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Reinventing Spaces and Places: The Closing Keynote

In keeping with the general theme of Transformation at IL 2012, the closing keynote session featured a panel on Reinventing Spaces and Places.  Panel members were Erik Boekesteijn, Jaap van de Geer (also known as The Shanachies), both from the Delft Public Library; Paul Pivel, University of Calgary; and Jeff Wisniewski, University of Pittsburgh.

Closing Keynote Panel (L-R): Erik Boekesteijn, Paul Pival, Jaap van de Geer, Jeff Wisniewski

The panel was asked to address the following questions and issues:

  • Do we let our spaces work hard enough for us?
  • What are successful spaces doing?
  • But I don’t have any space!
  • Keys to success:  involving users, flexibility, and more flexibility.

The answers all center on major themes: flexibility, creation, collaboration, and maybe tradition.  Here is a brief transcript of their conversation.

Jaap: We cannot save libraries by doing more of what we have done before because the outcome will be the same.  We are heading for a great future in libraries, and media consumption is shifting away from books.  We are moving toward creation, but we need a new business model because the world is changing.

What can we tell you that you haven’t already heard before?  Don’t work for money, see if you can let money work for you.  Do the same for space.  Do we let our spaces work hard enough for us?  Are we using the full potential of our buildings?  Use our local insights to drive marketing, sales, and results.  A relentless focus on the user is important.

Erik:  What are successful spaces doing?  The Library of 100 Talents (in the north of Holland) invited a group of teens to talk to the architect and interior decorators of their planned new building to get their input on the design.

Paul:  At TFDL, we built creation spaces into the library.  We have 26 collaborative workrooms with collaborative software.

Jeff:  Westport CT put maker space in the middle of their library.

This is an example of learning outside the classroom–providing spaces where students can share ideas in public locations promotes peer learning.  At McMaster University a gaming room supports a curriculum on gaming.  Collaborative spaces can be in open areas and have multiple uses.

Jaap:  The Assen Public Library in Holland built a TV studio in the library.  They have their own crew to record shows with students, but when the studio is not being used, they rent it out to commercial companies.

Erik:  Keys to success:  Involve the community and make them part of the community.  At DOK, (one of the 25 most modern libraries in the world) there is a video wall with 32 stories running.  People can come and record their own stories.

Changes happening:  libraries are not only about books; they are about storytelling.  All types of media can be mixed to invest in the education of the people of the city.  In Arhus, Denmark, they are building a new library that is not for books but for people.  It will be a place for dialog, knowledge, ideas and exhibition.  We must force users to dismiss the book as a library brand.  We need to rethink the library and have a fusion between the physical and virtual.  The new role is to facilitate the user’s needs.

What do users say?  They like a quiet space at times and space for collaboration at other times.  Different spaces are necessary and should not be mixed.

Market Your Space

Jeff:  We don’t know what the future will look like.  We must design with flexibility in mind.  2 important ingredients are flexible libraries/spaces and flexible teams.  We must have people willing to support creation spaces and not just people who manage a collection.  Have flexible furniture that lets you create spaces on the fly–with wheels so it can be moved.

Paul:  Have more Wi-Fi than you possibly imagine you would need.  Provide power and network access everywhere, regardless of where the furniture ends up.  Raised flooring is one way to do this.

Jeff:  Users want networking and power.  If we don’t do anything else, they will be thrilled.

Paul:  Agile walls let you create and change space quickly.

Jeff:  North Shore Public Library replaced all their desktop computers with iPads so that the gaming area can be anywhere.  Now there are kiosks that will dispense iPads with a swipe of a library card.  No mediation is required.  Market your space as a product and service, not a facility. Reclaim space from things that are not working   Get rid of things that aren’t used, and share space with other libraries.

Erik:  Build your library in other places, like the Amsterdam Airport, bus stations, museums.

Jaap:  We don’t work for books, we let the stories and visitors work for us!

Erik:  Singapore is collecting stories from people and bringing them into the library.  History is happening–we must capture who we are.



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