So when an article titles ”How a Dutch Library Smashed Attendance Records” came through on my RSS feed I was was intrigued. Was this The New Library from 2010? How have they been going? How was this new concept working for the staff and customers?
The New Library worked closely with the local community who were consulted through the design process so the resulting library would suit their needs. But the big shift was that The New Library employed a retail strategy rather than a typical library strategy. For example, the resources are grouped by the user’s interests rather than the traditional Dewey way. The used cutting edge technology to encourage patrons to connect with one another while using the space. Another new direction is the a Seats2meet (S2M) concept where patrons are encouraged to assist one another ‘in exchange for free, permanent, coworking space’.
So how has it been going? Well, The New library counted over 100,000 visitors in the first two months and in 2013 they enjoyed over 1,140,000 visitors. Also, the library is reporting that customers who used to pop in to collect items are now staying for longer visits, using the space for multiple purposes. They have also found:
The modern look and decor and the prominent place in the heart of the city also made it OK to be seen there as a young person
A pretty big change from a library what was once described by the patrons as ‘dull and boring’.
And what does the future hold for the New Library? One of their big goals is to ‘prove that a physical library has a right to exists in the future and will not disappear by increasing digitization and the Internet’. A pretty good goal, don’t you think? If their numbers and forward thinking attitudes keep on track I think they are well on their way to achieving their goal.
So what can the rest of us learn from this project?
- Keep the end users in the forefront of any project and that should not stop when the doors open
- Don’t hold on to the old ways just because ‘that’s the way we’ve always done it, no sacred cows!
- Look for opportunities to connect with your community and connect them with each other
- Be clear on what you want to achieve, do you want to create a space for quick or longer visit?
Here’s a video of the library: