Forum design

The Forum began with a set of plenary presentations intended to provide information about the project and to establish a shared baseline for understanding about the areas of investigation. In addition to project team presentations, plenary presentations included presenters selected from Forum participants, focusing on four primary themes:

  • The Evolving Systems Ecosystem: What software and other systems do we use to make archival discovery and delivery possible, and how is that changing within institutional contexts?
  • Networks and the Big Picture: What issues are impacting archives and libraries at the level of the sector, consortia, or beyond, related to discovery and delivery?
  • Ethical, Legal, and Cultural Concerns: How have factors like privacy, cultural protocols, copyright, and others impacted our ability to address archival discovery and delivery, on a technical, operational, or strategic level?
  • Impacts on Public Services and Outreach: How does archival discovery and delivery fit within the front-line work of library and archives workers focused on reference, outreach, public service, and community needs?

The remainder of the event used facilitated breakout activities to achieve the Forum goals. Building on the conceptual design of the larger project, the Forum’s design focused on activating lateral thinking, a concept developed by Edward de Bono, which allows for indirect and creative approaches to problem solving to arise through disrupting constraining thought patterns. The Forum was intentionally designed to have a “flow” following design ideation workshops, leveraging a process that guides participants through three modes of thinking: divergent thinking (generating a large number of ideas), emergent thinking (building from and upon past ideas), and convergent thinking (sorting, clustering, and evaluating ideas). Subsequently, the afternoon of Day 1 started with divergent activities intended to set the stage and develop Forum themes. Day 2 focused on emergent activities, intended to support participants in examining, exploring, and experimenting in the problem space. Day 3 focused on convergent activities intended to move participants towards conclusions, decisions, and both individual and collective action.

The Forum’s collaborative activities were drawn mostly from two sources: Liberating Structures and Gamestorming. Both sources were chosen because of their use of engaging activities that could center the expertise of the Forum participants and maximize participation by using a variety of communication methods and modes. The activities also allowed the project team and facilitators to structure activities around groups of varying sizes, allowing for time for individual reflection, small group discussion, and larger interactions between groups and across the entire Forum. In addition to these activities, facilitators used daily retrospective sessions (Gorman and Gottesdiener 2010) to gather feedback and evaluate the day’s activities and outcomes based on responses from participants. A full description of the Forum’s activities, including the facilitator manual used to describe the flow and structure of the activities, can be found in the project reports and facilitator resources.

Our goals for the project include providing an inclusive and welcoming environment for participation and collaboration. All participants were expected to follow the project's Community Agreements and Code of Conduct.