Activities as starting point for the Library of the future

The Boekenberg Library welcomes 200.000 visitors each year and organizes over 350 activities. Think of seminars, courses, workshops, excursions, festivals, concerts, films and debates, to name a few. These activities have become more important to our Library over the years. Libraries are obliged to preform more like an actual company nowadays: the offer must attract different age groups and have added value. That libraries are not fully about books anymore is obvious, information is provided in different ways. The first step towards the ‘Library of the future’ has been made.

Library of the future
In 2014, the Sector institution Public Libraries published a report ‘The Library of the future: junction of knowledge, contact and culture.’ It describes the changing role of the Library in today’s society and illuminates the challenges and opportunities a Library faces. Job Cohen, chairman of the Council of Supervision of the Public Library Amsterdam, writes in the preface to the report; “If you asked me ten years ago if I would be typing this on my iPad now (…) I would’ve said no, not by a long shot. What I do know is that these kind of developments will only grow faster in the years to come.” The central message of the report is that the Library needs to reinvent itself. The report describes a flash forward to 2025: what will libraries look like then? What will they offer? The answer: there will be a shift in focus, from collection to connection.

More knowledge, culture, debating and development for everyone!
The Library collection is becoming less and less important ever since the Internet has made its way into our lives. Social processes, however, have become more important. The Library, according to the report, needs to focus more on developing, stimulating and facilitating new connections. A Library no longer revolves around books, but around these five key points:

  1. Warehouse of knowledge and information
  2. Centre of personal development and education
  3. Source of inspiration for reading and literature
  4. Encyclopedia of art and culture
  5. Stage for meeting and debate

This plan is real, it’s more than just words. This shows in the new educational course ‘Mediacoach for Library professionals’. Together with experts, course coordinator Daniel Lechner worked on the program for years. In magazine Bibliotheekblad (August 2016), Lechner states: “The world of the Library was totally new to me, that’s why Maaike Toonen, from the Royal Library, and myself approached different leaders in the field. We now have many renowned people as guest lecturers in the course, like Frank Huysman, Eppo van Nispen, Sevenaer and Jos Debeij, head of the Royal Library. (…) Debeij teaches the participants about the new media centred society we live in now, and how this affects the Library.” He claims that libraries really need to re-evaluate their business model and need to leave their comfort zone. “Only companies who alter their core business, and dare to do something different, will come out on top.”

The Boekenberg thinks ahead, as you can read here, and is anticipating these developments by incorporating different activities that cater to the changing needs of visitors. Our different spaces in the core of the building are a great example of this. As of 2017, a new team will focus even more on education and social development. The Boekenberg is actively working on becoming better and moving towards being a new kind of Library: the Library of the future!