The Nieuwe Bibliotheek (New Library) in Almere, Netherlands has built a Library that embodies the ideals of the 21st Century library!
“They redesigned their libraries based on the changing needs and desires of library users.”
What they found led them to follow a model more relatable to their patrons:
“Guided by patron surveys, administrators tossed out traditional methods of library organization, turning to retail design and merchandising for inspiration. They now group books by areas of interest, combining fiction and nonfiction; they display books face-out to catch the eye of browsers; and they train staff members in marketing and customer service techniques.”
Based on feedback from their community they included a wide variety of services, spaces and programming.
“The library is also a Seats2meet (S2M) location where patrons are empowered to help one another in exchange for free, permanent, coworking space, and they utilize the S2M Serendipity Machine to connect library users in real-time. They also have a bustling cafe, an extensive events and music program, a gaming facility, a reading garden and more. The result? The New Library surpassed all expectation about usage with over 100,000 visitors in the first two months. It is now considered one of the most innovative libraries in the world.”
And the key:
“From the beginning, you involved the community to find out what they wanted from the library. What was the importance of taking this approach?”
“We wanted to create a customer’s library. Convenience for the librarian wasn’t leading, but convenience for the customer.”
I always say I’m not a control freak. Some would say I am. I think what they mistake as control is actually having a clear vision of my organization’s potential and direction.
Much like the artist creation of a movie- a library (or and organization) is a collaboration. Cinematographers, gaffers, scenic design, costumers, art directors, foley artist = librarians of all specialties, facilities managers, pages, trustees, community collaborators, security officers.
But it is the director that creates and holds the creative vision for the whole and communicates that effectively to the entire collaborative team. The director must always retain a clear vision of the final product to avoid wasted resources, the team getting ‘lost in the weeds’, or a mangled final result.
In that setting no one says the director is a control freak. Rather they may say that he/she is a perfectionist that works tirelessly and brings out the best in everyone to create a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. The ability to skillfully guide the multitude of contributors (like a symphony) to bring their skill set to the table and create a product that resembles on screen the vision the director had in his/her head is essential. I believe that leaders of great organizations must practice the same approach.
Visionary Leaders must:
- Have clear vision and a grasp of how the parts will come together.
- Think many moves ahead.
- Plan for exceptions. Allow for opportunities.
- Be open to spectacular unexpected contributions that make the whole better and Reject the opposite with equal vigor and determination. (This does not make you a micro manager or a control freak. If a screenwriter had suggested trotting a cowboy on a horse thru the final scene in Casablance-no one would have snarked that the director was a control freak for saying no to the idea.)
- Do not become complacent. Divide the long haul future into a series of attainable goals or projects. Your time with an organization is the career of a filmmaker with each new stage or project the equivalent of a completed film.
And… Like we all want in a good movie…