Friday, June 06, 2014

Learning and public libraries

Image from IMLS
Last month when the Chicago Public Library won a National Medal for Museum and Library Service, something in the library's press release jumped out at me:

"Each day at our 80 branches across the City of Chicago we are fostering a passion for learning in our students and community members,” said Chicago Public Library Commissioner Brian Bannon. “It is an honor to receive this award on behalf of the Chicago Public Library’s dedicated staff and volunteers".

The emphasis on learning is mine. I think it's significant because when a major metropolitan public library service (which previously has been recognized internationally ) gets awarded the highest honor in the country, and of all the many things they could choose from to include in their press release, they choose to put the focus on learning, and not information, literacy etc, there's something important there for all public libraries to ponder.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

New Central Library for Christchurch

Library folks, this is a seriously exciting 'watch this space'...

New Zealand does public library services really well.

Christchurch does public library services, and public library buildings really, really, really well.

(I'm massively understating this - I think New Zealand are in some aspects, world-leaders when it comes to public libraries and spaces).

So it's very exciting to read this announcement:

Help us design your dream library

The city’s New Central Library (Ngā Kete Wānanga o Ōtautahi) will be built in Cathedral Square and the Christchurch City Council wants your input on the design. What exciting things do you want to do in our New Central Library? How should the building look and feel?

The Your Library, Your Voice campaign runs from Friday 21 March to Friday 2 May 2014. Take the opportunity to have your say about this exciting Council-led anchor project.

We’ll collect feedback through:

  • Ideas walls in libraries, schools, universities and at public events
  • Postcards
  • Online quick polls and discussion forums
  • User groups
  • Listening posts in suburban libraries
  • Our website:

I can't wait to see the results of this project - go Christchurch!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Creativity and permission to play

One afternoon last week I watched three of my staff brainstorm an idea.

The next afternoon, they showed me the finished product:

I am very proud of this, because it's taken a cultural change of about five years to allow something like this video to be produced.

How so?

Digital storytelling is relatively cheap and easy to do, using the tools that most people carry with them each day - tablets, digital cameras and smart phones. Encouraging staff to take time to play with those devices at work has taken a lot of encouragement and support. It was seen as something outside of the 'real job' and the idea of taking work time to play seemed a bit wrong.
The second part of the journey involves the wider organisation understanding the opportunities social media can offer, to engage with our community, and not just communicate one way, in a formal, corporate voice using media releases.

In a world where 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute, the production of this video might not seem too significant, but for me, it represents the end of old ideas and methods, and the releasing of staff to embrace play and show creativity in their daily work.