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WLIC 2021 - Library Futures

By Nilay Cevher

I would like to reflect on the session called ‘Library Futures’ to which I was able to contribute as an Emerging International Voice.

The discussion focused on the possibilities of predicting the future for libraries and how to respond to such predictions. The Head of Futures Literacy at UNESCO, Riel Miller, talked about the importance of shaping the future in response to evidence from the past and the present, referring to the analogy of a baby crying for food. He highlighted how we can understand what to do based on current signs. It is essential to pay attention to what is going on around us, to identify any blind spots, and to use our imagination and keep brainstorming.

Riel Miller went on to analyse the term ‘futures literacy’ and compare it with information literacy. He pointed out that futures literacy is a new and broad concept. Both literacies refer to our capacity to explore, as curious beings. People are not just passive, and they have the potential to change and shape the future if they are well equipped with basic skills. He stressed the role of ‘imagination’ and highlighted its importance in actions directed towards the future. It is also crucial to be able to adapt to changes and uncertainties. It is not about ‘knowing’ the future, but being prepared for it by having certain skills. Miller claimed that people hold images of the future in their minds that are shaped by the media or by other people in power. He suggested that people should learn to create their own images of the future by using their own imaginations.

It was such a unique experience to be able to attend the ‘Emerging International Voices Design Sprint’ workshop organised by the Goethe-Institut and facilitated by DesignThinkers Academy. While it was quite a challenging experience for me to learn to work in a virtual studio with other attendees from all over the world, I was able not only to improve my virtual skills but also to cooperate with colleagues from other countries. Moreover, presenting our final results at the Library Futures Session at WLIC2021 was an excellent opportunity to make our voices heard.

Through the Design Sprint activity, we were able to learn about design thinking methodology. We were tasked with the challenge of coming up with solutions for library users with little or no access to the internet. We applied the steps of design thinking methodology and developed solutions in three different groups. We were able to put ourselves in the shoes of the users and look at things through their perspectives, and we proposed a variety of ways of meeting their needs and desires.

As Miller suggests, the Emerging International Voices Network is a good example of being prepared and equipping ourselves with new skills to be able to develop solutions for possible future challenges. Design Thinking is just one of the methods and tools that can help us use our imagination and deal with emerging challenges.

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