By Madalina Paxaman, photos by Guki Giunashvili
NEXT LIBRARY Conference 2019, an international gathering of forward-thinking library professionals, has opened its doors on June 2nd at DOKK1 in Aarhus. For three days, innovators and decision-makers from 43 countries will explore the evolving nature of the public libraries in the 21st century.
For many years the libraries represented the places where we borrowed and returned books, where we studied and where, occasionally, and only in restricted circumstances, we interacted with each other. The rooms packed with people, the shelves stuffed with volumes, the dust particles shinning in the small light coming from the table lamp and the librarian shushing from her desk every time someone would make a sound are my memories of the libraries I visited growing up.
However, this image of static, unwelcoming public spaces is beginning to change, contested by the evolving trends in the society. A very good example is the public library at DOKK1 in Aarhus, a hub of knowledge and culture and a place where people can interact, a citizens’ house.
Created by Denmark’s Aarhus Public Libraries and first presented in 2009, the purpose of the NEXT LIBRARY® event is to look beyond the challenges and find the opportunities that can help improve the status of these institutions in the future years: transform them into spaces where people can get inspired to learn by doing, a place where they are encouraged to explore.
The format of NEXT LIBRARY 2019 will build on “the Next Library Concept” by providing the participants a platform for co-learning and co-creating, a space for participatory, engaging, pluralistic and interactive meetings, and parallel sessions. And while there are about 400 participants attending the conference in Aarhus, the network of stakeholders is far wider and it includes more than 1550 members from 96 countries.
“This is how we get inspired. Not by talking to people who are like ourselves but by talking to people who are doing things differently, who have new ideas, different ideas, even crazy ideas that we did not come up with ourselves. Part of the NEXT LIBRARY spirit is about getting ideas together, is about sharing your ideas, it is about building upon each others’ ideas.” said Marie Østergård, Director of Aarhus Public Libraries at the official opening of NEXT LIBRARY 2019.
However, NEXT LIBRARY conference is not only about the success stories, it is also about sharing the failures. “When you want to innovate, when you want to do something differently, you need to have the courage to do something you have no idea how to do and if you do not dare to make mistakes, that will never happen (…) so at NEXT LIBRARY we celebrate mistakes because these are the ones that make us wiser”, she added.
The organizers have prepared for the following days a program packed with talks featuring keynote speakers, wildcard sessions, demos/exhibitions, all of these aimed at strengthening the continuously growing community of library leaders and innovators from around the world.
For more information about NEXT LIBRARY, please visit: http://www.nextlibrary.net