My first conference trip to Manchester Cilip 2017 (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals) with the Leapfrog team was an exciting start for future dissemination events.

Our project principle investigator, Prof Leon Cruickshank, introduced Leapfrog, as a unique research partnership between Lancaster University and the Glasgow School of Art, funded for three years by AHRC creative communities programme. This has resulted in new collaborations with engagement professionals, health professionals, librarians, young people in care, and community members. As part of this work nineteen different projects have been initiated across the North West of England, Scotland, Highlands and Islands. Through working with Lancashire libraries, positive research outcomes have derived in methods of co-​designing ‘tools’, their use and adaptation, and benefits transpired with innovative approaches to community engagement.

For the Cilip interactive session, Leapfrog’s research associate, Laura Wareing’, promoted the tools for teams to work collectively in groups of eight, trying them out in their own way. The groups gave feedback on each tool they used: 

  • Comms stretcher and coms focus tool– is used for stretching your whole communication language: the tools helped librarians identify and map new ways of reaching and working with communities whilst operating within a newly formed team (for this exercise they had been together for ten minutes and team work was strong!).
  • Flow Customer tools

Flow Customer needs– ‑this tool aims to prompt communications and helps profile, pinpoint and signpost customers (library users in this case) to the right resource or place. Delegates found that they were able to readily work as a ‘new library team’ and quickly understood and matched customer needs across a large range of services on offer. All eight teams used the tool in different ways including: ‘examining our regular users and people we would like to see more in libraries’ feedback given proved ‘it was a good tool for different backgrounds and for us collaboratively to share across our areas of expertise’.

Flow Personas – These tools were found to be useful in identifying crossovers and improving communications for regular library users and non-users.

In examining our users: we chose a baby who would want our space to be accessible bright with information and inspire confidence, and a care leaver as an occasional user who may need a computer, information on It, jobs, while also needing accessible space and confidence.’

The workshop group indicated new ways in which they would use the tools themselves: ‘Tools can be combined and adapted, we can gain information that may challenge our presumptions of what people are like, library users could also use the tools themselves, for us as staff to be directly aware of their needs or challenges, and then update information.’

If you are interested in collaborating or knowing more about the project, please get in touch quickly with Debbie, as we have funding available for the next six months for tool sharing workshops in groups, and would be keen for you to benefit from our research work.