Too Many Cookbooks

and the hyper-linked library

goodbye for now; a final reflection on INFO287

In this year of “can’t, shouldn’t and no” this class has replied with the rejoinders “both/and” and “yes, and” (thanks Rosa!). I grabbed a hold of these lifelines to pull myself towards the bright unknown. The chance to imagine the future as something more inclusive, honest, fulfilling, and emotional has been a salve to the perennially dark and dreary present. The constant reminders that we can’t know what’s coming, to keep moving forward however imperfectly, and that change is the only constant couldn’t have been more timely. While initially when we started this class in January I worried that I was taking it too early in my MLIS journey, now I realize it was the perfect timing for me. I feel invigorated with new ideas and emboldened to take the next steps of my uncertain journey. I learned so much from deep diving into the modules and from all of the amazing projects from my classmates. I also learned to listen to my instincts and to pace myself—this class convinced me not to take too many classes this summer and instead to lean into creating a real version of a project started as a proof of concept in this class. Thanks for pushing us to expand our ideas and dreams for the future of Libraryland.     

Virtual Symposium

I made a little comic book that distills my main takeaways from this class. I hope you enjoy it; after a dense and often dark semester it felt good to make something light and fun (but hopefully still reflective of all of the things we have learned in this class).

click here for a larger version

Photogrammetry and the Petaluma Museum, a Director’s Brief

While photogrammetry, a technology that uses overlapping still photographs to create a richer combined image, has been around since the beginning of photography (and debatably even earlier), in the last decade it has been harnessed by museums and archives to create navigable digital 3 dimensional models. These models allow greater access to many items in collections that rarely reach the museum floor (such as textiles and other decorative items with detailing on all sides) due to being fragile, difficult to display, and other issues. The dynamic nature of these 3D models allows patrons to turn, flip, and zoom in and out on items, providing a more hands-on feel than simply looking at something in a glass case, and an opportunity for closer scrutiny. There are additional benefits to these models, few disadvantages, and exciting future possibilities. I believe that photogrammetry is a realistic, useful, and attainable technology that would prove advantageous for Petaluma Museum. The following report will make my case for its implementation.

link to the pdf


Agriesti, H. & Armitage, M. (2019, July 26). Looking from all angles: ArtLens exhibition embraces photogrammetry.

de Barba, P. & Oliveira, E.A. (2018, December 11). How does learning happen in museums? The University of Melbourne.

Dowdall, E. & Norton, M. (2016). Strengthening networks, sparking change: Museums and libraries as community catalysts. Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Echavarria, K. & Samaroudi, M. (2019, December 3). 3D printing is helping museums in repatriation and decolonisation efforts. The

Factum Foundation (n.d.). Photogrammetry.

Knight Foundation. (2017, May 18). 12 art museums to engage audiences with new technologies with $1.87 million from Knight Foundation.

Shao, X. (2018, November 5). Photogrammetry 01: a brief history -1840 ’til now. AR Eye.

Simon, N. (2010). The participatory museum. Nina Simon.

Simplify 3D (2019, May 9). Restoring Museum Relics with 3D Printing.

Smithsonian(n.d.). 3D technologies: Photogrammetry. Woody, R. (2018, September 5). 3D digitization in the museum-part 1: photogrammetry. Lucidea.

A Reflection on Infinite Learning and the Special Needs Child

Although Brian Matthews was discussing college librarianship when he mused that “curating learning experiences” should be a future goal for librarians, I think that this sentiment also applies to public library experiences that cater to neurodivergent children and their families.

As a parent of a child who has learning differences , I’m struck by the importance of library programs such as Marsden Library’s sensory space. Private therapy is expensive and often not covered by insurance, and the therapy offered through the school system pauses for the summer months leaving parents struggling to find support. Libraries have the opportunity to provide a “third place” for these children and their families in an environment that echoes the connected learning core values of equity, participation, and social connection. It can feel isolating to have a child who has special needs, and libraries can become community hubs to unite parents with other people in their communities who may be facing similar challenges. It’s vital that families have space to connect outside of the restrictive and often fee-based spaces of clinics and doctors offices. Libraries with dedicated special spaces or play times can facilitate children’s joy, honest familial communication, and the sharing of stories and resources between adults. Just to know you aren’t alone is priceless.

            There is also something unique about a space set up to explicitly foster parent/child interaction without the distractions of a busy work and school day. The chance to just slow down and enjoy each other’s company can be hard to come by in the busy lives we all lead. Especially when you have a child who is constantly shuttled back and forth between doctors, therapy, and school.

            The public library is also a perfect place for experts such as SLPs to do educational outreach and even to do developmental screenings ) to try to reach children in need of early intervention therapy. Or as a place to provide hands-on training for parents to help their children at home, I believe that through programs like these, the public library can reach towards a “more immersive and transformative experience” for all of the members of its community.

Because all children should be able to enjoy the library…

Checking out living books; reflecting on the human library

While initially I was really feeling hopeful and positive about the potential for the “human library” model to break down barriers between people and to help us to “unjudge” each other, doubts began to creep in. This post is a reflection on my somewhat conflicted feelings about “living books”.

This first thing that came to mind was the possibility of emotional damage to the living book in the process of being “checked out”. I found myself worried about the individuals that choose to share their stories and the lack of control that they have over questions from the “borrowers”. While some individuals are very confident and unaffected while sharing their stories, I imagine that for those living books that have trauma at the core of their story, constantly revisiting it in the company of strangers could be excrutiating. I found evidence to support this concern in this article that discusses then human library model as a therapeutic tool for people in recovery. This table below is an excerpt from the article…

The reality of live two-way conversation between strangers is that there’s no pause button, no escape hatch. The living book must have well-defined boundaries, the ability to stand up for themselves and the confidence to refuse to answer questions that will be personally triggering or damaging . While it’s likely that many people who volunteer for this program would have these skill-sets, I think it’s naïve to assume that everyone who volunteered would. Sharing can be a very healing experience for the sharer given a receptive and caring audience. I would hope that human library patrons are coming from a place of empathy and longing for a deeper understanding, but absent these sentiments the model could feel voyeuristic and could perpetuate “othering”. Narrative Inquiry holds immense power, but only for those who choose to truly listen and to see themselves in the stories of others. While it’s true that the benefits might outweigh the risks, it’s important to recognize the potential for harm.

This brings me to my second concern—the possible comparison to the “human zoo ”. This horrific racist historical practice, common in European nations and the United States around the turn of the century was the ultimate exercise in exploitation, voyeuristic exoticism, and disregard for humanity.  It seems that the human library needs to go to great pains to avoid any similarity. Exploitation of living books must be avoided at all costs. I was interested to see an answers to the question, “who takes care of me” on the FAQS of the human library org page. While their assurance is that every book will “have a good experience every time you are published”, I can imagine that is easier said than done in practice. While it’s true that the Hyperlinked Library demands that we approach everyone with trust and respect, I still feel a little protective of the living books that are so willing to share so openly and honestly with strangers in the effort to promote empathy and deeper understanding. Their comfort and safety must take precedence over everything else.

And finally I thought of the comparison of the human library to a work of performance art. While Marina Abramovic’s piece Rhythm 0 is one of the most notorious examples of audience members behaving (very, very, terrifyingly) badly, it is not the only one. There is something about a group of anonymous observers that can bring out an evil side of society. Passivity may be the key divergence between Abramovic’s piece and the human library. While she purposefully remained passive despite the immediate dangers, living books should not remain passive. If the living book uses their voice, sets clear boundaries and has the feeling of agency it’s unlikely that a borrower would feel similarly emboldened. Additionally, the human library aims to be a two-sided conversation, eliminating the borrower’s cloak of anonymity.

In general it appears that the Human Library has been a very successful program, improving community connections and fostering understanding. I’m sure that people implementing this program have likewise grappled with how to protect their living books while fulfilling their missions of openness and honest conversation. It seems that careful selection, clear preparation, and defined policies that place the comfort and safety of the living book first would go far to create a positive experience for all.

Petaluma: Then and Now,

I live in Petaluma, Ca, home of the world’s ugliest dog contest, the whiskerino beard and moustache contest, a wrist wrestling statue and lots of other assorted wacky history. I’m currently interning in the Petaluma History Room (PHR), a small underutilized department upstairs in the Petaluma Library, which is a part of the larger Sonoma County Library System. While exploring module 4, and later module 6, I was impressed by GIS map projects, such as those in the NYPL Space and Time Collections. I had been trying to think of a way to increase the use of the PHR by patrons of the library below and maybe even into the long tail of the community. After exploring the digital archives of the Sonoma County Library, I discovered that there were a number of archived photographs of Petaluma that had already been geotagged, and my imagination took off. Using, an Edinburgh Libraries GIS map project, as my inspiration, I started to create a few different “proof of concept” maps to try to hone in on my idea. By placing historic photos into a current city map, I was able to provide relevance and context that I believe increases user engagement. I still had the problem of how to reach users that were not already aware of the PHR’s webpage. After being inspired by the Westmount Public Library’s postcard project and DOK’s use of touchscreens , I decided that installing the map on touchscreens on the main floor of the library would break down walls to participation by “bringing the project to the user”. To quote DPLA’s founder Dan Cohen, when talking about using touchscreens to present historical information, “making a connection between the digital and physical realm.” This connection is vital to accessibility, fun, and ease of use for a wide range of patrons. This would increase the likelihood that people unfamiliar with the PHR would engage with our project.

People bump into information. Surprise and delight ensue”.

Anythink Libraries

This sense of surprise and delight is the ultimate guiding light of this map project, by providing patrons with something new and unexpected I hope to spark imagination and further engagement.

Click on the image below for a googleslides presentation about my Participatory Plan Project


NYPL Space & Time Collections. (n. d.)–Labor-of-Love–Opening-Up-Archival-Gems-for-Community-Engagement.shtml

Can libraries make everyone happy?

“Design is intelligence made visible”

Alina Wheeler

After the last two modules, I’ve been mulling over the complex design challenges that seem specific to libraries. The space needs to be welcoming to all yet tailored to your heaviest users, constantly changing yet still familiar, designed for the future yet practical in the present, designed with user input yet still able to fulfill staff needs, the list seems to go on and on. The advice world is full of statements like “ you can’t make everyone happy at the same time”, however the HLL model seems to demand just that. How is this possible? Or perhaps a better question, is this possible? Unexpectedly, I found a lot of inspiration about how to approach these questions in a reading from INFO202 by Judith Weedman, Design Science in the Information Sciences, which acknowledges the lack of developed design theory in the LIS field while presenting applicable design theories from many other disciplines. I found several of these “outside of the field” design theories really useful as framework to examine the HLL ideals of inclusivity and participation, particularly in the design and use of library space.

Both/and thinking

“ I am for richness of meaning rather than clarity of meaning; for the implicit function as well as the explicit function. I prefer “both-and” to “either-or,” black and white, and sometimes gray, to black or white.”

Robert Venturi

As we consider how we can be all things to all people, we must stop thinking about library design goals in the binary either/or mindset, and transition to the both/and mindset. With thoughtful planning, libraries can be simultaneously quiet and loud, a place for education and happiness, a scaffold for community building and a refuge for solitary pursuits, welcoming to teens and the elderly, and actively recruiting new members while satisfying the “core users”. The word planning is the key here, library space must be deliberately configured for diversity of user needs and preferences, flexibility of use, and the possibility of unforeseen problems and opportunities. In Michael Casey’s zoom presentation on 2/24/21, he describes the new Gwinnett County libraries’ use of collapsible walls, furniture on wheels, and other decisions that allow for flexibility and future changes.


“If you limit your choices only to what seems possible or reasonable, you disconnect yourself from what you truly want, and all that is left is compromise.”

Robert Fritz

While uncertainty can be a source of fear and anxiety, it also has the power to enact positive changes. This fluidity is often a catalyst for creativity, surprise, and outside-the-box thinking. As Weedman explains , creativity is “the necessary response to conditions of uncertainty” (p.1499). We, as HL librarians, must accept that we can only move towards to our goals by working (and living) in a state of constant uncertainty. This is a tenet of the HLL, and should be framed as an opportunity. David Kelly founder of the design firm IDEO explains (Weedman, p.1499), successful design must be ready “to take risks in a creative leap into possibilities that are not yet defined and whose consequences are not yet visible”. Uncertainty injects possibility into everything that it touches; the delightfully unexpected, a sense of play, and innovation are all hallmarks of a head-on approach to uncertainty. After all, the HLL asks us to fulfill needs that users don’t even know they have. We must also recognize the importance of saying “yes” to unexpected patron requests, in order to be open to educational and enrichment opportunities from unanticipated sources.

Inclusion is a process,

“The Alternative to good design is bad design. There is no such thing as no design.”

Adam Judge

I loved Ciara Eastell’s description of libraries as heterotopia’s; “what a beautiful sounding word” I thought. On further inspection it didn’t mean what I thought it did—I was thinking “a utopia for diverse communities”, instead it proves to be much richer and more interesting . My understanding of the library as a heterotopia, is as a small universe reflecting the rest of the world yet somehow separate—indefinitely accumulating the records of humanity. As we bounce back the world’s reflection, we should aim for the best of humanity, welcome to all. However, we must remember that inclusion is never finished, it’s an on-going process and we must always do better. Library settings must be consciously designed to be inclusive. While we may choose to encourage “silos of interest”, we must do so in a way that asks everyone to dance .

Compromise is failure, and that’s okay

“The requirements for design conflict and cannot be reconciled. All designs for devices are in some degree failures, either because they flout one or another of the requirements or because they are compromises, and compromise implies a degree of failure”

David Pye

While the above quote pertains to objects, I believe that it can be applied to the idea of whole library design; at some point in the process you can’t “have it all”. When both/and planning isn’t possible, libraries must compromise. This should be undertaken with as much transparently as possible, keeping in mind user feedback, horizontal staff input, and using the library’s mission statement to meet institutional goals. It should be done a way that avoids the worst examples of “design by committee”, because bad design is still bad design even if a bunch of people were involved. Library buildings themselves have often been places of beauty, inspiration, and delight. I believe that this is a tradition worth continuing as we navigate new roles for the library.

Failure is educational

“Don’t bunt. Aim it out of the ballpark”

David Ogilvy

While it may be tempting to play it safe, doing so often leads to staid outdated libraries in danger of dissolution. We must be open to failure in order to break ground on new ideas. We can return to the idea of the HLL as a garden, plant many seeds and thin all but the strongest ideas. We can never fully anticipate what’s on the horizon; while we may be making the best choices that we can with the information that’s available, we must acknowledge that we may still be wrong. Fear of failure must not be the impedient to change; failure itself is a tool. As Weedman describes in regards to engineering, “Structural failure, not success, improves the safety for future generations of a design. A failed structure is a counterexample to the engineer’s hypothesis and shows what cannot be done; a structure that stands without incident often conceals whatever lessons it  might hold for the next generation of engineers” (p.1498). When imagining this same quote from a library design perspective, I see a refreshing take on the power of failure to teach, and to take us out of our comfort zone and into something new. Failure to push limits prevents us from knowing how far we can go.

Design as decomposition

“Have no fear of perfection—you’ll never reach it”

Salvador Dali

To me, this is an interesting iteration of “everything is beta”. As Button and Sharrock assert (in describing software engineering), “capturing a requirement is like capturing a butterfly, once it’s pinned down it’s dead” (p.239). If we, again take this idea and remix it to be about library design, we arrive at the fact that the HL library designer’s work is never done. Once an new system or idea is in place, the decompostion begins, leading to its eventual decay and replacement. A participatory library is always in flux. As Weedman states, “fluidity is the greatest when something is partially working. “(p. 1503) This entropy (even in decomposition) holds space for change in a way that stasis does not. Weedman presents Schon’s idea of “conversations with materials”(p.1497), the idea that the designer creates and the design “talks back”, a state of perpetual conversation. This theory correlates well with the idea of participatory library as being in a constant feedback loop with patrons. She then relays a beautiful analogy (p.1497) of the blacksmith working with iron from a Keller and Keller essay; the design emerges over time through the conversation between the fire, metal, and the smith. Each reacts to the others and collaboratively shape the final product. However, in the HLL there is no “final product” the cycle begins again. I loved Michael Casey’s sentiment (from his zoom talk with the class) of allowing staff to mourn changes in the library. If design is decomposition, then there must also be death which then fertilizes new growth. After all in the HLL, there will always be a newer, better way.


Button, G. and Sharrock, W. (1994) Occasioned practice in the work of software engineers. In Requirements engineering: Social and technical issues, edited by Marina Jirotka and Joseph A. Gougen, 217-240.

Weedman, J. (2010). Design Science in the Information Sciences. In Bates, M. J., Maack, M. N., & Drake, M. (Eds.) Encyclopedia of Library and Information Sciences. New York: Taylor and Francis/Dekker Encyclopedias.

From The Participatory Museum to the Hyperlinked Library

Nina Simon’s “The Participatory Museum” is a treasure trove of ideas that can be used to inform the Hyperlinked Library. In fact, after reading about the many real-life examples of participatory success stories and creative collaborations that are happening in the museum world, I’m having trouble imagining any other way forward for libraries as well. The barriers to participation are higher and more firmly entrenched in traditional museum culture, yet a revolution seems to be underway. This author is leading the charge for ME to become WE. Innovative museums are changing their focus from one-way communication (museums presenting content to passive consumers) to fostering genuine and sustained conversation with their users via participation.

I have distilled Simon’s observations about the ineffective outdated traditional museum and the effective forward-thinking participatory museum into this comparison chart. It’s an oversimplification because most institutions are somewhere in between the two but it’s intended to emphasize the positives of the participatory museum model.

As you can see it’s immediately obvious that there is a huge overlap between the limitations of the traditional museum and the traditional library (library 1.0), based on our HLL class readings. Both operate from a fear-based “don’t touch that” position. Both tend to center the organization over the user, leading to over-generalized and static user experiences. They have trouble reaching the long tail of non-users in the community. These institutions hoard their objects and collections, limiting the numbers and types of users that can utilize their resources. These policies decrease diversity, stifle innovation, lead to stifled top-down museums that often do not live up to their mission statements (or that have a horrifyingly racist mission statement), and which lumber along tripping on red tape and in fear of being phased out.

Likewise, you can see the advantages of the HLL (library 2.0) reflected in the participatory museum model. With the user as the central focus of the organization, trust, respect, and flexibility become paramount. Observers become participants, collaborators, and sometimes co-creators. Their contributions are treated as essential, are given support, and are centered as valuable to the institution. These institutions exist in a constant feed-back loop (everything is beta), with participant’s critiques and experiences informing constant adaptation. This culture of experimentation opens the door to innovation and ideas from outside of the field. When users feel respected, seen, and included, they become stakeholders, repeat users, and prosthelytizers for the institution. As the users are seen and valued as individuals, so are the staff–there is a real human face to the museum (or library), with room for personalities and authentic diverse voices. The institutions share their collections with others, opening up to remixing, collaboration, and scholarly discovery. This culture of openness extends to organizational transparency and a bottom-up or horizontal institutional power structure.

While it’s not featured in this book, participatory museums, like some libraries, have been doing away with fees (entrance vs. over-due book fees) in order to increase and diversify their user-base. The HLL goes one step further in user co-creation with the design of the building itself– this idea was seemingly absent from Simon’s book but I can only anticipate that this is one of the next frontiers in the Participatory Museum.

This book was a pleasure to read; the author is passionate and inspiring but also intent on practical, real-life advice and examples. Her detailed analysis of the diverse types of user participation, and how to target each, really expanded my awareness of how libraries can (and should) engage with the public in authentic and meaningful ways (for both the user and the institution). Finally I was thrilled to see the metaphor of the garden appear again in this book

Participatory projects are like gardens, they require continual tending and cultivation.

Nina Simon, the Participatory Museum, p.338

The Fruits of the Hyperlinked Library

The Gardener does not create the Garden. The Garden creates the Gardener.
Alan Chadwick

The best gardens are a perfect balance of order and chaos. The tension created by this constantly threatened balance is the pulse of the garden itself. (Helen Humphreys, The Lost Garden, p. 19)

Piet Oudolf Field – Hauser & Wirth, Durslade Farm, Bruton, Somerset (3rd January 2017)

In examining the foundational readings for this course and the hyperlinked library model readings, I was particularly struck by Brian Mathews’ article, Cultivating Complexity, and his metaphor of managing staff like a community gardener. As a gardener myself, I focused this lens of garden and gardener on the idea of the hyperlinked library at large and found many parallels that helped me to make sense of the core concepts.

The only constant is change

There is no “set it and forget it” in the garden or the hyperlinked library. Gardens are in a constant state of flux due to weather, soil health, insect populations, etc. Likewise, everything is beta in the HLL. New programs and IR systems must be flexible and proprioceptive. As Mathews explains in Facing the Future, “test it, improve it, then try it again (p.6)”, and eventually replace it. HL librarians must be open to the fact that change will be constant and should be embraced, not feared.

Plant Many Seeds and Thin Them

As Brian Mathews states in Facing the Future, “instead of focusing on one perfect idea, try lots of decent ideas instead.” By thinning out the failures quickly and nurturing the ideas that show potential, programs develop organically instead of formulaically. This opens the door to increased innovation and unexpected solutions to problems. Instead of fearing “what could go wrong”, the HL librarian should embrace the “why can’t we” mindset. New technologies should be discovered and explored. Failure and play should be embraced as productive paths towards advancement of the eventual goals of the library.

Companion Plantings

Just as in the garden where certain plants are helped by close proximity to other types of plants, library programs can be augmented and supported by outside organizations. By viewing bookstores, movie theaters, and other local businesses not as competitors but as collaborators, the library can expand its reach into the community and bring in fresh ideas.  


In a garden, many plants can’t thrive without the outside influence of pollinators. The library is also stunted when it blocks outside influences, or when departments “silo” themselves away from the organization as a whole. The HLL should make patron feedback a priority, it can provide concrete ideas for service improvements and reveal unmet needs. Likewise, the HL librarian should look outside of their department and field for fresh ideas and perspectives.

The Importance of a Good Root System

Just as plants communicate with each other beneath the ground, the people within the library form webs of constant communication. As Weinberger describes in The Hyperlinked Organization, “hyperlinks are the connections made by real individuals based on what they care about and what they know, the paths that emerge because that’s where the feet are walking, as opposed to the highways bulldozed into existence according to a centralized plan.” The HLL must strive to keep these links as open as possible by promoting horizontal communication and collaboration.

Decisions Made on Best Possible Knowledge

Every day a gardener must make fallible decisions based on intuition, existing knowledge, and future forecasts. Similarly, HL librarians must not be hung up on perfection; change is constant and unpredictable. Decisions must be made quickly and emphatically with the knowledge that humans make mistakes, and that situations can change quickly. The fear of failure must not impede forward progress.


Finally, I was so pleased to see the word “delight” crop up in several of our readings as an ultimate goal of the HLL. Just as a garden is not the sum of its parts but the beautiful orchestration of everything working together to bring joy, so it is with a vibrant and successful library. In order to stay relevant in an ever-changing world, libraries must think outside of the brand “books” while still retaining what makes them unique. I loved Barbara Fister’s quote in Mattern’s article that “libraries should slow people down and seduce them with the unexpected, the irrelevant, the odd, and the unexplainable.” This speaks to me of treasuring the magic that libraries still hold in the face of relentless disruption. As the user-centered library has replaced the transactional library, we must innovate to retain relevance as the “third place” for our community. Mattern’s quote that a “well-designed library–a contextually-designed library–can reflect the community back to itself” highlights the importance of the building itself as an integral piece of the HLL.   

It appears from these readings that many amazing changes are already in place, and that in some places the HLL is riding the bleeding edge of our institutional future.


Mattern, S. (2014). Library as Infrastructure.

Mathews, B. (2012). Facing the Future.

Mathews, B (2017). Cultivation Complexity.

Weinberger, D. (2001). The Hyperlinked Organization.

Casey, M. E., & Savastinuk, L. C. (2007). Library 2.0: A guide to participatory library service. Medford, N.J: Information Today.

Buckland, Michael. Redesigning Library Services: A Manifesto (1992).

Leferink, S. (2018).

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