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Dangerous ideas for libraries: ASLA 2011


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Keynote for the ASLA 2011 Conference:

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Dangerous ideas for libraries: ASLA 2011

  1. 1. DaNgerous ideas for liBraries ASLA 2011 @malbooth 1
  2. 2. Why? 2 2According to the ASLA program I am supposed to be discussing future academic libraries and why I think their development should reallybe approached like social innovation. I’ve done a lot of that kind of thing recently and it is all over something called the Internet. If youlook you can find it.So, rather than that I thought I’d aim at exploring some ideas that may be more relevant to school libraries and librarians. Not everythinghere will be relevant or possible for everyone, but hopefully everyone will get at least an idea or two that makes them think about theirown approach in their own backyard. So, here we go, mind the step.The quotations mostly come from Alan Fletcher’s wonderful book The Art of Looking Sideways. An endless source of wit, intelligentadvice and inspiration.
  3. 3. Almost all really new ideas have acertain aspect of foolishness when they are first proposed. Alfred North WhiTehead 3
  4. 4. Library3.0 4I’m not going to cover Library2.0, so I’m assuming some knowledge of it as it exists. It is what we are grappling with today – a vastlandscape of competing priorities and many issues that seemingly pull us in different directions at the same time. New values andopportunities are emerging, however, and there are many exemplars to follow if inspiration is needed. What remains, however, is theimperative to tailor what you deliver in your library for the needs of your community. To do that we MUST understand what yourcommunity’s core business or priorities are and then stay relevant to them.Here is where I think we are heading covering, some of the key areas. There is a bias towards what is most relevant to academic libraries,but that in itself should be of some interest.Sure, some of the long-established obligations and responsibilities will also come with us, but the challenge is to decide what must bedropped so we can ramp up for new demands and the new environment we are working within.
  5. 5. What? 5So, the highlighted words here are those I will try to cover in the rest of this presentation for ASLA 2011.I thought it would be best to try and cover the following ideas with some hopefully inspirational examples of what is possible, some usefulquotes from those more knowledgeable than me and a few stories (in no particular order): curation; culture; learning; design of servicesand spaces (not really represented above, except for some important attributes such as being user-focussed, user, centred, robust,trusting, inclusive, self-service, intuitive and agile); engagement; books; discovery; and creativity.
  6. 6. Are we Curating our Collections? Research Acquire Arrange Describe Provide 6Here area a few of my ideas relating to being more active in curating our collections and our services. This is merely to stimulate a bit ofthought and perhaps some re-imagining beyond the silos we now seem to operate in. Somewhere, someone has to consider the entireprocess or curation lifecycle.
  7. 7. Curating: From this Liaison Research Publishers, passive, Acquire mostly text Dewey, set, inflexible Arrange Publishers, Worldcat Describe Shelves & catalogues Provide 7The From slide:This might be a bit hyper critical, but if we asked some random library users about who does what on this curation process, what wouldthey say?I think we’ve sliced it up and specialised far too much. We’ve lost the continuum.
  8. 8. Curating: to thiS? Liaison Research Connect, engage, learn Publishers, passive, Active, beyond text, Acquire publish(!), produse mostly text Dewey, set, inflexible Arrange Virtual shelves, crowd curation, other? Publishers, Worldcat Describe Folksonomies, ratings, artist-in-residence? Shelves & catalogues Provide Exhibits, discovery, OA, create, imagine! 8The To slide:So here are a few random ideas to encourage us all to think beyond the ordinary, beyond what we’ve always done.
  9. 9. Curating: at its best ... creativity: experimentation, innovation, diversity and edginess ... 9 9This video by Dr Jacqueline Strecker introduces The Mad Square, an exhibition now on at the Art Gallery of NSW. It is the epitome ofcontemporary curation. Based on scholarly research, it brings together over 200 works from all over the world that help us tounderstand this influential period of art in Germany between the two world wars.
  10. 10. CreaTivity 10 10Light projections on Customs House during Vivid 2011.
  11. 11. Creativity is the defeat of habit by originality. ArthUr KoEstler 11
  12. 12. LeArningYou should try everything once, excet incest and folkdancing. Sir Thomas Beecham 12
  13. 13. Fostering learning & creativity with play Treasure hunts Games Quizes BBQ Planning Fun Day 13Library Fun Day: 2010 and 2011Lots of library staff involved; Students had fun; they Got to know the library and meet librarians in informal atmosphereIt encouraged use of social spaces, new technology. We used Wii games, Kinect (see the short YouTube film linked above)QR codes were used for the treasure hunt: a game. Participants were required to navigate through 6 stations, photograph each one andbe first back to claim the prize. In just 15 minutes most were able to navigate all stations and cover everything normally taught in a onehour introductory IL class.Mobile technology helped to create an interactive experience in the physical library. It has been used as a model for 1st year IL sessions inseveral faculties.Prizes included iTunes vouchers, USB sticks, chocolatesWe’ve taken the concept of play further and encouraged staff to play, experiment, be more adventurous, flexible etcLibrary Planning Day & two Edible books festivals for staff.
  14. 14. FB Club Blog eBooks eReaders Overdrive Reading 14These initiatives are VERY important at all levels: connecting; engaging; facilitating learning & assisting ourclientseReader Loan TrialThe Library is trialling an eReader loan scheme, with 5 eReaders available from the Open Reserve section at theCity Campus Library: Amazon Kindle iRiver Story Kobo eReader Apple iPad (2). Search the Catalogue for availability: eReaders in theCatalogue; iPads in the Catalogue.Borrowing eReadersAvailable to UTS students, faculty and staff; 7 day loan period with no renewals. $5/day fine for overdue items to a maximum of $50.Replacement costs will be charged for lost or damaged items: $250 Amazon Kindle and Kobo eReader, $475 iRiver Story, $700 Apple iPad16 GB, $40 USB cable/power adaptor.Returning eReaderseReaders must be returned to the City Campus Library Open Reserve Desk. “To avoid damage please do not return eReaders in theafter-hours return chutes.” “Ensure you return all cables and instruction manuals in the original packagingDelete your files (e.g. books, documents) and fully charge eReaders before returning.”Using eReadersAn instruction manual is included with each eReader. Manufacturers provide detailed support and instruction on their websites: AmazonKindle iRiver Story KoboeReader Apple iPadDownloading eBooksYou will need to download eBooks to your computer and then transfer to the eReader by connecting it using thesupplied USB cable.You can use Library computers to download eBooks.There are many sites on the internet for downloading freeeBooks or purchasing eBooks. The Library is investigating eBooks for loan. Some suggestions (these sites are not affiliated with UTSLibrary): BeBook Project Gutenberg eBooks@Adelaide Getfreeebooks
  15. 15. SupPorTing ReSeArcH UTSeScholarship Blog Diigo Save me time Make me famous Research Week 15Our major research initiatives are linked above. I think there is a fair bit of effort being made at UTS Library to support research in acreative way, while still providing genuine value-added content and services at UTS.
  16. 16. CUltural, LearNIng & SOcial hub Culture is activity of thought, and receptiveness to beauty and human feeling. Scraps of information have nothing to do with it. A merely well-informed man is the most useless bore on Gods earth. Alfred North WhiteheadImage credit: 16• From service provider -> cultural, learning & community hub• Going beyond the ordinary; Importance of cultural materials within academic & other communities: context!• Developing cultural & special collections, not an assumption, not passive!• Artist-in-residence programs• Culture – what it is & why it is important (providing context for learning & knowledge). How did we ever forget that role?
  17. 17. Cultures are maps ofmeaning through which the world is made intelligible. PetEr JAckson 17
  18. 18. diScOVery? 18 18So, what is discovery?
  19. 19. SeArch Discovery 19 19We think there is a spectrum of difference between search and discovery.
  20. 20. SeArch Discovery 20 20Search is a bit like White Pages. And discovery ...
  21. 21. SeArch Discovery 21 21Discovery is completely different, it is more like Christopher Columbus. He wasn’t sure what he was looking for, nor where it was.
  22. 22. efficient targetted specific advanced expanded text-biased SeArch Discovery 22 22Libraries are pretty efficient at search.
  23. 23. Our thoughts and dreams possess no typographic system. We dream in pictures, feelings and imaginary awareness. GUnter RambOw 23As Professor Brian Cox would say: “but ..”.
  24. 24. efficient accidental targetted incidental specific abstract advanced non-text expanded browsable text-biased shared SeArch Discovery 24 24But discovery is different and we don’t do much of this.It is the “what was I looking for” effect that you get when a few hours of your life disappears wandering around Wikipedia, Flickr orTumblr.The discovery end of the spectrum is more playful and poetic and we can assist and expose our collections and our services by curatingthem more. Sometimes search is abstract, more like discovery and that can stimulate deeper thought, and the exposure of newinformation, content and knowledge.Searching or discovery on platforms like Flickr, Tumblr or StumbleUpon is accidental, incidental & serendipitous.Discovery should be encouraged, facilitated and even led sometimes.We MUST understand this better if we are going to have an impact with data, otherwise it will disappear in repositories, never be sharedand that is where its potential really lies: in the relationship between different data sets that expose new connections and differentperspectives.
  25. 25. efficient accidental targetted incidental specific abstract advanced non-text expanded browsable text-biased shared SeArch Discovery 80 25 25Remember the 80:20 rule? I guess we all know where the 80% lies. Where is the 20?
  26. 26. efficient accidental targetted incidental specific abstract advanced non-text expanded browsable text-biased shared SeArch Discovery 80 + 20 26 26Yep, it is also down that end.
  27. 27. efficient accidental targetted incidental specific abstract advanced non-text expanded browsable text-biased shared SeArch Discovery 80 + 20 27 27But maybe we should be shifting just 20% of our effort to the discovery end of the spectrum?
  28. 28. Debate Language Visibility ExhibitionsCollaboration YouTube EngaGe 28Another image from BikeTank at u.lab.We participate and engage in workshops like this with students, academics and others from outside the UTS community. The academicsand others love having us there. It is about visibility on campus from librarians at all levels.We also facilitate and encourage debate in the Library on contemporary issues, engaging in it ourselves and inviting others with expertisein the subject areas.We arrange and host exhibitions of cultural material, particularly that which is created by UTS students and staff within our Library andwe include and commission student-created videos on our YouTube Channel.
  29. 29. An invisible librarian isa vulnerable librarian. Mal BOotH 29
  30. 30. DeSign 30An image from Foster & Partners’ “Berlin Brain” - the Philological Library of Free University, Berlin.
  31. 31. ... seduce, shape and perhaps more importantly evoke an emotional response. APril GreimaN 31I think we need more design input to our spaces, services, technology initiatives and perhaps even the language we use.
  32. 32. Future Students want Art Atriums Natural light Randomness Comfy chairs Decent ceilings Grand entry area Thematic identity Greenery & water Meaningful signage Intuitive technology Gaming/media spaces Obvious sustainability Curved & open spaces 32(Image taken by me in the Philological Library of Free University, Berlin.)These points are what the year 7 & 9 students told us they wanted in a university library of the future after a halfday informal workshop in our current library in September of 2010. It is almost a design brief!Extended learning means the opportunity to learn beyond the set curriculum.What can we do to provide randomness in our libraries. Everything we do is about (mostly outdated ontologies andstructures!Gaming & media spaces are probably essential now. A library without them in the future will be irrelevant.Orientation spaces have a significant effect, more significant than any signage, on the behaviour of those entering.It is expected by our clients.Water features, greenery and natural light are probably things we would wish to see ourselves.Future students will expect all technology that we provide to be intuitive. If it isn’t it won’t be used.Signage can be over-done, and to be effective it must be meaningful.Our future students expect like-books to have some kind of thematic identity that gives users/readers a clueabout their content.I didn’t really understand why students said they liked the curved spaces in the UTS Library until I saw those of thePhilological Library in Berlin’s Free University.Library spaces and services must learn to be customisable and personalised. Maybe we are too precious aboutthose spaces and don’t understand their true potential.We want our future library to be a social hub, but it also must provide exposure to culture, so the use of art withinthe library will be critical.Our sustainability initiatives must be visible and demonstrate our progress (or not) in all dimensions/facets.Comfy chairs are essential because patrons simply will not spend every hour in a library awake.“Lack of rules” perhaps indicates that we still have too many rules, or too many signs indicating the rules. Perhapsthere are other ways to influence and encourage behaviour besides rules.
  33. 33. 33From “Lending” “Research Help Desk” “Access” “Security” “IT” “Information literacy” -> triage HELP & expert consultanciesWe like the Apple model that is more generic and helpful than ours is at present. • Not the consumers’ job to know what they want. • Who asked for an iPhone or a iPad? • Leadership - from above and below, particularly on hard stuff like sustainability • How do we design and offer better services • How do we move from Lending, Research Help Desk, Access, Security, IT, databases, and information literacy to triage HELP and genius consultancies (or “visitor experience” like SLQ)? We like the Apple model that is more generic and helpful than ours is now. • Jane Fulton Suri from IDEO suggested bringing observation, intuition, empathy & imagination together to make an empathic economy in a presentation for the Business Innovation Factory-2 (2006) event: Finding inspiration Through the Power of Observation. See • The Stanford DSchool model: empathise>define>ideate>prototype>test • What does design thinking have to offer us? • Importance of language – meaning what you say & saying what you mean; so others can easily understand • Innovation from within • Design process – where, when, how • Agility • Good knowledge of external (non-library, non-academic environments and services) • DIY – or why consultants are not always good for your business • Breaking free from traditional views about library roles! • The importance of collaboration between librarians • The importance of sharing
  34. 34. BrItiSh Library: BUsIness & IP Centre 34(Image taken by me in the British Library in the lounge & networking area outside the BIPC reading room.)•The British Library: NOT a museum of the book.•Business and Intellectual Property Centre. This is impressive new business for the British Library and an example of seeing anopportunity and grasping it with both hands. They’ve developed great partnerships with the business of the City and now librarians in thiscentre help people starting up new businesses. I believe this is the kind of thing all of us need to learn how to do in our owncommunities.•On the far wall you can see examples of success stories encouraged as businesses by this centre.•For UTS I see this as a model we might use somewhere in our new Learning Commons, probably targeted at our research community,perhaps to link industry experts with researchers or others from URS starting businesses or seeking help getting inventions andprototypes off the ground.•It might also be a useful industry mentoring centre for post-grad students.•We could even use the model to assist academics and researchers with e-publishing and in order to understand Copyright better (in theway BIPC does much the same thing with IP and Patents law).•What are banks, local government organisations, non-profits, and airports doing?•How will we handle growing collaboration between faculties & universities?•What is relevant in YOUR community? (e.g. reference materials & services for the unemployed, disadvantaged, children, assisting literacy,ageing population, changed industry base, IP/Copyright needs, etc.)•Collaboration with creative industries (digital media, games, digital services, entertainment, our future)•Facilitating and welcoming industry links and partners•Look outside for possibilities beyond your usual small world•Another example in London are the Idea Stores in East London – deeply relevant and connected to their communities, providingwhat they need.
  35. 35. (re)designing libraries is: sOciAl InnoVation 35 35Another image taken by me at UTS BikeTank in u.lab. See our process more like that of Social Innovation? See also innovation – what it means and why it is relevant . . . sustainability, social justice, social inclusion, community engagement
  36. 36. BOok deSign 36This is an image of T.E. Lawrence’s 1926 Subscriber’s Edition of Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph. It is the copy owned by the AustralianWar Memorial.Whether we like it or not, as librarians, we work in institutions still dominated by books. Growing digital content threatens the primacy oftraditional print publication, but it still dominates. I do not believe the book will ever die, but what will see books survive? Will it initially bethose not yet (or ever) to be found in digital format? Or will it be those we prefer to consume, read, own, view, hold in print format? Whydo people love books? What is it about some books that makes them cherished possessions.Sometimes it is content, but I think we also need to be able to talk about the design of books and what makes some of hem “special”.So, I think that as librarians we need to understand book design, writing, typography, binding, Copyright, publishing, paper, stitching, end-papers, bookplates, manuscript layout, etc.
  37. 37. Who? 37 37
  38. 38. OUr People 38 38 • Staff need to be found or developed. Why is there a divide between “professional librarians” and library technicians? • New roles? UX, design, design thinkers, visual communicators, leaders & managers, visionaries. • Encouraging talent, not qualifications • Encouraging risk taking, experimentation, exploration, e.g. social media: Create, curate, manage; Community; Corporate to personal voice; Networking, promotion; New, improved services; Explore, share; Improved ICT awareness • More inclusive, less hierarchical • Trust! • Modelling & recognising desired behaviours (if you look & act like a dinosaur ...) • Looking for possibilities, not problems (worst possible case scenario planning) • Learning by doing, NEW SERVICES: (Research Week & Shut-Up&Write) • A new/old identity and role in the community as connector/facilitator/provider? • Ensuring that life and energy are evident in your library • Encourage, reward, recognise creativity! • Letting go – of control & of old things that we don’t really need to be doing – how much value add is there as opposed to some stuff that people want that we don’t want to do or can’t do? • Being transparent/visible • Importance of playgrounds/sandpits • Gaming, reading, play at work • Hours to do things that matter (not usually 9-5) • SM only first step – to human connections, relates to space & place & community • Using multiple channels for conversations and connections (e.g.) • Radical trust (it drives change) • Disruptive technologies • Try & fail! • Be optimistic! • viral distribution, small data (mobile), P2P • Delighting patrons • Surprise – something they don’t even know they want yet • Be active not reactive – anticipate needs, be a leader, not a follower • Its not about the technology – we are in a service industry! • And we already have a recognised strong service ethic. • Challenge sacred cows – slavish worship of traditional norms, roles, tasks, processes and practices because we’ve always done them • Adaptability – to changed environments. Not doing more with less, but less of some stuff and more of others. • Have some fun – it isn’t that serious and you might attract some attention for your great new idea • Be visible! If youre needed dont hide! • Dont be afraid to be different. More of the same isn’t surprising and sometimes it isn’t needed • Libraries are not churches & we are not priests. • ImaginationLetting go of stuff others are doing better. The hard decision is deciding what to drop. We won’t be getting additional resources.
  39. 39. Image credit: We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars. Oscar Wilde 39 39Image credit: