#hyperlib First Reflection Post: Living in the Future.

Hello, everyone. My name is Monica and I have a confession to make: I am one of these people you hear about sometimes, these dinosaurs, these uninformed and unenlightened souls: I want to be a librarian because I love books.

It feels good to get that off my chest.

I do, though. I love them, and one of the things I’m most looking forward to about working in a library is reader’s advisory: discussing books with people, and helping people to find the perfect reading material. And I’m very much looking forward to seeing how technology can make that more and more possible – every book has its reader, after all, and with the help of the internet I can make more perfect pairings than I could ever have on my own.

I had an experience a few weeks ago that reminded me that I live in the future. I was reading a paperback copy of Brimstone, by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, which I had purchased at the library book sale. As I sat down on the bus to go to work I realized that I had left it on my bedside table. Rather than panicking at the prospect of a whole day with no book, I pulled my smartphone out of my pocket and went to the library web site and saw that they had an e-book available, and I checked it out, downloaded it to my kindle, and was reading again before my bus hit the first stop.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot while I was doing the foundational readings last week and then this week as I started working on the hyperlinked library model, and what my mind keeps returning to is The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams. When it was first published in 1985, the idea of an electronic book that could look up information about any subject was ridiculously futuristic – now, I use mine daily to keep up with my coursework and connect with, among other things, my local public library. And I think this is exactly what the hyperlinked library model – and library 2.0 – is all about: meeting library patrons as often and as conveniently as possible.

If Brimstone had been unavailable as an ebook or already checked out, I would have been disappointed but not surprised. In my opinion, this is where there is the most room for growth. At some point in the future, patrons should be able to expect that the library will meet them on their own terms. It should be taken for granted that the library is everywhere, helping to merge the digital and physical worlds. And patrons will know that the library is working with them to ensure that that status quo continues.

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  1. “At some point in the future, patrons should be able to expect that the library will meet them on their own terms. It should be taken for granted that the library is everywhere, helping to merge the digital and physical worlds. And patrons will know that the library is working with them to ensure that that status quo continues.”

    Well said!

    I liked how you mention the idea of merging the digital and physical world. We are the gatekeepers of making the ideas that were once fantasy a true reality!

    I agree that if libraries are going to survive and grow that the community needs to have the mind set that we are working with them.

    Thanks for your thoughtful words!

  2. Hurrah for your confession! I like books too – paper, electronic, all kinds. 🙂

    Thanks for the connection to Hitchhiker as well – it totally took me back to the book and the text-based computer game I used to play. It would describe a scene and then I had to type what I would do. Another interesting evolution is here: the immersive nature of games as narratives.

    • What really gets me about H2G2 is this, from the description of the guide itself: “The reason why it was published in the form of a micro sub meson electronic component is that if it were printed in normal book form, an interstellar hitchhiker would require several inconveniently large buildings to carry it around in” (p. 20, edition 0-517-14925-7). It makes me think of that Indiegogo campaign to print Wikipeida (and how the wikipedia page for “Earth” is semi-protected because people keep changing it to say “mostly harmless).”

      And that’s only one book, and it doesn’t even have a touch screen. I think Douglas Adams would be astounded at how much the world has changed in the last fourteen years.

      As for the games, I’m super excited about the whole gamification trend. My context book is discussing it a bit, and it’s absolutely amazing how games can motivate people to explore further.

  3. Heh, another “me, too!” here about enjoying materials, resources in multiple physical and electronic forms. 🙂

    I also love your example of The Hitchhiker’s Guide as an (older?) metaphor for the hyperlinked library. Speaking of which, I recently commented on @rrammer‘s “Reflections,” post about my pipe dream (one of many): An open source/access(*) service that’s a hybrid between curated readers’ advisory (Novelist) and socially networked readers’ advisory (GoodReads). This could be something moderated by the library in collaboration with patrons.

    @michael, Do you know whether a service like this exists?

    (*) So that content contributed by users remains under the control of the users (not used by vendors), and that the service could be customized to maintain a look and feel (UX) consistent with the library’s branding/design (not some other entity).

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