Our NLUS Network has had a workshop this week (24.-25.8.2015) at the Høgskolen i Oslo og Akershus. (A norwegian Fachhochschule – but what a difference to the German FHs!) The network initially called „Libraries in Urban Change“ came into light during the Potsdam conference City of Flows in 2012 where I had invited Nathalie Valet (Univ. of Antwerpen) to talk about the Strategic Footprint of Public Libraries in Urban Development. We agreed upon continuing this topic and Nathalie could publish her article delivered at the conference in the well known journal Library Management.
During the CoLIS 8 conference in Copenhagen 2013 I convinced Henrik Jochumsen, Casper Hvenegaard Rasmussen, Carl Gustav Johannsen and Dorte Skot-Hansen to join the small team which had already been enlarged by the swiss colleagues from Chur.
In 2014 the network could held a first workshop in Chur which I could not attend because of the ongoing semester. This year the date chosen luckily fell just between my annual vacation and the beginning semester.
It was nice finally meeting most of the network members in person whereas most of the business had been done via the collaboration tool Basecamp so far. We talked about the further project possibilities and we where looking for the next calls in the European Horizon2020 program. In order to prepare a joint project proposal we agreed upon a COST action program and several ERASMUS+ activities.
In fact the previous research of all of the partners joins very well together to a common theme: Ragnar Audunson (Oslo) has since several years written about the libary as a meeting place, the Copenhagen colleagues are now well known for their „Four Spaces Model“ and my research on the ROI of libraries are just different aspects of the same phenomenon.
The project initiative also fits very well into the activities at our university in Potsdam as we have just established an Institute for Urban Futures. Besides the existing Urban Complexity Lab within this institute we are also planning an Urban Transformation Lab which would very well integrate the topic of the network.
Meeting personally has at least the great advantage to talk more informally about ones own research projects and ideas as well as about the local situation of the practice field to be studied (i.e. the Public Libraries). Colleagues from the Netherlands draw an astonishing picture about the decrease of public library use there. Since I could not give the same statistics for Germany directly I quickly calculated them from the Deutsche Bibliotheksstatistik „Gesamtauswertungen„. I could not confirm the same sharp decrease of use for German Public Libraries. Only the numbers of „active users“ is in steady decline since the last century. I hope to be able to do some more calculations (and am loking forward to read a bachelor thesis on this topic just lying on my desk…)
Travelling always gives new insights or in German: „Reisen bildet“. For more information about the NLUS network see the Weblog edited by Rudolf Mumenthaler.