The Leapfrog Team set off to Manchester Cilip 2017 to share tools and stories of collaboration, and the positive impact witnessed across Lancashire Libraries because of this work. Our new ‘Any Ideas Cards’ were just hot of the press and so we took them as gifts for the delegates.
We were here to inspire our audience through leading a participatory Creative Hub session and our story begins in 2015 with our meeting Julie Bell, Head of Libraries, Museums, Culture and registrars for Lancashire County Council.
Julie is responsible for 73 libraries across Lancashire, and was faced with the prospect of 39% of these libraries being closed. During a period of radical change and service transformation, libraries were also being required to incorporate a wider range of services e.g. youth services, asset and facilities management, wellbeing and early intervention teams. At this time Lancashire needed to focus upon its strengths within its teams, and faced with issues of staff motivation and positivity, they wanted to keep looking upwards.
Julie and over twenty library staff members worked for nine months with the Leapfrog team in collaborating and developing their own tools to confront and tackle the challenges they faced. Julie was determined, and with drive and passion, pushed to look creatively at what they did and think ‘outside the bookmark’. Through ‘action research’ and a co-design process, everyone involved found themselves energised and approaching their work differently. The ‘action’ involved the whole team having equal input into building new engagement tools. These new engagement tools are now freely available for other librarian’s, and organisations far and wide, to download, use, and modify for their own benefit.
Julie explained how her team were changing their daily practices and outlined how the complete set of library tools was building success and momentum across the county. Her particular favourite tools are:
- The small things – helping resolve simple conflicts; who buys the milk and who tidies up, ‘it’s a light-hearted way of keeping communications open to generate a positive domino effect, prompt people to do certain tasks, and share quick feedback to people who may not necessarily be there at the same time as you’.
- Think outside – a bookmark devised as a reminder to let creative juices flow; encouraging librarians to step outside at break-times to keep themselves refreshed and inspired.
- Flip –provides templates to create interesting opposites, to inspire a play on words about specific themes or topics that are currently taking place in the library.
Leapfrog partners and hundreds of associated organisations are now delving into the full range of over 30 different free tools, and building up their own ‘toolboxes’. Toolboxes are collated under different themes: supporting engagement in working with young people, helping work to develop teams, encouraging good practices for reaching remote communities, and providing stimulus for effective report writing. We hope you will delve in, download, and find them useful too!
If you are interested in collaborating or knowing more about the project, please get in touch quickly with Debbie, as we have funding available for the next six months for tool sharing workshops in groups, and would be keen for you to benefit from our research work.