Category Archives: libraries

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.

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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:


Gamification and libraries: Tools and examples

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Gamification can be a tool for libraries to engage and motivate the public to use the library – but like all other tools it is not a quick fix and must be used wisely.

In this article I share some tools and practical examples of how they have been used in libraries.

Storytelling:

Narratives are powerful. This is no secret to the library profession. The narrative element is also very important in games and is a way to engage people in the game.
Several gamification projects in libraries use this element. It is often combined with the game element Quest. A quest is the part of the story where you must solve some mysteries or puzzles to unlock more of the story.

Hidden Treasures:  A quest from Guldborgsund Public Library:

Guldborgsund Public Library invites local citizens and visitors of the city on interactive walks around the town as part of the project Hidden Treasures. Through their smart phone, ‘treasure hunters’ can have a new and different experience of the town and its history.

With the project Hidden Treasures Guldborgsund Public Library wants to meet people in the urban space in a fun and engaging way. The aim is to turn the local cultural and literary history into a vivid experience. Through a series of riddles and problems, the inquisitive-minded will hopefully see the town in a new light.

The interactive walks offer three different themes: a trip back to explorer and author Peter Freuchen’s Nykøbing Falster in the 1920s; an insight into the town when author Knud Romer grew up in the 1970s; and a contemporary tour with focus on local food from Falster.

Gamification elements used:

Narrative:
Each walk follows a narrative of a cultural person’s history and universe giving the participants knowledge about the city’s history and literary history as the walk and the story unfold.

Quest:
Each city walk is build up with a number of challenges you have to meet to move on in the walk and the story.

Progression:
There is a clear structure on the route of the walks and the game gives feedback on how people progress through the story.

Feedback:
The choices the players make trigger feedback from the game. “Great – The answer was correct. Continue towards the water tower to get the last question of your journey”

Leader boards:
Weekly leader boards at the library

Rewards:
People get a badge at the library when they finish the walk. All the walks end at the library.

Read more about Hidden Treasures at Tame The Web or visit the official site (in Danish)

Now for another example of a quest. This time from Singapore:

Quest of the Celestial Dragon:

Quest is a narrative written on the backside of beautifully illustrated collectible cards done in the same style as Japanese manga comics. The project’s vision is to make reading fun for kids through a game experience as opposed to forced reading like homework.

The cards are based on a story, titled Quest of the Celestial Dragon. It is a fantasy story where our protagonist, Ethan has the task to retrieve the eyes of a dragon statue and free the people of that world from evil doers who threaten to plunder them of their magic and culture. Already sounds exciting, right?

When you borrow books you get cards as a reward. When you collect all 60 cards you can read the whole story. The cards can also be used as trading cards since each card has points and power values. The project became a huge success since children encouraged each other to collect cards.

The NLB of Singapore also build upon Quest and arranged a writing competition and a drawing competition. Furthermore they had a dedicated website with extra downloads of drawings from the manga universe of Quest.

Thousands of children participated and millions of cards found the ways to the happy game players and readers making the project a huge success in engaging the children of Singapore to use the library.

Unfortunately the project is now off the web and it is hard to find a good link for further reading.

Gamification elements used:

Achievements:
Achievements reward the participants skills, luck or social interaction with other players. In Quest it rewards participation as you get cards each time you borrow a book, and the cards help you progress in the story.

Rewards:
The beautiful cards.

Progression:
Collect them all – get the whole story.

Narrative:
The story unfolds as a fantastic fantasy tale about good and evil and all other elements of a classic story and within a beautifully illustrated manga universe.

International Breakfast – At Aarhus Public Library DOKK1

“International Breakfast” is a service where foreign families are invited to eat breakfast together in the library, to have an experience with other newcomers and hopefully build a better network in the city.

Gamification was tested on the service as a method to create a greater desire among the participants to share knowledge, talk and have fun – together. There was a need to do this because the experience was that few participate did build new networks at the events.

Gamification elements used:

Competition:
Competition is a powerful gamification element. By participating in the game using skills or knowledge people can measure themselves against other teams or players.
In Aarhus the teams did compete on knowledge and it was made visual how well each team did with the Leader board of big soft LEGO bricks.

Cooperation:
Some challenges can only be solved (or be solved better) when you cooperate with other players. Teams cooperate to progress in the game or to beat other teams as in this case from Aarhus.
Cooperation was a powerful gamification tool to reach the goal of more social interaction between the participants in the international breakfast.

Feedback:
Visual feedback was used when each team got big LEGO bricks for each point to build a tower representing their status in the game.

What is in it for libraries?
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Gamification will appeal to people who like the game environments. Of course this is a very diverse group but since libraries often present themselves in a non-gamified way this approach can inspire and engage citizens that do not normally use the library.
Therefore it is important that both the game design is very good and also that the things that are gamified are relevant for the people experiencing the gamified library service and the library’s core tasks and mission.

The gamified library service is a story that wants to be told. It is often not aligned with the way media usually speaks about libraries, so it is a way to create a new narrative about our creative and inspiring libraries.

It is also a lot of fun. You will learn a lot and so will the rest of the staff at your library, and it is a way to actively support learning in the community in a fun and engaging way.

If you have a favorite example of a library gamification project please share it with me, and tell me more about your own projects for the updated version of this blog post. And remember: it is perfectly safe to try this at home. Have fun!

My slides from a presentation in Madrid, Spain: 15th December 2015 for: VIII Jornada Profesional de la Red De Bibliotecas del Instituto Cervantes: «Gamificación: el arte de aplicar el juego en la biblioteca»