Surviving and Thriving - Presentation at CILIP/LAI 2016 Conference

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Surviving & thriving in libraries

Nick Poole, CEO, CILIPJoint LAI/CILIP Ireland Conference 2016Killarney

Are you an optimist, a pessimist or a realist about the future of libraries?


Introducing the tardigrade the most resilient creature on earth


Can survive in SPACE for 10 days without oxygen or heatCan withstand temperatures between -273 and 150 degrees!Can survive without food & water for 100 years by losing 66% of its body mass & entering a cryptobiotic state!


Grass one of the most prolific, adaptable organisms in the world

Mutates freely to adapt to any climate conditionsIs a viable food source for everything, which helps it to propagateSurvives through aggressive adaptation & growth

Species that survive and thrive use common strategies:

Will to live they want to survive at all costs

Toughness they are engineered to withstand change

Diversity they diversify to overcome localised differences

Pro-activity they proactively propagate to ensure survival

Adaptability they constantly adapt to changes in the environment

Dormancy they can get smaller & subsist on less without dying



Will to live know we need to survive & thrive for our users

Toughness have withstood immense social, economic & technological change

Diversity are a strongly diversified sector (librarians/knowledge/information)

Pro-activity arent waiting around for our destiny to happen

Adaptability are fine-tuned to the needs of their users/community/company

Dormancy have learnt to make a little go a very long way


The worlds most resilient companies...

In continuous operation for 1436 years (until sadly bought out in 2013!) 36 generationsInvested in replanting forests to ensure sustainable supply of raw materialsA specialist service for a long-term customer expert carpentry for Bhuddist temples


Adapted to electrification by diversifying into Church candles & luxury giftsBecame the leading supplier of street lighting in Dublin & surrounds in the 1700s


Companies that survive and thrive use common strategies:

Value - they produce something people need & want

Prudence - they dont grow faster than the market demands

Adaptability when change comes, they embrace it

Symbiosis they exist in a balanced relationship with their community

Geography their activity is optimised to their location

Pride they take pride in their longevity

Heritage they have a sense of cumulative investment & value



Value - we produce something people need & want

Prudence we arent greedy organisations

Adaptability are learning to embrace change

Symbiosis exist in a balanced relationship with their community/users

Geography optimised to our location

Pride we take pride in our longevity

Heritage believe in cumulative investment & value


RESILIENTOPTIMISEDNETWORKEDADAPTABLEDelivers valueOptimised to location/ situationClear about core role/ purposeEngaged with audienceConnected to professionCan shrink without dyingHas good governanceAble to access influenceProactive not passiveMeets standardsHas a positive working culture

So what can we do to survive and thrive...

Personally?As organisations?As a sector?



Be optimisticBe generous Keep focused on the customerStay connectedBe opportunisticEmbrace changeLook after yourself






As organisations...

Be optimisticContinue to develop & innovateBe opportunisticBuild local influenceShout about our achievementsDo the basics well Focus on core strengths Stay focused on the customerLook after our people


As a sector...

Be optimisticJoin our voices togetherAdvocate for our professionBuild influenceCreate compelling evidenceResist poor decisionsSupport our communityAttract and celebrate talentEnthuse employers & create opportunityBe welcoming & inclusiveBe opportunisticBuild new partnerships


There has been something like a library for nearly 4,000 years. We are one of the most resilient ideas on earth.

Our environment is changing socially, technologically, economically. And libraries have adapted to these changes.

We have the services and skills people need to succeed in todays complex, information-rich world.

We need to make sure they know it.

Thank you!

Nick PooleChief ExecutiveCILIP