This week I was intrigued by the concept of the public library as a “platform” for creation and connection. Not merely a space where this happens, but an entire infrastructure built to foster these things. In her 2014 article ‘Library as Infrastructure’ Shannon Mattern notes that libraries have a tremendous capacity to support a community’s wellbeing, adding that,
“At every stage, the contexts — spatial, political, economic, cultural — in which libraries function have shifted; so they are continuously reinventing themselves and the means by which they provide those vital information services.” (Mattern, 2014)
Wow, if that isn’t true today! As we navigate the complexities of our current reality, libraries have indeed shifted dramatically to reimagine how to serve their communities in safe and meaningful ways.
“A platform gains value the less can be predicted about what will be built with it.” (Weinberger, 2012)
One thing that’s particularly exciting to me is how libraries are designing their virtual spaces to foster creativity and connection. An example of this is Memphis Sound Connection, a free music streaming platform provided by the Memphis Public Library Foundation that connects local musicians with new audiences. Listeners can discover local music and the artists’ profiles link to their album, their music videos on YouTube, their social media and their payment apps where listeners can support them directly.
Another example of this is LA County Library’s “Safer at Home” collection. Using Biblioboard, the library has created a digital collection of community artwork that functions as a shared archive of the experiences of LA residents during Covid.
Through initiatives like these libraries are inspiring creativity and fostering connection in virtual spaces.