Librarians are often a curious bunch. I became a librarian because I love learning, books, and people (especially teenagers). The hyperlinked library model combines these loves in a wonderful way. The hyperlinked library model boils down to communication and curiosity. How can your library change to better serve your community? If we are open to change and to listen, we will often find that what unfolds not only will strengthen your library but can feel natural given time.                               

I couldn’t help but think of my own library while going through this module. When I started working in my public library seven years ago, I was the youngest staff member by decades. There was a mentality of “if it’s not broke don’t fix it” among the older staff members. For years, I stared at a “No Cell Phones in the Library” sign in our entrance. I was frustrated that instead of utilizing the tiny computer almost everyone carries in their pockets, we were demonizing it. In the last two years my library has been met with a lot of growing pains, our director of 27 years retired as did 4 other staff members. We hired a new director less than a year before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. All these things combined to create a perfect time to look at the structure of our library and begin to move into the future.

It is not controversial to say that I wish this pandemic never happened. Our library has been open and closed several times and is in a period of closure now. But the pandemic has forced my library and many others to look at how we serve our community and to create new ways to serve without patrons accessing the building. We have cultivated a library of things with items including bubble machines, telescopes, and hotspots. We have created tutorials to help our patrons lean how to utilize eBooks and eAudiobooks. We started using a shelf check app. I watched my new director tear down that “No Cell Phone” sign and I am delighted to see my library move towards a hyperlinked model with open minds and ears.

8 Comments on The Hyperlinked Library Model

  1. Hi Ruth, my fellow learning/book/young people lover!

    How exciting to hear that there are positive changes happening at your library! The pandemic definitely highlighted across multiple industries how we’re not adequately serving many of our communities. Unfortunately, what we’re already seeing is companies/organizations/the government/schools pulling back from various accommodations they’d put in place, saying it’s no longer “possible” when what they mean is they no longer want to do it. Instead of reverting back to old ways, I hope your library keeps up its momentum. Embrace constant change!

    -Angie

    • Hi Angie! Yes, I’ve seen many entities withdrawing the new services and accommodations they’ve created to serve their communities during COVID. I understand the desire to “return to normal”, but these accommodations have not only helped keep us safe and healthy during the pandemic but also made life easier for many folks with disabilities. Curbside services at libraries and grocery stores especially have been very helpful for folks who use a wheelchair. Have you seen any examples of entities keeping accommodations in place to keep serving these communities?

  2. Hi Ruth,
    I appreciate how you said the hyperlinked library boils down to communication and curiosity. I think I’ve learned that we must follow our hearts as we endeavor to enter the field of librarianship. My library, too, has had to create new ways of meeting the needs of users because of the pandemic. We had curbside service for months, and now we are slowly opening different branch libraries.

    • Eileen, yes! For many of us librarianship is about following our hearts and a desire to serve others. I certainly didn’t become a librarian for the money. Is your library keeping curbside available once its branches open of will is be stopped once the libraries are open?

  3. This has definitely been a challenging time. I’m sure most people would gladly give back the pandemic for just about anything, but I think it’s powerful to find some of the brighter pieces that are coming out on (what will hopefully eventually fully be) the other side. While I haven’t had a chance to work in a library yet, it is a little mind boggling for me to think that signs prohibiting cell phones are still a thing! Glad to hear that’s a part of your library’s past now!

    • Hi Madison! I’ve noticed that in some libraries where the staff are older they can hold onto the notion that libraries are a place of sacred silence. I appreciate the desire to keep libraries a special place, but it’s just not reasonable to ban cell phones when the majority of patrons use their cell phones on a daily basis. Cell phones are an opportunity to grow and create, not a thing to be afraid or annoyed by.

  4. At my library we also hired a new director right before COVID; instead of her moving forward with change, technology, communication, etc. I feel like we are moving backwards. We did some pretty awesome things will we were closed but there is so much more we should be doing.

  5. Ruth – This rocks: “We have cultivated a library of things with items including bubble machines, telescopes, and hotspots. We have created tutorials to help our patrons lean how to utilize eBooks and eAudiobooks. We started using a shelf check app. I watched my new director tear down that “No Cell Phone” sign and I am delighted to see my library move towards a hyperlinked model with open minds and ears.”

    Nice to know folks in your building can step up when needed and make change.

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