Strengths of a library that make it an ideal platform provider for Citizen ‘dialogue and debate’:
~ Trust Mechanism: The library is a trustworthy institution, people believe it to be a pro-people organization (no strings attached). Thus, this makes it easier for the library to reach marginalized clusters of people, people with special needs and people who are sidelined (often censored). The library can also act as a provocateur to get the people to speak out, take responsibility and avoid self-censorship. Thus in turn uphold the value of ‘freedom of expression’ and providing ‘safe’ platform to do so.
~ Support Mechanism: Due to the proximity with the community, the library is able to help people identify, synthesize and extrapolate their needs and motivations. Thus, providing a life-long support relationship. For example guiding mothers on childcare, or immigrants on language skills.
~ Social Feedback Mechanism: The libraries is a keen listener to the ‘collective public voice’, weaving it into narratives and qualitatively rich content (in the form of films, multimedia, magazines). This makes it a affective mirror to society – highlighting community needs and interests. The emotionally rich content created at DOK, as yet may not give an indication of ROI (for the municipality), but it definitely affects decision making at an interpersonal level.
Also, the public libraries role as a facilitator between policy makers (city council, municipality bodies) and the citizens is taken as a special case. This has another benefit – Increased trust of the people towards the policymakers.
~ Connecting Mechanism: The library (I have to say, especially DOK) has been very active in ‘connecting people’, whether it be business-to-business or peer-to-peer. This makes the library as a necessary lubricant for public cohesion.
~ Optimism Mechanism: Giving compliments: This is a strange one, but yes – the library acts as a platform to share success stories (whether that be from the side of the city municipality or the people themselves), and create optimism in a better safer future in the city.
Further questions for myself:
~ In future how would you measure the success of the library?
~ Is the name library apt for an organization catering to multiple social needs? *Note: Thus the DOK is called the ‘library concept centre’ and a department called- innovation deptt.