LibrarIN will examine ways that libraries can develop new functions, services and engagement with the individuals, organisations and communities they serve. This will be achieved through social innovation based on public value co-creation and a demand-driven design of library services.
The rationale for this project builds on the role of libraries as public services which are facing the varied challenges of the 21st century. Many of these challenges are shared with museums, cultural centres, galleries, and cultural institutions, such as the OECD and UNESCO, and professional associations like LIBER. These challenges include the delivery of efficient high-quality public services, and the improvement of libraries’ capacity to deal with societal challenges, such as the ones included under the European Green Deal.
The needs and expectations of libraries and their current potential users are drastically evolving over time. LibrarIN will concentrate on social innovation in libraries and encourage the participation of citizens in co-creating their future. Key functions within libraries such as hubs for online access, co-working spaces, living labs for participatory activities, and cultural and socioeconomic centres can promote social entrepreneurship. Innovative libraries aim at complementing these physical and online services with more interactive services for users, and an active engagement in the production of new or improved economic, social and cultural services. Libraries need to perform these new functions to “re-position” themselves at the core of cultural and socioeconomic activity in the neighbourhoods, cities and regions where they operate, and where they constitute a key part of the innovation ecosystems.
The aforementioned transformation of libraries requires thinking of inclusive ways of citizen engagement to create public value. The LibrarIN project believes the traditional view of top-down public administrations, in which citizens are not involved in the creation of services, is no longer appropriate. Modern-day challenges increase the need for a demand-driven design of state-of-the-art library services, to allow the effective engagement of citizens and organizations and ”unlock social assets”.
LIBER, as leaders of WP6 (Dissemination, Communication and Sustainability), will lead the dissemination of project results and awareness-raising within the scientific and policy community, stakeholders in general, practitioners and citizens. LIBER will also utilise its network of research libraries and connections within the library community to contribute to mapping exercises and will play a decisive role in stakeholder engagement tasks.