GeniUS! Challenge #7 is here! Once again we would love to hear your ideas, comments and suggestions!

View the Summary and Update for GeniUS! Challenge 7

View the original question and conversation for Libraries of the Future: How do you imagine the role of libraries in years to come?


York libraries are embarking on a journey. On 1st April next year, York Libraries and Archives will transfer from the council to form a new social enterprise – Explore York Libraries and Archives. This is a staff-led “spin out” supported by the Cabinet Office and will be the first libraries and archives service in the country to take this bold step.

With the recent opening of the new Liverpool and Birmingham libraries, there has been much discussion around the future role libraries should play in our communities.  Every week we hear about more libraries closing as councils struggle to make savings.  Digital technology makes information more accessible than ever and this challenges the traditional role of libraries as impartial information providers within quality research spaces. This means libraries need to innovate in order to survive.

Our library staff believe that this new type of organisation offers us the best possible opportunity to improve and develop the services we offer, keeping them current, sustainable and relevant to the city and its communities.

Explore York Libraries and Archives has a vision to enable people to live fuller, more connected and engaged lives. We plan to do this by:

  • Working with our communities to promote active citizenship and enable people to participate in society
  • Supporting and delivering lifelong learning
  • Promoting the joy of reading
  • Being the key provider of impartial information in York
  • Promoting and enhancing the health and wellbeing of the people of  York
  • Supporting and promoting people’s engagement with digital information and resources
  • Being the trusted custodian of the City of York’s archive and local history collections

 However, we believe that there could be a much bigger and more creative role to play!

This new model that we are adopting gives us a unique opportunity to explore new ideas and consider what additional value we can provide by using our libraries in new and different ways.

We are beginning to reimagine both the spaces and focus for libraries and archives by looking towards 2030 and beyond to how services of the future may be delivered. From this, we have identified the following themes as broad areas which we would like to explore with you:

  • Collaboration – having the environment for cooperation and sharing with others
  • Creativity – Encouraging everyone to create their own content,  sharing knowledge and ideas, and provoking debate
  • Community connection – building trusted relationships, common identity and interest
  • Flexibility – every space to be reconfigured easily
  • Learning – helping people to unlearn, relearn and reflect

We want to look at what new opportunities there are for our future libraries to achieve an environment which is safe and enjoyable in which to be. We want to explore how such an environment can enable a culture conducive to creative expression and play, collaboration and learning in new ways. We want to get the most out of our libraries by developing them so they can connect communities, try new things and be truly enterprising.

What We Need from You!

Your Experiences: How have you seen libraries in York and elsewhere? What have you seen that you like and don’t like? Are there missed opportunities or things you think we could take advantage of?

Your Expertise: What solutions (both technology and non-technology) do you know of that might be applicable in helping to create the libraries of the future?  Also, what ideas do you have that HAVEN’T been done before?

Your Enthusiasm: We need your input as to how to make the library experience better, so solution-focussed ideas and positive ways that we can develop those solutions is exactly what we need from you!

The Process

The first part of the process for this Challenge is for you to post your comments, ideas and solutions and discuss them with others on the GeniUS! site. The challenge will be live on the site for discussion for the next 4 weeks. At the end of this period the best ideas will be taken to a day-long event where we will work together to develop ways of testing them out in practice. The event is taking place on November 11th in Acomb Explore Library and will bring together library users, designers, technology experts and others, linking them up with local and national experts in the libraries field. These diverse groups will work together intensively to produce tangible ideas that can be piloted in our libraries.

GeniUS! York is for anyone and everyone to share ideas on how we can tackle the challenges that York and its inhabitants face.

What is GeniUS York?

This website is for anyone and everyone to share ideas on how we can tackle the challenges that York and its inhabitants face. We want to encourage and develop new and imaginative ways for the city to meet some of its key challenges.

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