Category Archives: libraries

New job: Library director in Nelson, New Zealand

IMG_0405It is the time of big decisions. I am happy and proud to announce that starting this September I will be the new library director of Nelson Public Libraries in New Zealand.
I am looking forward to bringing the skills and experience from my current job in Guldborgsund, Denmark to the southern hemisphere and to serve the community of Nelson by making the best possible library in cooperation with the staff – in fact one of the tasks is to make New Zealand’s oldest library the best library in 5 years!

This also means a new chapter for my family and me as we are moving about as long away from our current home in Denmark as possible.

What?
Nelson Public library is one of the oldest in New Zealand, and indeed the library which has provided the longest continuous service to the public in New Zealand. One of the things that attracted me to the job was the strategy to make the oldest library the best library in 5 years.
My viewpoint as a global librarian is that you can not use the same tools everywhere. You have to translate the global inspiration into the local context to make real positive changes in your local community. That being said the fact that my current library in Guldborgsund ranks in the top 3 in all the national library surveys in Denmark is a good starting point when you combine it with the skills of the library staff at Nelson Public Library.
Though nothing is yet decided it is possible there will be built a new main library in Nelson. That is on the agenda as well – and very exciting.
I had two job interviews via Skype and some online tests and was then invited to visit Nelson. The hiring process is the most professional I have ever been part of, and I feel full of energy to begin the work – also because I have met most members of the talented library staff.
The urban area of Nelson is about 70000 people of which my new library serves 54000 people from the main library and two branch libraries.

Why this big move?
Putting the money where my mouth is about global librarianship could be the easy way to explain it. It is important to know that this is not a global job. This is a local job in Nelson working for the community there.
For me, it is a different story though as the culture and community will be different from where I am situated now. I am looking forward to learning a lot myself about the library system in New Zealand and seeing how a library in New Zealand (that is known for a very high standard in public libraries) work with making its community better.

Where?
Here on Twitter
Here on Facebook
Here on the web
Here on the Map

Will you blog about your experiences in the future?
Yes. Sign up to this blog or follow me on Twitter to get updates about my learnings and my new #librarylife.

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Upcoming talk: Libraries: The best possible shared space today and beyond.

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I am very excited to be the closing keynote speaker at this years SCL seminar under the theme Revitalise and Regenerate libraries. I am looking forward to learning opportunities and good debates in Coventry this early June.

The Society of Chief Librarians leads and manages public libraries in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
SCL is made up of the head of service of every library authority, and advocates for continuous improvement of the public library service on behalf of local people.
That is exactly what I believe libraries are all about.

You can see the entire program for #SCLRevitalise here.

Keynote: Smart Libraries Create Smart Communities for #ILI2016

Thank you Internet Librarian International for your kind feedback and for questions and comments after my talk and during the day. It has been a pleasure learning with you.

Like I promised – My slides:

This is a slightly reworked Q and A I did for CILIP Update before the keynote, and it provides some context to the talk.

Q. Firstly a little bit about you – Tell us about your current role and the projects are you currently working on.

A.
I am Assistant Library director at Guldborgsund Public Library in the South eastern part of Denmark. We are currently making a FabLab which will open to the Public early 2017.
In my spare time I work as a Global Librarian. I am currently engaged in The Library Avengers and The PL2020 Library Advocacy Lab that works with raising awareness on a political level about EUs 65000 Public libraries.

I am also studying Master of Public Governance at Copenhagen Business School and doing some Consultant work on crowdfunding and making presentations and keynotes about i.e. global librarianship, gamification and libraries and the Library professional development program 23 mobile things that we made in Guldborgsund and expanded world-wide in cooperation with State Library of New South Wales in Australia.

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Q. Your keynote is called ‘Smart libraries create smart communities – towards a visionary strategy for libraries’ – can you give us an insight into what you’ll be discussing?
A.
Last year the Swedish professor Hans Rosling said “You can’t trust the news outlets if you want to understand the world”.
This year the debate after the Brexit vote circulated around the same issue. Was the voters well-informed? The same debate is going on in the US right now with their upcoming election.
We need to invent a place where the public can seek and find fact checked and verified information – wait! We already have such a place. Libraries!
In a world where we compete about knowledge jobs libraries are more important than ever. They are the one place where everyone’s learning is actively supported. This is important to acknowledge when designing library strategy.
I will be discussing that and a whole lot more. You will have to wait until October at ILI to hear the rest 😉
Q. What are your thoughts on how libraries can raise their profile with their communities and with decision makers?
A.
In Denmark the “Open Libraries” where you can lock yourself into the Library for self-service between 7 AM and 10 PM has raised the profile in the community a lot.
Also presenting knowledge in new ways like Guldborgsund Public Librarys gamified treasure Hunt app “Hidden treasures” does.  Via the app you learn about the City’s history as you walk the City and solve puzzles and quizzes. The app is a fun way to engage with the community. Basically getting the Library out of the building and going where people are like we do with the yearly fruit harvest festival is a way to meet people and show them what the Library can do and why the Library matters in their lives.
This is also a good way to engage decision makers but I think working with Library strategy is even more important. If you can tell stories about how the Library changes lives and show politicians and decisionmakers that the Library raises the knowledge level in the community and thereby makes the community smarter. Then you have a good opportunity to continue the conversation with the decisionmakers and get the Library on their agenda.
Q. Times are challenging for many libraries at the moment – how can we stay inspired to focus on long-term strategy?
A.
Every time someone walks into the library or visit us online they need to be inspired or learn something new.
Noble prize winner Jose Saramago (my favorite writer) educated himself at libraries. For some years Cory Doctorow did the same thing.
Libraries change lives. That is very inspiring.
It can be hard to focus on the long-term when budget cuts are so bad as they are in the UK right now. I think it Helps to know that libraries are very well visited and used and that we support learning for people every day. There is more information in the world than ever before. Libraries can navigate this information and support the learning the community needs and inspire people to find good stories and new knowledge. That is a good foundation for a Library strategy.
That is the big picture. I have a “Keep calm and see the big picture” poster on my wall in my office by the way. That is a good reminder about all the above mentioned.
Q. Anything else you’d like to add?
A.
Libraries need to work even closer with schools, museums and other parts of the community.
A lot of museums have experts with a lot of knowledge but not many visitors.
Libraries have a lot of visitors. We can work together to present expert knowledge in new ways at libraries – also knowledge about our communities. There is great potential in that kind of cooperation.

Upcoming presentations: The #ILI2016 program is out and I am one of the Keynote speakers.

ILI2016

Smart libraries create smart communities – towards a visionary strategy for libraries. This is the title for my upcoming keynote at Internet Librarian International this October in London, UK.

The aim of #ILI2016 is helping the participants make a difference to their own organization, clients and communities. It is in the conference DNA to make this happen by being a forum for sharing ideas, learning new skills, hearing about new tools and technology, making unexpected connections, discovering practical solutions and exploring new and interesting approaches to librarianship.

I am looking forward to contributing to this with my keynote in which I will share examples of modern world challenges to which libraries are the solution and highlight how this creates the foundation for a clear strategy for libraries in 2016 and beyond.

I am also looking forward to keynotes by Stuart Hamilton and Mia Ridge and to participating in the conference and engaging with all the participants. The program is packed with fine presentations from skilled library and information professionals from all over the world. Check out the full program here. I hope to see you and learn with you at #ILI2016.

Pssst… The program is also available as a PDF

Libraries on the agenda in the EU

On Monday 20th June 2016, a workshop on “The new role of public libraries” will take place during the European Parliament’s Culture (CULT) Committee meeting.  You can follow the workshop online at 3 PM CET via this link.

The workshop will examine different aspects of the role of public libraries in the knowledge society. First, how can they engage with local communities and act as anchors for the high-street? Second, how can libraries contribute to media and information literacy? And third, which models do they use to make e-books available to their patrons?

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Keynote for #CILIPS16: Making communities smarter through connections

20140311-154338.jpgThe theme of this years CILIPS conference is “Making connections”. I am proud to do todays morning keynote.

Libraries are strategically important for modern knowledge societies. In the library people of all ages have a safe space for learning and exchanging ideas. In the knowledge economy where communities, regions and countries compete for knowledge jobs libraries are essential in actively supporting life long learning for all. Libraries facilitae connections between people and their knowledge. Thereby libraries are making their communities smarter.

Here are my slides:

Open libraries: Self service libraries – The Danish way.

16456027771_09e3f04bf5_kAn “open library” is a library with a combination of hours staffed with professional librarians and hours with self-service.
That combination has proved itself successful because the result is more loans and lots of more visits to the library. In Denmark we have a lot of happy library fans using open libraries. Some are people who now use their local library instead of the main library. We know a lot of people commuting to jobs now have a better opportunity to use the library than they did before. We also know open libraries have reached people who did not use the library before. YAY new library members – How wonderful is that?

You have your own key to the library

My library in Guldborgsund in the southeastern part of Denmark consists of a main library and 5 branch libraries. The 5 branch libraries are open libraries and the main library will be as well from early 2017.
It is easy to use an open library. You simply lock yourself into the library with your library card and a pin code. You can use all the normal services at the library and check out books, music, games etc. at the self-service machines and of course meet with other people, learn, study and have a coffee. The open library is a community space with lots of opportunities.
The “opening” hours are 7 AM – 10 PM. At the smallest library we have 15 staffed hours each week. At the biggest branch library it is 23 hours.

The question people often ask is why do we dare to do this? Is there a lot of people stealing and making other kinds of trouble during self-service hours?
The answer is that there are less problems than we feared. People tend to gain ownership and take very good care of the library so there is very little trouble.
We combine radical trust with RFID technology that can tell us when people “forget to check out an item”. We always know who is in the building, and we use
video surveillance so we can see what has happened in the library – if necessary.

Strategy considerations

There are many things you need to consider when you expand the opening hours of a library and turn it into an open library.
These are some of the questions we have considered in Denmark regarding open libraries:

How can it be aligned with your library’s strategy?
How do you create a safe environment?
How do you encourage people to take care of the library?
How can the librarians be visible in the way they present books and other library materials during self-service hours?
How do you increase usability in order to make the open library attractive?
How can we encourage people to use the library as a local meeting space in the community?

We have used nudging theory in a project to try to be more present during the hours we are not there. Nudging experiments include encouraging people to help presenting books they liked to others and encouraging people to help each other at checkout machines.
We have good experiences with this and it has been a lot of fun working with nudging. (Note to self: Blog about nudging in libraries – would you read that?)

Facts

If you only have self-service hours and not staffed hours the use of the library declines (According to a national survey in Denmark in 2012).
One of the reasons we have so many open libraries in Denmark is because the alternative was to close them for good. The open libraries are a solution to keep them alive as  libraries and community spaces.

In Denmark 86 out of 97 library systems have open libraries resulting in 260 open libraries. Danish libraries have 32.000 open hours a year with 61 % being self-service hours. 

The “Open libraries” framework have  made our libraries even more active learning spaces in the community. It has given us a broader reach and thereby expanded our opportunity to do what libraries do everywhere: Make their communities smarter.

Note: I did a keynote on open libraries at the wonderful EDGE conference in Edinburgh, Scotland on 3rd March 2016. Here are my slides: