Note: This is the abstract for my keynote at the IFLA Information Literacy Satellite Meeting in Limerick, Ireland the week before IFLA in Lyon.
The Hyperlinked Library: Everywhere and Anytime Learning Spaces
Emerging mechanisms for global communication and collaboration are changing the world and the way the world learns and interacts. Individuals are constantly engaged in conversation and expect to have their information needs satisfied immediately, on any device, and wherever they happen to be. Learning via mobile devices happens in an entirely new landscape, infinite in every direction. Information is no longer bound to a form, and access to information through mobile devices has unbundled learning from traditional delivery systems restricted by time and space. It has made anytime, anywhere collaboration and feedback possible. It has fostered impromptu conversations without concerns for language and cultural differences. Knowledge networks form and expand that can directly connect all levels of participants, from beginning learners to experts. These virtual exchange spaces can offer endless opportunities for future-thinking librarians, who use self directed learning opportunities to develop skills as online experience curators and engagement developers.
In A New Culture of Learning, authors Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown write, “Where imaginations play, learning happens.” This should define library services for now and in the future. Intelligence, user-sensitive planning, and insights from research will guide the creation and implementation of physical and virtual library spaces that function as creative and playful environments. Online, multi-scale platforms aimed at social learning and participation will spark new conversations that spread deep within library culture and extend out into disciplines that have historically made few connections with physical library collections or librarians.
Many professionals and members of the public will never have the opportunity to visit particular libraries and will never happen upon most library websites. Libraries housing unique and valuable collections, works and artifacts of local significance, and information sources not yet digitized must find ways to reach out to a world of learners who depend upon the curators and caretakers of inspiring works to initiate contact with the public through outreach, advertising, and social sharing. Libraries that are already providing online services and digital materials must constantly watch for innovative solutions that could be included in their information center processes, designs, and Web presences.
There are disproportions in comfort, experience, and ability with technologies, and all types of libraries should offer online learning programs that aim at enhancing the public’s digital literacies. Self-directed learning activities fashioned on the Learning 2.0 model, teach the concepts and skills necessary to use emerging communications technologies. Citizens who are unable to access opportunities to enhance digital literacy lose the ability to prosper in our hyper-connected world. The authors of an Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) report entitled Building Digital Communities define digital literacy as the ability to “access and use information and communication technologies.” I might call digital literacy “life literacy.” Without access to these skills, the report states, “full participation in nearly every aspect of American society—from economic success and educational achievement, to positive health outcomes and civic engagement—is compromised.” Lifelong learning goes hand in hand with life literacy.
LIbrarians must experiment with new roles in these virtual, expansive spaces where learning is a continuous conversation. Practices of exploration, participation, and play can turn the gathering and use of information into sequences of discovery that foster innovation and invention. The Hyperlinked Library model offers a design framework for constructing experiences that will combine the tenets and skill sets of librarianship with the explosion of open, participatory knowledge construction made possible because of new technologies and the information professionals who experiment with, master, and teach these technologies.
Becker, S., Coward, C. Carandall, M., Sears, R., Carlee, R., Hasbargen, K., & Ball, M. A. (2012). Building digital communities: A framework for action. Washington, DC: Institute of Museum and Library Services. Retrieved from http://www.imls.gov/assets/1/AssetManager/BuildingDigitalCommunities_Framework.pdf
Thomas, D., & Brown, J. S. (2011). A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change. Charleston, SC: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.