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Flemish Digital Public Library Strategy

Flemish Digital Public Library Strategy



How a strategy was developed to cope with the web 2.0 as public libraries

How a strategy was developed to cope with the web 2.0 as public libraries



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  • Good morning/afternoon My name is Jan Braeckman, I’m director of the Flemish Agency for Public Libraries. I’m very glad ALA accepted my presentation. I hope we will be able to exchange some ideas and opinions during this session. My presentation is about the strategy we developed in Flanders, to adapt public library work to the new context in which public libraries are working. And the focus of my story is on the analysis of this new context.

Flemish Digital Public Library Strategy Flemish Digital Public Library Strategy Presentation Transcript

  • The Digital Public Library for Flanders A strategic look into the future Jan Braeckman Based on consultancy by ONE Agency Vlaams Centrum voor Openbare Bibliotheken Flemish Agency for Public Libraries
  • Overview
    • Web 2.0 has arrived, and libraries are taking all kinds of initiatives to participate in this development
      • Characteristics of new media
      • How people behave
      • Challenges for public libraries
      • New roles for public libraries
      • Strategy in Flanders
  • Political context
    • Belgium: 10 million
    • Flanders: 6 million
    • (Dutch speaking)
    • Brussels
    • French speaking
    • 4 million
    • Brussels & Wallonia
  • Cultural context
    • Dutch speaking community in Europe is 22 million
    • Netherlands: 16 million
    • Flanders: 6 million
  • Our questions
    • How can public libraries cope with the ever expanding digital environment?
    • What kind of investments have to make in order to develop a “digital public library”?
  • Consultancy
    • Strategic study: looking into the future
    • 1 st How will the future public behave in the evolving digital environment? How will people use media?
    • 2 nd What will be the impact on the public library? What kind of digital library do we have to build in order to let it be useful for the future public?
  • Was it the 60’s, 70’s or 80’s?
      • In the beginning… separate media, channels, technology
  • Internet
    • 10 years ago: the internet revolution
    • New technology, content, cultures, behaviour
    • Internet has become a driving force for change, for a media revolution
  • Media 2.0
    • Now: web 2.0
    • What are people doing in a media 2.0 environment?
    • Conclusions:
    • New media -> new use
    • Shift of control from provider to consumer: shift of time, place and authority
    • Driven by mass: mass of content, “power of many”
  • Shift of time
    • Control:
    • Technology
    • Use
    • Business model
  • Shift of place
  • Content choice
  • Communities 2.0
    • Consumers are increasingly engaged in on-line communities, where they find kindred spirits and where organizations can find groups with similar interests, ideas or wishes.
    Social networks / virtual worlds wikis Social networks, sharing, ...
  • Shift of authority
    • They do not see technology as an innovation; instead, it is considered fundamentally an extension of their consciousness.
    • It’s part of how you behave, of where you live.
  • Social Network
  • Social Network
    • Hanging out with friends and family
    • Making new friends
    • Building groups/communities
    • Impressing others
    • Sharing experience
    • Share media
    • Playing
    • Fighting
    • Bullying
  • Participation Generation Research 2008
  • “ You are not alone” (c) Business Week June 2007
  • Blogs
  • Wiki’s, Newswiki’s, Swiki’s
  • Social bookmarking
  • You Tube
  • User Generated content
  • Journalism & social networks
  • Really Simple Syndication
  • widgets
  • Discovery
  • Web Application Content and Conversations Selection and Profiling Social Networks
  • Web 2.0
    • Web2.0 is the manifestation of
      • Shifting power to consumers
      • New communication and marketing
      • Introducing new business models
      • Introducing new technologies and rich internet experiences
      • Shift of authority
  • Shift of authority
    • Users decide on time, place, and content
    • Users focus on digital communities and their peer groups
    • Users focus on a universe of immediately available content
    • Users co-create content, co-create their own digital environment
    • => The universe of the new public is digital, shared with peers, interactive & participatory, immediately available / the universe is online
    • What is the impact on public libraries?
    • Mission
    • Current situation
    • Changes of roles
    • Strategy and roadmap
  • Mission
    • The public library is a basic facility for every citizen, as inexpensive as possible, neutral, and free from any (commercial) pressure.
    • The library has to:
      • Be an active intermediary and guide for people searching for knowledge, culture, information and recreation
      • Stimulate people to raise the right questions and learn how to do this
      • Make sources of information available
      • Facilitate by delivering services, supporting processes, providing infrastructure, and creating places where people can meet
    • => This applies to the physical and digital library alike.
  • Libraries today
    • Current strengths
    • 1 million people visit a public library at least once a month
    • 32% population uses the library, 27% is member
    • Uniquely embedded: 800+ locations
    • Libraries have a local flavour, adapt to local timing, local current affairs
    • Well known brand: Reliable, neutral, delivers quality services
    • Easily accessible
  • But! Generation Google
    • Future customers? Research of student behaviour :
      • 84% starts searching in Google, Yahoo….
      • Only 1% considers using the website of a library
    • Un iverse of the new user = digital, shared with peers, enables participation, delivers immediately
    • “ Google is the public library of the new generations.”
  • Use of media (NL)
  • Media use and age (NL)
  • Libraries today
    • Weakness:
    • The library is a well known brand, but it’s image is grey, dusty, old fashioned – especially with people who don’t use the library
    • Staff is not aware of what is going on, is not competent to deal with new challenges
    • For most people “library” equals “books”.
    • Because of the less important position of the book as a source of information, people will stop associating the library with searching and finding information
    • => One of the big challenges in the future will be the re-branding of the library, and communicating its new identity
  • Challenge: physical library
    • Building on strengths, being local:
      • “ Home” of physical media
      • Access to the digital environment
      • Focus on personal contact with people
      • Physical “place” for social networks
      • “ Physical” display-window and storefront for content providers
      • Crucial in battling digital divides
  • third place
    • http :// www.pps.org /
    (But do we have the staff that can do this, that is willing to do this, that is allowed to do this?)
  • Change of library paradigm?
    • From To
    • Scarce resources Overload
    • Product driven Process driven
    • Consumers Participants
    • Lead Support
    • Democratise (digital divide)
    • Quality / Reliable
    • Free from (commercial) influence
  • Change of roles
    • The library has to keep its role in society to deliver quality services; but should take into account the changed behaviour, control and expectations of new users: it has to search a new equilibrium on the balance of authority.
    • The library should assume 4 roles:
      • The library as gatekeeper
      • The library as curator
      • The library as guide
      • The library as participant
  • The Library as gatekeeper Stands for reliable information and collections, quality selection and descriptions Related to the local community
  • The Library as curator Is an objective and qualitative store window of information, media, and services Help people to discover things they like, and didn’t know New things, and things out of the long tail It’s: the libraries’ choice
  • The Library as guide Learning how to fish the ocean of information Learning how to search, find, interpret, and share information and knowledge
  • The Library as participant The library and its staff are full blown participants of the Web 2.0 conversations, relying on their specific expertise to of value to the others On the same level as other participants
  • Gatekeeper Curator Guide Participant
  • The changes
    • The (digital) public library has to focus on “working with people” rather than “working with books”.
    • Focus shifts from “carriers” to “content”.
    • The library evolves from “a supplier of products and services” to “a facilitator for people to develop their own products and services”.
    • The core business will shift from managing a physical (local) collection, to finding, interpreting, using, organising a larger, continuously expanding universal collection.
  • Towards a strategy
    • Strategy with 6 policy guidelines
    • +
    • Roadmap for the next 3 years, with a perspective on 6 years
  • Policy guidelines
    • Guideline 1: one coherent strategy, one owner of this strategy
      • Flemish government
      • Many (sub)projects on different levels: Flemish, provincial, regional, local
    • Guideline 2: a strong organisations
      • Authority, leadership (vs consensus)
      • Expert in combining knowledge on technology, on library business models, and on the public and user behaviour
  • Policy guidelines
    • Guideline 3: Library staff
      • Provide training and education
      • Promote the hiring of “digital natives”
    • Guideline 4: develop knowledge of legal context in libraries + lobby for a more adapted legal framework
      • Libraries are accountable, users are not or less
      • Legal framework always lags behind reality
  • Policy guidelines
    • Guideline 5 : “the digital” affects all aspects of the library system
      • Impact on core business. The strategy on the digital library should be embedded in a comprehensive vision on the libraries’ future
    • Guideline 6 : Developing partnerships
      • Cultural heritage 4. Publishing, music
      • Education 5. …
      • Media
  • Roadmap
    • Awareness program
      • Library sector, learning platform, co-creation, experimentation
      • Policy makers and other stakeholders
      • Development of Web 2.0 platforms with users
    • Data and metadata: creation and connecting
      • Digital collection management
      • Creating metadata
      • +
      • Context: cultural community of 6 million
  • Roadmap
    • Marketing en CRM of local libraries
      • User information
      • Developing CRM tools
      • Changing public image of libraries
    • Digital divide, challenge for local libraries
      • Working with people
      • Infrastructure and services
    • Library as a trustworthy place to get acquainted with the digital universe
    • Legal advice, informing policy makers
  • 2019
    • “ Through the need for adaptation, this institution had to evolve and get rid of its traditional and static image to become a place with a new meaning and a diversified functioning.”
        • Gregory Blauwers
        • Public libraries and urban regeneration:
        • ‘ From reading place to public space’,
        • University of Brussels, dissertation, 2007
    • Thank you!
    • [email_address]