Speaker Biography

Director Opening the Book Ltd, UK

Rachel Van Riel founded and shaped the reader development movement which changed the way public libraries in the UK engage with their customers. Opening the Book’s reader-centred approach released new energy into library work, re-motivating many library staff and delivering wider cultural change in organisations. Libraries moved from largely passive provision of books and computers to actively engaging the audience.

Rachel has designed and installed 150 library interiors, working across all sizes and types of library buildings and with very different local communities. She has been a consultant to many library services across the UK, Ireland, Norway and Sweden. Opening the Book has run national training programmes, creating change agents with new skills and confidence, which reach every library service in the UK. Online training courses have been taken by 12,000 library staff in three continents, including an outstanding programme to train 1000 staff in partnership with the State Library of Victoria.

Rachel has previously worked in Melbourne and Sydney; she is looking forward to her first visit to Western Australia.


“Changing libraries – new ways of working.”

Rachel will focus on library design, interiors not exteriors, and the move to self-service and how this changes the role and daily tasks of library staff.

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Rachel Van Riel

Changing Libraries – New Ways of Working

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