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