User-Curators Transform the Library

WERNER, Klaus U. (2018) User-Curators Transform the Library. Paper presented at: IFLA WLIC 2018 – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Transform Libraries, Transform Societies in Session 162 - Art Libraries.

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Language: English (Original)
Available under licence Creative Commons Attribution.


User-Curators Transform the Library

Participation and involvement are keywords in a discourse about transforming the library into a more and more user-driven environment. The user is no longer a mere patron and libraries are not merely inspiring Third Places, but places where users can be inspired by users, supported by a participatory library. There are already well-known practices of including users in processes that have an impact on the library in different fields. For example, libraries invite users to participate in collection building (patron-driven acquisition), libraries give users the opportunity to join in reference librarians’ activities by making notes and recommendations that are integrated into library catalogs (context-sensitive classification), and libraries involve users in designing library space and in construction or redesign projects. Museums have been giving visitors the freedom to curate their own exhibitions including art works from the museums’ collections; libraries also may encourage users to contextualize library resources in their own way to make their research and the library collections more visible, by applying their special expertise. Art libraries seem to be predestined to do so both because of their users’ special capacities as researchers in art and design, as artists, and as future professionals, and because of the specific qualities of the library collections covering visual art or arts in general. Having users act as curators means more than just giving users a chance of having exhibitions. As users fulfill curator tasks, they select, combine and contextualize library resources like books, documents, physical objects, digital media, information, ideas, artwork, other materials, and space, and they present the results of that process – in whichever form or format. User-curators interact with library staff, and the library empowers them with knowledge of the collection, facilities, as well as linking and presenting skills; the library also assists with offline and online display. User-curators inspire other users and the community by sharing ideas and research results. This paper categorizes different trends and formats of curatorial practices employed by library users and gives some best-practice examples taken from libraries in different countries: intelligent table (Sitterwerk Art Library, Sankt Gallen, Switzerland), Citizens as curators (National Library of Singapore), topic room (Central and Regional Library Berlin, Germany), audio guide and performance by Benny Nemerofsky-Ramsay (Hekma and Duyves’s library and Huis de Pinto Library, both Amsterdam), and learning space (Rostock University Library, Germany). As different as these projects are in character, they all demonstrate how all sides profit from users as curators.

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