Our readings on the Hyperlinked Model* were (and are) helpful for me as a callback to my professional aspirations at a time when many folks who know I’m reaching the downslope towards my degree have been asking me what kind of librarian I want to be, and what type of work I want to do. The practices, preoccupations, and possibilities embodied in the Hyperlinked Library model directly speak to several of the reasons I decided to pursue a path in librarianship, and provide me with a clear vision of how I wish to approach my future work, the values I’m seeking to promote through it, and the impact I hope to have in my community.
My intention in becoming an information professional is to not just facilitate others’ learning, their use of knowledge and information, but to also their participation in the creation of and sharing of new knowledge, ideas, and perspectives. This intention emerges from a few different sources, directly related to my experiences and participation in social change movements and creative cultural (sub)communities for a few decades as a Black person, an independent musician, a community activist, a zinemaker/blogger, and a lover of learning. The HL model aligns with this intention in a few ways which I’ll note below.
Participatory Practices Nurture Creativity and Inclusion
The Hyperlinked Library model’s focus on creating participatory services and programs in collaboration with and centered around the needs and interests of users makes it a valuable framework for creating social change through enabling information and creative equity. Its proactive engagement and openness to forms of knowledge beyond the book, periodical, or other traditional text-based materials (Booth, 2013) is not just important to me as a musician and cultural activist with a history of producing “alternative” literature in the form of zines, it also fosters the inclusion of expressions of non-text-based cultural knowledge from marginalized communities and perspectives which have not previously been deemed not worthy of collection by traditional library institutions. I believe participatory cultural practices are essential in nurturing human creativity and ensuring everyday/marginalized voices are included in cultural conversations.
Also, a key element of both Library 2.0 (Casey and Savastinuk, 2007) and the Hyperlinked Library model is that change efforts should be inclusive of not just existing users, but non-users/potential users as well. This intentional engagement with community members outside of the library’s doors makes space for a diversity of experiences, perspectives, learning and creating styles, and different types of expression all to be considered in service and program design, and resources to be offered.
Centering People, Not Technologies
As social institutions, libraries have served a critical role in promoting equity of access to information for all, regardless of lived experience or socioeconomic status. The HL model goes beyond simply working to make access as open as possible, prioritizing services, programs, tools, and even physical spaces that connect people, and provide them opportunities to learn and create in collaborative ways. While interested in the possibilities that digital technologies and resources offer around information access and use for library users (I’m actually taking INFO 240 on Information Technology Tools and Applications this semester as well), I particularly appreciate that the HL model — for all its attention to the prospects of new information technologies — is fundamentally people-centered, with all change efforts focused on whatever works to expand everyday folks’ capacity to learn, create, and build community and to foster greater, more deep human interaction, collaboration, and inspiration, as opposed to further disconnection and isolation (Searls & Weinberger, 2015). As Searls and Weinberger (2015) assert, “The Net’s super-power is connection without permission,” and libraries should embrace and enable uses of digital technologies and online platforms that bring people together.
The emphasis of remaining people- and user-centered in the HL model and Library 2.0 is, to me, an essential corrective to what is otherwise an elevation of technology and innovation as the solution to library organizations’ challenges. It grounds change in values of human connection, creativity, and dignity, and as opposed to those of efficiency and cost-effectiveness — which serve the interests of profit and commerce more than people. I was glad to see Mattern (2014) address this point directly, arguing that “innovation” as a principle should always be defined and embraced in the context of the values, ethics, and missions of libraries. Both Library 2.0 and the HL model are explicitly against a one-size-fits-all approach to innovating services and programs — including tech-based approaches — and more about developing a mindset and orientation that centers constant change and user participation (Casey & Savastinuk, 2007).
Evolution, Not Revolution
Dr. Stephens is fond of saying, “The Web changed everything,” and I’m inclined to agree with him. But what I find both fascinating and comforting about Library 2.0 and the Hyperlinked Library model is that they provide a disruptive orientation towards librarianship that is still very much grounded in the historical mission and purpose of libraries. The focus on a constant, purposeful, positive adaptation to change” (Stephens, 2021) specifically reminded me of the last of S. R. Ranganathan’s 5 Laws of Library Science, proposed 90 years ago: The library is a growing organism. This optimistic and intentional approach to potentially disruptive change is perhaps the most visible alignment of the 5 Laws with the HL model, but all the other principles — which express the centering of information users’ demands and needs — are there as well.
Disruptive Models of Practice and Knowledge Creation
A particular focus of mine coming into library science school was to develop new, potentially disruptive models that could make research and information seeking more accessible to everyday folks — not just scholars or enrolled students — to cultivate learning, research, and scholarship outside of traditional educational institutions. As a zinester and blogger who has written about topics ranging from music to political commentary/analysis, I believe in supporting everyday folks doing just such content creation. I am particularly interested in empowering community members to do research towards leveraging information on behalf of transformative social change in their communities. This requires (re)considering existing reference service models, interactive instructional trainings and tools around databases and other information sources, creating user-friendly information retrieval interfaces, and other issues — all very in line with the HL model. I’m also interested in community-generated history, in the form of community archives and zine collections/libraries. There is an emergent understanding — alongside Library 2.0 — around both of these for collection, cataloging, and access practices that are more participatory in nature, and more open-access oriented. The HL model provides a useful guide towards developing such new approaches.
Libraries as Community Hubs
The growing movement to remake libraries into community hubs that can enable a wide range of experiences as well as provide a wide range of resources is also pretty important to me. Their example as a shared public commons is critical in a time of increasing privatization of all kinds of public or previously more openly accessible services — education, health care, even natural resources and physical space itself. I’m dedicated to maintaining and expanding the capacity for libraries to enrich people from all different experiences’ lives, with as few barriers as possible, and to make deep contributions of positive change in their communities. I believe the Hyperlinked Library model is already pointing the way for libraries, librarians, and communities to create such deeper relationship and connection, making a more human and humane future possible in the now.
*NOTE: I actually find it difficult to consider the Hyperlinked Library model separately from our Foundational Readings, particularly Casey and Savastinuk’s Library 2.0. This is because the fundamental principles expressed in the Library 2.0 framework — a commitment to constant, purposeful change focused on user demand and need and user participation in development of the services, programs, and resources to meet those demands and needs — are central to Hyperlinked Library ideas and practices.
Casey, M. & Savastinuk, L. (2007). Library 2.0: A Guide to Participatory Library Service, Information Today Press, 2007. http://books.infotoday.com/books/Library20.shtml
Five Laws of Library Science. (2021, August 30). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Five_laws_of_library_science
Mattern, S. (2014). Library as Infrastructure. Places (Cambridge, Mass.), 2014. https://doi.org/10.22269/140609
Searls, D. & Weinberger, D. (2015). New Clues. Cluetrain. https://www.cluetrain.com/newclues/
Stephens, M. (2021). Module 3: The Hyperlinked Library Model: Exploring the Model [Panopto lecture]. In M. Stephens, The Hyperlinked Library. San Jose State University. https://sjsu-ischool.hosted.panopto.com/Panopto/Pages/Viewer.aspx?id=a0569381-4d66-4e0a-a7fa-aab3010a8f3e