Stakeholders & Beneficiaries
Library Living Lab was incepted as a good example of inter-institutional collaboration with all relevant stakeholders making up the “quadruple helix”: the City of Sant Cugat del Vallés, the Provincial Council of Barcelona, the Autonomous University of Barcelona, the Computer Visión Center (CVC) and the Association of Neighbours of Vollpellieres. Some support from the powerful industrial base surrounding the area was also acknowledged. The beneficiaries are the library users, who have spanned thanks to the different pioneering and activities delivered (let alone the rise of new “communities of knowledge” that have been built thanks to the library).
Users are fully involved in co-producing and co-innovation and decisions are taken along with the project director. Notwithstanding this, co-creation is not based upon “open participatory processes”. A co-creative strategy was rolled out based on the definition of different user profiles. Thus, users have been classified according to the degree of involvement (and accordingly, co-creative potential):
- Alpha users.
- Beta users.
- Gamma users.
- Delta users
Digital Transformation Process
This case study is not about a digital transformation process
Results, Outcomes & Impacts
Development of robust metrics to measure performance is a pending (and crucial) issue in the Library Living Lab. Nevertheless, a protocol has been set up to define actions, as all projects and activities are shaped according to a triplet of (Social) challenge- Action-Return. This approach based on three different stages is aligned with the main pillars described in the Responsible Research and Innovation approach (European Commission, 2016), which is used to tackle dimensions such as awareness, transparency, and openness. Notwithstanding this, some projects have been monitored and followed up in a more ad hoc and closer way and some KPIs rolled up accordingly. Unfortunately, possible lessons learnt have not been capitalised to be somehow “plugged & played” to other projects.
Challenges & Bottlenecks
The definition of the governance & sustainability model has proceeded at a low pace, and it has been very recently when the model has been consolidated with the hiring of a Living Lab manager, who was considered to be an imperative need from the beginning. The consideration of the Library Living Lab as an example of a multi-layer institutional collaborative project implied a tremendous effort of alignment to set up a common language to be shared across all institutions by fixing terminology and procedures, defining new fields of common knowledge, understanding what was and what was not allowed in the public space, etc. Something which is still in the pipeline is the idea of a “living lab as a service” implying the design of a “service portfolio” to be offered to different stakeholders. This is a (still lacking) and relevant step that could help jump the lab to a higher status in the future, as well as ensure a lab self-sustainability path over the coming years. Finally, some cultural barriers may still exist (e.g. library assistants, once in the library, may realize that some required tasks are not sufficiently known or expected, and some kind of reluctancy may arise).
Transferability & Replicability
One of the inspiring figures of L3 was the former Mayor of Sant Cugat, who eventually became the President of the Provincial Council of Barcelona. As President of the Provincial Council, she supported a new project, called BibloLab. BiblioLab entailed the commitment to spread the experience of the L3 to the whole network of libraries located in the Province of Barcelona, that is to say, 250 libraries. This new shift allowed working on a new model where the library becomes a space of interaction amongst communities around.
The Library Living Lab has enabled the achievement of a new range of experiences offered, thus opening the library up to other types of the library users, who probably otherwise would not visit it, and increasing the possibility of user participation in joint projects with rich profiles. The concept of “community of interest” or “community of knowledge” is something which is behind the library success, as it has become a rather creative space where something new or not previously planned can happen as a result of a collaborative work ensemble. One major contribution of L3 is that decision making processes are fully open, and library users (along with other stakeholders) are engaged in such dynamics. This is a distinctive and differential aspect of the Library Living Lab when succeed in building up and consolidating communities. In fact, user co-creation practices started at very early stages, when they were required to identify communities of practice in order to build and scale projects around.
Technology is considered to play a relevant role around this initiative, but as an enabling factor. In fact, L3 is about people and around the mechanisms governing individuals and inter-institutional collaboration. The society may obtain transformative socio-economic impact from the innovations arising from the collaborative processes only when people are truly engaged (i.e, users and other stakeholders). As a result of this initiative, the libraries are no longer considered “book repositories”, but “meeting points of knowledge exchange”. The motto of these libraries is the same: “create, explore, innovate”. To sum up, the main contribution of the Library Living Lab is the push towards a systemic change and as such, it can be deemed as a rather pioneering initiative.