A talk with Marijke

Marijke is a librarian at the  DOK library concept center. She has been responsible for the current spatial layout, interiors of the DOK building. Below is a talk with her, the answers are summarized  versions of the discussion.

I. Vision

– What are the key values of DOK?

* The key values of a library are Respect, transparency, challenge and peoples development. The library should be have an Openess to it, and an element of surprise that makes people curious and makes them want to keep coming back.

– What are the reasons you would give if you want to recommend DOK to your friends? / What is the main message that DOK wants to communicate to its users ?

* According to my vision, in future people are going to be more alone and isolated from one another. I see the library as a place where you can come to be comfortable. And for also come here for the human contact.

II. Role of libraries in the future (imagine DOK 10 years from now)

How do you see the role of the library as information content providers?

* In the future, libraries are going to be important for the human contact that they offer. In terms of information, the library serves the need for verbal information in the form of discussions and personal support. Today, we often have information overload and a lot of anxiety as a result of that, People do have a need for an ‘interpreter’ that can abstract the information and there also lies the role of the library.

– What are the kind of people who come here? and what are the kinds that dont? what about the tough to target users (age group 16 to 25)? What about minorities and special need groups?

* We have special provision (book collections) for special needs like – learning languages. (Talking about teenagers who don’t come to libraries) The library is not specially targeted towards a category of people or an age group. Even teenagers do come to the library; their prime interests are movies, and books on success and self-help manuals that are too expensive to buy. Even if some of them don’t come for a few years – they do come back later in life, and definitely after they have a child.

– How do you see the role of technology in DOKs future (e.g. digitisation, web based lending)?

* We have the ‘Tank u’ project, where you can download e books, but I don’t see the library lending e-readers.

– How do commercial partnerships affect public trust in the library? any other issue (positive and negative) that you can think of regarding private partnerships?

* We have private partnerships with private firms, for example we had the beursvloer, where people running their own organizations, individuals, private businesses could meet and collaborate with one another. As long as it falls under the values of the library, private partnerships are healthy.

– What are the user expectations and complains?

* Most of the complaints that we have here are building related. Complains regarding overheating in summer (due to the glass roof) or a cold draft in certain areas of the building. Overall everyone can also his/her subjective opinion about everything ofcourse. In terms of expectations, we conduct surveys sometimes to access what kind of collections, media etc people would like.

– On the amount of control the library should exercise on the content

* We don’t have many rules in the library, but once a 16 yr old girl decided she wanted a birthday party in the library, and just came with all her friends, it made a lot of noise which disturbed other people. Also, we cannot allow people to come and sleep here (some homeless people have a beer and come and sleep off) as well; also because there are children around who need to feel safe. There is a tension between what people want, but the library is in essence all inclusive. For example we see that the older people coming in the morning like more silence, so we have softer music in the morning that in the afternoon.

Another example, when we got new chairs for the childrens section, some children scratched their names on the arms of the chair, I was worried, but then It stopped, now the names on the chair is a part of the library and lends to its character.

– What is the changing role of the librarian?

* Traditionally librarians were always behind desks, but now our librarians have taken new tasks and go out of the building, seek collaborations, organize events. The scope of work has increased.

III. Location and the library:

– Does the library of the future (DOK) need to have a dedicated building?

* A library cannot exist outside its building for the reason of the environment that it offers. But I am too practical about it; we should see what the idea is and then judge it.

IV. How do you measure your success? performance of the library?

* By the number of visitors, and also we have satisfaction surveys. We ask them what kind of things they would like – more books of a certain kind, movies, collection specific information.


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