Smart Community Engagement and Enablement #InternetLibrarian @Hapelr

Rolf Hapel, former city librarian, Aarhus, Denmark, prof. At U. Of Washington

Smart cities. Internet of things, smart energy, etc.

Dokk1, library in Aarhus.  “Space for human development and interaction …”  Not a word about books or technology in the mission statement.  The library was to stand for 100 years.  Nobody knows what the technology will be then.  It’s about people.

180,000 square feet.  On river, part of flood control system.

They don’t have a children’s library, but rather a space for children.  Lots of automation.

Erosion of civic engagement: Involving, engaging people.  Often public meetings are dull, or the public wants to kill the government officials because they don’t like a decision they made.  Making an effort to engage citizens, delegate power to them.  (Sherry Arnstein’s ladder of citizen participation).  Library staff go to community events, even home visits to talk about ideas for library services.

Hired young students to be “mindspotters” to create events and develop ideas for youth.  Asked children aged 9-14 for ideas about library building.  One girl wanted to hear bird songs in the library.  Creative events (e.g. “cardboard knights”).

Social challenges: economic shifts, post-industrialism, gentrification.

Mystification and barriers in libraries: OPAC, Dewey system, subject headings, jargon, requiring ID, security gates, fines, busy staff, programming schedules.

Create ongoing relationships with socially excluded people.  Respond to their needs, identify systemic barriers.

Serving immigrant groups.  Not just “clients,” but actively improving their own lives.

Lessons learned:

Get out of the library

Meet people where they are most comfortable

Respect community timetables

Time and patience

Hold back on your own ideas


Misinformation in social media.  Mark Galotti: People should be taught to tell when they are being manipulated.  IFLA awareness program on fake news.  Libraries can teach information literacy.  Aarhus library has children debating the news with panels of adult experts.  Expert speakers, public debates.

Health care, nutrition programs.

Fact checkers, plagiarism checkers.  But need to address deeper belief systems that cause people to believe fake news.

Coming: Center for an Informed Public (U of Washington).

Reinvent the library: new products, new funding methods.

Create a place (the library) where citizens can discover the capacity to respond to change.

Probably won’t get more money.  Need to innovate.

Hackathons.  “People’s Lab.”  Makerspaces.  Drone workshops.  LEGO events.

The library took on big data for the city.  Open data hackathons.

Design thinking camps.

Physical space: One of our greatest assets, next to staff.  We are good at digital products, but the competition is fierce.  But we also have spaces where anyone can come in and use it.  We need to think about:

* Library as media

* What can be done on-site, rather than online

* Meaning and significance (not just information)

* Credibility

* Meeting people

* Experimenting

* Visitor as a resource, not just a consumer

* Values.  Libraries have never been neutral. Democracy is not neutral.

* Sense of humor

* Things that happen, rather than arranged events

Klinenberg. Palaces for the People

Same space used for children’s literature festival, seminars for start-up businesses, etc.

Oases between shelves where people can sit.

Social spaces where people can move furniture and talk.

“Pram parking lot.”

Safe space for all.

Lots of screens.  Advertising, exhibits, places to have a say on city government

Old-school arcade games.

Bots: self-service and automation.  Materials sorting system.  Branch collection development: sends books to branches as needed.

Robot: story telling.

Danish Digital Library: collaboration on purchasing.

Common web site architecture for library web sites in Denmark.



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