Metlib Panel in Auckland on Tech, Innovation, & Library of the Future

I had the honor of speaking on a panel at the Metropolitan Libraries Conference 2014 (Metlib) along with Christine MacKenzie (CEO Yarra Plenty Regional Library, Australia) and Allison Dobbie at the Auckland Central City Library. The session, “Panel discussion: Technology, Innovation and the library of the future.” used questions to explore some innovation areas.

Questions and Discussion:

Here are the questions posed to the panel by Allison Dobbie, Manager Libraries and Information, Auckland Council (aka head of the Auckland Library system). Included below are brief notes on answers from Christine and myself. Further elements of the discussion can be gleamed through the Twitter stream #metlib14.

What is the most exciting innovative idea that you have seen in libraries recently (or if not in libraries then elsewhere that could it be applied in libraries?

  • Joe:
    • The local partnership with Auckland’s GRid AKL (Auckland Innovation precinct): Partnership is key here as well as the aspirational. The library and its values may signal a potential to support local innovation, boost tech creativity and reach, and maybe disrupt library innovation definitions.
    • New Zealand Library consultants Heroes Mingle (Sally Pewhairangi and Megan Ingle) support librarians through the approach to “inspire others to follow their inspiration,” with their “days of creativity” model, and “finding heroes.” I love the value and their goal “to bridge the gap between people and possibilities.” More soon about Heroes Mingle in an upcoming post.
    • The National Library of New Zealand whose mission statement includes “co –create.” I will visit and share from the National Library later this week.
    • A librarian at the Botany library, an Auckland area library, told me “we want to be one step ahead in technology.”
  • Christine MacKenzie
    • MOOCs offer great opportunities for libraries to create learning communities based on free expert content that is now available. Library staff can facilitate and curate learning programs.


What innovative stuff should we be doing right now to ensure that customers will still be turning to libraries for their content in 10 years time?

  • Joe
    • Policy approach and an experimentation philosophy. As possible example, partnerships to explore Google Glass and its opportunities,implications.
  • Christine
    • Make the invisible visible – use discovery layers and improve our online catalogues / websites
      think of ways to expose digital content inside the library.
    • Keep fighting for access to ebooks so we still have content to offer.

Where are maker spaces taking us and why are we going there?

  • Joe
    • Going there because it is an extension of traditional services – facilitation.
    • Value may lie in the ability of makerspaces to help the library disrupt non-traditional partners possibly leading to new competition/cooperation.
  • Christine 
    • Maker spaces don’t have to be expensive or over thought. Think of new partners, put in some technology ( arduino, raspberry pi, beaglebone black, 3D printer / scanner) and see what happens.
    • Not just for technology, but also for writing, creating, music, craft
    • Encouraging creativity and an easy place to discover and play with new things


The Victorian Public Libraries 2030 strategic report talks about the creative library and the community library, and implies that they are at different ends of a spectrum between creation and consumption of information. What’s your take on this Christine, what should we be doing about it?

  • Christine provided some great information from the report readable online which looks at new ways of “strategic planning and thinking that would help guide the decision makers responsible for the future prosperity of Victorian public libraries.
  • Victorian public libraries 2030, joint project of State Library of Victoria and Public Libraries Victoria Network
  • Strategic Foresight technique, Steve Tighe consultant
  • What are the social trends that are emerging that will impact on libraries into the future?
  • Creativity / collaboration / brain health / dynamic learning / community connection
  • Depending on what emerges libraries will still provide community’s source of communal information and 21st century literacies. They will either move to the Creative Library where people create content and seek skills to express their creativity or Community LIbrary where people will consume content and seek classes and learning and spaces to support 21st century literacies and learning (link on
  • IFLA Trend Report – Trends identified – IFLA would like people to debate what these mean for libraries into the future – join the discussion at


Joe, a while ago you posted the Gartner trends for 2014 on your blog. What do these mean for libraries in terms of innovation?

  • It means opportunities as well as the imperative to demonstrate that our libraries are at the forward point of the adoption curve. There are values to be seen as experimenting in upcoming trend areas.
  • The areas of smart machines and the internet of everything are particularly rich for libraries.

Is there a role for drones in the future of library services?

  • This topic drives us to pose questions. The power of asking about drones and libraries is that it forces us to consider/question a cultural tension point. It drives ‘what if’ questions such as what are the impacts on  access? What can we do to co-explore opportunities for print and electronic delivery.
  • It also provides baby step adaptations because a new look for an old strategy of content provision. Shall we ask together? Let’s co-test.

These are just questions and scenarios. What other questions should we be posing?


What wonderful conversation to be a part of. Thank you.

Lively twitter conversation #metlib14

Joe Murphy Librarian, Director Library Futures

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