In November last year, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the amalgamation of the libraries in the Auckland region, we invited Aucklanders to send us designs for a new set of library cards. Coming up to the end of such a strange and stressful year, we wanted to do something to mark the anniversary and to involve anyone living in Tāmaki Makaurau to be part of it.
Constraints such as no budget and the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 for everyone meant we needed to keep the promotion low-key but appealing at the same time. We also needed to hit the right note with the designs – we didn’t want dozens of images of beaches or of stacks of books – so the framing became as much about the story behind the design as the design itself.
The design competition was open to all Aucklanders, including our council staff, regardless of whether they were members of Auckland Libraries. Entries were open for three weeks in November with promotion mainly on social media and the libraries’ website. Images could be uploaded via Instagram or sent in via email. We had advice from the council’s legal team on terms and conditions, including copyright and ownership; our website and social media team planned and delivered the promotion; the council design team advised on technical requirements of the images, and there was a lot of co-ordination required to oversee the time-line and the administration, capture all the entries, respond to all the submitters and keep all the internal parties aligned.
The generosity and creativity of our communities was humbling. We received a huge variety of entries and were touched by the stories. Some reflected experiences from the lockdowns; the appreciation of freedom and gratitude for simple pleasures in the city we love. There were stories of connection to whānau and whenua, of immigration, of memories, of love and appreciation for libraries.
We also had great participation from staff: promoting the competition to the public, helping them scan and send their images, and also submitting entries themselves. A couple of the comments:
… this was an amazing opportunity, thank you for accepting me in the top 12! Will there happen be a competition like this in the next 10 years, "Celebrating 20 Years"!
The book I’m holding in the drawing is called "Earth To Dad" … thank you for running this competition. I think it’s an awesome opportunity and an amazing idea.
The final designs (below) will include the name of the artist on the back of the card carrying their design; subtle council branding and the name of Auckland Council Libraries in English or in te reo Māori on the front (2 versions).
Will we do it again? The exercise involved more effort than we originally anticipated. The November timing was challenging for everyone; we had to problem solve unexpected issues as we went along, contacting the submitters for clarification and permissions was sometimes slow, administration and communication with all parties was time consuming and sometimes complex, but the response from the public was amazing and made it all worthwhile.
Our feeling is that in another five years the need to have a separate, if any, physical library card will largely be unnecessary – replaced by a virtual card or a multi-purpose card that encompasses other council services. However, we were stunned when we did the call out to staff to at the start of this exercise for examples of old cards and North Shore, Waitākere, Auckland City, Manukau, Franklin, Rodney, and Papakura samples, started filling a box. So, never say never.
If you are thinking of running an exercise like this, please feel free to get in touch.
Link here for more details of the six winners and their stories.