Vicki McDonald, CEO, State Library of Queensland & President of the Australian Library and Information Association:
“I would not hesitate to recommend Matt for work in community engagement, innovation, staff development, and strategic planning.
“For the State Library, Matt has surfaced ideas, served as a catalyst for change, and delivered successful implementations.
“As a personality, Matt is enthusiastic, hard-working, and focused on results. He has an engaging, approachable style which has enabled him to connect with all levels of the organisation and all divisions, encouraging collaboration and innovation.
“Being both perceptive and creative, Matt has consistently developed realistic and workable solutions which have been embraced by our teams. These have delivered benefits to the Library in the 15 months he has been with us and are the underpinnings of lasting change.
“Matt has represented the State Library at national and interstate conferences, and created communications materials for our executive staff. He is a thoughtful and responsive communicator with excellent listening skills.”
Professor Helen Partridge, Pro Vice Chancellor for Scholarly Information & Learning Services, University of Southern Queensland:
“We engaged Matt for 6 months in 2017 to support our newly re-modelled Scholarly Information and Learning Services team as they tackled developing and implementing new and innovative client engagement strategies.
Matt devised and delivered workshops, piloted new engagement approaches both on and offline, and found fresh ways for our teams to tell the story of what they do and how it benefits our clients. He supported staff to build new relationships and strengthen existing ones both internally and externally, and was a lead researcher on our first major external contract, a statewide consultation on the future of Queensland’s public libraries.
Matt’s contribution as a member of the team was invaluable. His energy, insights and amazing facilitation skills have taken us on an important organizational learning journey which has a made a lasting difference to the way we do business. Through his help we were able to challenge and expand our thinking and ways of doing, and most importantly achieve great things for our clients. I would be pleased to recommend him for work in the areas of innovation and change, service development, and client engagement.”
Eli Neiburger, Deputy Director, Ann Arbor District Library, USA:
“We’ve never had a guest as versatile, broadly informative, and universally inspiring as Matt Finch. He was able to drop right into established teams remotely and get them thinking in new ways, without being anything like a consultant who’s here to tell you what to do.
“He spoke to so many varied audiences during his visit, starting with library staff, but including our nonprofit partners, peers from other libraries, neighbouring academics, prospective hires, and most importantly our entire public, young and old, of all levels of interest, engaging each group immediately and gently expanding their perspectives about whatever it was they thought they were there to do. Matt’s visit was an inclusive, much-loved inflection point in our organization’s growth, and we’ll be talking about what we learned this week for years to come.
“Matt’s “Battle for Library Island” roleplaying event opened many minds to the challenges and tensions of library service, allowing both brand-new personnel from the finance department, and old public service hands who thought they fully understood their work, to rapidly see things they do every day from a totally different perspective. Library Island is a brilliantly fun and simple simulation of an entire community that is as engaging as it is insightful and thought-provoking.”
Javed Khan, Engagement Coordinator (Planning, Engagement, and Reform) – Metro South Health Board, Queensland, Australia:
“Matt is a great facilitator, with his warmth and enthusiasm he draws participants to challenge their thinking, to espouse a different perspective and to really stretch their imagination in a safe environment.
Matt’s ability to adapt his activities to make them relevant and to cater for the needs of his audience is commendable. His twist on the “Battle for Library Island” challenged people’s mind to see the ‘other side’ to understand the challenges of higher level management, the tension of limited resources and budget constraints. It made people see the day to day things we do in a different light.
The workshop was attended by clinical and non-clinical staff from executive level management to admin support staff and was deemed extremely successful by all staff members who attended the workshop.”
Ilona Kish, Director, Public Libraries 2020:
“Matt joined us for the launch of Code Week 2018, delivering a one-day strategy workshop to librarians and supporting our advocacy event at the European Parliament.
Working with Matt was a real pleasure – he was able to effectively navigate a group of librarians from across Europe. He was efficient, generous and helpful at every stage – feedback from our team was excellent. He’s a strategic and inspirational thinker.”
Fay Davis, Project Manager “Let’s Make”, Warwickshire County Council:
“Having just successfully launched two “Let’s Make” Makerspaces in Warwickshire Libraries, we asked Matt to facilitate a session with staff to explore how to extend the offer, focusing on economic development, digital upskilling, and entrepreneurship.
Staff were challenged to identify potential client groups, hard to reach groups and individuals, and external partners to start to develop innovative engagement activities to encourage networking links to be established.
Matt had clearly researched potential opportunities within the local communities which set an informed and realistic context to the day. His engaging, creative, and inclusive style helped the team to move their thinking and the project forward, helping to achieve a collective vision for the future and developing realistic and achievable engagement activities.
Matt’s supportive style provided a safe environment to explore ideas about an area of the service new to us all. Ideas were challenged and explored resulting in a wealth of practical ideas that we didn’t know we had!”
Jacob Starks, Director, Philadelphia – Neshoba County Public Library, Mississippi:
“On April 17th, 2018, my library staff and I were treated to a full day of Dr. Finch’s consultation. We brought Dr. Finch in to help maximize and further augment our forward progress in the field of library service.
Dr. Finch’s skills as a listener and provider of quality feedback are probably his most remarkable traits. Each staff member felt that an easy rapport was quickly established and that he was able to summarize their own ideas in a way that will help them narrow their focus and work more efficiently and confidently toward their goals.
Myself, I enjoyed his curiosity and unique ideas for future initiatives. His honest and thorough post assessment was even more outstanding as he clearly demonstrated a level of care and professionalism one doesn’t always find in the field. My advice to anyone considering utilizing Mr. Finch’s services is to not hesitate. Also, don’t wait until consultation needs to be done as a corrective measure. Mr. Finch proved incredibly capable of helping us determine a collective vision for achievements in our library and community partnerships.”
Warren Cheetham, Coordinator Planning & Business Development, CityLibraries Townsville:
“Friendly, engaging, extremely creative, professional and very easy to work with – Matt Finch has been one of the best people I’ve worked with and I recommend his work without reservation.
Matt worked with CityLibraries Townsville staff for three days in August 2016. We asked Matt to run a range of original workshops with staff from all teams and levels. Matt’s approach was to engage with us early and often. He was very interested in our unique context, in both the formal strategic planning framework sense, as well as the informal organisational culture of our teams. Matt used this to tailor his work so it had immediate impact on staff.
Matt was able to energise staff, enthuse them to think about usually dry topics like strategic planning, and impart a genuine sense of play and adventure when it comes to planning and prototyping new services and programs.
I am sure Matt’s work with us will have an ongoing positive effect which will have qualitative as well as quantitative benefits, and will contribute to sustaining healthy and vibrant services in Queensland.”
Josie Parker, Director, Ann Arbor Library, USA:
“”From the moment Matt Finch spoke to the staff of the public library in Ann Arbor, he held our full attention for the better part of a full week. He led us through a process of program evaluation that began with a reflection on our perceptions of our elders and a measure of our respect for those who have gone before.
His exercises illuminated how power influences our decisions, when we determine to remain reticent or to speak out, and all of this was done within a spirit of creativity and fun. He helped us see ourselves through a lens we rarely use, and left us empowered to act on what we saw.”
Ayub Khan, MBE, Head of Face to Face Services at Warwickshire County Council and President of the Chartered Institute of Librarians and Information Professionals:
“Matt is an excellent facilitator, enthusiastic and committed.
We invited Matt to deliver a workshop for Senior Staff at Warwickshire Libraries to develop our thinking and ideas for our newly created Maker Spaces.
Matt devised and delivered an engaging workshop. Through his help we were able to challenge and expand our thinking and ways of doing things differently.
His experience of international work greatly contributed to our discussions and thinking.”
Stella Duffy, Co-Director, Fun Palaces:
“In projects where Matt has led on his own initiative, and also in supporting the wider Fun Palaces community, across the UK and internationally, he has shown a solid understanding of our values and a clear articulation of where this aligns with his own practice – as well as where we can work together for greater benefit. Specifically, his work with Lambeth Libraries for Fun Palaces 2015 made a massive difference both in the engagement with the project, and in the eventual delivery.
Further, he doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty. Literally. Fun Palaces are not just about engagement theory and strategy, they are – very deliberately – about true engagement and full participation, across the board, from the grassroots up. Sometimes this means putting up and taking down marquees, in the rain. Matt does this too.
Matt is very good on the theory of practice and the practice of theory, he is also brilliant at linking potential collaborators, whether he will personally benefit from those links or not.
In short, he’s very good at what he does, and he does a lot of great stuff.”
Professor Warren Boutcher, Queen Mary University of London:
“Matt is one of the most outstanding individuals I have encountered in my quarter century in university education. His rare set of gifts combines intellect and professionalism with all-round humanity and commitment.”
Brendan Fitzgerald, Manager Digital Inclusion, Infoxchange:
“We had Matt MC our Australian National Year of Digital Inclusion 2016 Forum in Sydney as part of www.godigi.org.au . The theme was Innovation and Equity and posed the question, How can we create a society where everyone can innovate? Matt led the day brilliantly and engaged with participants who came from government, community and corporate sectors in a way that was inclusive. Highly recommend his work.”
Amy Boulding, Head of Lifelong Learning, Queensland Museum Network:
“Matt Finch is an OUTSTANDING facilitator, storyteller and human. He creates warm, rich and collaborative environments – crackling with creativity – where everyone is safe to stretch their thinking and challenge their comfort.
Matt delves deeply into the theory and process while giving tangible, immediately applicable leads and activities, weaving it all through a web of pop culture references for all ages and fantastical worlds of wonder.
Matt is an inspirational and influential communicator, a generous collaborator, and a true professional who I am grateful for having become part of my extended ‘team’. I look forward to continuing to work with Matt in the future!”
Dr. Donna Hancox, Director of Research Quality, Creative Industries Faculty, Queensland University of Technology:
“I have had the pleasure of working with Matt Finch on a number of projects during his time as Creative in Residence at the State Library of Queensland. Matt is one of the most dynamic public presenters I have encountered; he is compelling and able to articulate innovative and complex ideas in a way that is accessible for a wide audience. Working with Matt on “Writing the Digital Futures” workshops in Bundaberg allowed me to see up close how professional and collaborative he is. Matt generously shared his ideas and approaches with the team to create the most successful workshops we have delivered. His perspective on digital creativity and its potential for under represented communities is cutting edge while also being inclusive and engaging for its intended audience. I cannot recommend Matt highly enough as a collaborator, facilitator and thinker.”
Professor Matthew Molineux, Head of Occupational Therapy, Griffith University:
“I have been lucky enough to work with Matt on a few different initiatives over the last few years, and have really valued his expertise and enthusiasm. I work as an occupational therapy academic and so have engaged Matt to work with our student occupational therapists, academic staff, and our community partners.
He has run a number of specialist sessions to enable students to reflect on and consolidate a major placement experience. In 2017 he played a major role in our orientation for first year students, he has spent time with academics and stimulated creative and innovative approaches to learning and teaching, and he has brokered a number of relationships between Griffith Occupational Therapy & museums, libraries and other universities.
I’ve really valued Matt’s creativity and ability to very skillfully ‘read’ the room or the project, and create a learning experience that is both enjoyable and powerful, perhaps even transformational! If you can, work with Matt – you and the people you work with and for will get so much out of it.”
Tracy Carr, Library Services Director, Mississippi Library Commission:
“After attending Matt Finch’s “Library Island” interactive workshop at the 2018 Collective conference, I knew he would be the spark needed to ignite new ideas, solutions, and conversations among Mississippi’s public library directors.
We had Matt develop a day of activities designed to inspire a group of over 40 library directors, and the result was even better than anticipated: Matt’s session was our first ever Continuing Education workshop to be rated ‘excellent’ by 100% of participants.
Matt is so engaging and dynamic that everyone left refreshed, full of confidence, and with a toolkit of ways to solve problems faced by their libraries.”
Tine Segel, Chair, Danish Librarians’ Association:
“The Danish Librarians’ Association (BF) hired Matt Finch for two workshops – one for employees and one for library managers. The purpose was to get the participants to reflect about their roles in a changing everyday and political environment, where there is a lot of pressure on what the purpose of the library is.
Matt did a great job and got the participants to reflect – a particular feature and success was how engaging and activating the Library Island method is. It’s not just another post-it show and involves a lot of playful activities. Very inspiring!
Also, as chairwoman of BF I got some great examples for when I am addressing the public on the importance of the role libraries, librarians and information specialists play in today’s society. Thank you!”
Jette Fugl, Vice-Chair, Danish Librarians’ Association:
“All participants at your workshop were infected by your enthusiasm. You were able to engage all these different people, working in different subject areas and workplaces, private and public. The workshop was both fun and serious, and that’s a really good combination.
We now have tools we can use to talk about our profession and how we can be more political and professional, in regards to our parent institutions and politicians, but also in regards to our users. Personally I will use them at my workplace, together with my two colleagues that also participated at the workshop.”
Erich O’Connor, Student Assistant Program Coordinator, Brookens University:
“Thank you for facilitating Library Island for me at the 2018 Library Collective conference in Knoxville. It really opened my eyes. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to give this experience to my students. Thank you for all of the documentation and the support. Thanks for your patience. Thank you for helping me to become a better facilitator and a better manager. The experience of play and the experience of facilitation has woken many abilities that I did not know that I had.”
Anna Åkerberg, Library Development Consultant, Skåne Libraries, Sweden:
“Matt visited Sweden in October 2018 to deliver a one-day workshop for librarians across the region of Skåne, focussing on the mission of today’s library.
Matt managed with joy, responsiveness, and enthusiasm to capture the needs of those who participated in the workshop. He incorporated their priorities and adapted workshop activities to address the issues which they shared on the day.
Everyone went home with new perspectives and suggestions for solutions that could be translated into action. We all had a lovely day and would be pleased to work with Matt again in the future!”
Dr Donna Lanclos, anthropologist and consultant:
“I got to witness the magic that Matt creates during the Lianza conference in New Zealand, in 2017. Never before (and not since) have I seen such a generous performance by a keynote speaker. He taped his mouth shut at the beginning, and proceeded to bring in and boost other voices within the platform his keynote invitation had provided. He got the audience up, and moving, creating and collaborating, no mean feat for an international conference crowd. The buzz he created was electric, and continued to reverberate through the rest of the conference–it even made the national news.
His passion and commitment to the work of others is core to his own work, and is clearly the guiding principle not just in the talks he gives but in the workshops he delivers–he has at times changed the program on the spot, as a result of engaging with the actual needs of the people in the workshop, not a dogged clinging to assumptions about what “should” happen. Matt is open in his practice, giving of his time and expertise, and a delight as a colleague. Bring him into your organization and see what happens.”
Jennifer L. Dean, Dean of University Libraries and Instructional Technology, University of Detroit Mercy:
The session is still inspiring me. Matt led us through experiences that engaged & challenged us, his confidence, enthusiasm, & quiet optimism leading the way
I especially appreciated that he advocated for including politics – the how-to & time it takes to actually get something done – in learning opportunities & encouraged us to be confident, keep trying, & keep thinking.
“It was chaos. It was beautiful. Sometimes words are not the best way to get a point across. Throwing us into a completely unexpected world can really get the juices flowing – within 15 minutes I was able to plan a whole programme because I had no time to overthink things – I just needed to get it done! The visual of Matt taping his mouth will be one that sticks with me for a very long time.”
Susanna Barnes, Head of Libraries and Archives, London Borough of Lambeth:
“Matt Finch worked with Lambeth Libraries during 2015 to make every library in Lambeth a Fun Palace. This was the first time all the libraries in one local authority in England had become Fun Palaces and Matt was fundamental to our success.
He was able to create contacts for us with a wide range of partners including authors, staff and students at universities, plus makers and artists. In all approximately 175 people joined to make it happen: a mixture of staff and volunteers.
The events required external funding and Matt helped with a successful bid to Arts Council England. He was an excellent co-producer: listening to what we wanted to achieve and providing support to achieve our outcomes. Crucial to the organisation was getting staff and local people on board and Matt helped deliver training for staff and community. As part of his support he also produced a toolkit that could then be used by others to deliver Fun Palace events.
Matt is very creative and provided us with some really interesting ideas that engaged participants of all ages but were which were also simple to use. He listened to our ideas and helped us develop them into practical activities.
We are so lucky to have been able to have him work with us on this. His help and inspiration made it an incredible success. Over the weekend more than 2000 people took part in the activities.
Matt was able to really help us raise our profile and we got lots of publicity for the service and recognition of what libraries can do both locally and nationally. Matt really commits himself to a project, not only did he promote the events and our libraries in the run up and during the Fun Palace weekend, he continues many months later to help publicise our work and tweet about us.
Should we ever get the opportunity we would love to work with Matt again and cannot recommend him enough for the way he engages and brings together communities to explore new ideas and activities.”
Louie Stowell, Editorial Director, Ladybird:
“Matt worked as an expert for Usborne Publishing, advising on the Write and Draw Your Own Comics book that I wrote. His insights and enthusiasm proved invaluable. Having someone on the team who’s worked extensively with young people, helping them to unlock their creative potential, made it much easier to work out if what we had on the page would get the job done when it made its way into the hands of actual children.”
Tabitha Witherick, Service Manager (Development), Somerset Libraries, UK:
“Matt ran a workshop for the Somerset Libraries team to build confidence in turning ideas for events, activities and partnerships into reality. Matt’s enthusiasm for libraries immediately shines through, which enabled the group to instantly warm to his messages. The perspective he offered challenged us and stretched our view of what is possible – this is exactly what was needed.
Matt filled the room with fun, creativity and exploration. The session offered international examples about how libraries can engage with local communities, storytelling, building partnerships and enthusing people.
The activities throughout the day got us sharing ideas, allowed us to find our creative flair and encouraged us to think about how we can do things differently.
The legacy – when we are trying to make tricky decisions you can now hear us asking ourselves – WWMFD (What would Matt Finch do?). The workshop has started us on a journey towards an entrepreneurial culture.”
Audrey Huggett, Production Librarian, Ann Arbor District Library:
“Listening to and working with you helped push me to articulate and develop my own ideas.
You also showed me that we do have space in this library to do some sort of audacious program that is totally pie in the sky, but that is also something that could potentially come out of my own brain.
It’s one of those things that I knew we could do, but I don’t know if I ever would’ve had the courage to really put my idea forward (whatever it ends up being), at least not for a while. Thanks for helping us think outside the box, and for being such an amazing and fun person to work with.”
Jacqui Broadbridge, Lecturer (Practice Education), Occupational Therapy, Griffith University:
“[Matt’s] innovative and creative facilitation style uniquely assists students to link their placement experiences to their future practice. This is particularly valuable in the light that students have themselves created a new innovation within their placements and [Matt’s] group activities assist students to share, reflect and therefore enhance their learning.”
Katherine Moody, Team Leader (Discovery), Christchurch Libraries, New Zealand:
“I had the great pleasure of attending Matt’s Library Island workshop and keynote for LIANZA #open17 in September 2017. From these I have learnt not to limit my thinking about library collections and programmes, to always have fun and to not presume we have to do what is expected of us. He also reinforced my belief in storytelling and making connections.
Since then, and as we work towards Tūranga (New Central Library) in Christchurch, I am endeavouring to include as much fun and creativity into our planning – particularly in terms of programming for non-fiction collections – as possible, but more than that Matt has shifted my mindset and coloured my thinking in almost every way possible.”
Tracie Mauro, Branch Librarian, Parkes Shire Library:
“When Parkes Library works with Matt Finch, we always know we are going to receive a dose of the extraordinary. Matt has led us through a number of projects involving local community organisations. It’s been so valuable having a partner-in-crime that is prepared to push boundaries of traditional library services – an important reason for Parkes Library becoming the 2014 Bess Thomas Award winner. We’ve achieved industry recognition and provided customers with innovative programs and events and resources. Matt sees the big picture and has the skills to join all the dots. His input has helped us become leaders, not followers, which delights our managers and supporters no end!”
Greg Morgan, Manager Service Development, Auckland Libraries:
“Auckland Libraries employed Dr Matt Finch on a fixed term contract from February until August 2013. We appointed Matt to push the boundaries in how our large public library network creates innovative programmes for children and young people. His brief was to inspire others to experiment and learn from the experience of working in fresh, even unexpected ways. We wanted to increase the library’s involvement in interactive play for people of all ages.
In response, Matt created novel opportunities for teams to learn about meaningful play through actually doing play and gaming. Urging colleagues to see possibilities beyond the library walls, Matt brokered relationships with community and business partners that resulted in a rich array of offsite events and opportunities for library activities in art spaces and retail environments around the city. He built valuable relationships between Auckland Libraries and youth-focused organisations here and overseas.
To drive innovative thinking, Matt sometimes chose to take the lead role and move us into a completely new space. He conceived and created our first Dark Night Festival, a season of adult-focused cabaret and burlesque events to celebrate, challenge, and question sex and sexuality on page, stage, and screen. Dark Night was so successful that it attracted the attention of a city art festival, for which Matt hosted a follow-up event exploring the history of censorship in New Zealand.
Internally, Matt transformed our annual in-house training event for children’s and youth librarians into an international programme, arranging guest speakers from Christchurch, Wellington, Melbourne and New South Wales. This dynamic two-day event created a sense of urgency around the new rules of engagement that a library needs to stay relevant: will we see rules as constraints or a springboard?
Matt delivered on the promise to shake us out of business as usual and engender innovative thinking, collaboration and risk taking. His time at Auckland Libraries created tangible and lasting results in both programmes and mindsets.”
Dr. Ashley Tucker, Digital Channels Programme Manager at Herefordshire Council and NHS Herefordshire:
“Matt was an invaluable addition to our web content team, able to work unsupervised and deliver superb work on time, every time. I would love to have Matt as a full time content editor and hope to work with him again in the future.”
Douglas Graham, IKC Coordinator, Woorabinda Indigenous Knowledge Centre, Australia:
“Anthony Jarrett and myself, on behalf of the Woorabinda Aboriginal Shire Council and IKC, wish you well on the next part of your journey. You have opened our eyes and minds to another world within the wonderful world of libraries. Have fun, stay safe and as we say, “see ya later’!”
Jo Umans, Executive Director and Founder, Behind the Book, New York City:
“Dr. Finch’s contribution to Behind the Book has been vital to our mission in moving the organization forward. His educational background has allowed him to create materials appropriate to all ages from kindergarten to high school. He has also provided useful advice and insight from his extensive experience. I have no hesitation in recommending Dr. Finch for work in educational consulting, curriculum design and community outreach.”