Case study: Creation Spaces Project – Ukraine
Between November 2012 and June 2014 the Global Libraries Ukraine’s Bibliomist was implementing the ‘Creation Spaces Project’ (CSP), which intended to pilot new library services in Ukrainian libraries, inspired by the Maker Spaces model. Five public libraries participated in the pilot – they were libraries in: Antratsit, Kharkiv, Kherson, Lviv and Vradiivka. Those five libraries have received specialized equipment, training and guidance in setting up their creation spaces. Participant libraries were required to provide the infrastructure to insure the success of the project.
Participants were selected through a multi-stage contest administered by Bibliomist. This contest was open to currently Bibliomist program libraries. The contest was designed to be stringent and required a number of considerations from libraries to be eligible. The three most important factors being pledged community support via a mentor, a dedicated space for the equipment, and a detailed project plan that would utilize the equipment to meet the goals of the project.
The libraries had to have a pledge of support from a community partner who had skills relevant to the project. The applicants had to submit the signed pledge in the application packet.
To insure the quality of the space, the libraries had to provide a dedicated space ideally a separate room, for the equipment. Since use of the proposed equipment made sound that might disturb other library patrons, this was a way to prevent the libraries from limiting operating hours of the space. In addition, by creating the space libraries showed dedication to the project.
Finally, the libraries had to have a specific project that would utilize the equipment. This was to insure the equipment would be used, there would be output and there would be increased exposure for the space.
Of the eligible libraries 43 provided valid applications that met the deadline. Bibliomist formed a selection committee to review the applications and select the most promising candidates. The committee selected 8 candidates for interviews. The Technology Manager and Social Media Specialists then conducted and evaluated interviews to select the 5 finalists.
As this project was designed to build organizational and individual capacities of libraries and librarians, Bibliomist provided additional support throughout the project. Beyond giving libraries equipment for media labs, two areas that were identified as needs for specific assistance were knowledge and inspiration. Increasing librarians’ knowledge was addressed through trainings and helping them find inspiration was addressed through an international study trip.
Bibliomist provided equipment to set up a media lab in each participant CSP library. Each library received a list of recommended equipment based on the type of lab and their project plan. Librarians coordinated with Bibliomist staff and community partners to customize this list. Bibliomist gave at maximum $5000 (USD) in equipment to each CSP library. Each lab included, at minimum, two desktop computer workstations and specialized software to support the lab’s function. Libraries establishing audio labs requested equipment like electric guitars, amplifiers, drum kits, microphones, audio processors, and cables to connect this equipment to the computer workstation. Libraries setting up video labs requested equipment such as video cameras, tripods, DSLR cameras, memory cards, carrying cases, speakers, microphones, and cables to connect this equipment to the computer workstation. In Ukraine, via CSP, Bibliomist gave libraries $25,000 worth of equipment to increase innovation and support creativity in their communities.
Project management training
One of the requirements of the CSP contest was to have a fully-developed project plan that would utilize the equipment. To increase the chances of project success, Bibliomist conducted a Project Management workshop for participants. The intended participants were the project managers and community partners from the libraries. Most of the libraries were unable to send the community partner due to scheduling conflicts; however, each CSP library sent librarians to take part. After the training, participants were required to resubmit their revised project plans. There was a marked difference in quality from before and after the training occurred.
All of the libraries received initial training on their particular equipment when the lab was installed. This training focused on how to install the equipment and maintain it. There wasn’t any intention of teaching the librarians how to use the equipment at this stage. As designed in CSP, community partners had the role of sharing expertise and training librarians and the community on equipment usage in their lab. For the most part this model worked out but did take time for the librarians to feel comfortable with the equipment.
To have a completed space, each lab needed to be a way to record and process the creative output via software. Unfortunately the industry-standard software for audio and video would have cost between 10 to 25 percent of the total budget of each space. In order to balance the cost, each site received “good enough” software that fit the budget. As a result the community partners did not have expertise on these products and required additional training. To address this need, Bibliomist hired a creation software expert to design a one-day course for participants. This training included both the librarians and community partners. Unfortunately, this event was schedule to take place during a period of political unrest, and this hindered participation for some CSP libraries.
While CSP required that each participating library design, implement, and complete one project, Bibliomist wanted to make sure that libraries had ideas for projects that would insure long-term use of the equipment, space, and knowledge gained. Bibliomist arranged a study trip to libraries in Romania to provide inspiration for future projects and to exchange ideas with librarians in the region. Six librarians and two community partners from Ukraine had the opportunity to interact with Romanian librarians in Bucharest, Brasov, Cristiana, and Vama Buzaului. Librarians found common ground in that they were all doing creation in the library. Romanian librarians were implementing projects focused on physical creation in a club model – cooking club, applied art groups, playroom for kids, movie nights. Ukrainian libraries saw they could think outside-the-box to design future library services that required minimal funding. As well, Ukrainian librarians shared their project plans for the media labs with their Romanian counterparts. Romanians were impressed and inspired as well by the digital content creation that was soon-to-be in Ukraine. By visiting Romania, the Ukrainian librarians were able to gain new perspectives on creation in libraries and return home inspired and energetic to innovate.
The overall project met all of its expected outcomes. All five of the libraries were successful in creating new services, increasing library exposure in local and regional media coverage, creating media content in the library, and increasing patronage. The outcome data are illustrated in the table below:
|Number of new users during CSP||15||510||25||236||251||72||1,094|
|Number of events during CSP||5||194||52||42||18||10||316|
|Total number of event participants*||25||911||470||1,347||2,971||858||6,557|
|Number of active project participants*||25||300||46||36||327||30||739|
|% of time space was open during library hours||50%||100%||100%||100%||52%||55%||81.4% (avg)|
|Number of patron-created projects during CSP||20||15||14||28||28||8||93|
|Number of trainings attended by librarians & CPs||3 lib, 3 CPs||1 lib, 3 CP||4 lib, 0 CP||4 lib, 2 CP||5 lib, 0 CP||5 lib, 0 CP||22 lib, 8 CP|
|Librarian rating of comfort with technology||3.5||3||3.4||4||5||3.5||3.8 (avg)|
|% of events in which CP were involved||50%||100%||13%||67%||100%||90%||74% (avg)|
* Event participants data includes project participants and community members who attended events but did not directly participate in the libraries’ CSP. Active project participant data reflects unique participants who were actively engaged in content creation through CSP.
The procurement procedure for equipment for this project was beyond the norm. For prior purchases, Bibliomist simply accepted a bid from a single vendor and that vendor delivered and installed the equipment. Due to the diversity and specialty of equipment needed (computers, audio, musical, and video equipment), vendors were not able to meet all these needs and install equipment at locations across the country. So the procurement manager had to coordinate multiple bids on multiple lots and work with the IT team to configure, deliver, and install the equipment.
The project introduced a number of new concepts to Ukrainian libraries and had stringent contest rules to increase the chances of success. Because of these two factors only 43 of the close to 2000 eligible libraries applied. But, due to the contest design the quality of the applicants was sufficient to find 5 libraries able to take on the complications of the project.
The project required a different type of library service and procedures than the participants were accustomed to implementing.
Libraries were not used to allowing expensive equipment to leave the library. The project asked for that service but did not require it. So only two of the libraries allowed patrons to borrow the equipment without supervision.
Due to the cost of the equipment libraries were nervous about allowing everyone access to the equipment. To overcome this they provided supervision and training for patrons. All of them required patrons to show proficiency (through training or prior knowledge) before allowing access.
The equipment was more powerful and expensive than the public access computers that Bibliomist had donated in the past. Because of this it was a target for library employees to appropriate for their own use. This required intervention from Bibliomist to rectify. While there was only one case of this during the implementation of the project it is a concern for future sustainability.
The equipment required for the spaces requires special maintenance. This is beyond the normal maintenance training that librarians have received, particularly for the sensitive equipment such as cameras and musical instruments.
New services need new rules. Without them patrons were confused as to how to get access. So all of the libraries developed guidelines and posted them. They also provided staff to support the patrons as they learned about the new services.
The equipment and services were new to the librarians and very few of them had the required knowledge. To account for this Bibliomist required libraries to work with community partners with knowledge of the equipment. Additionally, Bibliomist provided training in project management and the specialized software.
Ukrainian librarians have never had a need to choose technical audio/visual equipment beyond a TV or projector. They did not have the requisite knowledge to make informed decisions about what equipment they would need to support their projects. The community partners were able to provide guidance on what to purchase and Bibliomist provided a recommended equipment list for audio and video labs. With these two resources the libraries were able to choose the right equipment. Out of the five libraries and 25,000 dollars worth of equipment the only concerns were not needing the graphics tablets and switching video cameras for DSLR cameras.
The overall project required each of the libraries to develop a project plan utilizing the donated equipment. The librarians did not have the practical experience to develop complete plans. To help with this Bibliomist provided a project planning training.
Utilities: Ukrainian institutions have to provide an estimate of electricity usage for budgeting purposes but the new computers and equipment came in the middle of a cycle so the libraries had to find a way to pay for higher utility bills.
Space: To receive the equipment the library had to provide a dedicated space. Many of the libraries did not have any additional rooms and the ones that did had to find funds for the renovation
Motivated to Create: Based on data collected (Table 1), patrons are motivated to create content at the library.
Not One-Size-Fits-All: Quantity of participants and project size vary;however, there is value in many patrons participating in small individual projects as well as a small group of patrons participating in large-scale projects.
Need for Strong Leadership: Libraries without strong leadership and desire hinder the implementation of these spaces. Leadership buy-in and support increases likelihood of success.
Access to Equipment: Without clearly defined guidelines patrons and librarians are unsure about patron access to the equipment.
Appropriate Usage of Equipment: Equipment can and will be appropriated by the staff for usage outside the project’s scope. Regular visits are necessary to insure the equipment is where it is supposed to be and being used appropriately.
Knowledge of Equipment: Librarians must feel comfortable with equipment in order to assist patrons. Training is a necessity and community partners/mentors are invaluable for passing on knowledge.
Patience Required: This project had many new variables for librarians — new concepts, new equipment, new ideas. Librarians had to work within existing “old” infrastructure to make these new ideas a reality. As well, it just takes time to learn new skills and implement such innovative projects. All parties involved — Bibliomist staff, librarians, community partners — all had to come to terms with being patient with the pace of progress.
In developing and implementing this project, Bibliomist was cognizant of the need for sustainability and acknowledged the following concerns that impact sustainability:
Over time, equipment will age, become out-dated, or need repairs. Replacing or repairing equipment could pose a problem from a financial perspective.
Equipment requires certain consumables (guitar strings, drum heads, etc) and purchasing new consumables falls outside of the traditional library budget.
Equipment usage requires electricity. The additional utility costs may not be deemed acceptable by the governmental budget office and this could hinder continued use of the equipment.
While the newness factor may drive usage of the equipment at the start, but, over time, community interest could wane.
While each project is required to have a community partner/mentor and a library contact person, for whatever reason, these people may stop their involvement with the space and then there could be loss of expertise, support, and funding for the space and its patrons.
Support from the Bibliomist project and staff in Ukraine was planned to be short-term as the project is ending in October 2014.
Bibliomist took these concerns into account when designing and implementing the project. To address the concerns, Bibliomist required that each participating library have community buy-in through establishing at least one community partner/mentor. Understanding the value of such relationships, most participating libraries had multiple community partners from the private, public, and government sectors. With such broad buy-in and investment, it bodes well for the longevity and sustainability of these projects. While the concern for sustainable physical resources is continuous, these partners have been active and successful in finding creative ways to fulfill any need for physical resources thus far. Since these library services are often deemed outside of “traditional costs” by the government budget office, Bibliomist has encouraged librarians to keep the public and community involved with their creation space so as to have continual buy-in and support from an outside source.
CSP Library Narrative Summaries and success stories
Each library approached their CSP uniquely. Overall, there were three video and two audio labs that were implemented at five Ukrainian libraries. Two libraries were located in the eastern region of the country, two in the south central region and one in the western region. Three libraries who were participants in CSP were in urban settings while the other two were in relatively rural settings. All CSP libraries reported satisfaction and excitement about the project and that is demonstrated by the quality of projects completed by each library using the equipment procured during CSP.
Antratsit: Audio Lab
Summary: Antratsit’s goal was to bring 15 people into the space and teach them how to play, record and share music. They not only accomplished that but they far exceeded it, involving 300 participants. They were also able to get exposure for the library through traditional and social media. Together the lab and media exposure led to 510 new library patrons. They were able to hold four public concerts with the participants and equipment. The success of the project is demonstrated by the large amount of community support in both in-kind donations (space, equipment) and monetary donations (20,329 UAH).
Success Story: One project focused on working with a local institution to teach music to children who had been in trouble with the law. One participant in this project is Igor Brunat, a 17 year old with a criminal record. The project has allowed him an opportunity to learn to play the guitar and record his own music. The local police commented that his behavior has improved and that he has not had violations since beginning his participating in the project.
Implications for Future Projects: Antratsit’s project managers realized that the library staff were ill-equipped to provide the necessary support after their original community partner left. So seeing the value in this project and the resources provided through it, the library hired a dedicated staff person to provide the time and expertise required for the success of the audio lab. As a result they had the largest number trainings and the biggest pool of active participants. Therefore, encouraging or even including funds for a staff position to manage a creation space would be advantageous for the success and sustainability of this type of project in the future.
Kharkiv: Video Lab
Summary: Kharkiv’s video lab project centered around encouraging family collaboration on art projects. Only five families participated in the CSP project, but because the library opened the space to the public, additional patrons took advantage of the space and equipment. The project team wanted to create a family friendly space and they definitely succeeded in that. .While they over estimated the number of families that would take advantage of the project, the library offered many in-depth trainings on photography. In the project, participants worked with social media and online learning to help them gain new skills and get feedback on their work. All participants created online accounts with the Family ArtLab website where they posted their artwork in order to get advice from experts and and complete training videos.
Success Story: Kharkiv’s FamilyArt Lab project was unique not only because it focused on family, but also because it took a project created at local library to a larger audience via use of the internet. By combining social media with the photography project, the project team at Kharkiv could spread the word about their project as well as monitor its reach. FamilyArt Lab generated 13,359 hits on the project’s online gallery, 710 views on the project’s youtube channel, and 760 page views on the project’s Facebook page.
Implications for Future Projects: At the start of the project, librarians in Kharkiv were intimidated and obviously unsure about the equipment and software in their lab, with only two librarians stating they felt competent. According to their report, by the end of CSP, 14 librarians felt competent with using the equipment and assisting patrons with usage. This bears the question as to how over the project lifespan, 12 librarians gained so many new skills, especially given that the librarians’ and CPs’ attendance at Bibliomist trainings wasn’t stellar. There are two possible factors that affected this increase in capacity: learning through doing and the expertise provided by community partners. Even though Kharkiv librarians did not have a lot of confidence at first, they showed initiative and made it work, learning as they went along. As well, the importance of having community resources and relationships with experts in the field cannot be under-valued in a project such as this.
Kherson: Video Lab
Summary: Kherson’s video lab project brought together a collective of film directors to learning lab focused on video production. These directors worked with 36 youth in the community to build their capacity in cinematography. The youth produced and directed films on a variety of topics including social issues, education, and art. Then the library hosted screenings of these films and brought in over 1000 people to participate in these events. Kherson staff also worked to make sure that the equipment was available for none CSP related activities. This led to increased patronage and exposure for the library. Kherson also allowed users to check out the equipment and use it outside of the library.
Success Story: Kherson is an up-and-coming center in Ukraine for film and it boasts a collective of film directors who live and work there. This collective observed a need for an official educational institution for cinematography in the region. The collective and the library project team saw CSP as an opportunity to address this need through the trainings and master classes organized by experienced volunteers in the library. Similar self-organized film schools in the city have been organized in the past but the video lab has been the most successful due to the equipment at the library, convenient working hours and librarian support.
Implications for Future Projects: Kherson’s project really highlights how indispensable libraries can be to a community when the librarians are looking to address specific community needs. The librarians established a fruitful relationship with a group of enthusiastic community partners with expertise and that led to high-quality output. For future projects, requiring and guiding librarians to execute in-depth community needs analyses can help lead to successful projects and sustainable community partnerships.
Lviv: Audio Lab
Summary: Lviv’s Children’s Library wanted to use their CSP audio lab to turn the library into a music hub for the community. They focused on offering concerts and events to the public. Rather than simply hiring professional musicians or established bands,the librarians worked with local youth to teach them to play instruments and to help them organize into their own bands. At this CSP library, many of the trainings offered were actually individual and group music instruction. While other trainings focused on teaching youth how to use the software for music production. By offering free music lessons and access to instruments, the library was able to provide services to youth regardless of their socio-economic background. The Children’s Library helped organize the youth bands PashKo and Perekotypole and then helped them network and connect with other local bands through performances.
Success Story: Lviv’s project and the creation of the audio lab made hanging out at the library cool for young people, particularly teens in the community. The bands formed during the project had a mini-tour, performing at local events and institutions. They played at local festivals and provided music for breakfasts at a local pre-school. The bands even participated in local and national contests and then used the audio equipment to record their repertoire on CD and MP3s.
Implications for Future Projects: Lviv’s project team saw an opportunity to become a community center in a unique way while reaching a specific demographic. The librarians knew there was a need for entertainment and a way to actively engage youth in library services. Through CSP, they not only addressed these needs, but they accomplished it in a way that increased the library’s community profile and provided ongoing exposure for the library in the community. Through concerts, the library regularly engaged community members and public figures and that has engendered ongoing support for their audio lab. For future projects like this, it is important for libraries to maximize their exposure in the community by establishing good relations with media and public figures as this often increases the likelihood of project sustainability.
Vradiivka: Video Lab
Summary: Vradiivka’s CSP focused on grooming young filmmakers. To achieve its goals the project team implemented a competitive four-round selection process through which to choose their youth participants. Furthermore, the librarians worked very closely with a local television station, LLC Ekran. The station’s employees provide professional and practical knowledge for the participants to build their individual capacity in filmmaking. The culmination of the project was that the participants directed, produced, and edited eight videos for television broadcast and these videos were deemed good enough to actually air on the station.
Success Story: Vradiivka’s project was entitled: Children on Air. In celebration of Constitution Day in Ukraine, there was a local event, “Ukraine is my Country.” CSP participants recorded and edited footage from the event. They then submitted the footage to the local television station. The station used the footage in its reporting about local holiday events.
Implications for Future Projects: Vradiivka’s CSP demonstrated that sheer volume of output is not always the most important indicator of project success. While some of the quantitative data they provided was underwhelming, digging into the qualitative aspects of their data really highlighted their success. Librarians and community partners worked with a small dedicated group of participants and produced a small number of deliverables. However, the impact of the videos was extremely far-reaching because the video were deemed high quality enough for usage by the local television station. For future projects, it would be important to gather quantitative data, but it would be equally important to gather qualitative data because the impact of the project is sometimes more evident through in-depth descriptions of projects and outcomes.