Next Library Festival 2021

Free ticketKeynotes / Stages / SessionsTalks Tours & Fun


The interactive sessions bring together library innovators, practitioners, researchers, designers and researcher from different parts of the world to discuss and explore the future of libraries. The sessions are interactive and hands-on and involve the participants in new ways! 

The interactive sessions reflect the themes of Next Library Festival 2021: 

  • Democracy
  • Creativity and Playful Learning in Libraries
  • Sustainability

The sessions take place on the online stages!

We have received an overwhelming number of great online sessions. We are putting the program together and will announce the line-up as we go. 

Physical and Digital Construction

In this workshop participants will have a hands-on experience working with both physical and digital tools to create their own designs. The group will take a deep dive into the process of tinkering and use the insights we develop together to inform our practice of introducing tools, techniques and projects to learners in library settings.

Before the workshop please collect: a cardboard toilet paper tube or paper towel tube, scissors and tape.

Host: Ryan Jenkins

JAM session: Public Libraries addressing the Sustainable Development Issues 

Since 2012,  Electronic Information for Libraries (EIFL) has organized 14 Public Library innovation Award calls and anounced the names of 50 winners from 24 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the Caribbean.  The calls highlight important community development issues and recognize innovative uses of digital technology to improve people’s lives.

At the Next Library 2021, EIFL will have an information conversation with public librarians from innovation award winning libraries on contributing to sustainable development and hands on experience of library innovation.

The conversation will be organized as an open JAM (Just a Minute) session, where EIFL award winners start with their 60 seconds contributions on selected topics related to service innovations in public libraries. Anyone from the audience can raise a hand and jump into conversation sharing their 60 seconds story on any topic, and at any moment.



#StoryCity is a physical/digital fictional city constructed over the past year by families all over the world who were socially distanced while still playing together. 
In this workshop, you will construct a small model building and add a picture and a story to the mosaic that is #StoryCity. 
You will need: Paper or discarded packaging, scissors, tape, and markers.

Bio: The workshop is hosted by Liam Nilsen: Liam has a background in playful learning design and advocacy, creating tools for children and adults to learn through creative play and reflect on those experiences, taking inspiration from Constructionism and the Reggio Emilia approach. Liam founded an Agile Learning Center in Asheville, NC, USA, directed community development at JoyLabz/Makey Makey, and led the LEGO Idea Studio at the LEGO Foundation. Liam now works as a freelancer/consultant based in Aarhus, Denmark.

We keep returning to the idea of “taking care” as we move into a post-pandemic world. We have been taking care of ourselves, our families and friends, and others in the world. Now we return to tending to the needs of our users: offering a safe space for every person who comes through our doors to learn and grow, designing welcoming spaces for folks to come together to collaborate and exchange ideas, creating thriving digital communities, and providing participatory services to promote learning and well-being. What we want for everyone we serve is Joy. We want our users to experience joy. That’s what the library should be about: the joy of learning; the joy of exploring, the joy of experience, and the joy of simply being immersed in an amazing story.

This participatory session, focused on Library as space for Playful Learning and Creativity, will be all about finding ways to instill joy in folks as they return to our libraries and cultural institutions. Participants will engage around creating joyful adventures focused on: Learning / Exploration / Experience / Story

And each will leave with a cadre of ideas to consider and implement for their own libraries.

Hosts: Michael Stephens (Associate Professor, School of Information San Jose State University) and Stacie Ledden (Director of Strategic Partnerships at Anythink Libraries)

The performative score INviteME Online 
 Pieces of papers (the size of post its or a bit bigger), around 20-30. 
  • Tape or sticky Tack 
  • A pen (or two) 
  • a glass of water 
  • your mobile phone 

Misinformation Escape Room - The Euphorigen Investigation

An investigative journalist suspiciously vanished last night, and the last thing they did was hand their laptop over to their trusted librarian. After opening the laptop and seeing the contents, the librarian grew alarmed and called you all in to help. The librarian knew the journalist was doing research on the company that makes Euphorigen, a mood enhancing supplement. Now the government is about to sign a contract to put Euphorigen in the public water supply for everyone to enjoy its benefits. But you have suspicions, and only 45 minutes to uncover the truth!

The Euphorigen Investigation is an online escape room that immerses players in a world of manipulated media, social media bots, deepfakes and other forms of deception. Our goal is to create an active learning environment around misinformation using the experiential format of an escape room. For more information, visit

Islands in the Sky
Join a 45 minutes online sessions about "Islands in the Sky": It invites participants to think about the futures that they might face, and how they might prepare to cope with the uncertainty of times to come. 
You will learn: 
- how to plan for future uncertainty
- how to use scenario planning
- a playful tool to reveal blindspots
Hosts: Matt Finch and Monika Flakowska
Athens Comics Library
Athens Comics Library is a place of inspiration and learning around a collection that reaches 2,500 comic books. It hosts Baytna Hub for early childhood development support for refugee and migrant children and their carers. Join them for a participatory session!

Creative writing on Instagram live streams

We will start our session by introducing the concept of creative writing on Instagram live streams. We will also demonstrate a simple creative writing task as a group. Then it is your time to “let it go and see what you can do…”

Brainstorming warning: Get ready to share your knowledge of the popular book series in your country. We will gather an online wall of creative writing ideas that can be used both in person and online.

 Hosted by: special librarians Helena Perttilä and Marjo Mannila from Vantaa city library (Finland). Both have years of experience working with children and teenagers and have done several events that combine reading, creative writing, visual elements and gaming. They have invented Warrior Cats – themed Instagram live streams that have dedicated participants around Finland.

Democratic Literacy in Libraries Part 1: The Concept

In times of fake news and a strengthening of right-wing groups, we see libraries as important places of information, human interaction and democracy.

In this workshop we want to look at the concept of democracy within libraries. What does the term mean for us and how can we face this concept as a library? We want to approach these questions in a joint exchange and see the concept of democracy in libraries not as an abstract idea, but as a practical aim and tool for our work.

Hosts: Dr. Lea Hartung, Deborah Wallers, Christine Schnaithmann, Judith Galka, Pandora Ellis

Democratic literacy in libraries pt. 2 – Hands on!

Let’s get things done and use our brain capacities to create solutions on the question:.

How might we provide democratic education in libraries?

For us the topic of democratic education and citizen engagement in the understanding of and participation in policy making processes is currently one of the crucial strategic fields of action. Like many other libraries we already experienced smaller events and programming in this field in pre-corona times, like discussion events, participatory projects, lectures or simply the provision of serious information or the teaching of appropriate media skills in terms of facts versus fakes. But we know, there are more ideas for innovative event formats/prototypes out there. If the first part of our two-part session about democracy in libraries was about reflecting on the concepts of democracy literacy in libraries, in pt. 2 we will focus on the ideation process in getting programming ideas and solutions.

These two parts can be attended separately or both.

Hosts: Dr. Lea Hartung, Deborah Wallers, Christine Schnaithmann, Judith Galka, Pandora Ellis

SDGs are global - Libraries deal with them globally

Globalism in its true form is about finding solutions to problems we all share on a global level. The UN made the Sustainable Development Goals in that spirit. All countries, governments, regional and local governments, private companies, citizens, libraries, children and adults need to work together to meet these goals in the post-pandemic NEW normal.

While some countries are already working strategically with the SDGs - others are, just now, considering getting started.

Our workshop will welcome all new ideas on how to make national SDG work shareable worldwide. Instead of presenting our own projects (even though they are fabulous!) - we investigate how we can support each other moving forward by sharing ideas.

Host: Jan Holmquist

Libraries on the European Agenda?! – Visions and Ideas for a new European policy on public libraries

Public libraries, often referred to as third places, are lighthouses for education, exchange, inspiration and citizen engagement in European cities. However, they are rather invisible on the European agenda.

The action “Raise awareness for public libraries and their new tasks on a European and national level”' within the framework of the Urban Agenda for the EU (Partnership “Culture and Cultural Heritage”, has set itself the task of creating a provable basis for this thesis and is intended to make public libraries more visible at European level. Its aim is to raise awareness among decision-makers, to recognise the importance of public libraries for Europe and to derive recommendations from this for the European level.

Together with the Next Library Community, we would like to collect visions and ideas for a new European policy on public libraries. The collection will then also feed into our final report on the action “Raise Awareness for Public Libraries and their new tasks on a European and national level” within the framework of the Urban Agenda for the EU (Partnership “Culture and Cultural Heritage”).

Hosts: Reiner Schmock-Bathe, Daniel Deppe / Berlin Senate Department for Culture and Europe. Kim Farah Giuliani (Berlin Central and Regional Library)

How to run collaborative gatherings online?

Join MIT Media Lab’s Digital Learning + Collaboration Studio, specifically thePublic Library Innovation Exchange (PLIX) team in this session and get inspiration for how to run collaborative gatherings online that have a playful, creative spirit.

Hosts: Lydia Guterman, Philipp Schmidt + team

Co-creating a Podcast Episode

In this activity, participants will co-create an episode of my podcast Between The Stacks, a podcast about library people. They will experience my process of finding and developing contents for an episode. The materials, discussion, notes, etc. will then be developed as a special episode for the podcast where Next Library and the active contributors will be credited.

Between The Stacks is a podcast where people tell their firsthand library story. The stories show the intersection of libraries/librarianship and humanity. In each episode, there is a central theme and a central message which are unfolded through the featured story of the week and the conversation between the story-teller and me.


Twitter: @between_stacks

Host: Anna W. I. Au, Health Scientist, Science Communicator, Podcaster, Ph.D. Candidate / Technische Universität Wien

HumanityCentered Design Quest

For 3 years now a group of design-enthusiastic toolkit-fans have worked on a friendly hack of the Toolkit for DesignThinking in Libraries. Coming together from Iceland, Lithuania, Sweden and Denmark we joined together in asking how might we make it even easier for our colleges in the libraries to use DesignThinking. We identified barriers among ours colleges such as language, to much to read, hard to get started, hard to find the space to work visually – and then we travelled to eachothers homebases to test methods, explore and exchange ideas and learn together.

We started out deciding on some creative constraints:

Sustainability needs to be addressed and considered in the designproces,

Inequality, exclusion, discrimination must also be addressed and avoided in the designproces.

Finally we wanted to situate the process, making it unavoidable to work visually, collectively and embodied.

This tool invites you to think of both people and planet as you design solutions, plan, document and reflect collectively and creatively. Join this session to learn more about it!

OpenUp: A user journey for civic researchers!

Can we create a user-journey for civic researchers? How can we position libraries as a space not only to access text-based resources but also one that could support the alignment of these resources to existing, and accessible, data sources and resources for further enrichment to the users benefit? And what potential and possibilities exist for the expansion of a librarians role in navigating the world of open data in localised contexts?

OpenUp (, is a civic technology organisation established in South Africa in 2014. Our mission statement is to use data and technology to promote informed decision-making in order to drive social change. We work at the nexus of technology and social justice with a particular interest in building bridges between citizens and government.

Hosts: OpenUp / Adrian Kearns

The SDG-library

- designing librarybased infrastructures for Co-creating a sustainable future.

The Ice is melting at the poles, ecosystems are collapsing, overconsumption, inequality – It all seems overwhelming and out of human scale. The UN world Goals for Sustainable Development provides us with a framework to address these issues, we´ve all seen it the 17 colored boxes or the rainbowlike circle. But how do we make sure that it becomes more than a sympathetic logo. How do we really works with the SDG´s and What is the role of the Library in this?

In Aarhus Public Libraries we are exploring this and finding answers together with people and partners. We have simplified the SDG´s in to saying ”we work with and for people and planet, connecting culture and nature, by doing Library and turning Worldgoals into Everyday goals”.


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


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