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The Role of Public Libraries in Fueling a Can Do Culture

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Public libraries can expand their influence and attract wider support by highlighting their value as catalysts for a "can do culture." Here's how some libraries are beginning to do this.

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The Role of Public Libraries in Fueling a Can Do Culture

  1. 1. can do culture public libraries The role of public libraries in fueling a can do culture Sharon VanderKaay
  2. 2. “...people centric and purpose driven...” HalifaxPublicLibrariesLaunches NewBrandandFive-YearStrategicPlan Halifax Central Library Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada Design: Schmidt Hammer Lassen, 2014
  3. 3. The need for a purpose statement Public libraries can frame their purpose in ways that expand their influence and attract greater financial support. Most public libraries have not defined why they exist in empathic terms. Instead, they refer to services provided and vague support for innovation. Meanwhile, citizens of all ages cope with the challenges of social isolation and the need to continuously develop their capabilities and confidence. AI integration is a looming, anxiety-producing concern. Using an empathy-based approach, the following questions are designed to reveal an urgent, valuable role for public libraries in fueling a can do culture.
  4. 4. In a post-industrial era, why is a “can do culture” essential? British Library, London, UK Architect: Colin St John Wilson, 1998 Bronze sculpture 'NEWTON' by Eduardo Paolozzi
  5. 5. How will we as a society develop the hidden talents of people who feel isolated, neglected and trapped in a self-limiting “can’t do culture” that depends on external answers ?PitmenPainters AshlingtonGroup,1934-84 Northumberland,UK
  6. 6. Currently we see political upheaval being fueled in part by shifts in technology. The changing nature of jobs is leaving some workers behind. Seattle Public Library Seattle, Washington USA Design: Rem Koolhaas and Joshua Prince-Ramus, OMA, 2004
  7. 7. TorontoPublicLibrary Toronto,Ontario,Canada
  8. 8. human resourceful active participants inclusive, collaborative work with purpose and dignity proactive, take initiative sense of agency self-reliant personally invested DIY + do-it-with-others pride in creating experiment, adapt answers are within us Seattle Public Library Seattle, Washington USA
  9. 9. What ifpublic libraries communicated a higher purpose that specifically addresses what people of all ages need today? LibraryofBirmingham Birmingham,UK Architect:FrancineHouben,MechanooArchitecten,2013 StructuralEngineer:BuroHappold
  10. 10. inscription: "The Wealth Of The Mind Is The Only True Wealth” This is the first public library I encountered as a child. It sparked a lifelong spirit of curiosity and appreciation for knowledge. Detroit Public Library, Skillman Branch Detroit, Michigan USA Detroit’s first branch library, 1932
  11. 11. This is where I learned to do self-directed discovery on a wide range of topics. Detroit Public Library, Skillman Branch Detroit, Michigan USA
  12. 12. As the nature of jobs continues to change, how can public libraries vastly expand their role in society beyond helping us to know more? DiegoRivera,“DetroitIndustryMurals” 1932-33 Detroit InstituteofArts
  13. 13. Detroit Public Library Detroit, Michigan USA How might public libraries fuel a “can do culture” of widespread opportunity and abundance?
  14. 14. How can public libraries spark optimistic, creative approaches to our technology integration challenges? Science Museum, London
  15. 15. How can public libraries communicate this expanded, can do purpose? Seattle Public Library Seattle, Washington USA Design: Rem Koolhaas and Joshua Prince-Ramus, OMA, 2004
  16. 16. Purpose-driven Halifax Central Library has instilled an sense of can-do pride in citizens. The design facilitates capability-building, community and collaboration. Halifax Central Library Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada Design: Schmidt Hammer Lassen, 2014
  17. 17. Halifax Central Library Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada Design: Schmidt Hammer Lassen, 2014 Students work on projects together in the new Halifax Central Library collaboration booths.
  18. 18. Citizens contributed to public art on the wall behind the reception desk at Halifax Central Library. Halifax Central Library Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada Design: Schmidt Hammer Lassen, 2014
  19. 19. This public art project also connects Haligonians with local, character-defining historic events. Halifax Central Library Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada Design: Schmidt Hammer Lassen, 2014
  20. 20. Ann Arbor District Library Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA In Ann Arbor, residents can borrow Science Tools, Music Tools, Art Tools—everything from telescopes to synthesizers to spinning wheels.
  21. 21. Ann Arbor District Library Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA The AADL helps you do what you want to do.
  22. 22. Ann Arbor District Library Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA Science Tools and the Secret Lab at Ann Arbor District Library
  23. 23. Ann Arbor District Library Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA A wide range of tools and outdoor games can be borrowed from AADL.
  24. 24. Extensive roof gardens at the Library of Birmingham promote learning and appreciation of local plants. LibraryofBirmingham Birmingham,UK Architect:FrancineHouben,MechanooArchitecten,2013 StructuralEngineer:BuroHappold
  25. 25. LibraryofBirmingham Birmingham,UK Architect:FrancineHouben,MechanooArchitecten,2013 StructuralEngineer:BuroHappold The publicly accessible roof provides fresh perspective and highlights Birmingham’s qualities as a “biophilic city”: http://biophiliccities.org/partner-cities/birmingham-uk/
  26. 26. What is a “can’t do culture” today?
  27. 27. “Nothing we can do about it!” “We’re stuck.” There’s no other way...” people are passive observers exclusionary, isolated disabling, "tell me what to do” feeling overwhelmed do it for me anti-experiment, fear of mistakes aiming for perfection technology centric anti-social learned helplessness answer is with someone else
  28. 28. What if public libraries communicated their purpose beyond the services they provide... Seattle Public Library Seattle, Washington USA Design: OMA, 2004
  29. 29. MakerFestival2014 TorontoPublicLibrary ...emphasizing how they benefit society and expand what citizens of all ages and capabilities can do?
  30. 30. How might this higher purpose affect a library’s mission and vision? Halifax Central Library Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada Design: Schmidt Hammer Lassen, 2014
  31. 31. How might public libraries present themselves differently to funders and entrepreneurs? LibraryofBirmingham Birmingham,UK
  32. 32. How would public libraries communicate that they are “can-do focused” as well as being respected institutions for research, knowledge creation and preservation? LibraryofBirmingham Birmingham,UK Architect:FrancineHouben,MechanooArchitecten,2013 StructuralEngineer:BuroHappold
  33. 33. LibraryofBirmingham Birmingham,UK ...though not inexplicable.
  34. 34. summary 1. Framing matters Craft a benefits-oriented, empathic Purpose Statement for your library. 2. Message matters Use words that mean something that’s valued by citizens and visitors (vs. vague mention of innovation) 3. Mind the “Say—Do Gap” What people see speaks louder than words. What do you want your library to say? How does the library user experience compare with your Purpose Statement?
  35. 35. Sharon VanderKaay twitter: @svkaay

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