Serious play - Building a library strategy with Lego

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Abstract

There was a time when the purpose of libraries could be summed up as "being staffed by librarians and populated by books and users". Back then, it was easy to know what goal was being worked towards: there should be books on the shelves, librarians at the counters and a sufficiently well-functioning infrastructure to ensure that users were satisfied when they left the library.

About 20 years ago, however, its reformulation began. The neoliberal currents that poured over the global North led to a thinking that the public sector was inefficient but could be made more efficient with the same tools that are typically used in the private sector. Termed ‘New Public Management’, the phenomenon washed like a tsunami across academia in the early and mid-2000s.

Until then, concepts such as 'strategy', 'marketing', 'competition' and 'key indicator' were foreign words in the academic sector, but suddenly universities, like private companies, had to ensure that each university's production targets were met. Soon this also reached the heart of universities: Their libraries.

Today, there is hardly a major research library in Europe that does not have a strategy that serves as guideline to reaching our production targets and many of us have already developed and run through one or more strategic cycles. In 2019 the University Library of Southern Denmark had to renew its strategy.

The purpose of this presentation is to share our experiences with building a new strategy using a tool called Lego Serious Play (LSP) for our library and thereby to inspire your future strategy work.

We will not report on the mistakes we made along the way and the detours we came up with, just give you the recipe for how, in retrospect, we can see that it can and should be done, thus giving you our "best practice".

The concept behind LSP is based on the so-called 80-20 rule: that 80 percent of what is said at meetings is said by 20 percent of those present. The idea of LSP is to create a new common language: you build your thoughts in Lego, or rather metaphors thereof. We used a SWOT analysis to guide the construction of our current situation. The idea was to look into the future and rebuild the weaknesses into strengths and threats into opportunities. This little last feint in particular proved useful, because it got the attention of the participants towards the future: what obstacles should we overcome? What stood in our way? What would we like to achieve? What could we do ourselves? With this attention to the future and the shared insight and understanding that the construction and division of it had created, we were ready to formulate our library strategy.

Our presentation will be richly illustrated with pictures from building sessions and in case time and the venues facilities allows for it we will be happy to make a short demonstration during QQML 2021.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of QQML 2021
Publication date26. May 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 26. May 2021
EventQQML 2021 - Online, Athen, Greece
Duration: 25. May 202127. May 2021
http://qqml.org/event/qqml-2021/

Conference

ConferenceQQML 2021
LocationOnline
CountryGreece
CityAthen
Period25/05/202127/05/2021
Internet address

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