During our initial Next Chapter meeting in Atlanta on April 1-2, leaders from around the country came together to explore the future of the library. On a beautiful spring day, we worked to tackle this issue by exploring three different challenges:
- Embracing a rapid-fire introduction to design thinking.
- Answering the question: What is the future of learning?
- Answering the question: What is the future of the library?
The three scenarios opened eyes to the power of design, challenged our preconceptions, all while creating a connection between peers.
Jeff Sharpe, Trung Le, and Sarah Malin started the morning by introducing the power of design. As a group we went through a “Guerilla Design Challenge”
We were introduced to the rules of design and asked to provide verbs that describe the library:
From there, we developed a list of nouns and from those nouns split into groups and developed ideas around one of the nouns that spoke to us. From that list of nouns, each group decided upon a theme and built an experience or improved a place based upon that theme.
Our three groups came up with ideas that ranged from a dining club, to a mobile studio, to improving the sense of community in an airport.
The Future of Learning
Lucy Grey, David Jakes, and Andrea Andrea Saveri then led us through a chance to explore the future of learning.
Similar to our design experience, we defined terms and ideas around what some futures we see:
Future of the Library
We ended the day with a session led by Joyce Valenza, Buffy Hamilton, and Helene Blowers.
Thee three visionary librarians helped us focus on what was missing in the library and some of the attributes that we believed to be vital to the library’s success in the future.
The conversation was a powerful one that led to a great debate around the degree to which we should reimagine the library and if there were certain “sacred cows” that we embraced and were reluctant to release.
While there was debate, that is the beauty of the design process.
If we all agreed upon what should be created we would not push the boundaries and truly envision something unique and transformative.
In the end, the three challenges pushed us to rethink how we worked with one another and created ideas and approaches that would not have come by thinking within our comfort zones. If we are to truly reimagine the next chapter of the library, it will take a willingness to let go of our sacred cows, let go of our biases, and embrace ideas and approaches that may seems completely foreign.
If we are able to do that, we have the chance to create some powerful visions of what the library can be in the future.
Photo credit: Laura Deisley, Christian Long, and David Bill