Libraries as empowerment levers: defining the collections and the contents with the users - The example of the Ideas Box

LACHAL, Jérémy and PEICH, Muy-Cheng (2018) Libraries as empowerment levers: defining the collections and the contents with the users - The example of the Ideas Box. Paper presented at: IFLA WLIC 2018 – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Transform Libraries, Transform Societies in Session 218 - Women, Information and Libraries SIG.

Bookmark or cite this item: http://library.ifla.org/id/eprint/2417
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Language: English (Original)
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Abstract

Libraries as empowerment levers: defining the collections and the contents with the users - The example of the Ideas Box

In a context where inequalities are increasing and where digitization can contribute to the marginalization of those who are already the most vulnerable individuals, libraries can and should play a key role in fighting social inequalities and in empowering the most fragile populations. As David Lankes, the recipient of the American Library Association’s 2016 Ken Haycock Award for Promoting Librarianship, formulated it: “The Mission of Librarians is to Improve Society through Facilitating Knowledge Creation in their Communities”. At the core of this statement lies the importance of contextualization and the essential role that librarians can play towards the involvement of library users in the definition of the libraries’ collection. Contextualization and user-centered approaches are central elements of the Ideas Box program that Libraries Without Borders (LWB) launched in 2014. In order to bring the services of the library to those who need it, LWB created the Ideas Box: a mobile pop-up media center that can be deployed anywhere in 20 minutes. Initially designed for emergency situations, it has now been tested in numerous contexts: in crisis and emergency situations, in developing countries, as well as in low-income neighborhoods in Europe and the US. Each Ideas Box is different: the modules remain the same, but the contents of the Ideas Box (books, games, videos, websites, apps, equipment and material for creative activities) are tailored to the users’ needs. And this process has been created to involve the users of the Ideas Box in the definition of its contents and its activities, throughout the project. Our presentation will focus on the lessons learnt from our field experience with the Ideas Box, in Burundi - where the first Ideas Box have been deployed in 2014 –, in the Middle East – in response to the Syrian crisis –, in Colombia - where LWB has worked alongside the Colombian National Library to implement libraries in remote areas where the FARCs have been demobilized – as well as in Europe and in the US – where Ideas Box are building bridges between under-served communities and local libraries. We will present the principles of our approach, the resulting impacts on empowerment and democratic participation, as well as the challenges that we encountered, in particular trying to ensure representation of the most isolated and underrepresented populations.

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