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Dangerous ideas for libraries

Dangerous ideas for libraries: ASLA 2011

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This is the keynote presentation I gave to the ASLA 2011 Conference: 

I had a couple of good questions that went much further than the content of this presentation, perhaps into areas that I’ve covered in other recent presentations (also on SlideShare). One question, however, was on how we are going to manage all of the changes indicated in this presentation. I don’t think I answered that one comprehensively.  I said that for some of the new initiatives such as developing a new range of services that will be more appropriate to the role of a new Library within a world-leading university of technology (UTS’s aspiration), we are already engaged in active learning programs to improve our understanding of Design Thinking processes as they apply to service design.

What I should have added, however, is that I don’t think there is anything in this presentation that presents a major change for us beyond the development of a new range of services. At UTS Library we are already actively exploring or already doing most of the “dangerous ideas” covered here. So none of this really presents a major change in direction for us.

Macquarie University Library

I toured the new Macquarie University Library in mid-September 2011 finding it bright, porous, welcoming, comfortable looking, spacious and not over-signed. It is already proving to be very popular with the students. I really liked the new areas devoted to post-graduates and higher degree researchers. Many of the internal design features look to be very clever and effective.

The Grove Library, WA


I visited this Library in mid-September 2011 and was really impressed with the design, sustainability features and the people who work there. It is popular, efficient and a great addition to the community.
I am very grateful to those who arranged this visit for me and those who spent some of their time showing me around.

BikeTank and service design

As BikeTank approaches its third week I am really impressed with the energy and participation it enjoys as people come together at u.lab to try to encourage the use of bikes, plan better infrastructure and take shared action in ensuring a sustainable future for Sydney city.

Here are some images that hopefully tell some more of the story, i.e. what, where, who, how, when:
So apart from my personal interest in the outcomes from all of this why am I going?
There are several reasons:
  • I think it is a great initiative by several academics from across a number of faculties within UTS and I think we in UTS Library should be supportive of such steps. (Yes, that is a big hint for some of you reading this.)
  • I’d like to learn more about the whole Design Thinking process by seeing it in action. I reckon that most adults learn more about a process by being immersed in it than attending a seminar or workshop.
  • BikeTank is also about Social Innovation and a sustainable future. Those two concepts are critical to our future at UTS Library as we plan a future Library at the heart of our city campus. As well as implementing new technologies including ASRS, RFID and vastly improved online discovery (not just search but true discovery!) and building a grand new modern library that isn’t primarily a book storage facility, we need to evolve as an organisation and imagine and develop a new service model. I reckon that we’d be pretty well served by a similarly inclusive and collaborative process. So here is my vision for that:

Service (re)design at UTS Library

The mad square: modernity in German art 1910-1937

I saw this exhibition yesterday at the Art Gallery of NSW and was blown away. It is a wonderful example curatorial excellence (by Dr Jacqueline Strecker) at the highest level. The works illustrate a very creative and influential period of both art and design in Germany between two world wars. They are drawn from cultural institutions and collections across Europe, the US and Australia.

I don’t think such an exhibition could easily be mounted in Germany. It is so beautifully selected and the text is superb. I cannot write highly enough about this exhibition.

Media scandals & responsibility

Hmmm, so if you’re CEO & Chairman of huge media corporation, nothing is your fault. Of course it isn’t. You’re not to blame. One wonders, however, how your many media outlets would report this situation if it wasn’t about their boss.

What matters in the end is how your share value recovers. As long as your testimony saves the value of your stock all is good. You are an example to us all.