Next Library 2021:

Next Library 2021 is calling for ideas and challenges

Call is closed! Check out this update about what will happen at Next Library 2021

Next Library 2021 takes place in Dokk1, Aarhus, Denmark 30 May – 1 June. To make sure that everyone can be part of Next Library a virtual layer will be added to the conference to interact with those of you who are not able to travel to Aarhus. 

Co-create with us! The world is facing a global crisis and lots of shared challenges. Many things have changed since last time we were together in Aarhus in 2019. We invite all of you to help set a direction for Next Library 2021, to give inspiration for great virtual formats, and to co-create and shape the program. 

What are we looking for? We are looking for help to find the right themes, formats and questions for Next Library 2021: 

  • What burning questions do you have?
  • What topics are the most important for libraries to talk about right now?
  • How could a digital layer be added to Next Library if we can’t meet in the physical world all of us?
  • What kind of wild card events or social surprises would you like to experience at Next Library 2021?

Submit your ideas now: Submit by using the comment field below. Note: You must be signed in to leave a comment. We welcome all kinds of input: Whether it’s a burning question, a small topic, an idea for a social event, a challenge or just something you’re wondering about and would like to learn more about!

Next Library 2021 is organized by Aarhus Public Libraries in collaboration with Next Library Advisory Board, partners & sponsors: Reach out if you wish to join as a partner or sponsor for Next Library 2021:

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Comment by Noah Lenstra on November 24, 2020 at 21:07

What burning questions do you have?

How are libraries staying connected to all of their partners during the pandemic? What roles do partnerships and coalitions have in how libraries bounce back from the pandemic? 

What topics are the most important for libraries to talk about right now?

Echoing what Paulo Alexandre Morais da Silva said below, how are libraries leveraging their existing physical spaces (and the physical spaces of partner organizations, e.g. parks) to promote in-person programs that also support physical distancing and public health? Examples include StoryWalks, community gardening, storytimes in the park, placemaking projects, etc. 

How could a digital layer be added to Next Library if we can’t meet in the physical world all of us?

A digital layer should be the main layer. 

What kind of wild card events or social surprises would you like to experience at Next Library 2021?

Feature something on "libraries through the looking glass," in which he hear from partner organizations about the value of libraries, examples include Parks and Recreation, Hospitals, Public Health, etc. 

Comment by Christel Kumpen on October 26, 2020 at 13:42

Burning questio:;

How do you get teens (14+) motivated to develop their skills and competences in a library, especially their reading skills?

We would like to hear some good practices or interest-driven approaches.

 Financial question:

Who's using alternative financing systems? Foundations,  private funds, ...

Which library makes a businessplan?

Digital questions:

As a library can we work together with big streaming platforms: is it something we should do or not? And how does this work, financially? 

How can libraries  provide wifi in the homes of users of the library?


Important topics:

1.The library is a building where you can find the collection. If you want  to reach  every citizen / every commmunity of the city as users of the collaborative collection we have to find a systeem to support communities with a good and simple library system to make it easy to share the collection.  What conditions needs a system like this so that it is easy accessible for the users and easy to work with for the librarian.

2. The last two year we evaluated our libraries by inviting our users to take part in discussion programs about their library of the future. We used a method for commercial products to avoid the typical expected answer; We were really happy with the outcome of this method “service design”.  We use the programme to get closer to our communities and to give them a better service, better collection, userfriendly systems and learning programs that are custom made.  We would love to share  and compare this practice with other good methods.

Comment by Hannah Lee on October 2, 2020 at 1:55

What burning questions do you have?

How are people adjusting mentally, physically, and intellectually when so much of our work has transition to an online environment? With so much of the physical interactions severely limited, how can libraries better serve its users, its stakeholders, and its fellow professionals? 

What topics are the most important for libraries to talk about right now?

Supporting our community of users and fellow information professionals

How could a digital layer be added to Next Library if we can’t meet in the physical world all of us?

The ability organically network. Suggestions would be to allow presenters, speakers, and attendees to have a way of communicating during the conference (open or private chats, creating chat rooms, social media) and outside of the conference (websites, email, a "connect with me" button, etc). 

What kind of wild card events or social surprises would you like to experience at Next Library 2021?

Any kind of artistic (visual, auditory, other) session that allows for different ways of engaging with on another. Or playing a group video game with audio commentary (especially since eGaming has become a part of high education's intercollegiate landscape that can benefit from a Covid era). 

Comment by Marjo Mannila on September 30, 2020 at 14:18

What burning questions do you have?

What are some positive things we can do without the physical space? How to involve children and teens online and on social media? What kind of actions can we take against racial injustice and climate change during the pandemic?

What topics are the most important for libraries to talk about right now?

How to support our communities during the pandemic.

How could a digital layer be added to Next Library if we can’t meet in the physical world all of us?

We need a platform that allows communication and participation, not just passive listening. Also some kind of offline portions.

What kind of wild card events or social surprises would you like to experience at Next Library 2021?

Workshops and innovative presentations how libraries around the world have managed to involve patrons while social distaincing.

Comment by Lydia Guterman on September 22, 2020 at 17:29

What burning questions do you have?

- How can we translate the hands-on, curiosity-driven learning modes of the library & the serendipity of sharing a physical space into the online space?

- How can we create community without seemingly endless video calls?

What topics are the most important for libraries to talk about right now?

- How are libraries creating and providing equitable learning opportunities for people at home when there are varying levels of access to learning technology? (i.e. computer, internet, books, craft materials..)

- How can we ensure the safety of librarians when re-opening libraries (even in phases)?

How could a digital layer be added to Next Library if we can’t meet in the physical world all of us?

- Not so much a digital layer, but: making sure there are offline portions wrapped into the digital layer. Being on Zoom calls can be exhausting!

Comment by Sarah A. Evans on September 15, 2020 at 23:33

Wonderful suggestions already listed here. A burning question for us is how libraries in rural areas with spotty internet access can creatively support their patrons, especially beyond just providing hotspots.

Comment by Paulo Alexandre Morais da Silva on September 8, 2020 at 9:41
  • What burning questions do you have?
    • How can libraries make their physical spaces useful to the community given de social distancing orientations?
    • How can libraries regain their role as peoples "third place" given de social distancing orientations?
    • How to involve the comunity with COVID restrictions?
    • How to bring peaople back to library services with COVID restrictions​?
  • What topics are the most important for libraries to talk about right now?
    • Best practices on online services in public libraries during COVID
    • Best practices on phisical building adaptation/reinvention due to COVID
    • How can libraries keep building strong communities during COVID?
    • How can libraries continue to fight for the inclusion of minorities​ during COVID?
  • How could a​ digital layer be added to Next Library if we can’t meet in the physical world all of us?
    • Some digital platform that allows people, from home, to be part and participate in the phisical meetings (with a major screen thar randomly shows the faces of people at home during phisical meetings)
    • Create a Next Library venue on Second Life platform (or alike) so people's avatars can interact and have the sensation of gathering
  • What kind of wild card events or social surprises would you like to experience at Next Library 2021?
    • Masterclasses with big names from Social Sciences, Marketing, Social Networking, and other areas linked to librarianship, presenting insights on their business in Covid times
    • Hands on workshops on "Who to... with Covid"
Comment by Leslie Kuo on September 7, 2020 at 11:31

I agree with Grif Peterson, below, that racism and discrimination should definitely be a major focus of NLC 2021. Public libraries generally strive to serve everyone in the neighborhoods and provide equal access to information and lifelong learning. However, structural barriers and discrimination in society generally prevent some people from accessing public services and participating in public life. Libraries have to actively step up and do something about this. Libraries are also in a great position to work for more equity since they have that service mandate from their communities and local government. There are many great examples of public libraries doing just that. For example, the eight libraries in the 360° grant program in Germany are working on four-year diversity reviews and diversity processes. Libraries in the Netherlands, the US and other places are also working against discrimination and for inclusion. I am happy to recommend speakers or interesting projects in this area.

Futhermore, inclusion at NLC also means that the conference itself needs to be accessible to librarians and libraries from lower-income communities and countries. Scholarships or reduced rates should be offered. An online layer is a perfect opportunity to welcome colleagues from communities who would otherwise not be able to join.

Comment by Grif Peterson on September 2, 2020 at 21:43

Greetings everyone from rainy Boston, USA!

I love what I'm seeing so far! Here are some topics/questions

  • I'd like to learn about ways that libraries have supported collective action around combatting climate change and racial injustice, and I'd like brainstorm ideas as to how libraries can band together to do this more effectively.
  • Similar to @Amos, I'd like to discuss ways that public libraries can take a stronger stance on providing formative, educational opportunities to the public without recreating school/university.
  • I'm curious which services/programs/partners have proven to be most resilient in the face of 2020: how can library programming better anticipate the next disruption?
  • As more and more services go online, many libraries that I work with have begun to field questions/interest from people outside of their geographic areas. I'm curious how different libraries have handled this and what they feel is their obligation to out-of-towners who want to take advantage of virtual library programming.

Regarding the digital layer, I'd be interested in supporting virtual learning circles for small groups of Next Library people to meet and learn together about topics of mutual interest over the course of a few weeks. This could be a nice alternative to trying to get everybody into a virtual space from 9-5 like we do when we meet in person!

Comment by Amos Blanton on August 31, 2020 at 16:11

When most people think of learning they think of school. Learning in schools is often driven by a crowded curriculum and competing agendas.  But learning in the library emerges out of the learner's own curiosity and interest. In the library, there's more space to explore your own ideas, and share them with others.

Let's explore interest-driven approaches to learning that can thrive in the library, and think through the possibilities of learning in libraries beyond what's possible in schools. We might ask: What can libraries experiment with to better support playful creativity and spontaneous experimentation? How can we communicate the value of interest-driven learning in the library as distinct from what happens in schools, but still vitally important?

Comment by Janet Hollingsworth on August 28, 2020 at 21:43

Really great suggestions so far, I would love to see focus on how the library can support essential industries and the community; WiFi access, hotspot & laptop lending, partnering and supporting formal educators/families/students, PPE production in maker spaces, tool lending, and more. This should also include addressing digital injustices and how to reach the margins of our communities.

I also think it's important to address how to approach budget cuts and make the case on what not to cut i.e. Don't Cut the Innovators: it's a misstep to cut staff or programming that builds community and stimulates the economy (maker spaces can serve as community accelerators and incubators--especially helping patrons find their footing after being laid off), our creative innovators are going to help get us through our current crisis.

Finally, the importance of the library as a platform for activism during racial injustices and social unrest(and ways to run programs safely around civic activism). Ways to bring our communities together during isolating times.

Comment by Petar Lukačić on August 28, 2020 at 12:49

Workshop with examples how to create free and easy digital content for librarians.

Connection with major library innovators and companies that provide international library services (e-books, online platforms, mobile applications for libraries, OPAC solutions etc).

How to connect the library professionals on a national or international level in the time of crisis

Library websites - what do you need to do to give patrons a full and simple information

Comment by Erica Grossman on August 19, 2020 at 22:14
  • How can libraries supplement the transitional learning process (for both students and caregivers) during the mixture of at-home and in-person learning during the pandemic? 
  • As the pandemic shifted so many operations online, the digital accessibility divide became more clear. What lessons did libraries learn about effective outreach to those who do not have home internet? 
  • In what ways have libraries reimagined their spaces and offerings in a socially distant world?
Comment by Lorena Panche on August 18, 2020 at 13:55

Given that in many countries in Latin America there are many groups of the population that don't have access to internet or to digital devices to connect, librarians face the big challenge to adapt library services in order to meet the needs of these populations.

How can libraries face digital divide in order to deliver their services to all people during this emergency?

Comment by Shannon McDonough on August 17, 2020 at 16:27

Re: Topics:

A riff on Ahmed's comment: How to reach older adults with remote programming through partnerships.

Re: Adding a digital layer to the conference: We at Lifetime Arts are looking into StreamYard ( as a service to suggest to the museums, libraries, community centers, residences, and municipalities that we work with as a platform for streaming culminating events that are part of the arts workshops that we support. A colleague of mine at Coursera mentioned it to me, along with Run The World (

Comment by Ahmed Amin AboSeada on August 17, 2020 at 13:31

How to reach the users in the crisis or pandemic days?

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Posted by Daniel Deppe on October 8, 2021 at 12:26 0 Comments


Since 2018 the Berlin Senate Department for Culture and Europe takes part in the…


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