Congress theme: “Libraries Now! - Inspiring, Surprising, Empowering”

Knots opening a new way of working in the library field

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Yrjö Engeström

Why knots?

Over 600 delegates asked themselves that question on Tuesday, when a lecture was given by Professor Yrjö Engeström, who has been involved in a long-lasting library research and development project, “Knotworking”.

Knotworking is based on a boundary crossing, collective way to organize work.

Academic libraries are facing a crisis as the field of library work is changing. Libraries are outsourcing services and that means that their tasks will shrink. Librarians are also facing major changes in their work due to the Internet, digitalisation, and because one of their most important users, namely researchers, increasingly use new channels for the acquisition of information, stated Engeström.

A challenge for librarians is to develop their work towards innovative work models in order to deepen their own expertise and better serve their clients. The aim is to create new kinds of partnerships between libraries and researchers in the form of knotworking.

Plenary Session

Engeström theorises that knotworking can:

  • bring research groups back into the library, as partners and clients
  • generate new, demanding services
  • transform the working culture and management of the library
  • but that it requires serious collective analysis, expansive re-design, and persistence in implementation

Reaction from an attendee:

Could you use this method of knotworking in your own library?

“I work in a public library here in Helsinki. I think this session was really inspiring and gave me a lot of things to think about. For instance, we have done this service designing in order to create new services, but after hearing this lecture, I realized, that we need to listen more to what our clients have to tell us.”

 Marja-Liisa Komulainen, Development Manager, Helsinki City Library