My first professional discipline is as a qualified librarian and knowledge manager. Twenty-five years ago, I used that to go straight into my social change career with a recognition that it was okay not to know all of the answers, because I had an understanding of knowing how to find them to help make the world a fairer place for all.
I've shared that skill to empower people with their voice and a path forward.
It’s something that has stayed with me, all of my career, no matter which sector or discipline. And, when I ran a school library for 5 years, it was a unique position to see kids find their voice, courage, joy and hope reflected in what they were reading.
By the way, if you’re reading a book and not getting along with it, I fully endorse putting it down and picking up something else that speaks to you. Life is precious, time is short!
Libraries sit at the heart of communities, spaces for everyone, free access to resources.
They are starting points for creativity, ignition points for imagination.
And if you have imagination, you can dream a new future into existence.
Libraries sit as revolutionary hubs for innovation and launch pads for entrepreneurship.
Which is quite possibly why they are consistently de-funded. Governments tend not to like revolutionary hubs of anything much. De-fund libraries and schools in the present…you de-skill people and stop them thinking for themselves.
Still, I think lockdown brought a ray of hope, a new trajectory as in these extraordinary times. People turned to online libraries, where they could, and their creativity resources. Not just to keep kids occupied, but for people of all ages to come home to the long-forgotten voices within for comfort, ease and fun.
Libraries, hopefully, are reassuming their power as places for helping us to say the things that we want to say but don’t always have the words, until we find them in a book or poetry.
Possibly predictably, I love The Shadow of the Wind by the late, great Carlos Ruiz Zafón and this sense of books having souls:
“Every book, every volume you see here, has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it. Every time a book changes hands, every time someone runs his eyes down its pages, its spirit grows and strengthens.”
I used to stand in the school library before anyone else arrived, close my eyes, breathe and feel the presence of the voices in those books.
Do you remember your favourite 3 books from when you were a kid? Was it the story that inspired you? Was it a certain character? When you felt yourself reflected in them, what became possible for you?
I know that some books always find you at exactly the right moment, to comfort, inspire, teach and guide. Those 3 books (or more) from being a kid…who did they inspire you to become?
When I asked my dad, he remembered the book on Marco Polo he read when he was 6, that seeded a burning desire to travel the world, which he did at 21 to sail the high seas and then taking us as a family to Zambia during the 70s.
I’ve just finished, The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes, a beautiful read about The Packhorse Librarians in Kentucky. And I love this fella and his mobile library. And I love the perfectly crafted nature-based solution of bats for protecting ancient books in these hallowed halls.
Why do libraries have the power to radically change the future?
It’s not just about literacy and education being a route out of poverty. It’s about finding exactly your voice between the pages and knowing that your imagination matters.
When you can imagine, you can imagine different; wonder becomes your default setting for dreaming up new futures that protect people and planet.
It's exactly why I felt compelled to create the Kids Wonder Lab® Challenge Pack, with 12 easy challenges, for public and school libraries to use to engage, inspire and empower kids using futures thinking. It’s simple. Pick your favourite book character and explore the challenge question. Come up with ideas and make them.
Tell your school librarian. Tell your public library. Get them to start using the pack with the kids in your community…and the adults too.
If you can imagine new futures, you can unfold them. And that’s how the seeds of revolution are planted for radically changing the future.
Have a look here to find out more about the Pack and also whether you'd like to take the training to learn how to set up your own Flow In Action Kids Wonder Lab®
#flowinaction #wonder #imagination #ideas #creativity #innovation #entrepreneurship #futuresthinking #designthinking #systemsthinking #innovationchallenges #climateaction #libraries #planetcentreddesign #wellbeing #morewonder #wondermore