I love SXSW. It is an extraordinary concentration of fresh ideas, new concepts and levels of conversations rarely seen anywhere in the world, all hosted Austin, Texas. Austin, surprisingly a blue city in a red state, at first seems like an odd choice but its openness to creative thinking is palpable, and you cant help but fall in love with the rawness of opportunity here. What also makes this event event incredible is its sheer scale (easily over 1000 seperate speaking panels to attend) and with that scale comes the ability to get exposed to an extraordinary number of panels and discussions well beyond those of your core categories… and it is here that for me the really exciting stuff lies. This is what broadens your perspective and opens your mind to new opportunities.

One of my favourite, left of centre, presentations was made by the Madison Public Library, an incredible story (well told) of innovation and creativity that turned a library from a place of content consumption into one of content creation.

The abbreviated version, is that the Madison Public library was being extensively renovated and, as a result, was to be shut down for an extended period. One of the part time assistants at the library, also an artist, noticed the opportunity for using the chaotic pre renovated ‘bookless’ space as a gallery … and the Bookless exhibition was born –  A one day only exhibition featuring local artist’s contributions, often directly using trashed artifacts from the old library clear-out.

It immediately resonated with the community attracting over 5000 people and inspired a whole new way of thinking about the library and its contribution to the community.

Involved in a category in need of reivigoration? Enjoy this great story in more detail at http://madisonbubbler.org/bookless-beyond/