I love the “choose your own adventure” aspect of this module! I chose to focus on the hyperlinked public library, both because I have 30 years of experience working in a public library setting, and because my other class this semester is Issues in Public Libraries. As I read the various materials for this module, I couldn’t help but compare the content to my workplace, Spokane Public Library (SPL).
The Four Spaces model was of particular interest to me. First introduced by Danish LIS scientists, this model envisions the intersections among the four spaces (inspiration, learning, performative, meeting) that support four goals (innovation, experience, empowerment, involvement) in order to bolster four processes (excite, explore, create, participate). The four spaces occur in both the physical and virtual worlds.
Spokane Public Library demonstrates its use of the four spaces model in several ways, including:
- First Friday (inspiration, performative) – The first Friday of every month, the library stays open two extra hours and displays art by local students and artists, as well as having a musical act or two.
- LevelUp coworking space (meeting, learning) – This state-of-the-art area offers wired meeting rooms, computers loaded with business and design software, a hi-tech classroom with an interactive whiteboard, and video conferencing equipment, among other things.
- Library of Things (learning, performative) – This collection (available for checkout) includes musical instruments, science equipment, and video recording equipment.
Compared to Edmonton Public Library (EPL), Spokane’s library system is just starting to take baby steps toward the transformation from a “house of knowledge” to a “house of access”. Librarians at SPL are getting out into the community and interacting with people wherever they happen to be, rather than waiting for people to come through the door. Like EPL, SPL offers free library cards to all residents of the area, and gives “internet only” cards to those without ID or address verification. The guiding principle behind this is that nobody should be denied access to information because of their life circumstances. Just as EPL creates teams to tackle issues, SPL has constructed Solutions Teams to address such diverse concerns as children’s programming, shelving procedures, and how to reduce theft and vandalism in the restrooms.
The Dokk1 project, with the Aarhus library, really inspired me with new, fresh ideas of how public libraries should be. Of course, the money for a complete re-design is not available (yet), but SPL already has staff that are “visible, engaged, and present”, out in the open at the library rather than behind a desk. SPL is also starting to direct its attention on spaces and people, rather than on books and other traditional library materials. Libraries are more than just buildings, they are microcosms of their communities, and exist both in physical and cyberspace to provide a portal to the world.