On Sunday a group of Next Library participants went on an Inspiration Tour with Julka Almquist. These are some reflections on inspiration tours and how they are important for libraries. 
Photos from the inspiration tour available here.

Why is it important to go on inspiration tours?

The fundamental goal of an inspiration tour is to open up new worlds of possibility. Through these experiences, we encourage you to have fresh eyes and to develop new lines of inquiry for work in your library.

Inspiration tours are rooted in the idea that learning through experiences and being exposed to new ideas can inspire creative thinking and radical new ideas. People often wonder if inspiration is a luxury, but we believe there is inspiration everywhere. Once you have the opportunity to explore the world in a new way, this approach becomes a resource for you to find inspiration everywhere, even in your everyday life.

Inspiration tours as a method for libraries?

Inquiry and exploration are central to libraries. I find that on inspiration tours, librarians are reminded of how important it is to bring inspiration and inquiry into people's lives (libraries open up new worlds for so many people!). Many participants also see a new opportunity for inquiry and to inspire their staff and their patrons.

I also believe it is critical to get out into the world to learn. The modes of inquiry for inspiration tours are embodied, experienced-based, and multi-sensory. We encourage everyone to leave their offices and to into the world and reconnect to their senses.

What was the theme of the NL inspiration tour?

The theme of the inspiration tour this year is Danish wellbeing. We are exploring ideas togetherness, care, and what it means to thrive in a community. These ideas are a central part of Danish culture that creates healthy workplaces and has consistently made Denmark one of the happiest countries in the world.

These concepts have the potential to inspire a variety of new ideas in libraries. Some questions we are asking include:

How do you welcome people into the library?

How do you ensure your staff is thriving?

How do you create a sense of togetherness in your library community?

Where did we go?

During this inspiration tour, we visited a design studio called Gejst that has a very unique approach to work and togetherness. We also walked bye a playground, Børnenes Jord, The Botanical Garden, and the Harbor pools that in addition to offering recreation also embody Danish idea of participation and community.

Who are you and what are your connection to libraries?

I am a designer and researcher with an organization called Field Experience, dedicated to the cultivation of curiosity and creativity through inquiry and the art of exploration. I previously worked at IDEO and co-wrote the Design Thinking for Libraries Toolkit. I have been working with the Aarhus Public Library for almost 6 years, and continue to work with libraries all over the world on innovation projects and inspiration tours.

Julka Almquist

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