METRO Conference 2017, NYU Kimmel Center

Another new year, another METRO conference! This year’s event took place at the Kimmel Center at NYU, and once again it proved to be a wonderfully friendly and almost familial event. I love the NYC librarian community, and the METRO conference is a chance to see what old friends and colleagues are up to in their work!

DOKK1 (image by Doug Kerr)

This year’s keynote address featured Marie Østergård, Head of Community Engagement, Partnerships, and Communications at Dokk1 library located in an emerging waterfront revitalization zone in Aarhus, Denmark’s second largest city. The newly developed waterfront is designed both as a welcoming public space, and also as a safeguard for the city center against rising waters resulting from climate change; the library was developed early on in the project as a key anchor space to attract people to the formerly-industrial waterfront area. The city was very focused on making this a space for people to meet and interact across social barriers, and the library serves as a community center that is more about curating people than collections. Dokk1 offers myriad meeting and collaboration spaces, including large flexible areas designed for prototyping and design thinking. Dokk1 has also deliberately employed people with a diverse range of skillsets and titles, including technologists, designers, tinkerers, engineers, and other creative types in addition to librarians. Dokk1 has also implemented a perpetually open door policy, and citizens have full access to the library at all times, even during unstaffed hours. There were a lot of parallels to last year’s METRO keynote about Helsinki’s Library10, which made me wonder about the applicability to public libraries in a much more heterogeneous location, like New York or another city in the US. Both of these Scandinavian libraries are definitely inspiring, but it’s hard to imagine some of their innovations working within my own library.

Next I attended Empire State Digital Network: Updates on New York State’s Service Hub for DPLA with Kerri Willette, John Mignault, and Chris Stanton from METRO. They talked about the Empire State Digital Network, service hub for the Digital Public Library of America. The next session was a combined session featuring Julie I. May from the New York Historical Society and her No API, No Problem project. Shawn Averkamp and Sara Rubinow from NYPL presented Measuring Metadata for the Masses: Starting a Data Quality Program from Scratch, which offered a good framework for streamlining workflows and efficiencies across a large library system.

After lunch, I attended another double feature combo session. This one consisted of Arden Kirkland’s presentation of the D4L program and an information literacy session from Long Island University’s Katelyn Angell.


The last session I attended was Hack the Stacks, presented by Jennifer Cwiok, Rebecca Morgan, Iris Lee, Stacy Schiff, and Michael Caprio from the American Museum of Natural History. They talked about the hackathon that they have been running for the last three years as part of the BridgeUp: STEM program. Previous years included #HacktheUniverse and #HacktheDinos, but this year’s #HacktheStacks focused on the AMNH library itself. The projects produced by this hackathon are all stored on Github, and their wiki is also an excellent resource for anyone looking to put together a hackathon of their own!