Library Island – työpajasta potkua palvelujen kehittämiseen

This October, I’ll be joining Finnish librarians, courtesy of the Finnish National Library Association and the city of Helsinki, for a one-day workshop on strategy, imagination, and resilience.

Oodi Central Library, Helsinki - Shared under a CC-BY-2.0 licence from Flickr user Ninara
Oodi Central Library, Helsinki – Shared under a CC-BY-2.0 licence from Flickr user Ninara

The participatory session will bring together library workers from across Finland to develop our capacity for strategic foresight and decision making.

  • What factors do we have to take into account when planning for our service and our community?
  • How do we anticipate trends and prepare for disruptions?
  • What can we do to challenge our assumptions, think differently, and act with confidence in an uncertain world?
  • What’s the best way to understand and articulate the value that Finnish libraries bring to our society?
  • How will our decisions shape the future of Finland’s libraries?

Read more over at the Finnish libraries website Kirjastot.

Show Me The Money? Thousand-Dollar Receipts and the Value of Public Libraries

Have you seen that library receipt which is doing the rounds on social media? What do you think of it?

Receipt showing that the user has saved hundreds of dollars by using their library, more than a thousand dollars over the past year, and more than seven thousand since they began using the library.

The receipt shows that the user in question supposedly saved thousands of dollars by going to the public library instead of the bookstore.

What message does this monetary value, printed on a library receipt, send out? Does it help or hinder attempts to show communities the wider value of library service?

Would a user who borrowed all those books really have spent all that money, and bought them all, if the library didn’t have them, or the library didn’t exist?

Do people make decisions & commitments about what to borrow in the same way that they do about what to buy?

The value is based on a hypothetical: what you would have had to pay, if the library didn’t exist, and you chose to buy all of those items instead of loaning them…so what is it evidence of exactly?

Dollar values speak to many people in an uncomplicated way, especially in times of austerity or economic difficulty, but what message are these numbers sending? Are public libraries only about transactions and items on shelves?

What other information could libraries be printing on library receipts instead of the retail value of books borrowed? What would be gained, and what would be lost?

Things That Make You Go Boop: Self-Check and Engels’ Pause

We order most of our groceries online in our house, but when we’re short on something or have forgotten a vital ingredient, we go to a Sainsbury’s supermarket ten minutes down the road. There are two tills staffed by cashiers and three of those machines that make you go boop: you have to scan the items for yourself, passing their barcodes over the laser light, and the machine lets you know it has logged the item with a “boop” sound.

I work a fair bit with public libraries, which also have things that make you go boop these days.

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Let’s Make @ Warwickshire Libraries

There’s a new case study out at the website of library designers “Thedesignconcept”, recounting the process for the development of a new interior and makerspace at Rugby Library in Warwickshire, UK.

The Rugby makerspace was part of “Let’s Make“, a county-wide maker offer focussed on two dedicated spaces in the towns of Rugby and Nuneaton.

Once the design & refurbishment of the space was complete, I joined Warwickshire’s “Let’s Make” project leaders Fay Davis and Nick Cave last year for a one-day workshop helping senior stakeholders from the library service to refine the new maker offer.

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Preparing for Worlds We Didn’t See Coming @ ASPAC 2019

Queensland Museum & Science Centre
Queensland Museum & Science Centre by Wikipedia user GordonMakryllos – CC BY-SA 4.0

“A long time ago, when I was a child, I went to a Science Centre. Back then, there was nothing like it – a truly hands-on space of adventure and learning, in an age when most museums kept their exhibits under glass.

“On most of the Science Centre exhibits, you turned a crank, hoped to see something awesome happen – then read the didactic to see what you were supposed to have learned.

“Pedagogy has moved on, but so has the world. What happens when you “turn the crank” of science and causality breaks down? What happens when social and natural systems collapse, public trust fractures, and old worldviews reveal their blind spots?

“What would the ‘Post-Normal Science Centre’ look like?”

Next month, I’ll be speaking as the opening keynote at this year’s Asia Pacific Network of Science and Technology Centres Conference – ASPAC 2019.

New strategic plan for Supreme Court Library Queensland

I’m pleased to announce the publication of one of my recent projects, the new five-year strategic plan for the Supreme Court Library of Queensland, Australia (SCLQ).

Queen_Elizabeth_II_Courts_of_Law,_Brisbane_03
Queen Elizabeth II Courts of Law, Brisbane by Wikipedia user Kgbo – CC BY-SA 3.0

The project, which ran through 2018 and early 2019, comprised research, interviews, survey and workshop design, plus co-writing the finished plan with Supreme Court Librarian David Bratchford.

Researching and writing the plan gave me the opportunity to explore one of the most fascinating and challenging sectors of the information profession – the law.

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My Visit to Library Island: Eli Neiburger, Ann Arbor District Library

Library Island, the participatory activity which reaches the parts other professional development cannot reach, is here! You can read more and download your copy of the free, CC-licensed PDF file here.

I’m featuring some accounts of the Island from people who have attended Island sessions, or run Islands of their own, to give you a better sense of what it means to take part in, or even organise, your own Library Island.

Last time, Sherlonya Turner of Ann Arbor District Library (AADL) in Michigan, USA joined us for her account of running Library Island. Sherlonya and her colleagues ran a tailor-made session at LibCamp 2019, a professional development event for regional librarians hosted by AADL.

Now AADL Deputy Director Eli Neiburger takes up the story.

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The Library as Value-Creating System

Here are a few thoughts on how we might apply the Value-Creating System (VCS) approach – which focusses on relationships as much as transactions or products, emphasises collaboration as much as competition, and incorporates values other than the financial – to public libraries.

Box full of colourful characters and figures with placards labelled "Library of the Future - Some assembly required

What Does a Library Do, Anyway?

It can be hard to define a library’s purpose these days.

This is more of a problem for public libraries than for other institutions. Universities and colleges have well-articulated information needs, as do hospitals, courts, and other government bodies, or large enterprises which employ librarians of their own. Libraries within these organisations serve the information needs of a specified group, and often those needs and services are pretty well defined too.

Public libraries, however, struggle more with self-definition. They provide a wide and varied range of services, plus the communities they serve are often more diverse and less tightly defined. Some corners of Libraryland have been talking about this online for a while. Read more

Summer Learning: Getting Your Head Around Value-Creating Systems

In the spirit of showing your working in the margins of your exercise book, I’m sharing notes & thoughts from one of my summer reads – Rafael Ramírez and Ulf Mannervik’s Strategy for a Networked World.

Cover of Rafael Ramírez and Ulf Mannervik, Strategy for a Networked World

This book sets out the latest version of a strategic approach called Value-Creating Systems (VCS). The late Richard Normann and his colleagues first developed VCS over 20 years ago. Its focus on relationships and connections, exploring collaboration as well as competition in business environments, seems ever more relevant in our increasingly networked world.

As people go on summer holidays and the pace of work in the northern hemisphere slows a little, it’s a great time to read, learn, and grow. I thought I’d be honest and share a bit of my work as I get my head around a concept in strategic thinking which is also relatively new to me.

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My Visit to Library Island: Sherlonya Turner, Ann Arbor District Library

Library Island, the participatory activity which reaches the parts other professional development cannot reach, is here! You can read more and download your copy of the free, CC-licensed PDF file here.

I’m featuring some accounts of the Island from people who have attended Island sessions, or run Islands of their own, to give you a better sense of what it means to take part in, or even organise, your own Library Island. 

Today, Sherlonya Turner of Ann Arbor District Library (AADL) in Michigan, USA joins us for her account of running Library Island. Sherlonya and her colleagues ran a tailor-made session at LibCamp 2019, a professional development event for regional librarians hosted by AADL.

Sherlonya is a great public library leader, and, in her regular contributions to AADL’s culture blog Pulp, one of Libraryland’s most talented writers. Here’s what happened when she took charge of Library Island earlier this year.

When Managers Cut Loose: Being Playful with Colleagues

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