The Hyperlinked Library Model

September 9, 2019 § 1 Comment

As I read more about the hyperlinked library model, I am amazed at how much heart is at the center of it. From what I have read and understood, the hyperlinked library model puts the user at the helm and the institution helps facilitate the user’s needs. This focus on the user is what makes the hyperlinked library so connected through human activity and emotion. It’s as if the libraries and the librarians are telling the users to “Follow your heart”.

So I was able to check out the e-book version of The Heart of Librarianship by Michael Stephens from the Los Angeles Public Library and one concept that stuck with me was that the hyperlinked librarian uses several methods to implement practice, one that includes “Playfully approaching opportunities to create learning experiences and engaging information-based services” (Stephens, 2016). Let’s focus on the word Play. As someone who was a preschool teacher, I have been arguing for the benefits of play for about a decade. In this class, I finally see it as a characteristic that librarians should have. To playfully approach new ideas, one needs to be curious, creative, and willing to take risks that fall outside of the box, sort of like a child whose only materials to play with are rocks, sticks, and dirt. Leave a four year old to play in the dirt and he will discover the anthill nearby. Next thing you know, he is making contraptions out of rocks and sticks near the anthill that is supposed to “help” the ants, whether that’s for extra exercise or new ways to get food (I really do speak from experience here!). To me, the Anthill represents the discovery of something new, whether that’s a technology, a user need, or another organization, and the Contraptions are the different methods on how to best connect the user and this new discovery. In other words, we need to approach emerging technologies like a curious, enthusiastic four year old. 

Another concept that struck a chord with me was that libraries are infrastructure. Not too long ago I came across a podcast that was shared on social media. It was Episode 346 Palaces for the People, from the 99% Invisible Series, hosted by Roman Mars and produced by Emmett Fitzgerald. On this particular episode, our guest Eric Klinenberg talked about his book Palaces for the People, in which he explains the importance of social infrastructure. In a nutshell, shared spaces are what helps communities become and stay stronger. In a time of crisis, within these communities with strong infrastructure, community members reach out to each other, rather than stay in isolation. This week, I saw Eric Klinemberg’s name pop up again in the article Library as Infrastructure by Shannon Mattern(2014), where his findings support the argument that libraries should be considered valuable infrastructure within the community. Every time I read something of Klinenberg’s, I can’t help but agree on his findings on social infrastructure because I have experienced it in my own downtown, urban neighborhood. In this neighborhood, we have schools, churches, a library, a museum, and a park, all within a mile radius of each other. When a crisis did happen, my neighbors and I reached out to each other to make sure we were safe. I am not going to go into too much detail about what happened but you can read it here. Bottom line, I live in the apartment building that Angel Reynosa pointed at when he made up that story and my neighbors and I were traumatized throughout the entire experience. Reaching out and solidifying those connections helped the healing process because then we, the residents, didn’t feel alone. We were talking to each other, in our home and on the streets in neighborhood. The experience helped me make sense of the importance of social infrastructure.

Essentially, the hyperlinked library model is about people, and in order to connect with people we need the infrastructure to so. For us, the librarians, we need to get out of our comfort zone and meet the users on where they are, with the curiosity and imagination of a playful child. We need to spot trends and understand that our libraries can do so much more than just books. If we decide that they can, libraries can help people be better versions of themselves. 

References

Fitzgerald, E. (Producer). (2019, March 19). Palaces for the people . Retrieved from https://99percentinvisible.org/episode/palaces-for-the-people/

Mattern, S. (2014, June). Library as infrastructure. Places Journal. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.22269/140609

Stephens, M. (2016). The Heart of librarianship: Attentive, positive, and purposeful chance. Chicago, IL: ALA Editions.

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