Module 5 – Hyperlinked Communities Lecture
A major tenet of Hyperlinked Communities I wanted to bring up is that libraries should reach all users.
In the lecture, Dr. Stephens explains that “the library reaches ALL users – we reach out beyond the people who come in through our doors, we reach out beyond the people who use our online resources, to make sure that anyone and everyone that is a part of our constituency may find something that will engage them, will excite them, will teach them something, or whatever it might be. We want everyone.”
But what are communities?
Peter Block is quoted, with a definition that “communities are human systems given form by conservations that build relatedness.”
The lecture looked at what conversations can mean in this concept of the hyperlinked community, of bringing people together.
Something that truly resonated with me was a TED Talk video by a young 16 year old Swedish girl named Greta Thunberg. I had the opportunity to watch one of her recorded TED Talks titled, “The disarming case to act right now on climate change.” She stated that for 30 years, all we do is talk and idly speak of the positives that could happen in the future. She stated that we really never took the actions to prove it to the community and to the society at hand. We have the scientific evidence but we refuse to acknowledge them. She brought about an awareness of how dire the future could become for the youths of today and called to action, inspiring many similarly aged children to support her and to rally in support.
I thought if she could do that, then what could we do to act now and prove to the community that we truly meant that libraries were for everyone? How could we communicate this best?
With that, I wanted to look at my library’s efforts to support the Libraries are for Everyone statement that we proclaimed so proudly.
Our past and present efforts were made of 3 components :
- Multi-language Welcoming signs outside the library
- Having staff wear Libraries are welcome shirts in the official library logo colors of blue and white.
- Displaying this statement on all of our online platforms such as FaceBook, Instagram, the official webpage, the Library app, and Twitter.
But sadly, those attempts weren’t enough. We meant well, but we never thought that these efforts could be perceived differently.. I could understand how parts of our community felt that their languages weren’t important enough to be included in the displays and outdoors welcome signs. They were naturally upset and hurt by that.
We forgot that it’s important to involve your users or your community in every step of the way when it comes to communication and to providing excellent services and programming content.
Dr. Stephens explained that we should “give them something to do when they come in the library. Give them something to feel ownership over, be it putting something up on the wall or knowing that they can reserve a space in the library for their group to come together and engage and learn from each other.”
Let’s think about how we might engage with various groups inside of our communities.
Dr. Stephen’s lecture brought about several questions to keep in mind.
Who do you want to serve?
- What populations do you want to serve? How do we reach them?
- Who isn’t being served? That’s another thing to think about, and then consider, how do we reach them? How do we promote engagement?
Is it participatory, interactive things going on at the library? Is it space for people to come together? Is it that welcoming, all are welcome attitude?
This reminded me of how our library’s move forward to book and promote the Drag Queen Storytime event was a push to celebrate diversity and self-expression while also being family-friendly. Vernon Area Public Library worked together with the Pinta Pride Project to bring these glamorous storytellers forth. I had never heard of any programming that involved the LGBTQ community and I was happy that we did so. Of course, we did receive some pushback when news first spread that were planning this event. Even now, a mere week before the event, we received a few letters of disagreement that requested cancellation of the event.
But my library director, Cindy Fuerst, responded politely to these letters of concern and disapproval and she wanted to explain why the library wanted to have the Drag Queen Story times. This simple act showcased how the library acted in favor of inclusion, creating awareness and support of a community that truly deserves to belong and receive equal service. Libraries are taking the actions they need to become spaces where everyone can participate and communication spreads. Library staff of a hyperlinked library should work in support of diversity and reach out to service the underserved.
“If we can offer that space for people to come together in an environment where you don’t have to pay to belong, that’s a big deal.” – Dr. Stephens
Module 5 – Hyperlinked Community Lecture
Thunberg, G. (2018, August). Greta Thunberg : The disarming case to act rigth now on climate change [Video File] Retrieved from