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David Lee King

Can a Library be your Office?



OK – I know a library can be MY office … ’cause I work in one. But how about your patrons?

I was just reading Chris Brogan’s post (nice guy – I met him at SXSW last week) about where he works – frequently in a bookstore or a coffeeshop. And that made me think a bit … do his points about working in bookstores and coffeeshops work for a library too? Let’s experiment a bit and find out.

Here are his points about why he works in bookstores and coffeeshops, but with the word “library” inserted … with some comments from me:

  • Libraries have books, which are full of ideas. When I work here, I can pluck a book off the shelf, get an idea, and get a new perspective on my project. Yep – we have this one covered pretty well.
  • Libraries have fresh food and lots of people anxious to serve me the food. It means I can focus on what I’m doing and not worry about the sustenance part. Whew – my library, at least, has this one covered too. How about yours – do you have a coffeeshop in your library? More importantly … do you allow patrons to eat and drink in the library?
  • Libraries have big parking lots and lots of room to hold brief, cafe-shaped meetings with a few people. They’re not the best place to conduct official business, but they’re perfect for brainstorming and idea gathering and status delivering. My library has this one covered adequately too – we have a large parking lot (though it’s usually packed pretty full – we’re a popular destination in Topeka). And we have a variety of places to meet in the library – meeting rooms, smaller study rooms, and plenty of tables and power outlets. How about your library? Would anyone get “shushed” if they were holding a meeting at a table in your library?
  • Libraries are usually staffed with pleasant people who don’t do what I do, so they’re willing to chat for a few minutes, but won’t bury me in the details. We’re friendly, but would we chat with Chris? Probably so … but most libraries really aren’t set up for this. Desk staff are sitting at a desk, waiting for people to come to them – not walking around the library, chatting with and helping patrons (i.e., like most other service industries do).
  • Libraries are actually fun. How many people’s offices are fun? OK – my office is fun! And my library is fun, too. Is YOUR library fun? If not … why not?

So what’s the point here? Libraries have the potential to be GREAT co-working facilities for small business owners and entrepreneurs. Add a little coffee to the mix … add the ability to connect with others for casual conversations … and remove some of our out-of-date barriers (i.e., No talking! No cell phones! No food allowed!) … and libraries can be very relevant, cool places to “do business.”

What do you think? Would a small business owner or a freelancer want to work in your library? Are you set up to allow that?

Picture by Chris Brogan

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • http://www.swissarmylibrarian.net/ Brian Herzog

    Funny – I was honestly just talking today with a freelance reporter who has been working out of my library for months. We don’t serve food or drink, but we allow it, along with respectful cell phone use, wifi, and talking above a whisper. Our conversation was about how she is getting her research done and stories written so quickly that she’s been able to expand her freelance work to writing marketing materials for local businesses. So in addition to being useful to our patrons, we’re even contributing to a little economic stimulus.

  • http://www.swissarmylibrarian.net Brian Herzog

    Funny – I was honestly just talking today with a freelance reporter who has been working out of my library for months. We don’t serve food or drink, but we allow it, along with respectful cell phone use, wifi, and talking above a whisper. Our conversation was about how she is getting her research done and stories written so quickly that she’s been able to expand her freelance work to writing marketing materials for local businesses. So in addition to being useful to our patrons, we’re even contributing to a little economic stimulus.

  • Laura H.

    Thanks for the clarification, David. The hat analogy cleared things up for me. :)

  • Laura H.

    Thanks for the clarification, David. The hat analogy cleared things up for me. :)

  • http://abbagliati.blogspot.com/ Enzo Abbagliati

    David, here is the link to your post translated to Spanish an published in my blog:

  • http://abbagliati.blogspot.com Enzo Abbagliati

    David, here is the link to your post translated to Spanish an published in my blog:

  • http://abbagliati.blogspot.com/ Enzo Abbagliati
  • http://abbagliati.blogspot.com Enzo Abbagliati
  • Pingback: It’s Your Library, Too: On Being a Valued Library Customer — CECILY.info

  • Pingback: What Office? | The Tiny Life

  • natan

    I am working out of a library in Antwerp Belgium for 6 months now. I'm a designer and the surrounding books are not only a pleasant backdrop while working but are very usefull to me. I can just stand up and reach for just that info that I need or take a break when needed and read something of interest.
    the library is a very airy building with lots of light and space. we have working area's with power plugs and wired internet. slower wireless internet is available troughout the building, as are ground sockets for power.
    I love the ability to sit back in a comfy lounge chair in the reading area and to take place at one of the tables to write or to make drawings. when meeting with people I meet in the lounge area or in an area that is more or less seperate from the rest of the building. There even is a meeting room available that can be rented when needed. There is a fax and copy machine that can be used for a small fee and next to the library building is a very nice coffe shop with a daily fresh cooked menu at a very acceptable price of 7 Euro's. I love the fact that everything is so close and that it is all free or very cheap to use. I don't need to bother with finding food or driks and as mentioned somewhere before I meet a lot of very interesting people along the way. in my opinion all offices should be like this, why bother going elswhere!? I will be doing this for a long time and can't really see how a 'normal' office could beat it. it saves me lot's of money, gives me hastlefree use and is probably the most ecological thing to do. true nomad style!

  • natan

    I am working out of a library in Antwerp Belgium for 6 months now. I'm a designer and the surrounding books are not only a pleasant backdrop while working but are very usefull to me. I can just stand up and reach for just that info that I need or take a break when needed and read something of interest.
    the library is a very airy building with lots of light and space. we have working area's with power plugs and wired internet. slower wireless internet is available troughout the building, as are ground sockets for power.
    I love the ability to sit back in a comfy lounge chair in the reading area and to take place at one of the tables to write or to make drawings. when meeting with people I meet in the lounge area or in an area that is more or less seperate from the rest of the building. There even is a meeting room available that can be rented when needed. There is a fax and copy machine that can be used for a small fee and next to the library building is a very nice coffe shop with a daily fresh cooked menu at a very acceptable price of 7 Euro's. I love the fact that everything is so close and that it is all free or very cheap to use. I don't need to bother with finding food or driks and as mentioned somewhere before I meet a lot of very interesting people along the way. in my opinion all offices should be like this, why bother going elswhere!? I will be doing this for a long time and can't really see how a 'normal' office could beat it. it saves me lot's of money, gives me hastlefree use and is probably the most ecological thing to do. true nomad style!

  • davidbaer

    The Center for Media Research has released a study by Vertical Response that shows just where many of these ‘Main Street’ players are going with their online dollars. The big winners: e-mail and social media. With only 3.8% of small business folks NOT planning on using e-mail marketing and with social media carrying the perception of being free (which they so rudely discover it is far from free) this should make some in the banner and search crowd a little wary.

    http://www.onlineuniversalwork.com