Engaging with librarians at the 2023 LIBER conference

Over 400 European librarians attended the Central European University of Budapest for the 2023 LIBER conference in early July. LibrarIN representatives were also present in Hungary to introduce the project and its early results and meet with the library community.

In a pre-conference workshop titled “Value Co-Creation and Social Innovation for a New Generation of European Libraries“, Lars Fulgsang (Roskilde University), Anthony Arundel (UNU-MERIT), Andrej Vrcon and Barbara van der Vaart (LIBER) shared the latest updates from the project and addressed around 30 librarians gathered for the occasion.

The workshop was divided into four moments. The first moment explained the project’s aim: bringing innovation and collaboration within libraries. It was essential to clear out the jargon with professionals from the field.

The second moment was about the gaps the project is still trying to identify: it concerns the differences in vocabulary from one European country to another to address innovation and digital transformation in public and private libraries, but also the identification of already existing cases of innovation initiatives within libraries. A survey will soon be sent out to European research and public library representatives to capture the complexity of user involvement in innovation. The session helped to finetune some questions based on the attendance feedback.

After these exchanges, the librarians were invited to participate in an interactive exercise: split into three groups, they were tasked to draft a co-creative and innovative library project with the following criteria: new, useful and feasible. This was a very instructive session. It shows what innovation for librarians is and how it is articulated and made possible from within. The three propositions were about IA awareness, maker spaces and enabling innovative environments.

The workshop concluded with an introduction to the Stakeholder Representatives Panel, which is still open to candidates from libraries. The Panel will allow 25 library stakeholders and more to be involved in the LibrarIN project. Library stakeholders are from various backgrounds and experiences: public libraries (national, municipal, community and libraries​), directors and managers of international library organisations, academics​ and policymakers​, and civil society representatives. They will create innovative library projects together in synergy with LibrarIN researchers, support the​ validation of concepts from the project, and later help disseminate the project’s results and outcomes. Following the workshop, two librarians have applied to join the Panel.