Yesterday, I hung out with the staff of the High Plains Library District in Greeley, CO. They are a very dynamic, energetic bunch!
I gave two presentations while there – here are the embeddable versions of them:
I’ve been thinking about content creation and libraries lately. Right now, we collect content – hence our shelves of stuff. Yes, we do many other things too. But if you look at our buildings, they have been, by and large, designed for collections of stuff – for collecting content.
Some libraries are changing that focus (or at least adding on to it) by enabling customers to create their own content in a variety of ways … and it’s pretty interesting stuff!
I’ll lump what I’m seeing into three loose categories:
Digital Media Labs: These spaces have content creation tools that allow customers to create and share video, music, photography, and design projects. Customers have access to computers with editing software, cameras, camcorders, microphones, and musical keyboards.
The best examples I’ve seen of this so far are Skokie Public Library’s Digital Media Lab and Chicago Public Library’s YouMedia project. Skokie’s lab has a greenscreen wall for video projects; Youmedia includes a small recording studio space.
Hackerspaces: ”A hackerspace … is a location where people with common interests, often in computers, technology, science, or digital or electronic art (but also in many other realms) can meet, socialise and/or collaborate … hackers can come together to share resources and knowledge to build and make things” (from Wikipedia).
Basically, hackerspaces tend to be public spaces with tools – 3D printers, drill presses, etc. And people make stuff there. Who’s doing this? Well, Allen County Public Library and Fayetteville Free Library are, for starters.
Coworking Spaces: Coworking is a pretty simple concept. Independent workers, freelancers, small business owners, etc. gather in a shared space to share ideas, team up on projects, and get some work done in a more social setting. It’s an alternative to meeting at home or a local coffee shop.
Libraries have unofficially done this for years (how many of you have heard of a patron who runs his/her business from the library? I’ll bet some of you have). But some libraries are going a step or two further by embedding librarians in these spaces, or even offering coworking spaces as part of their services. Meg Knodl, a librarian at Hennepin County Library, is doing this – here’s an article on what Meg is doing. Helsinki City Library has created some coworking spaces – read more about it here.
For more info, check out these articles:
Question – is your library doing something like this? If so, let me know in the comments!
Photo by Skokie Public Library
Nate Hill, Web Librarian, San Jose Public Library
Chris Noll, Noll & Tam Architects
Slide on the screen:
Because of the Internet, access to:
Books and other documents have gone from Read to Read/Write
Photo and video output has gone from View to View/Edit
Music and other audio has gone from Listen to Listen/Remix
Nate is introducing the topic of libraries starting to support content creation, and the models behind that.
Contra Costa has used vending machines in shopping malls, etc. Washington County is using reserve boxes.
Boston Chinatown Storefront Library – community driven library
Houston – small small branch…
DC – Kiosk branches…
Greenbridge Library – took a community center, and developed part of it into a library
Idea Stores in London. Mix up libraries, cafes, etc.
Morgan Hill Library – self checkout, check in, self help holds, etc – very self-driven
talking about the Digital Public Library or America project and their beta sprint. Realized we will still need physical spaces to create digital content.
broken into modules like audio and video creation, scanning, collaboration, etc
Chris: talking about creating furniture for these creative types of spaces …
Give people access to tools. Some libraries check out tools or musical instruments. Why not video cameras, microphones, etc?
Why not have design tools – desktop publishing, CAD/CAM tools, 3D printers, etc? The library could support these things.
They want this project to happen … but need funding, etc.
If your library’s like mine, you have staff-only ways to access library stuff … things like employee parking, a staff-only entrance, a back-end way to access the library catalog, etc. Whenever I put a book on hold, I get it delivered via inter-office mail.
I never have to use the library like a patron if I don’t want to!
My question – is this a good thing?
Try using your library like a patron. Is it easy or hard? Is there something that frustrates you about the whole process? It’s probably doing the same thing to your patrons.
Here’s a thought – maybe we should create a “Work Like a Patron” week, where we only use the library like our customers do – use your library’s wifi (bonus points for using a Public PC), search using the patron version of your catalog, maybe even sit at those lovely desks in the library. Or hang out in a cafe, accessing all work- and library-related stuff from outside of the building. Use the front door, and see the library through your patrons’ eyes.
This works for the IT department, too. Use library employee tools like … library employees, rather than like IT dudes and dudettes. Is it hard? If so … it’s probably hard for the rest of the library, too. Make it work for everyone!
If it works wonderfully, great! If not, maybe you have some things to improve.