Urban Knowledge Hubs - Transformative Societal Spaces for Hybrid Libraries in the Baltic Sea Region

State and University Library Hamburg held their first digital workshop

27 December 2023
On 15 December 2023 our German partner held their first digital workshop, engaging experts from the public sector in the redesign of a space designated for historical political knowledge transfer.
Technical details


Within its pilot, the State and University Library in Hamburg will redesign the “Carl von Ossietzky Saal” located in the library’s historic building. The aim is to engage cultural, social and academic actors by conducting different workshops – both digitally and on site.

The series of engagement activities was kicked off by the first online workshop, bringing in a diverse expertise from the public sector. Around 15 representatives from cultural and public institutions like museums, foundations, or associations brought in their unique perspectives and expertise.

The workshop started with an introduction to the project and the team, which was followed by a short check-in among all participants. A first brainstorming activity helped identify potential target groups as well as events for the future Carl von Ossietzky space. These ideas were later consolidated. For this purpose, the participants were divided into three virtual groups and discussed the following two questions: What activities could potentially take place within the new space? What equipment or features would be necessary? After 20 minutes, the whole group exchanged the ideas developed previously. Finally, the workshop ended with a small wrap-up including a short feedback survey.

During the brainstorming activities, it became clear that university students (“Studierende”), high school students (“Schüler:innen”), adolescents (“Jugendliche”) as well as the general public (“Öffentlichkeit”) were some of the main target groups for the participating experts. To engage these groups, workshops, seminars and exhibitions (“Ausstellungen”) were only some of the main possibilities.

A brief evaluation of the group work immediately showed that the multiple perspectives were very enriching for this format since all three groups focused on very different aspects of the redesign process. While one group saw the space as a place for encounters and exchange, which should always be open and accessible, another group perceived the space as a new entry point to the library – both physically by opening up a side entrance towards the public and content-related by displaying parts of the library’s history. Yet another group was focusing more on the equipment and furnishing of the space, especially when targeting a younger audience. A thorough analysis of the workshop will most likely expose even further ideas.

By making use of different digital engagement tools, the two hours passed by rather quickly. However, a valid critique at the end of the workshop was that said tools are handy to quickly poll first ideas but make it hard to really dive into a discussion and move beyond buzzwords towards real innovation. This feedback is not only valuable for the upcoming workshops, but could also be an interesting finding for our methodological toolbox.


State and University Library Hamburg