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Hyperlinked Communities: To Libraries and Beyond

While this blog post title sounds cooler and more imaginative than this post will be, I couldn’t help using it when it came to me and was at least somewhat relevant to what I wanted to talk about. Spoiler alert: this post may be a bit scatterbrained. Each week we are given so much to read and think about that I have a hard time deciding what to focus on and how to pare it down for a blog post. I would like to discuss a few things that stood out to me this week in reading, watching, and listening to information on hyperlinked communities.

I will admit that the first thing I do when I open each week’s module after reading the introduction is watch all the videos. This week, the first video, called “Local Stories,” immediately called to mind feelings of being inside a museum rather than a library. The video shows an interactive screen where users can manipulate images and text to learn about the historical events and people on the display. This got me thinking about some of the similarities and differences between libraries and museums, and wondering if some of the boundaries between the two are really broken down by the idea of hyperlinked libraries. I am not an expert on museums, but the traditional view of museums seems to be a distinct directional transfer of information from museum exhibits and displays to the patrons. Museum patrons still go there with a variety of expectations, whether to learn about something specific, or just hoping to be (educationally?) entertained. However, this is quite similar to the shifting expectations of libraries as strictly containers of knowledge in book form to the kinds of interactive spaces seen in the video mentioned above and the Oak Park “Idea Box” space. I wonder if museums, too, are making the kinds of changes we see in libraries towards a participatory culture, and what could result from a continual shift away from their traditional institutional models towards ones that seem to blend the two together as community/cultural spaces. Is it the goal of both libraries and museums to “reach all users?” In his article for EveryLibrary, Matthew Enquist writes about how both libraries and museums serve as catalysts for community in unique ways and advocating for their continued importance.

Screenshot from Daemon x Machina taken on my phone.

I am increasingly interested in how perceptions of libraries (and now museums) are changing with the constant innovations taking place to make them more accessible, purposeful, and welcoming to all users. I was playing a computer game the other day called Daemon x Machina (in which you pilot giant robot suits to defend Earth and humanity from AI controlled robots in the distant post-apocalyptic future), where one of the missions tasks the player with keeping the AI from taking control of an “ancient” library. What results from the characters’ conversation is actually a pretty heady discussion of the fact that libraries do not only contain physical books, but harbor cultural information of all forms, citing one character’s interest in music as an example of important cultural expression. While this seemed like an odd situation for a conversation like this to occur, I was fascinated by the fact that so much interest was taken in having the characters debate the purpose and importance of libraries.

I think it is inarguable that libraries must be kept relevant as focal points for community interaction and development, and the attitude for acceptance and innovation is highlighted by Michael Stephens’ approach to “lead from the heart, learn from the heart, and play from the heart.”

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