In March I had the pleasure to serve as keynote and on a panel at the La Biblioteca Che Cresce, Conference at Stelline in Milan Italy. I was inspired by all of the innovative work and the unique physical spaces of the Libraries represented on the panel and thought I would share takeaways with you.
First up was Tuula Haavisto, Cultural Director, former Library Director, City of Helsinki. Tuula shared the planning process that was undertaken for the new Helsinki Central Library Oodi. She also shared successes and cautionary points, including how “popularity brings positive problems” when a successful new building and plan of service brings in usage and attendance beyond the capacity of the new library and staff.
Following Tuula, I shared, from a United States Library perspective, a talk entitled Beyond Content: Community Engagement through Community Led Participatory Learning and Knowledge Creation. I encouraged attendees to analyze and assess their organizational cultures, commit resources to lifelong learning for staff members, to undertake rebranding for results as we strive to communicate value and impact, and for Librarians to embrace their role as Facilitators through a Community Led service model.
Next was Theo C.M Kepperman, Director of the Rotterdam Public Library. Theo focused his presentation on unique, popular programming for “young people” specifically ages 14-26, a population notoriously difficult to capture with library programming. Theo went on to describe the “three pillars” of successful programming for young people which include Physical- (interior design and incorporation of partners), Content- (sharing digital and physical content and components related to leisure, study, work, and personal development) and finally the Human component- (personnel, partners, community, co-creators).
Meike Jung, the Manager of the Library at Stuttgart, Germany shared inspiring stories of tech integration into library spaces and programming to introduce citizens to not only ythe digital world but to emerging technologies and coding languages that will shape the future of how we interact with technology and the digital world around us.
Emma Catiri and Daniela Cichetti, Librarians in Milan, Italy closed out this extraordinary panel by sharing the plans for their new modern, expanded library facility and how the planning process requires them to explore the territory between innovation and participation. This was especially valuable as they are in the process currently and they had not only details and information to share but questions to ask as they grow library services on behalf of the community and the larger community they intend to serve in their new spaces when complete.
The panel session concluded with more Q&A than time allowed. It was an incredible opportunity to share with colleagues and peers, the networking alone made the trip to Italy to speak invaluable. The Stelline conference is an annual event, and is the largest Library and Information Science annual conference in Italy. Please consider attending in the future.