Erik Boekesteijn, Director at DOKLAB
As an international ambassador for libraries who gets the opportunity to visit and explore many different public libraries across the world I am constantly surprised and amazed by the inventive ways that libraries are responding to the needs of individuals and communities in our networked society. During my recent travels across Europe visiting libraries for the Public Libraries 2020 Tour, commissioned by the Reading & Writing Foundation, I once again was overwhelmed by the important role libraries play in their communities and how they really change people’s lives.
Based on my experiences I would like to give two considerations as you develop the new services set out by the Universal Learning Offer.
Firstly, Nesta’s report Open Dataset of UK Makerspaces 2015 – A User’s Guide shows that the most important reason to come to makerspaces is to socialize. People are looking for face to face contact and an experience in a safe environment where learning is FUN! The people are the real collection and the service that libraries provide are a starting point for a conversation.
Secondly, I would urge you to think about the impact of these new developments on the role and the work of library staff. As David Lankes says: ‘librarians can help communities and individuals to reach larger goals.’ But what qualities do these librarians need to have? I see librarians as PR people for knowledge, whose job it is to curate curiosity. Creative collaborators in institutions for learning, who are not going to be measured by how well they do themselves, but by how well they create space for others to be successful.
The Learning Offer and the Digital Making Kit will help you to take advantage of new opportunities and respond to new challenges. It is a great introduction and a very useful tool to help you step into this wonderful new world of libraries and librarianship. The process is about trying and learning and sometimes making mistakes. We have to listen to our users and never forget to have fun and to remember that libraries will always be about keeping stories, sharing stories and making stories.