de Bibliotheek Midden-Brabant

Innovate with a reliable partner

A public event at Midden-Brabant Public Library

"When we started looking for a new library system, our main goal was to find a partner. I'm glad to say that we have found that level of cooperation with the Wise team."

Nathan Speekenbrink
Project Manager New Library System, Product Manager Digital Library, Midden-Brabant Public Library

Midden-Brabant Public Library is known in the Netherlands for being one of the most innovative public libraries. In cooperation with local partners and inhabitants, the library functions as collection repository, podium, and workshop space. In 2018, the main branch of the library moved to a new location in Tilburg. Where previously trains and locomotives were built, the space is now a place for art, culture, and start-ups—with the library as the main attraction.

The main branch of the Midden-Brabant Public Library shares work space with several organizations in one large room. "Because in all our branches, we work together with other parties, and since we also function as a workshop and podium, we constantly attract new audiences to the library. This means that many other people come to our library besides our own members," said Nathan Speekenbrink, Product Manager Digital Library. "Perhaps they would also like to use our services. And if so, that means we need a system that can handle that kind of flexibility." Wise works with actors rather than members. This allows the library to build new connections with the local community. "Non-members as well as members of the library can buy a ticket to an event in the library. Afterward, we can approach that person with our services. That is the beauty of this system," he added.

It is essential for the library that members and visitors can easily find their way around the library. "We choose to employ our staff differently, because we find it important to work that way. This is supported by automated workflows that allow visitors to check out items independently," Nathan explained. "Each of our branches has a few hours a day when there is no staff onsite. There is a member of staff present for a few hours who has the knowhow to help the customers personally. That makes it extra important that patrons are self-reliant and can take care of things online."

"Our library work is shifting from collection and materials management to people management and the organization of events, developing talents, and sharing knowledge."

Wise already offered a host of conveniences for the Midden-Brabant Public Library, yet OCLC helped enforce the innovative nature of the library by working together on adding the collection of the Textile Museum in Tilburg to the library's catalog. And staff are currently working on a joint project to further surface the local knowledge in the Human Library. "People have knowledge that they would like to share with others. But what is the best approach to disclose that information?" Nathan asked. "For instance, a forest ranger knows a lot about the forest and everything that lives there. There are people who think that is interesting and would like to know more about that. The ranger then gives a presentation in the library and makes reading suggestions. But how can we record that knowledge? That is what this current project entails," he continued. "In the old days, it was about disclosing collections. Nowadays, it is all about enriching your catalog with human knowledge—local information that is always available online and accessible to anyone who is interested."

Since January 2016, Midden-Brabant Public Library has been working with Wise. The implementation process was a pleasant exercise for Nathan, so he looks forward to his further cooperation with the Wise team. "This was one of the easiest projects we have ever had. Our organization has been through quite a number of system migrations, but this one had by far the least issues. I have nothing but praise for how this migration was handled," he said. "The Wise team just consists of all the right people doing their thing. Their combined knowhow and their enthusiasm were excellent. The implementation process actually provided us with a lot of insights about our own organization. This was translated into a solid, stable, and well-functioning system. Our users have access to many more useful functionalities, and the tool is also much more user friendly. It takes a lot less time to do the same tasks and more."

Services used by Midden-Brabant Public Library

Wise (in Dutch)

Metadata services via the agreement between OCLC and the KB National Library of the Netherlands

Resource sharing via the agreement between OCLC and the KB National Library of the Netherlands

Map showing location of Midden-Brabant Public Library

Library at a glance

  • With 16 library branches, the largest public library within the province
  • Active within an area of 350,000 inhabitants from the municipalities of Tilburg, Goirle, Hilvarenbeek, Loon op Zand, Oisterwijk, and Waalwijk
  • Strong proponent of creating, sharing, and providing access to knowledge and stories
  • Stands for developing talents among the local community
  • Plays a role in society by promoting maximum community participation
  • The main branch building, LocHal Public Library, was named the 2019 "World Building of the Year" at the World Architecture Festival.

Related stories

Rotterdam Public Library customer browsing books

Build stronger community engagement

See how Rotterdam Public Library innovates to better serve the community.

Students at the Public Library of Gouda

Make connections between data, collections, and programming

Learn how the Public Library of Gouda uses data to better understand their users and provide a better customer service experience.