The hyperlinked library (HL) can be an elusive concept. It seems so inclusive and broad as to defy definition. All semester long I have had aha moments that I then lose grasp of—I guess that is learning. Getting to its core values helps me get a grip on it: holistic, connects and collaborates with learners, and responds in creative ways to community needs for knowledge, skills, enjoyment, and quality of life. Its overarching principles are radical trust (Scott, 2018), transparent processes (Casey & Stephens, 2007; Zeigler, 2006), and participatory culture (Jenkins, 2012).
SERVICE AND MISSION
We listen, we teach, we build.
Buckland anticipated the hyperlinked library (1997) and shows us that we can predict the future of the library to some extent. The following were predicted 50 years ahead of time by “practical idealists” in 1935: compact storage, ease of reproduction, remote access to full text, hypertext, equipment capable of sophisticated searching in complex indexing systems. “If form follows function, then concentration on the function should help us anticipate future forms” (p. 18). Conflicting interests among stakeholders are the constraint, not lack of prescience (p. 35). Constraints can lead to creative output if we take a constructivist attitude. He defines innovation as management of change (p. 61) and he found that management and planning are widely underestimated skills (p. 61).
Buckland noted that libraries were closed most of the time. This is still true to some extent. An acquaintance of his said there will be no library in the future, but Buckland predicted that there will always be library services and librarians (1997, pp. 50-51) whether there is a physical library or not. His definition of a library’s mission is not about the library itself: It is to support the purposes of the group to be served (p. 65).
Mathews introduced us to design thinking: Holistic, connects with learners, collaborative, and leadership integrates the library into learning processes (Mathews, 2012, p. 9). Sounds similar to the goals of the hyperlinked library. He gave examples of companies that stretched their services and didn’t just try to sustain the status quo. Xerox moved from being a photo copy company to providing business support: human resources, IT, accounting, and data entry (Mathews, 2012, p. 10). Amazon, which could have been called “Books Online” when it started in 1994, now delivers my weekly groceries. Sustainability may be a constraint on a mission, but it cannot be the mission itself.
Out-of-date library structures can hinder creativity, autonomy, engagement, sharing, and participation (Mathews, 2017, p. 13). No service remains effective forever. Constant change is not just for change sake, it’s about the changes necessary to improve service (Casey & Savastinak, 2007, pp. 67, 108).
A new model of the library is that libraries are idea stores (Stephens, 2020a), they are places that change people’s lives, they are a community resource like emergency responders, a “place” where people pursue happiness and success. As the Institute for Museum and Library Services says, it’s a cradle to grave service (Stephens, 2020b). It’s okay to learn along with our users: We can’t be experts in everything. It’s letting go of control and experimenting with trends.
We go find them where they are.
Library outreach now extends to daycare centers, senior homes, billiard halls, cafes, videogame stores, movie theatres, bookstores, community centers, and on. Libraries need to pay attention to where everyone’s attention is, and own its place in the information, learning, and entertainment ecosystem. It’s about engagement, not just information (Raine, 2016).
The hyperlinked library offers collections and access anywhere anytime. Information is now mobile, so libraries have to go mobile. One of the things that means is open all the time (Stephens, 2020c).
Libraries facilitate connection and learning, but reach beyond that to connect people around ideas and activities (Stephens, 2020d). Hyperlinked library leaders should be facile in innovation management and emotional intelligence. They build teams that experiment, and they allow that some experiments will not work out as a new service.
Transparency in decision-making, motivations, and mission create trust and enlarge the community. This means staff and patrons need to be included in planning and decisions. Transparency is also recognizing that functions change and that we can reorder the library space, its open times, and what activities people are allowed or encouraged to do in the library (Vangelova, 2014).
Library spaces can model a culture of openness and acceptance of changes. I like glass walls and rooms in libraries (often created as sound barriers and private meeting spaces) because they show what everyone is doing, that we are all part of something big and important, something freeing, and we are all in it together. Former storage areas have been turned into active spaces for staff and patrons. There is more understanding of the need for library spaces that facilitate both staff and public communications.
We are learners, we are connectors, we open doors.
There are many layers to transparency. Honesty is the underlying principle in trust and loyalty (Schmidt, 2013) we want to generate and maintain in the library. But transparency alone may not be enough: We need assessment and social justice, too (Boyd, 2016).
Libraries are getting more into the business of education and helping to reframe it with programs for high school diplomas for insstance. New technologies like blockchain, DBDM (distributed database management), permissioned ledgers, and others, can be used by any organization to give learning credentials and nanodegrees (McArthur, 2018). Libraries are ideal for this activity, as librarians can provide context and vetting. This is a much less expensive way and verified way to deliver education, and it is on the horizon for libraries. It could disrupt the traditional organization of education at the same time being in line with library missions. This is a trend that may get speeded up because of the pandemic. Going to your local library for college—that’s accessibility.
SPIRIT AND CREATIVITY
Staff satisfaction = user satisfaction.
The library reflects the community, or should do so, and it also creates a new culture. One that embraces people, learning, ideas, and collaboration. It is all-encompassing and humane. Moore (2017) compares it with occupational therapy, which helps people with life meaning and purpose, personal needs, and obligations. Libraries also help people with their wants, needs, and the things they have to do. They strive to empower people and put choice in their lives. People who do both kinds of work need have interpersonal skills and an artistic approach (Moore, 2017).
The hands-on creativity of the Arts and Crafts movement of the 1880s was a response to the Industrial Revolution. The movement developed visual, motor control, memory, and concentration (Moore, 2017). More than 100 years later, the Information Age spawned renewed interest in hands-on activities–at my library it’s quilting and other sewing skills, wood modeling, building computer devices, and tai chi. The hyperlinked library evolves with changing trends and social surprises. Learning and knowledge remain subjective and sometimes temporary (Raine, 2016). Now we are in the Attention Age (Ingle & Pewhairangi, 2014, p. 8), and patrons want to make their own choices of activities (some non-screen) because the world is constantly demanding their attention. The library is a good, safe, physical and virtual space to make those choices.
There are no more rules for what a library should be. Guidelines are better than rules anyway, according to Stephens (2016b): David West from Moreton Bay Region Libraries (Queensland, Australia) said that when boys were given encouragement to play the RuneScape videogame in the library, they “engaged in the life of the library.”
What are we looking for so that we can engender a library culture of spirit, kindness, and creativity? To build a library team, Felix (2015) says staff need to be treated as well as patrons. When improvements are made to user space, they should also be made to staff space. Staff satisfaction will translate to user satisfaction. When planning library space (physical and online), make arrivals feel welcome, have exhibits that draw in visitors, display patrons’ creative output, AND showcase staff expertise to the public.
Most people like plans and specified outcomes, rather than experimentation with unknowns (Swanson, 2012), but that is the way of death for libraries. While libraries do need clear messages, to be user-friendly, and a functionally accurate website, strategic planning can be mechanistic and not about making real change (Frierson, 2011). Planners need to look at people’s motivations and purposes in their lives to find out what they want in their library interactions.
In making a library with spirit, there are challenges with people unwilling to change, with professional burnout and other unaddressed issues, and with perhaps outdated norms for staff behavior. What is needed is to invest in existing staff. Felix (2015) suggests the following:
1 Regular set times for staff to create, learn, play, have fun, and make exploratory investigations
2 Set limits. Do the best with what you’ve got. Be creative within the known limits.
3 Give purpose through customer focus, and looking at your library from an outsider’s perspective.
4 Set priorities and do one thing at a time, set an end date, and then evaluate. Do not let an activity ride an endless loop to a distant and future planned fruition.
5 Say yes to (at least some of) the output from staff creative brainstorming sessions. Otherwise, managers will lose trust.
To move the library’s image and self-image from fuddy-duddy to fun, use contemporary language and concepts. For instance, Gates’ successful “Geek the Library” community awareness campaign was managed by the OCLC (Godby, 2015, p. 12). Libraries can be local and global. Leverage what is unique about your community to give your library branding and its own identity. My local town was once known as the egg capital of the world, and the county (Sonoma) library has a wine history archive that goes back to the 1500s and artifacts related to the Peanuts cartoon because the author lived here and supported libraries. Historical photos that are be displayed as part of a larger story are more effective than single artifacts.
“You can’t fail at library.”
TECHNOLOGY WITH A PURPOSE
We humbly offer gifts.
The HL uses tech to engage heart, mind, and soul. It can live on the edge between chaos and order. If we see any change as a threat, we will not get far nor survive. We can use a technology before we understand it, and we can wait to use a technology we understand until we see a clear use or interest for it. We can push the envelope, while still being realistic. In a 24/7 world of information, we offer and participate in makerspaces, meditation, movement, mindfulness, library gardening, and whatever people feel they need and want, some of which are antidotes. It doesn’t have to make sense for the strategic plan or to a particular manager. Some degree of freedom is important to keep the library moving.
If we look at devices in isolation, we are in danger of a mechanistic mindset (Mathews, 2017, p. 11). Whether the technology stays around for long or not, is it something people can learn from? MOOCs came and went, but large-scale open learning remains for hundreds of students at a time. Does it incite play? Interactions are the most important part of new technologies. Technology is just a tool, which should lead to new ideas, networking, insights, and even self-reflection and new definitions of self. Does a technology support perpetual learning?
We are not looking for perfect solutions, but workable solutions. “Efficiency, accountability, and optimization may actually hold us back when what we need is creativity, collaboration, irregularity, and variance” (McChrystal et al., 2015, p. 38). Here’s an old technology being newly used at a library—the drive-up window.
Be part of the change.
Self-service libraries, for instance, are an addition not a threat (Zulkey, 2009): They add services, locations, and hours to patron usage of the library. Be part of the change: Don’t buck progress. As Brian Kenney says, “technology is not something we offer, it is something we do” (2014).
In order for information to fit on mobile devices, it is pre-digested (Ballance, 2013) for “micro-learning.” This is an activity well-suited to librarians. On the other hand, there is still a place for stewardship of content and it shouldn’t be sacrificed for devices (Stephens, 2016a, p. 99). Librarians can parse these issues.
Like Open Science, which publishes the results of experiments that failed – the results didn’t support the original hypothesis – we can openheartedly embrace new things and see if they work in our community. Null effects still advance science, and failed library programs may point us in new directions. We don’t know what technology will be useful or for what purposes, but we need to forge ahead anyway. People use things for unintended purposes, and we should allow for that. There is an opportunity cost from waiting to implement a technology until it is perfect (and not serving your community in the meantime). Today at work, an article crossed my desk that uses immersive virtual reality to test for telepathy in humans.
All that said, I am not sure how I feel about beacon technology (Weinberger, 2014). This is where you walk into a library and they beam you (presumably a laser finds your library card on your person and reads its history), and then they tell you about programs and content you might be interested in – “without it being too much in your face.” But that would be in my face, as I go to the library for peace and to think. The technology advertises itself as a “virtual tap on the shoulder” – still not appealing to me. Of course, it can be optional app on your phone, so that could work. And virtual reality will eventually tell us what is new in each book section as we walk past it (that’s cool, and hopefully we can turn it off, too). Just another example of how we give up privacy for convenience. As long as it’s voluntary . . .
The library is a place of retreat.
Take a breath. Take care of yourself. Take care of our users. What are our foundational values? Take time to plan and look at what’s on the horizon.
We want to engender open-mindedness, responsibility, wholeheartedness and banish our reactivity, which we can do through meditation and taking care of ourselves (Morelock, 2020). We don’t want to get burned out or bitter. We need to stay balanced for good decision-making, mindfulness and awareness, and to put forward our best in all our professional We make an emotional investment to help other people be their best, and we must be at our best.
The future of the library starts with us. Our attitudes and skills of curiosity creativity, compassion, and confidence. Librarians can support each others’ learning and teaching network (Stephens, 2020d). Professional development includes a constructivist point of view, starting with constructing and overhauling your personal learning network. The wisdom of the crowd helps to build a librarian (Stephens, 2017c).
According to an Ithaka S+R study, the future of librarianship is in literacy, instructional design, faculty support in research and publishing, digital preservation and archiving, web services and IT, and subject specialization (Wolff-Eisenberg, 2017). When librarians were asked in the study what a potentially increased budget would go toward, they responded: new employees, redefined positions, facilities improvements; and NOT tools, resources, journals (and some would be discontinued), books, digital presence, general collections (reduced, not added to), special collections (¼ were already reducing).
In another study, when asked what they needed for professional development, librarians responded: face-to-face time in workshops and discussions, more affordable conferences, and engagement in brainstorming, sharing activities and being challenged (Stephens, 2018a).
We can increase our creativity (Staley, 2020) no matter where we start from. Our confidence is just as important as competency skills (Stephens, 2018b). More important than knowledge, skills, or physical resources, are values, beliefs, relationships, and emotional resources (Stephens, 2019). While part of a team, we need to be context-sensitive, but also allow ourselves to evolve individually.
People are naturally strong in either tenacity or emotional intelligence, but not both (Searcy, 2018, pp. 12-13). Lead from your strength, but work on the other one. I see why I like managing, because I am tenacious and a completer/finisher. I have learned a lot in this course about how to develop other skills, my emotional intelligence, such as active listening, encouraging and taking care of others, balancing attention and emotional expression, and being humble and kind.
Throughout this course, we have seen many librarians making the most of the library where they work, with inventive programs such as a group of seniors and young immigrants teaching each other English, and device skills and online searching, respectively. This is what Library 2.0 is, being innovative with the resources you have, drawing an honest picture of your situation, and being user-centered (Casey & Savastinak, 2007).
Believe in the community. Believe in the library.
There are so many lessons from The Heart of Librarianship (Stephens, 2016a). Here are two: Change from a focus on the past to one on the future (p. 12); and, Be humble, authentic, passionate, and share successes and failures (p. 33).
Full-stack librarians (Stephens, 2015, 2017d) have compassion, are team players, thrive on change, connect, discover, keep learning, have a busy PLN, AND are active learners and listeners. They embrace as much chaos as they can, provide a safe haven, and welcome everyone (Stephens, 2017a). Don’t fight growth or “rebuke learning” (Stephens, 2016a, p. 36). If we continue to learn and grow in our profession along with the evolution of the culture, we can feel secure that we are making a contribution.
Here is a public library collaborating with scientists in outer space:
Ballance, C. (2013, August). Mobilizing knowledge to create convenient learning moments. Learn Magazine.
Boyd, P. (2016, January 25). What world are we building? Data & Society.
Buckland, M. (1997). Redesigning library services: A manifesto. American Library Association.
Casey, M. E., & Savastinak, L. C. (2007). Library 2.0. Information Today.
Casey, M., & Stephens, M. (2007, May 1). Turning “no” into “yes.” Tame the Web [blog]. Library Journal.
Felix, E. (2015, Spring). Rethink the staff workplace. Brightspot [blog]. Library by Design.
Frierson, E. (2011). Leading with heart. In the Library with the Lead Pipe [blog].
Godby, J. (2015). Is your library a “thing”? In “The Internet of things: 50 billion connected devices and objects by the year 2020. NextSpace, 24, p. 12. OCLC.
Ingle, M., & Pewhairangi, S. (2014, May). A beautiful obsession. Weve. Heroes Mingle.
Jenkins, H. (2012). Connected learning: Reimagining the experience of education in the information age. Confessions of an ACA-fan [blog].
Kanerva, C., & Emery, C. (2020, March 5). Traverse Area District Library partners with International Space Station for out of this world experiment. https://www.9and10news.com/2020/03/05/traverse-area-district-library-partners-with-international-space-station-for-out-of-this-world-experiment/
Kenney, B. (2014). The user (still) is not broken.
Matthews, B. (2012). Think like a startup: A white paper to inspire library entrepreneurialism. http://www.brainmatthews.com
Matthews, B. (2017). Cultivating complexity: How I stopped driving the innovation train and started planting seeds in the community garden. https://vtechworks.lib.vt.edu/handle/10919/78886
McArthur, D. (2018, May 21). Will blockchains revolutionize education? Educause Review.
McChrystal, S. A., Collins, T., Silverman, P., & Fussell, C. (2015). Team of teams: New rules of engagement for a complex world. Portfolio Penguin.
Moore, L. (2017). The gentle art of world domination: Art, occupational therapy, and libraries. Library as Incubator Project.
Morelock, J. (2020). Mindfulness in the public library: A secular Buddhist approach. Right Now It’s Like This . Library 2.0 [YouTube channel].
Raine, L. (2016). Puzzles librarians need to solve. Pew Research Center.
Schmidt, A. (2013, November 1). Earning trust [User Experience column]. Library Journal.
Scott, K. (2018). Radical candor: How to be a great boss without losing your humanity. Pan McMillan.
Searcy, C. W. (2018). Project management in libraries. ALA Editions.
Staley, C. (2016). Can you teach creativity? [Video]. DailyMotion.com
Stephens, M. C. (2007). Foreword. In M. E. Casey & L. C. Savastinak, Library 2.0. Information Today.
Stephens, M. (2015). Stacking the deck. [Office Hours blog]. Library Journal.
Stephens, M. (2016a). The heart of librarianship. ALA Editions.
Stephens, M. (2016b, February 23). Open conversation: About trust. Tame the Web [blog]
Stephens, M. (2017a, March 22). Chaos and caring. [Office Hours blog]. Library Journal.
Stephens, M. (2017b, August 24). What’s next [Office Hours blog]. Library Journal.
Stephens, M. (2017c, September 20). [Office Hours blog]. Library Journal.
Stephens, M. (2017d, October 21). The right question [Office Hours blog]. Library Journal.
Stephens, M. (2018a). Personal, actionable, accessible [Office Hours blog]. Library Journal.
Stephens, M. (2018b, August 7). Librarian superpowers activate! [Office Hours blog]. Library Journal.
Stephens, M. (2019). Wholehearted librarianship. ALA Editions.
Stephens, M. (2020a). New models . Module 8 lecture for INFO 287.
Stephens, M. (2020b). New horizons . Module 9 lecture for INFO 287.
Stephens, M. (2020c). . Mobile devices and connections. Module 10 lecture for INFO 287.
Stephens, M. (2020d). Infinite learning. Learning everywhere . INFO 287 Module 11 lecture.
Swanson, T. (2012, December 11). Your library does not need a social media plan. Tame the Web [blog of Michael Stephens].
Vangelova, L. (2014, June 18). What does the next generation library look like? KQED.
Weinberger, D. (2014, September 22). Let the future go. The Digital Shift [blog]. School Library Journal.
Winner, M. (2014, July 10). Fight the zombie librarians. The Digital Shift [blog]. School Library Journal.
Wolff-Eisenberg, C. (2017, April 3). U.S. Library Survey 2016. Ithaka S+R. https://doi.org/10.18665/sr.303066
Ziegler, T. (2006, December 13). Chris Anderson calls for “radical transparency” in media. Brick Factory [blog].
Zulkey, C. (2019, Sept. 3). Automatic for the people: Are self-service libraries a threat to the profession or an opportunity to better serve patrons? American Libraries.