The trend toward putting public libraries in retail spaces such as big-box stores, malls, strip centers, and main street buildings shows no sign of slowing. The McAllen Public Library, TX, main library, which opened in late 2011 in a former Wal-Mart, garnered many awards, including the coveted American Institute of Architects (AIA) Honor Award for Interior Architecture. McAllen residents got a lot of library compared with what they would have gotten building new, reduced their impact on the environment, and turned a blight into a flourishing center of community life.
A small group of Seattle Public Library (SPL) staff will be pedaling—and peddling—books on the pavement this summer, thanks to the new Books on Bikes pilot program. Librarians on bicycles are traveling to several outdoor events across the city with a custom-built book trailer that can carry 500 pounds of materials and display 75 books at a time. The bicycling librarians will hold book talks, pop-up story times, and information sessions at venues large and small in public parks, farmers markets, and at other community events.
I recently attended a local “hackfest” sponsored by the government of the county in which I reside. This “App Challenge” was one of a series of events encouraging citizens to invent new ways to use the considerable open data resources of the county, and to make those available to others. The meeting was held at the local high school, and to my surprise, over sixty people turned out, many from the far corners of the county. The group was notably diverse. There was one contingent, however, which was not in evidence: librarians.
Two library service prototyping spaces, in two very different places, have a remarkable amount in common. Nate Hill runs and operates the 4th Floor in Chattanooga, a large public library loft space operating as a flexible community makerspace and event space. Jeff Goldenson co-ran and operated Labrary, a 37-day design experiment occupying a vacant storefront in Cambridge.
Rarely are defendants in a dispute settled out of court enthusiastic about the remedies they’re required to supply. But Elizabeth Dupuis, UC Berkeley Associate University Librarian and Director, Doe/Moffitt Libraries, told LJ that the library is excited by the prospect of unprecedented access. But then, this isn’t exactly your standard adversarial legal case. Print-disabled U.C. Berkeley students David Jaulus, Brandon King, and Tabitha Mancini, represented by Disability Rights Advocates (DRA), had entered into structured negotiations—a collaborative problem-solving alternative to litigation—with the university over their inability to access materials.
If you’re an academic librarian, you’re probably already awash, at least peripherally, in news about MOOCs—massive open online courses have been touted as the next big thing in higher ed since they burst on the scene about a year ago. If you’re a public librarian, on the other hand, you may not even have heard of them. Yet MOOCs are bringing unprecedented challenges and opportunities to both kinds of libraries already, and they’re only going to grow.
Right now, the biggest trend in website design is responsive web design (RWD). In a responsive design, a website elegantly displays on any size device. The popularity of RWD is, in part, a response to the proliferation of mobile devices. In hopes of increasing usability, organizations want to ensure that people can use their sites no matter how they’re accessing the web. But RWD isn’t itself a solution to library website woes. As I see it, there are two problems: RWD can only accomplish so much, and it doesn’t address the root issue of providing library services in a mobile context.
The concept of surplus value clearly works well in a marketplace context, where goods and services are exchanged for money in real time, making it easy and intuitive to think in terms of value versus cost. But what relevance does it have in the library context, where services are (or seem to be) provided at no charge?