I’ve spent a fair chunk of the last two years working on something called “Library Island”. You might have seen photos, videos, or social media posts appearing online as university staff, health workers, museum professionals, students, and, yes, librarians take part in this interactive training activity.
Later this year, a free CC-licensed print-and-play kit for Library Island will be released, so that people anywhere can take this activity and use it with their institutions, companies, and communities.
Today I’m joined by Norway’s Martin Kristoffer Bråthen. Martin is head of innovation and product development at Biblioteksentralen, the cooperative business which supplies libraries across Norway with collection materials, equipment and services.
Prior to that, Martin worked at Deichman Bibliotek, the Oslo Public Library, in a range of project roles. During that time, he wrote a robust defence of public libraries in the age of the e-book in response to a comment by a senior Norwegian arts editor that “digitisation leaves public libraries on the scrapheap of history.”
We used a range of methods and techniques, including the Library Island activity, to explore issues of advocacy, strategy, inclusion, innovation, and coping with a turbulent political environment.
Participants discussed the possibilities of an uncertain future with their peers, then began to design practical responses to the challenges they had identified.
At the managers’ workshop, it became clear that tools were needed to support quick, credible internal and external conversations about libraries’ changing role in Danish society. These would be used to build stakeholder understanding of Danish libraries’ mission, and help staff members to see how their work fit into the larger priorities of their organisation. Read more →
How do you get a whole nation thinking about the challenges which lie ahead of it?
How can you help a community to solve seemingly intractable problems?
Which institutions need to be part of the discussion about society’s future directions?
I visited Norway this week to speak and run a workshop at the national library conference, #biblkonf2018. I asked these questions, and more, with a focus on how libraries might serve the innovation agenda articulated by Norway’s innovation agency, Innovasjon Norge. (You can see slides from the keynote here).
On the blog this week, I’m joined by Dr. Philippa Collin, a Senior Research Fellow at Western Sydney University’s Institute for Culture and Society. Philippa is a social scientist who previously worked at www.reachout.com, the world’s first online suicide prevention initiative aimed at young people. She researches the role of digital technology and media in young people’s lives, including a focus on political participation, identity, and exclusion.
I hear a lot of concern from public institutions about the notion of “making better citizens” right now. Political upsets, fear of ‘fake news’: the powers that be are concerned about the nature of citizenship in the digital age.
Institutions could adapt their structures to meet the needs of people they perceive as “disengaged”. Or, instead of the institution adapting, they might try to help people develop the skills & capacity to engage with existing structures.
What pitfalls are there for organisations seeking to engage the (apparently) disengaged?
I come from a community of scholars who have actively argued against the normative framing of ‘politics’ and ‘participation’. For example ‘politics is about what happens in parliament’ and the ‘good’ forms of participation are to vote, join a party or get involved with set activities or processes – usually all designed by adults! Read more →
Matt Thanks for joining me, Rob. I got in touch for this chat after reading the section of Spedding’s book where he describes changing his approach while nursing a pint of beer:
“If thinking differently was going to make me a better runner, I could do it sitting in the pub. I smiled to myself and took another drink as I figured I was making myself a better runner right now.”
And I thought of you!
That is awesome! I am no runner, but I do get to thinking differently. Sometimes that happens whilst nursing a beer… sometimes it is over a coffee; or even descending the stairs… But a beer helps!
Often because it’s not at work, you’re in a different place, more relaxed and can take a longer, more considered, view of things and put 2 and 3 together better than when distracted by what goes on at work.
In a sense, it’s giving yourself permission to have some thinking time.
You’re kind of in the business of making better librarians, aren’t you? Read more →
“If thinking differently was going to make me a better runner, I could do it sitting in the pub.”
Charlie Spedding missed a train, bought a beer, and changed his life.
The English marathon runner, a pharmacist by trade, found himself in a pub forty years ago, pondering how to make the big time.
“I had committed myself to running when I walked away from my father’s business, but I didn’t seem to know how I was going to fulfil whatever potential I had. All I had done was burn my bridges, and I felt unsure about how to make progress.”
All lives come to turning points, by choice or by chance or by decisions over which we have no control. So how do we make the most of them? What options are available to us?