I was first introduced to the Hyperlinked Library model in the spring of 2018 in my INFO 200 class with @michael. I had never imagined that libraries could be the kinds of places like the Dokk1 library. I was inspired and have been trying to sign up for this class every fall since, finally this year I made it in instead of being stuck on the waiting list (yay!). Since that first introduction I have seen more of the concepts of the Hyperlinked Library becoming trends through libraries: the participatory programs, the focus going more towards our users than our materials, and an iterative process of constant evaluation and adjustment in all that we do. I have even seen these start to take shape in my own large district which, before I started my program, seemed very stuck in its ways.
Throughout the readings and lecture there were several common themes that make up the Hyperlinked Library model:
User centered – Denning said in his 2015 Forbes article “the customer becomes the center of the organization’s universe, rather than being on the periphery”. In Leferink’s 2018 article about designing library spaces she emphasizes the importance of including users in the design process, helping them feel ownership of the final result and more likely to use the library once built/remodeled. @michael in his article “into a New World of Librarianship” talks about librarians “meeting users where they are” rather than expecting them to come to us. This concept is so much more than meeting them online, it is also about physically going to them, in senior centers, in hospitals, even at sporting events.
Constant evaluation and adjustment – Denning (2015) points out the constant need to change and shows the importance of not only getting “constant feedback from customers” but using that feedback to adjust services. This needs to be done carefully though. Something @michael said in his lecture keeps coming back into my mind, about how he overheard librarians at a conference say that as soon as something becomes popular we (libraries) get rid of it. It made me think of my own 3D printing service that I do. We have been scaling it back recently in part because of how popular it is and myself and my part-time helper cannot keep up with the current demand along with our other duties. So instead of taking requests of almost anything that fits in our time limit we have slowly scaled back, first only allowing one request at a time, and then convincing our youth staff to (unwillingly) take on youth requests to lessen our load, to only one request per person per month, to now we are limiting requests to a catalog of items that are pre-selected by us unless the customer attends one of our design programs where we can evaluated a different design. I hate limiting it but our wait time went from 2 weeks to a month and a half. With some of our requestors requesting designs made of multiple parts it would take us months to finish the whole request.
Luckily as I mentioned in my introductory post, a happy ending may be coming: my district is working on getting more user friendly 3D printers so we can develop a process of our user being able to use the printers themselves so I would be able to teach the use of the machines and be a support for them instead of taking requests and doing it for them, which will limit them less and provide them some of that ownership over what they are doing. They’ll say “look what I made at the library” instead of “look what the library made for me”. Which leads to the last major theme I want to reflect on.
Participatory programming – This is one of my favorite concepts from all of this. Of users actively participating in library programs, of contributing to themselves and their community with the library as the support system. When I was studying education a long time ago I remember learning about the importance of getting buy-in from the students by helping them to feel ownership of the classroom. By feeling like they helped contribute to classroom rules they’d be more likely to follow them, by feeling like they helped plan an assignment they’d have more interest in it. I have held onto that idea when I have planned programs over the years; participatory programming, and user centered planning fits with it perfectly.
Luckily I am starting to see more of these concepts happening not only in libraries across the country, but in my own district as well. Slowly but surely we are starting to put our customers first, which I understand is one reason the district is focusing so hard on “customer” as the preferred term for our users, it’s the district’s way of trying to put them first. In the meantime I plan to continue to put to practice as much as I can in my capacity.