Today has been my first day at Next Library, a two day conference about libraries and their future that’s taking place at the Amerika-Gedenkbibliothek in Kreuzberg in Berlin. While I am super happy to be able to go to something that’s barely five minutes on foot from where I live, I nevertheless was a little apprehensive about going to such an event and to be asked to blog and tweet about it – for I am a really low user of libraries.

I read a lot. I consume masses of digital content. I even buy a fair few books, so maybe I ought to borrow them instead. But on a day to day basis I basically never set foot in a library.

With the exception of Bücherhallen Hamburg. That I use as a working space. And to meet people in Hamburg for work meetings. The wifi is solid, it’s 5 minutes from Hamburg Hauptbahnhof. What’s not to like?

The thing is I am not using the Bücherhallen as a regular library. I am using it as a meeting space.

And that then brings me to Next Library.

For today – not least when it came to the presentations from some of the libraries and their projects from the USA, Denmark, Romania and Finland in particular – that is where things are heading, and in all kinds of weird and wonderful and brilliant ways. Game jams in Bucharest libraries. Dogs and cows you can read to in Finland (really!). A multitude of creative social projects in Danish libraries. A brilliant project to use virtual reality to document murals in Reno.

I attended a whole session about libraries running partnerships with other organisations, and how to do that – facilitated by Chicago Public Library and MIT Media Lab. This was an excellent handout from that – it could be applied more widely than just to libraries:

But then where do you go from there? What about organisations that do not fit into these neat categories? What about the ethics of such choices? How could this apply to European libraries where the politics is different?

And then there was even an answer to my issue of place. “We still think that people go to their local library” one attendee said to me over a coffee. “But they do not.” That’s me. And there I was thinking why I was even at the event.

Basically I was hooked. I’ve not been to such an interesting conference in ages. I’m not actually meant to be at the event all of tomorrow, but I am going along anyway – because I am learning a lot. Which I suppose it what ought to happen in an event full of librarians, right?

Tomorrow it is more political, and more blog posts and tweets will follow.

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