How do you get people excited about something? Go big or go home. Doors Open Ottawa shows how organizations’ can work together to create buzz, grab people’s attention, build excitement, engage the community, and promote institutional learning. A few weeks ago, my friends were buzzing about Doors Open Ottawa.
“Doors Open Ottawa is Ottawa’s largest architectural event that celebrates culturally, historically, and functionally significant buildings throughout the city,” said Deputy Mayor Desroches. “Many of these buildings are not normally open to the public, and certainly not in this way.” (source)
“For the past 11 years, the City of Ottawa has been very proud to hold the annual event Doors Open Ottawa. It is a free event, for both building participants and attendees, which celebrates our community’s built heritage, allowing access to functionally, culturally, and historically significant buildings” with 80,000 visitors and the participation of over 125 of the city’s finest buildings (source).
If each organization held their own individual Doors Open, the media coverage would not buzz about the event. With a massive listing of buildings, individuals, couples, families, and friends can explore nearly 150 buildings which are typically off limits. There is something to do and something to get excited about for all interests and age groups; I even ran into a friend at DFAIT. That is how excited the entire city gets about Doors Open.
In a weird twist of fate, returning to the market from the Ottawa Rowing Club, I ended up having an informal informational interview with a retired academic librarian. While chatting, I mentioned grad school and she turned out to be a MLIS McGill graduate who worked in academic settings over several decades. It was really nice talking to someone about their philosophies of the profession.
Unfortunately, the city archives were a bit too far out of city centre for me to attend (no bus pass). Nevertheless, the archives also participated downtown through the use of their records in exhibitions. At the Government Conference Centre, images of the old railroad station from the early 20th century were blown up and put on display. At DFAIT, Passport Canada had an exhibit of old passports from their archives.
While its great that GLAMS participated by waiving their entry fees, I would have really appreciated a more behind the scenes access so we can have a greater appreciation of all the hard work that happens beyond the exhibit walls.
The ability to access the restricted excites people. When I first walked into the Government Conference Centre, embassies, and DFAIT, doors were literally open. No passes needed to explore the building. So used to being restricted within such buildings, it was liberating and a bit odd to just walk around. The freedom to explore is a much different experience than a tour. Asking questions rather than being told demonstrates an individuals desire and choice to engage with information. The ability to choose can make one more receptive to knowledge and understanding.
All in all, convergence is not always necessary. Collaboration is key.