When I first started this course, my original blog post surmised that I would mostly learn about the new technologies and trends that would be transforming the library environment in the future. I wanted to know about how best to explain the library’s worth in a changing information environment, and to better understand the overall direction that the modern library is going so that I could look into and research possible pathways that the field might take. In other words, I went into the course thinking that once I had completed it I would know how to ensure that I would be up-to-date on what might be coming to my workplace in the future and how best to adapt to it. I wound up learning a lot more than that during my reflections, and with help I realized that it wasn’t just what the library was going to have to adopt or adapt, but how the library could do many things in order to realize a version of itself that best meets the needs of the communities it serves.
To best be there for people, libraries have to become a platform for learning and experiences, not just a place for knowledge and information in and of themselves. Experiences are a kind of information, being part of a community is also informational, and being a library that serves as a place like the Library of Alexandria (which I reflected on in one of my posts) where the library is a source of creative works, where seamless service and inspired creation work together to form something truly special. Just like with virtual assistants, libraries strive towards utility, towards providing spaces where convenience and the availability of physical tools and resources not available online or for free in other places, and to try and make these services as seamless as possible. Not only does a library pursuing these goals offer more to the greater community, but it helps to reaffirm the public trust in the institution itself as being valuable and something to be proud of supporting.
Support and trust are two things I didn’t expect to ruminate on much during the course either, but I found out that these were essential to the idea of a hyperlinked library. These libraries are many things, but one thing that they must be is user focused and ready to adapt appropriately to changes in the environment which they inhabit. To truly gain the support of a community, to have that community extend the benefit of the doubt and allow the library to have that room to experiment and intelligently adapt to challenges requires radical trust. A kind of trust that deeply involves transparency, that invites community members and stakeholders the opportunity to not only take advantage of the best the library has to offer, but to suggest that the future of their library is something that they have some amount of control over.
Community concerns are library concerns, and a library that is transparent in its actions can institute some revolutionary and effective programs (like open+ inviting the community to make use of the library even without staff present) to help fight the challenges their community and library are facing the best they are able. And this transparency that can come from, in part, listening to a community and trusting it can also lead to shared learning experiences for both the library and community members. To see the library as a classroom where things are both learned and created is an important part of the hyperlinked library that I learned through my studies in this course, and helped me understand that the hyperlinked library is not just new technology or an understanding of trends, but also an attitude and willingness to accept change and respond to it carefully and deliberately. It is a feeling of trust between community and library, and so much more.
Finding libraries that have embraced the hyperlinked library model presented in the modules was a true game changer in the way I looked at how libraries can enter into the future confident in what they can bring to the community and how to successfully adapt to trends and intelligently adopt technology that will serve the field and the people they serve.