Thank you for the opportunity to attend the Public Library Association Conference in Denver. The theme this year was Be Extraordinary. Each day began with an opening talk featuring Big Ideas. The Big Ideas reinforced how our libraries are or can be extraordinary. It was a wonderful experience to not only attend the excellent sessions but to also visit vendors who do not have displays at the Minnesota Library Association Conference. Since Cloquet is planning an addition to the library, I attended the session on Designing Spaces for People, Not Collections, presented by Marie Oestergaard from the Dokk1 public library in Aarhus, Denmark. While the Dokk1 library is much larger than one would need in Cloquet, the concept behind planning the library is the same for any size library.

Marie Oestergaard described the process in planning for their new public library. It was developed in much the same way that the libraries in the Arrowhead Library System created their strategic plans with Whitney Crettol. Focus groups helped the library create the public library that would reflect their community’s needs. They developed a vision statement for their library which then led to discussion of how that would look in a new library building. They discussed what makes their library uniquely different from other organizations. “From information that can be found anywhere / To What can only be experienced at the library”  From this discussion came seven core values: The Citizen as Key Factor, Lifelong Learning, Diversity, co-operation and network, Culture and Experience, Bridging Citizens, Technology and Knowledge, A Flexible and Professional Organisation, and A Sustainable Icon for Aarhus. A partnership strategy was formed with other organizations. Some of those organizations would offer services in the building, for example, a job services station in the library.

It seems that their method was very thorough. Their approach was:

Vision Field Trip

Vision revisited Workshop

Define the problem Test first prototype A new method… We are on our way

They also used the strategies from Design Thinking. You can sign up for a free tool kit at:

After all of the planning and finally implementation, they are still seeking perfection. Now that the library is being well used, they have some ideas for improvement and continue to tweak areas in the new library.

Finally, she shared Our Learnings:

The library is a space where we create meaning together Dokk1 answered a community need

If you build for people – people will come

Eliminate restrictions – and introduce them if necessary

A library space is an opportunity for meeting, dialogue and Exchange

Her powerpoint presentation has many excellent illustrations. It can be found: 0025B3A62EEE/Marie_Oestergaard_PLA2016.pdf