A talk with Aaron Schmidt

Aaron is a librarian in the US and author of the blogs walking paper and influx.

We discussed co-existence of polar issues of communal trust vs. private partnerships.  He pointed me to a few nice examples of libraries and his blog which is a very nice source of inspiration. I am facing information overload now, need to start putting it down on paper for it to make sense.

He was quite taken by the services Netflix offers (recommendations, peer to peer sharing of information, home delivery) which made him see that libraries would act mostly as a place for ‘shared experiences’ rather than content providers.

Some interesting areas that he introduced me to were pop-up libraries (often with seasonal themes) and participatory projects (museum 2.0) .

Most importantly what i got from the conversation was that libraries will lose their role as data providers, what will be more important is how they provide that data and its other social and empowering functions. A important aspect of this social interaction is the space as a comfort zone, this can be provided by a dedicated library building. What the co-located or decentralised library can perhaps offer is a link to the virtual-social. Overall, I still see the co-located library as a touch point and not replacing the use of a library.

As for the empowerment aspect, i am thinking how to make people feel more in control? especially this 19- 35 age group.
This age group has very typical concerns – food, sleep, belongingness, personal empowerment being the core ones.

Food for thought :
Have been thinking of other instances where a brand or activity was able to empower  people. A funny example that came to my mind was of the new blue bell wrangler website. Also, selling or bartering stuff on queens day is an empowering experience – taking on roles that make you valuable in surprising ways. But what we should be looking at is socially relevant information, probably a bartering of information or information sharing with a social reward.

In terms of services, another thought comes to mind regarding the reward mechanisms.  Rewards like ‘a boat ride for three’ or ‘a trip to antartica for two’  hit directly on our desire for social cohesion (belongingness). But of course a reward is and extra.

Another idea is of citizen generated feedback – i see it as a ‘confession booth’ for a responsible citizen, where a person can go and talk about the problems in the city and what would make him happy. The identity of the person is kept secret. The person could be prompted by visuals or storyboards to prompt him to rate and comment on a situation.

Perhaps the library can let users organise all the data it has according to their own perceptions. Such a project of tagging books was conducted at the haarlem (nl) library, and is known to be popular with the public.


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