Latvia, a country with a population of two million people, was the last one in Europe to build a National Library. It took 200 million euros and 25 years to create the new building.
During these years the project had suffered from changes in political agenda, an economic crisis and a postponed deadline – all of which lead to a severly damaged public image. How to cut through this negative clutter?
It is common to reveal a new building by cutting the ribbon. We refused to let politicians do this and instead made it accessible to everyone. Seven custom-made scissors were forged and seven celebrities from different fields invited to cut a piece of the 10 kilometer long ribbon. They were then asked to choose any person in Latvia to pass the scissors to.
The scissors were equiped with a switch and a bluetooth transmitter paired with a smartphone. A purpose-built app would record the time, location and add video of each participant online. A special website would show seven chains of events in seven different colors in real-time. We also invited visitors to cut the digital ribbon and invite three of their friends as well. We drove 73 000 kilometers to reach 1000 people in person including doctors, farmers, musicians, soldiers, a four-year-old, a 100-year-old, a couple on their wedding day and even our country’s top celebrities.
We generated an estimated half a million euros worth of coverage in media and the number of visitors to the new building increased by 72% including from further regions. We had managed to unite people with our symbolic act – to open the new library as a source of knowledge that belongs to everyone. And the scissors have now become a part of permanent exhibitions in Latvian museums.