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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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).

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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

What’s Your Process? Getting Stuff Written

I love writing. It means everything to me. It’s excruciating. It kills me. I couldn’t do without it.

Not just big, epic, heartfelt things make me feel this way. It happens every time I try to string a sentence together.

Reports, articles, academic essays.

Emails to business contacts (How much warmth to offer without wasting their time? How short to make paragraphs so the points are kept clear? How to sign off?).

I’m still thinking too hard about a twelve-word message I once wrote on LinkedIn in response to a moderately enticing offer of work. Too casual? Too brusque? 

The other week I got a piece published in The Conversation, a website which helps academics and researchers get their work out to a wider audience. The article was about using public libraries to help communities think about the future, using a method called scenario planning.

The article has been well received and widely shared among library professionals. It only got a minor tweak from the editor before it was published, but the final draft took a fair bit of work and I needed help to get there. So I thought I’d share the process with you here on the blog.

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How Public Libraries Can Help Us Prepare For the Future – The Conversation

Could public libraries revolutionise politics and society by helping local communities to develop long-term foresight?

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State Library of Queensland by Wikipedia users Kgbo – CC BY-SA 4.0

My first piece for The Conversation, “How Public Libraries Can Help Us Prepare For the Future“, has just gone live.

It draws on research I conducted with the University of Southern Queensland’s Kate Davis and conversations with Rafael RamĂ­rez of Oxford’s SaĂŻd Business School.

The article explores the possibility of using public libraries as hosts for deeply local scenario planning initiatives, putting foresight tools commonly used by policymakers, big business, and the military in the hands of grassroots communities.

You can read “How Public Libraries Can Help Us Prepare For the Future” over at The Conversation now.

Public Libraries News: Mission to Library Island

Investigating potential futures as they emerge elsewhere in the world, avoiding “copy and paste” innovation, playing games to figure out the choices our organisations should make next: I talk Library Island & scenario planning with Ian Anstice over at the UK’s Public Libraries News website.

Florida Webinar: Get Started with Strategy

If you work in a Florida library, you can join me for a special webinar next month: “Get Started with Strategy: Practical Planning for the Future“.

  • How do we prepare for the future when the road ahead is unclear?
  • What technological and social changes should our library be anticipating?
  • What information do we need to begin strategic planning and how do we get it?
  • How do we get our colleagues or stakeholders on board with a vision or mission that best suits our community’s needs?
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“Weclcome to Florida Sign” by Flickr user DonkeyHotey, used under CC-BY 2.0 licence

On 17th July, this one-hour session for Florida librarians will introduce you to simple, quick-to-master tools and techniques for building strategic awareness and setting out your service’s plan for the future.

Find out more at the Florida Library Webinars site – you have to be a staff member of a Florida library to participate, so you’ve either got two weeks to move there and find work, or reach out to me directly for a webinar or workshop of your very own.