Internet Librarian: Reinventing Spaces & Places
Erik Boekesteijn, Jaap Van de Geer, Jeff Wisniewski, Paul R. Pival
Do we let our spaces work hard enough for us? What are successful spaces doing? We don’t have any space… And the successful spaces we see have similarities: flexibility, creation, collaboration, and tradition (maybe).
We cannot save libraries by doing more of what we have done before because the outcome will be the same. What are the roots of librarianship? Supporting and encouraging creation. In our spaces, then, we need to move away from spaces that are simply used to manage content to spaces that facilitate collaboration and creation.
Six years ago Erik & Jaap set out to build the most modern library in the world with DOK in Delft, Netherlands. They drove across the U.S. collecting best practices from various libraries. Jaap recommends a book called Rich Dad Poor Dad about financial education. Don’t work for money – see if money can work for you. We don’t let our spaces work for us – we work for them. Apple is the rich dad; the library is the poor dad. The Amsterdam Apple store is packed with people using services while the Amsterdam Public Library (a gorgeous, expensive new space) is largely devoid of people.
A start-up in the Netherlands, Viewsy, lets you measure and manage foot traffic. That might be an interesting thing to take a look at. We have to be brave in a relentless focus on the user.
What are successful spaces doing? The Library of 100 Talents in the North of Holland. If we want to go after our future users, we need to talk to our teens. They had the teens work with a designer and architect to design their own teen space. The TFDL Digital Media Commons provides a creation space – 12 Mac Pros with full A/V editing suites, 4 soundproof editing suites with full AV capabilities, and a DJ Mixing Board, collaborative workrooms with TeamSpot group collaboration software.
The Fountaindale Public Library is establishing a 7,000 square foot digital media content creation space.
The Westport Connecticut Public Library MakerSpace is in the middle of the library. They have an engineer in residence who works in the MakerSpace and helps folks design things on CAD, use the MakerBot, etc.
The University of Washington Research Commons provides collaborative working spaces where students can share ideas in public locations, promoting peer learning.
McMaster University Lyons Media Centre has a gaming room that supports 3 academic programs that study game creation and use.
Collaborative spaces need flexibility and be able to have multiple uses.
You can rent out spaces as well, as the Assen Public Library (Netherlands) has done. They built a television studio and hired their own staff to record programs, and they rent the space out when it’s not in use by students.
The keys to success – You have to start by listening to your users and involving the community by making them a part of the library. The DOK library is about fun – gathering stories, creating fun spaces. Their “wall of screens” displays local stories that people can add their own content to through their library card and a special surface touch table. DOK has some truly awesome stuff…everywhere you look there’s something different to see, to do, to experience. (Sarah’s note: It is my favorite library I’ve been to, and I’ve been to A LOT.)
The Arhus Library in Denmark (the UrbanMedia Space) has a design for the exterior of the space, but zero definitive plans for the inside space yet because they think if they plan now it will be outdated by the time it’s built. The vision is to create a unique space for cooperation, a place for dialogue, knowledge, ideas, and inspiration, an open and informal learning space, and a unique place for children. People are the key.
We need flexible libraries and spaces, as well as flexible teams.
Flexible furniture: with casters, grommets, lightweight, collapsible, movable
We need some people with a smart plan on using the space well – filling it for events.
We also need more wifi than we can possibly imagine we will actually need.
Have raised floors if you’re building or renovating a space – power and network everywhere, no matter where the furniture ends up. Our users want two things: network and power.
We need agile walls (example of University of North Texas). “De-mountable walls.”
iPads are replacing all of their children’s gaming desktop computers at the North Shore Public Library. This freed up space and the iPads are much easier to manage than the computers were. Plus, the games are cheaper on the iPads, and users love them more.
There is a product called the Media Surfer kiosk that you can configure to dispense a device with the swipe of a library card. It wipes the iPad, requires no staff mediation (but doesn’t clean the screen—which would be nice :P).
We need to start thinking of our spaces as products and services that we can market. The Stanford University Libraries lists their libraries, but have a “which library is open now” feature and advertise the library as a place to study…not just a place to go get a book.
Jeff highlighted a library in Washington that had created a scale of noise, and different levels of noise were allowed on different floors.
So if we have no space. 2/3 of library budgets are tied up in staff and rent. We have to start thinking about how we can make the library work harder for us. We need to reclaim space—take space away from things that aren’t working and aren’t being used. For many libraries, that’s a big portion of your print collection. You can also share space—Nova Southeastern University Library was building a shared facility with the Public Library.
The Amsterdam has a Library in the Airport with a focus on books and videos on the Netherlands. SO SMART.
We don’t work for books. We let the stories and the visitors work for us. The Assen Library has a conveyer belt built into a recently returned bookshelf that you can target by subject (somehow, I’m not sure I understand how—that’s pretty cool though!).
The National Library of Singapore is collecting stories from their residents. And that’s what libraries should be doing.