A Reflection on the Hyperlinked Library Model
I think of myself primarily as a high school teacher and tend to put most of my learning into that context, so as I finished up the readings for the Hyperlinked Library Model, I had a
weird playful idea. What if a history teacher had students write historical figure fanfics! My husband just stared at me as I went on about the possibilities of a contemporary high school au where Elizabeth Cady Stanton is president of the feminist club.
This line of thinking brought me back to this week’s lecture where Michael mentioned Daniel H. Pink’s A Whole New Mind which outlines six senses that will increasingly shape our world: design, story, symphony, empathy, play, and meaning. This list of senses immediately reminded me of the new media literacies outlined by Jenkins et al. in the white paper Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century which explains the meaning of participatory culture, connects it to web 2.0, and outlines new skills needed to be active in communities both on and offline. These skills, which include play, performance, simulation, appropriation, distributed cognition, transmedia navigation, and more lead to the kind of playful learning experience I imagined students having in history class. And if those stories were shared? How cool would that be?
If I am to help my students develop these new literacies, there are also digital traits I need to embrace. Michael outlined some of these digital librarian traits in an article for NextSpace which include becoming a planner, embracer, evaluator, trendspotter, and gatherer. Each of these traits share a willingness to collaborate (especially with library users), an openness to change, and a desire to provide what users want and need.
Models like The Unquiet Library demonstrate some steps I can take to align my school library with these principles. I want my students’ library to be a highly participatory learning environment with spaces that encourage interaction with one-another and with technology. I have already taken some steps to make the library more user-focused. When I took over as librarian, I immediately reversed the no food and drinks policy and ripped off of the signs that were laminated onto each table stating how many students were allowed to sit at each. My principal and I share a vision where the library is the heart of the school, not just a place to hold the books, and so I’ve begun to host a number of community events in the library. It also serves as a student art gallery, print shop, and lunchtime hangout space. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished in the library’s physical space and want to dive in to building the library’s online presence and interactivity.
In a post called “Hear, O Internet,” Cluetrain authors Searls and Weinberger proclaim that the internet is us, connected. It is not devices or the act of computing. It is not programming, content or medium. It’s just us pulled together by a force not unlike gravity. As a person who came of age during the time of web forums, chat rooms, and AOL instant messenger, I feel this strongly. I have made so many meaningful connections online through chatting about shared interests, seeking information, gaming, sharing my life, or just looking for a human connection. When it comes to my social life, I stopped differentiating between things I do online and things I do “in real life” years ago. It’s time I do the same in my work.