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The IdeaMarket program at Newmarket Public Library
WHAT THE HECK?
 IdeaMarket is a panel conversation/debate on
local/shared interests
 Audience and panel are equally weighted
 Surprise tenet of NPL strategic plan 2013 : Igniting
Community Dialogue, Debate, and Discovery 
 The name IdeaMarket : Newmarket is historically a
market town, started as a crossroads on trade route
between Lake Simcoe and York
WHY THE HECK?
 Because the Board said so…
 Town strategic priority: community engagement, but
for them it is like “pulling teeth”
 Engages a new audience, and possibly key stakeholders
 Idea of libraries as a facilitator of conversations:
http://quartz.syr.edu/rdlankes/Publications/Journals/COL
ISFinal-v7.pdf
WHY THE LIBRARY?
 Seen as a neutral space
 Less threatening
 Less political interference and “agendas”
 We have space
 Compliment to our York Info Community Information
and Volunteer Centre
 Already successful in adult programming
WHO THE HECK?
 Library Staff
 Professional facilitator ($)
 Partners
 Panel ($)
 Public
WHERE DO WE GET TOPICS?
 Brainstorming
 Talking with existing partners
 Soliciting topics and partners
 Open Idea Night 
HOW DOES IT WORK?
 Choose topic
 Invite panel/partner
 Create marketing material
 Facilitator
 Panel introduction
 Open conversation and debate
TOOLS
 Rules for respectful dialogue
 Budget
 Marketing:
 Newspaper sponsor
 Posters and handouts
 Idea solicitation handout
 Displays
 Post-program reports
 Blog
 Banners, bus shelters, flag poles
TOOLS
TOOLS
WHAT TOPICS HAVE WE COVERED?
DO PEOPLE CARE?
 Who shows up?
 The usual suspects:


Activist-types, non-profit employees, politicians
Lots of Boomers 
 NOT the usual suspects:
 Otherwise disengaged or ignored people 
 Some youth
 Who partners with us?
 Important people and groups!
 Do stakeholders care?
 Yes, a great advocacy tool.
 Survey SAID….
COMMUNITY IMPACTS
 Continuing conversations
 EduTech, alternative health, drugs
 Relationships made
 Staying late
 Calls afterwards
 Regular attendee sees more “outcomes” and
relationships than at first
 Need to document outcomes and further
conversations
LESSONS LEARNED
 Once you say “have your say” make sure you mean it!
 Be prepared for questions asked about inclusion of
points of view on panel 
 Be prepared to stay late!
 Let the cleaning staff in 
 Be prepared for some people being offended by topics,
titles, displays/handouts , and even the name
IdeaMarket 
 Be prepared to deal with passionate people, too many
professionals
THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE UGLY
 Attendance better than expected
 Facilitation more complicated than expected
 Non-profits more nervous than expected
 Staff anxious about displays
 Board uncomfortable with too much openness 
 Some strange behaviour 
 One UGLY incident 
OTHER UNANTICIPATED STUFF
 Planning hot topics in timely fashion 
 Getting weird or unusable ideas from the public 
 People approaching the facilitator with ideas instead
of the library 
 Small town mentality?
 Confusion about the name 
SO WHAT THE HECK NOW?
 Keep going; we’re on a roll!
 Topics for Spring 2015:



Can you afford to grow old?
Dying with Dignity
Activist filmmaking
 Steering/advisory committee
 How to continue the dialogue?
 Provide space?
 Follow up on outcomes?
 Encourage social enterprise rather than lobbying?
 Other libraries want to steal our name 
Contact Us
 Todd Kyle, CEO [email protected] @nplceo
 Jennifer Leveridge, Community Services Librarian
[email protected]
 @newmarktlibrary
 www.newmarketpl.ca/ideamarket
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