On the final day of the Next Library conference, held at Aarhus Urban Mediacentre, I listened to five ‘ignite talks’ - aimed at encouraging individuals to use libraries.
Living Cookbook, Milan
Branch libraries are hosting many of the EXPO events taking place in Milan this year. For Emma Catiri, this was an opportunity to ‘look outside the standard concept of a library’. She developed the concept of a ‘living cookbook’ - a way of getting people to use her branch library. She invited people to visit her library to share recipe ideas. It has become a place ‘for listening and telling stories … sharing knowledge’ about food. She explains, ‘libraries are living stories … and people are the living collection’.
Pillars of Democracy, Denmark
Sara Jorgensen wants to ‘re-invent libraries as agoras of the 21st century’. The Greek ‘agora’ is a place where people share ideas, she explained. She has developed the concept of the ‘democratic relay’ – consisting of a bunch of people on a bike who ride from town to town. They spend two weeks in each town, exploring notions of democracy with individuals in each place. Locals are encouraged to participate in a workshop. In one workshop, participants wrote poems about democracy on the door of a toilet. She believes that ‘libraries can fill the gap between people and politicians’.
What learning for UK libraries? Libraries can provide a neutral place for conversation – which of course requires libraries to have dedicated meeting spaces.