And the Walls Come Tumblin’ Down – The Hyperlinked Library Model

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Of all the themes in our readings this week in LIBR 287, the idea of the Participatory Library sticks out the most to me within the Hyperlinked Library Model . I think the Participatory Library is where the rubber hits the road for the Hyperlinked Library Model, since it is the junction where philosophy meets activity; where ideas meet reality. The “Unquiet Library” mentioned in Matthews’ 2010 American Libraries articles shows not only a great example of a Participatory Library in action, what with all its smart technology, lounging and conversation zones, muscial/poetry gatherings and gaming, but it also draws a stark contrast between the library of yesterday and the library of tomorrow.

The Unquiet Library is fluid and flexible, and reaches people by allowing them to connect, share and grow together. The Unquiet Library builds a community of collaboration, reducing structure and building trust with the users. We see in the video “The Library of the Future in Plain English” (please allow 10 secs to load) that these ideas are broadly hoped for even by 2015! Let us hope!

Prof. Stephen’s lecture this week explains the new senses that will drive our future world, identified by Pink: design, story, symphony, empathy, play, and meaning (Stephens, 2012). In Stephen’s Hyperlinked Library Model, play emerges as a means to foster learning, experimentation and engagement (Stephens, 2011). Once again, play plays out in the book “The Cluetrain Manifesto” as a new facet of business that encourages conversation and learning, and weaves itself into the fabric of worklife that helps humanize the professional environment.

What this means essentially is that people will be able to continue being who they are at the library, without the rules and hierarchy, whether its the professional or the patron. Like in Stephen’s lecture, the librarian and patron could stand on one side of the desk, working together. This is Participatory Library in action, whether it’s the portable reference desk or a wheelbarrow full of books. Not only does the library go to the users wherever they are (as the saying goes), but the walls also come down while going there!


Mathews, B. (2010, June). The unquiet library. American Libraries. Retrieved from

Stephens, M. (2011). The hyperlinked library. Retrieved from

Stephens, M. (2012, Spring). Hyperlinked library model [Video file]. Retrieved from

Weinberger, D. (1999). The hyperlinked organization. In The Cluetrain Manifesto (chapter 5). Retrieved from


Mickel is an MLIS and the creator of Library Currents. His inspiration for the blog was the SJSU course "The Hyperlinked Library" taught by Dr. Michael Stephens, a course that is also a worldwide MOOC. If you wish to contact him, feel free to write to Mickel Paris at


  1. Laura Galván-Estrada

    September 10, 2012 at 3:50 am

    I would love to see walls to literally come tumbling down. I would love to see, at least, signage to come down at my library. I could do away with Refernce, Circulation, Reserves. Whatever is library lingo.

    I would love for our fortress desk to come down — oh, if I could only post a picture of it. I would love to have a Princeton-type desk shown in lecture…where I stand, greet, and am not buried to behind furniture.

    But, if our libraries were built in a pre-Library 2.0 era, and if change at some of our institution comes about slowly, how do we arrive at the fluid, flexible, participatory library fast enough?

  2. Katie McGaha

    September 10, 2012 at 7:19 pm

    “Not only does the library go to the users wherever they are (as the saying goes), but the walls also come down while going there!”
    I love this thought! Breaking down the traditional structure would help change the library from what people expect to what people need.
    I spent a bit of time exploring the Unquiet Library website and it’s such an inspiration for how a high school library could be! If only my high school library was that dynamic, I would have spent a lot more time there. My goal is to become a youth services librarian, so the site also gave me some great ideas to put into action in a public library.

    • Mickel Paris

      September 16, 2012 at 11:09 pm

      The Unquiet Library really is an inspiration. The level of committment the librarians have for the library’s success, for the students and faculty are unrivaled! Even public or academic libraries have a lot they could emulate with the methods used by the Unquiet Library.

  3. michael

    September 17, 2012 at 11:37 pm

    Tumbling down! Not only a good metaphor for disruptive services and ideas but a Mellencamp reference. Saw him in the 80s when i was IU. We shook the auditorium!

  4. Mickel Paris

    September 23, 2012 at 6:33 am

    I need a like button!

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