Participatory Service & Transparency

One thing that stood out for me in Stephen’s (n.d.) intro video for the Participatory Service & Transparency module is the motto that libraries should keep stories, share stories, and make stories. I like how this simple sentence can offer guidance for library staff and help spur ideas. It also helps define what libraries do (or should) be doing. Libraries keep stories (books, newspapers, public records, etc.) share stories (storytimes, book clubs, etc.), and as Stephens mentioned, now it is time to make stories. He tells the story of the librarians from the DOK library in the Netherlands coming to this realization while visiting Chicago and then coming back home and gettihg their library patrons to participate in gathering local history stories. This is something that any library can do. San Francisco Public Library, for example, has a community photo project called Shades of San Francisco where patrons are invited to submit photos of their families, workspaces and neighborhoods to be added to an archived collection. The collection can be viewed by anyone on San Francisco Public Library’s website.

You can check it out here:

It was also neat to hear that the librarians from the Netherlands came all the way to Chicago to study gaming programming. One of the public libraries I work has hosted video game tournaments which have been popular among teens. Our branch is not as close to the local high schools as the other branch in the city, so we typically don’t have a lot of teens at the library. Another gaming type of program our library has done is escape rooms, which also been popular. A few of our staff members are escape room enthusiast and have created their own, coming up with their own various puzzles and themes. The games have taken place in our auditorium along with other parts of the library and have been open up to groups of about 6-8people.

Here is the flyer to the most recent one that took place:

Retrieved from

One way that staff can exercise the tenants of participatory service is to invite patrons to recommend themes and ideas for puzzles for the scape rooms to give them a voice in the type programming they want to receive. Perhaps patrons can join staff to help design props, puzzles, etc. Another way to practice participatory service is offer methods for evaluation (Stephens, 2019). For example, after an escape room takes place staff can make sure to offer feedback surveys as well as  make patrons welcome to offer feedback verbally.


Stephens, M. (n.d.). The hyperlinked library: Planning for participatory services . Retrieved from:

Join the Conversation


  1. This is a great example of international librarianship and how it intersects with our propensity for making, sharing, and keeping stories within the profession. I loved the examples of the different programs your library hosts, and your idea to help expand the idea of participatory service in those areas as well, which sounds like a lot of fun as a library patron myself.

  2. Hi Robert,
    Wow, what a creative and fun service to provide for the community and get everyone together! I really like the idea of taking it a step further to engage participation by opening it up to the community for ideas and feedback on escape room adventures. Also, thanks for bringing to my attention, other examples of participatory services provided by libraries, such as the community photo collection at the San Francisco Public Library.

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