The article this week about communal kitchen spaces in public libraries (here) kinda blew my mind!
I’m shocked by how much I love this idea and by the fact that I’ve never heard of it before. Libraries are already so much more than bookshelves — with more and more libraries incorporating makerspaces, recording studios, cafes, game rooms, theaters, etc into our branches — but the idea of having a space for food is fantastic!
Food provides such a great opportunity for community gathering and cultural exchange, and food preparation is a vital life skill to have. The library can host programs about healthy living, cooking on a budget, cross-cultural food exchanges, and so much more.
A kitchen in a library is a great example of how to apply the principles discussed by Aaron Schmidt in his article about asking the right questions (here). If you asked library users in Madison (where one of the kitchens is being built) what they’d like to see in their library, I doubt very much any of them would say ‘You know what? Let’s build a kitchen!’. But like Schmidt says, it’s not their job to come up with new library services — that’s our job! So when our community tells us that they like learning new things in a social setting, it’s on us to realize that a kitchen space, for example, can provide an opportunity to do exactly that — learn new skills in a fun, hands-on environment.
Now I just need to figure out which library boss I need to talk to about this kitchen thing… I would LOVE to have one at one of our library branches!