ShanachieTour - a library roadtrip around the world.

ShanachieTour. What a strange word. To some it sounds vaguely familiar and brings back memories of Ireland’s history, to others it reminds of a recordlabel for folk and Reggae music. Well the Shanachie that Erik Boekesteijn and Jaap van de Geer had in mind when they started on this project was indeed the Irish storyteller, travelling from village to village telling and gathering stories in return of food and lodging.
This time the stories were to be about libraries and best practise though, and not so much about local folklore, although they did run across some wild stories. To understand how this project came about you need to understand who these men are, and where they come from.

It is 2006 and Erik and Jaap are working for DOK, the public library in Delft. Erik works for the Communication/Marketing department and Jaap is head IT. The library is working hard on becoming one of the most innovative libraries in the world and these two guys feel that in order to make real progress they need to look beyond their walls and borders.
When they see the program for Internet Librarian International in London, they decide to take time off, throw in some of their own money and ask their boss for permition and a donation to go to London and bring camera equipment to film some of the presentations and interview some of the speakers. Of course a bit naive and after two minutes of filming the keynote they were thrown out. Being at times very persuasive they managed to talk their way in again and made a video summary for the website of the organisation. At this conference they made many new contacts among who, Michael Stephen’s and Jenny Levine.

After seeing the video of London, Probiblio, a service organisation for libraries in the Netherlands, asked them to make a film about gaming in libraries in the USA. For this film, “If you’re not Gaming, you’re losing”, they interviewed Jenny Levine in Chicago and visited libraries such as Kankakee, Shaumburg and Gail Borden. The whole week they stayed with Michael Stephens in his appartment and exchanged many ideas about libraries and innovation. During one of the evening sessions they came up with the idea of a trip across the USA in search of best practise in libraries. The ShanachieTour was born and the Shanachie Motto was clear: keep stories, share stories, make stories.

The plan was to go home and built a website that should have the feel of a diary, with room for comments, photo’s and video’s. The whole idea of using web 2.0 tools to share their findings with the whole world turned out to be so appealing that it took less than two weeks to find sponsors to finance the trip. By that time they realised that the undertaking of driving across the USA and filming, writing and editting was too big a job for two people. They decided to invite colleague and friend Geert van den Boogaard along to do part of the driving, make the photo’s and to be their soundman. One of the biggest sponsors, Information Today, made the condition that at the end of the trip the three guys had to do a presentation about their tour at Internet Librarian in Monterey, CA. Thus the date and the destination was set. The pressure was on and The libraries between New York and Monterey soon followed. The trip started out on October 13th 2007.

Looking at all the publications and presentations that followed it is clear that the trip was a big hit and that the ending was only the beginning of many trips to come. Australia , France, Jamaica, Ireland and now they are looking at Canada. The best results from these trips are the contacts they made and most of the librarians still stay in touch. Some of them even managed to get more money out of their involvement in the tour as they showed the video to their city council.
There are just so many inspiring librarians that are so proud of their job and their library and they want to tell their story. Luckily most of them find their way to DOK, the library concept center and the Shanachiesite through Facebook or Twitter or other means.

If you want the Shanachies to come and visit your library, or you want to ask or share information, please contact us at  e.boekesteijn@dok.info  or  j.vandegeer@dok.info
Kindest Regards,


Make Stories, Tell Stories, Keep Stories

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