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A lab at the library: triggering innovation in bottom up processes

digital composite of School materials and apple with library background
Image Credit: Freepik

In a clear example of RRI, the Library Living Lab gives citizens the opportunity to experiment and interact with technology that is normally inaccessible to all publics. A quadruple helix model that is integrating business, public administrations, university and neighbours in a pioneer experience of living labs.

The Library Living lab is located at the Miquel Batllori Library, within the Volpelleres Neighbourhood in Sant Cugat del Vallés (Barcelona). It is part of the ENOLL (European Network of Living Labs) and has been open to the public since its inauguration in October 2015. Within these three years, it has organized multiple and periodical activities that try to innovate in the way we access culture and technology, and science as a whole, while giving citizens the lead when doing so.

Quoting a report from The World Bank in association with the ENOLL, “Living Labs are “user-driven innovation environments where users and producers co-create innovation in a trusted, open ecosystem that enables business and societal innovation. In essence, a Living Lab takes research and development out of the laboratory and into the real world, engaging stakeholders, citizens, and end-users in the collaborative design of new services”.

“The Library Living Lab is many things”, Dr. Dimosthenis Karatzas, associate director of the Computer Vision Center and responsible for the project states that not only is this a bottom up initiative, but a place “in which there is a real technology transfer to society, a tangible implementation of the quadruple helix model (link to https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/open-innovation-20), a public space and an experimental prototype for the regional library network”.

Working with the spirit of Horizon 2020’s SWAF (science with and for society), the Library Living Lab can be identified as a place in which challenges are identified and thus activities are proposed to overcome them. “The Library Living Lab works in a very specific way”, Dr. Fernando Vilariño, CVC associate director and also responsible for the project along with Dr. Karatzas explains, “we identify challenges, we propose an activity involving all the actors working over that same issue. We then carry out the proposed activity and finally compile the activity’s output in order to analyse the proposal, if it effectively solved the challenge initially identified”.

The library space has actively involved neighbours. A clear example is the 3D group.  By means of using the 3D printer, neighbours started to apply robotics to their creations: a formula 1 car, a drone and a –recently finished- catamaran (all at a lower, printable in 3D scale). Activities featured in the Library are normally referring to culture in order to give an added value to digitised collections such as Europeana.  “We brought the library to the Museum with a beautiful project called ‘the Library visits the Museum’. With this, we experimented in different ways of exploring galleries in other parts of the world, such as the Rijskmuseum in Holland, or the British National Gallery in London. In fact, this is an activity that takes place every other week with great participation from the people who visit the library” as stated by Dr. Vilariño.

The library is open to anyone, citizens or businesses, research groups or public administrations, we want to involve all societal actors and encourage activities and processes that are working towards real life challenges for all of us”, as added by Dr. Karatzas.

Find more information on the library’s projects, activities and aims at their website: http://librarylivinglab.cvc.uab.cat/

Image credit: Photography Wallpaper created by Creativeart – Freepik.com

In the media:

Carlos Sierra

The author Carlos Sierra