Read our interview with the brilliant Anja, founder of The Collaborative Library.
What is ‘The Collaborative Library’?
We provide simple versions of academic papers so more people can read them. We want science and knowledge to be free and easy to access for all.
Our platform invites professionals, experts by experience, academics, and students to share content, participate and review materials.
Feedback from the community of users helps to shape a library that reflects diverse voices and perspectives, helping us to represent, grow and evolve.
What made you passionate about starting this?
In today’s information-driven world, where misinformation is widespread, it can be hard to trust what we read and we need to look for evidence. However, scientific research is often only read by and shared with academics.
Complex language can be a barrier to understanding scientific knowledge, some people may be interested to learn about a topic but be put off by the technical language. Expensive subscriptions also mean some individuals cannot afford them.
We want to help change this and make science accessible to all- and in a fun way, too!
We want to encourage people to question ideas and challenge commonly held beliefs. We also want to feed people’s curiosity, open their minds, and invite them to join us on a shared quest of knowledge.
How can people benefit from it?
All our materials are free to access and use, making our library a valuable tool for teachers and students. Teachers can use recommended resources from the library in lesson plans, encouraging students to question the most up-to-date information critically from an early age.
For researchers, the Collaborative Library serves as a bridge between different academics to share knowledge and learn from each other. They can also reach more people and share their impact wider.
For the public our website provides guidance around how to navigate through the murky waters of online information. The Collaborative Library will become an ever-growing source of evidence-based materials that can help anyone understand complex topics on any subject – from psychology to medicine and many other areas.
How might it help to improve creativity and wellbeing?
We hope in many ways – here are some examples:
Inspiration through Knowledge: Access to a wealth of scientific knowledge can inspire creativity. Learning about the latest research, discoveries, and innovations can spark new ideas and perspectives.
Reducing Information Overload: The library’s focus on lay summaries makes scientific information more accessible and less overwhelming. It reduces the stress associated with information overload. This, in turn, allows more mental space for creativity and self-expression.
Engaging Curiosity: The library can fuel curiosity about many scientific topics. Curiosity is a key driver of creativity. As people explore diverse subjects through the lay summaries, they may find unexpected connections that spark creative thinking.
Using Science in Everyday Life: Knowledge gained from the library may inspire individuals to use scientific concepts in their daily lives.
How do you hope it grows?
We have many goals here, those we will focus on first are:
- Wider Content: Continuously expanding the range of scientific topics covered in the library. A diverse selection of topics can attract a broader audience and reach a wider range of interests.
- Engaging with Researchers: More and more collaborations with researchers, research institutions, and universities to encourage the creation of lay summaries. This could involve partnerships and outreach programs. We are making great steps in the right direction, but there’s still lots that needs to be done.
- User-Driven Content: We want to encourage users to submit requests for scientific articles they would like to see summarized. This means that the library reaches the needs and interests of its community.
- Promote Accessibility: We want the library to work on different platforms, including mobile phones and tablets, to reach a wider audience and make it easier for people to access the library on the go.
- Public Awareness Campaigns: Holding public awareness campaigns to promote the importance of scientific understanding and the benefits of reading lay summaries.
How can people get involved?
We want scientific knowledge to be accessible to everyone, regardless of their educational background or expertise. By breaking down barriers and providing free and open access to a wide range of resources, we empower individuals to stay informed, understand complex concepts, and make informed decisions in their daily lives.
Our work has only really just begun. So, if you have a moment, please check out the page and decide for yourself if it’s a worthy project – we’d love to see you join us in our quest to democratize science and build the largest library of multi-media lay summaries globally.
What do you do for yourself that brings you joy?
I immensely enjoy good food, swimming and spending time with my family and dog Toby.
What little bit of wisdom about wellbeing have you learnt?
Engage in activities you are passionate about, pursue your interests, and make time for fun and relaxation. Remember that it’s okay to rest and recharge.