Asia-Pacific Library and Information Conference 2018, 30 July - 2 August 2018 Gold Coast: Roar Leap Dare
This conference presentation (PowerPoint slides) supports the session “You can’t do that in a library!” Why breaking library stereotypes and taking risks is good for libraries and good for the communities they serve. The Tea Tree Gully Library experiments in cementing relevance through the Event-Driven Library.
At a recent library conference in Adelaide, Kieran Flanagan of the strategic think tank, The Impossible Institute stated that libraries had more to fear from becoming invisible than from controversy. This wake up call to libraries was music to our ears. We had already been designing programs that challenged the accepted norms of library programming. Events we hoped would inspire at least one person to utter the phrase “you can’t do that in a library!”. In 2016 the City of Tea Tree Gully Library undertook a series of experiments in innovative event design that utilised collaborations with community groups, took bold steps out of library comfort zones, and offered our community a chance to experience things that they had never experienced in library, if anywhere at all.
Three main projects, Tanks! In the Library, the Library Up Late series and Operation Space Echidna (where we literally sent a toy echidna into space), served as the backbone to these experiments. They were designed to not only challenge the notion of what can and cannot be achieved with Library space and staff, but in so doing demonstrate the extraordinary value of our public library to the community, and in this we succeeded. The results surpassed our expectations. Between the three they attracted well over 2300 engagements, amazing social media reach, multiple radio interviews, and more inches of press and online news content than anyone has been able to count, including seeing our little suburban library written about in the National Geographic Kids magazine and in French news sites. More and more public libraries around Australia are combating the erroneous but pervasive belief that Google has rendered the public library and the public librarian obsolete through innovative events. This paper introduces, unpacks and advocates for the idea of the event-driven library. While much work has been done in the Museum and Gallery sector on event-driven models, less has been written on the adoption of this model in public libraries.