the article by Buckland, M. (1992) Redesigning library services: A manifesto, he explains that the patron’s habits influence libraries and dictates how libraries deliver services.  According to Buckland, “growing proportion of library users whose work habits and working environment have changed to include routine use of computers.” So, patron’s habits develop when their access to technology changes and therefore, libraries have to change too. Libraries are not going to engage new patrons with technology alone. They need to be more than information hubs, “libraries need to be a cause, a purpose, and the reason you get out of bed and are excited to get to work. Libraries are about people, not books or technology.” Mathews, B. (2012). One of the libraries’ focus moving forward should be to help patrons develop a personal connection to the library. Furthermore, libraries should partner with the community to make patron interactions with their library feel natural and welcoming. 

In connection, the hyperlinked library is about connecting people with information and with a community. These libraries recognize that “hyperlinks are the connections made by real individuals based on what they care about and what they know…”Stephens, M. (n.d.) Even though patrons are using technology devices like mobile phones, tablets, VR systems, and computers, they still want the connection to feel familiar and appealing. It is also important to recognize that “each age group and each demographic wants a bit of a balance between the old and the new” Casey, M. (2007). The hyperlinked library is creating new ways for patrons to connect with information communities and by doing so it is creating new habits.

In Conclusion

The mission of library service should be to look beyond one-dimensional service delivery and instead, it should be to support the needs of the community they serve. Libraries have come a long away and are starting to self-reflect and modify old habits. We are beginning to see these changes with the hyperlink libraries where communities are engaged outside the library buildings. As Duhigg said, habits are hard to break but if we can find a way to modify them we can accomplish amazing things.


Buckland, M. (1992). Redesigning library services: A manifesto. Chicago: American Library Association.

Casey, M., & Savastinuk, L. (2007). Library 2.0: A Guide to Participatory Library Service. Medford: Information Today.

Duhigg, C. (2012) The power of habit: why we do what we do in life and business New York : Random House,

Mathews, B. (2012) Think like a startup: A white paper to inspire library entrepreneurialism Retrieve from https://www.chronicle.com/blognetwork/theubiquitouslibrarian/

Stephens, M. (n.d.). Syllabus. Retrieved from https://287.hyperlib.sjsu.edu/course-info/syllabus/

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