Libraries and storytelling: bringing resources to life

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Research Librarians are looking to adapt to a fast-changing environment. The sector is moving away from relying on copyright-heavy, proprietary and expensive subscriptions. This means adapting both systems and mindsets to be open access by default – and that’s quite a shift!

How things have changed – and how excited I was to see what LIBER is working on in their latest strategy: innovation around metrics and peer review. Further pillars of their strategy is around open access and building capacity around data management.

I want to focus in on innovation around metrics – where it converges with open access to research libraries. And this is the bit where it might once again prove that I was too far ahead.

In the keynote I pointed to a future where libraries will act on (and measure) social value to their community. This requires a radical rethink of the role of research librarian.

LIBER 2017: Day 2

Yet, it is a shift that is inevitable. The much quoted Future of Employment study from Oxford University which predicts which roles are likely to be automated. Librarians are on the list… But that assumes that we continue thinking of the role of librarian as a static role – and that’s clearly not the case, considering how fast it has evolved already.

We propose that research librarians (and indeed all walks of librarians) think of their role beyond the virtual. That they take a firm grasp on the human side of knowledge facilitation. That they take a firm grasp of the precursor to that: strong bonds people in-between.

And how might you achieve that? By sharing stories. At Historypin we develop and maintain storytelling methods used by 3000+ cultural organisations to expand their communities – and bring their resources to life.

To that end we ran the largest scale prototype of a new framework for storytelling we have developed for cultural institutions.

It shocked some. It delighted many.

It requires librarians to move out from behind the research counter. It calls for a move beyond the comfort zone.

The payoff is oblique, yet immediate: a more cohesive community, ready for mutual support.

LIBER 2017: Day 2

LIBER 2017: Day 2

And we’re currently enhancing the approach with measurement and evaluation framework: we will enable libraries to report on social value.

What’s not to like?

Thanks to the organisers for inviting, and Matthijs van Otegem, who introduced the session and facilitated the Q&A.

If you’d like to explore what large-scale storytelling can do for your organisation, get in touch…

Michael Ambjorn