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Relatori Milano 2021

Maja Vunšek

Kranj City Library

Maja Vunšek graduated from the Ljubljana Faculty of Arts’ Department of Librarianship, Information Science and Book Studies. She has been employed at the Kranj City Library since 1999, currently in the Director position. She connects actively with professional institutions abroad and establishes contacts which put the public libraries in Slovenia on the world map. In 2016, she was an IFLA Fellow, she published a paper on Slovenian libraries in the Librarians Around the World e-book (Latvian Library Association), she collaborates with the Ukrainian Library Association, and participates in the Erasmus+ and Creative EU projects. In 2019, the Kranj City Library joined the Lighthouse Libraries initiative, headed by the Public Libraries 2030 organization. And this brought about the Libraries of Emotions project, which introduces Libraries of Emotions in the Slovenian environment, the Newcomer project, which flirts with the development of the profession of a librarian in public libraries in the future, and the 2021 Europe Challenge project, funded and managed by the European Cultural Foundation. She has been a member of the executive board of the Public Libraries Section at the Slovenian Library Association for fifteen years, and is the current Section President. For a long time now, she has actively participated in the organization and programme committees of SLA expert consultations, in the organization of the Good Practice Day and in the organization of workshops for the movement of knowledge. She used to be a member of the commission for the Čop Diploma Award and the Čop Certificate of Recognition. For thirteen years she has been a member of the executive board of the Gorenjska Regional Library Association, where in 2014–2018 she acted as President of the Association. For two years she was a member of the Expert Committee for Library Activities at the Ministry of Culture.

The future of society, including public libraries, will be based on relevant information and the ability to perceive the emotional response to content in individuals. New services of the Kranj City Library will undoubtedly relate to a personalized approach to users. In the future, public libraries will address new users in terms of knowledge of their habits, in terms of how they spend their free time and in terms of their economic and social status. They will identify individual user profiles and communicate individualized messages, offering special services, events and other content. The direct approach will build a strong relationship with users in the future. For such an approach, it is not only the content itself that matters, but also how it is presented and where it is implemented. The rapid development of digital technology is leverage for public libraries; they should follow it and use the same communication channels as their potential users. This includes both websites and social media, where public libraries should publish personalized, user-identifiable content based on a clear, consistent message, thus creating a strong, empathetic sense of belonging.

In 2021, we are mainly facing the limitations of the new reality, the epidemic pushing us into contactless services, online events, and Zoom socializing. The library, a place for quality leisure time, lost its true meaning practically overnight. Once visited as a venue, the library is now being limited by the constantly changing regulations and the somewhat vague instructions that the state continuously presents. In the last year in Slovenia, therefore, the number of visits by kindergarten and school children, once a strong user target group, has decreased sharply. Going back there will be a long and strenuous journey, and we must do our very best not to let the memory of libraries fade. Attempting to preserve the memory of the Kranj City Library and its services and to promote an interactive approach, we prepared a 3D interactive, virtual tour around our “House of Views”, where while taking the virtual tour one can join the library, book materials, pay for obligations and, last but not least, order books to be mailed to their home.

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