Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Brainstorming the library of the future

I was speaking to someone (Greg) last night who works for a company that works with libraries. He'd like to set up a time his group to interact with library and information science students, and I'm happy to comply.  This morning, my mind started thinking about what that meeting (lunch) might entail  and an exercise from the R-Squared Conference came to mind.  I'm using this blog post to document my idea, not only to share it with him, but also so you might use it too.

Creative SpaceAt this lunch event, I would like to gather as many of this organization's employees as possible. Then I would like invite two students for each employee. (So twice as many students as employees.)  Why? Students are used to thinking creatively and I want to "up" the creative thinking in the room, but not totally overwhelm this organization's employees.

When participants "sign in", I would ask them to put their name and their favorite animal on their name tag.  This will give people something to immediately discuss, especially if I tell them their their favorite animal can't be a dog or a cat (easy choices).

Participants would be encouraged to sit at tables were there are at least two employees and four students.  Each table would have a big piece of butcher paper (or newsprint paper) with markers, pens, and crayons.  Once settled in - and perhaps after eating lunch - each table would be assigned a brand (e.g., Apple, Chuck E. Cheese, Disney, Las Vegas, or Starbucks) and would use that brand's point of view to brainstorm these questions:
  • What would a new library look like?
  • What services would it have?
  • Who would use it?
  • How would it function?
  • When would it be open?
  • Where would it be located?
Participants would first be encourage to quickly share what they know about the brand, then move into the questions.  With a big piece of paper in front of them, they could write or draw their answers.  They would be encourage to come up with one vision per table - based on the brand that they were assigned - but individuals could capture ideas that didn't included in the final vision.  (Those notes could be interesting to review later.)

That 10-15 minute brainstorming session would be followed by a debriefing where each table would present its ideas.  We would mark those components that resonated with others in the room.  All of the notes would be captured for later use (including photos of the drawings, etc.).

Better safe than sorry may be the most dangerous thing ever saidWhen we did a similar exercise during R-Squared, my table was tasked with designing a Starbucks influenced library. The hub/center of the library was the cafe, with music/media being close to the cafe, then the books. Music is piped into the space. Seating is comfortable in order to encourage people to linger. People can download media easily, including ebooks. People can even download parts of ebooks, which means they can select specific chapters that they want to read. In addition, people can combine books with music, so that a book could have a specific soundtrack.

The library would have extended hours, opening early and staying open late. And it would be a kid-free zone. This is keeping the way people use Starbucks, where you don't find kids hanging out. It is a place for adults only.

We didn't talk in detail about what furnishings and other stuff would be in the library and I wish that we had.  I think it would have been good to talk about the environment on that level. that I've gotten this written, time to spring my idea on Greg!


Anonymous said...

Great post except your comment that Starbucks is a place for adults. My local Starbucks, located in a suburban shopping center, has lots of kids and lots of dogs (the dogs are on the patio), especially on weekend mornings. I'm sure they sell more hot chocolate than coffee. Maybe it's an exception, but because of that, my idea of a Starbucks-inspired library would be completely different.

Anonymous said...

A library of the future that excludes children, excludes the future.

What you want is well behaved people and you think that is only available in adults. Challenge that paradigm and demand that children behave. They are out there---adults and children who love libraries and behave in public places.

Starbucks for me is cramped, dark and usually has a line for coffee...but hey, I go to a Starbucks in a big city at coffee break time, this isn't the same way I use a library. And Joe Mugs doesn't do it for me either.....