Hacking the Libraries and implementing startup mindset in publishing

During the 2015 edition (the first one celebrated in our premises of Casa del Lector) the starling session was the one devoted to the four librarian leaders in innovation: Jill Bourne, James English, Anja Flicker and Kari Lämsä. The Auditorium of Casa del Lector was full with 300 librarians for that afternoon full of new ideas and excitement. Readmagine hosted for a second time the IDDM with some of the most cutting edge business experiences in the publishing industry and a pitching festival for startups. This edition also included four days of workshops for iberoamerican library leaders with the support of the Gates Foundation.
José Manuel Anta, general director of the Federation of National Associations of Distributors of Editions (FANDE) and of the Union of National Distributors of Editions (UDNE) was satisfied with the results of the 2nd International Digital Distributors Meeting because progress has been made in the objective to constitute an association of the sector. During the Meeting, a first day took place in which joint working meetings were also held with members of the Technology and Innovation for Smart Publishing (TISP). Regarding his perception of the outcome of the meeting, José Manuel Anta highlighted that «a series of opportunities for collaboration with different sectors of both parallel industries and lines of activity have been pointed out, for example the world of libraries.» He stressed that “much has been said about libraries from different perspectives, but from the pure business opportunity. We have seen that in countries such as the Netherlands or Sweden, when it comes to ebooks, libraries represent 40 or 50 percent of the turnover for these distributors ”.

Jill Bourne: Together we are stronger

Jill is Director of the San José Public Library (USA). Taking advantage of the fact that this city is the capital of  Silicon Valley. Bourne explained that one of the challenges she had to face when assuming the leadership of this network of libraries in Silicon Valley (California) was to make sure that the libraries were at the service of the community. The San José Public Library has 22 divisions and a central library. Before assuming her management, the buildings were open four days a week and at no time on weekends – Bourne pointed out. This meant that according to official standards for public libraries, in California they could not even be considered as «branches» but with the category of «library points.» This not only implied an embarrassing situation for the city but was also ‘tragic for the community’.Therefore, one of his priorities was resource development and making sure the library was community service and physically open. On the other hand, special attention was paid to ensuring that services were up-to-date and that they met the needs of the community. For this, new resources were included in the library, such as teaching technology classes so that users could use the materials. Also –he points out– learning spaces that were modern and suitable for the community were created and the library hours were extended.

James English: Reinventing the ebook loan

James is responsible for the Library Simplified Ebook Initiative program in the New York Public Library ( NYPL ) network with ten more years of experience in projects to transform ideas into technological products and services. The Library Simplified program is considered a world leader in the advancement of electronic book lending systems in public libraries. The project seeks to simplify access to digital content for library users by creating an open reading platform that brings together and makes content from the main electronic book distributors available. The Library Simplified program is jointly funded by the NYPL and the  Institute of Museum and Library Services –in which ten public libraries across the United States participate– is concerned with rethinking traditional policies of the United States. library and new technologies to make access to libraries and their digital collections easier. Their goal is to remove barriers to library use so that more people can take advantage of all the services the library offers.

Anja Flicker: I put my foot in the air and it held me

Anja Flicker, director of the Würzburg Public Library, in Bavaria (Germany), explained the foundations that supported the transformation process that her public library had to undertake to become considered one of the most innovative in the country and most valued for its citizens, as a dynamic of transformation from within the library itself, through a scheme of mutation in the priorities and culture of the team. When she began her work as director of this library, the first thing she did was talk with each of the members that made up the staff, to check what were the skills, capacities and experiences of each one of them. With this measure, Flicker explains that it wanted to know the potential of each of the people who worked there. Later, they were individually informed about the tasks they would carry out based on their knowledge. The next phase was the configuration of joint strategies . For this, Flicker held meetings with the staff to analyze in common the moment the library was living and aspects related to its infrastructure, from the architecture and distribution of the spaces in the building, the software or hardware available. And thirdly, the relationships that the library had with users, content distributors and administrations were analyzed. Flicker assured that these three steps have not only been fundamental to achieve the precise effectiveness of a space like the Würzburg Public Library, but that they are three guidelines that any institution should follow if it wants to achieve success.

Kari Lämsä: The library is a verb

Lämsä is director of Library 10 and Meeting Point of Helsinki (Finland,) defended the idea that libraries have to be spaces in which users create content and not only access it. From his perspective, libraries are considered passive places, where people read, borrow books, are silent, and there is not too much activity. But in his opinion » we have to change the whole concept of library «, since libraries should be much more active places where users can create content together with other people. Users – Lämsä asserted – not only want to use the information but to generate it, they do not simply want to use the media but to create it. The library should be more like a kitchen than a living room. In the conversation between the director of Library 10 and the librarians participating in Readmagine , he encouraged them to think about the library in a new way. Lämsä commented that libraries had evolved from a very hierarchical idea, in which the library space was not seen as a place focused on readers but rather on the management of a collection, to the current scheme in which the dynamics are similar to that of a «living room» or living room.
The next step, according to Lämsä, is to operate the library space more like a kitchen in which one and the other do things together, in which there is a creative dynamic instead of a space for consumption.

During the startups campus the visions obtained from the gaming process launched by the FGSR and FC a few months before were discussed around 4 challenges for the transformation of digital publishing:

1. New business models
2. Digital marketing
3. Communication versus conversion
4. Library as market and laboratory

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