A platform for the community

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.

3 thoughts on “A platform for the community

  1. Hi Leslie, thanks for sharing! Wow, I really love that example you gave of the Memphis Sound Connection. That’s not something I’d heard of happening before. Our library uses Freegal, which is a super common free music streaming site, but it’s kind of clunky and limiting. I feel like it tries to compete with Spotify and ultimately fails pretty hard because, well, it doesn’t have access to that Spotify/Apple Music dough. The idea of, instead, working to promote local connections in a city’s music community is so much richer. I think there are so many artists and listeners alike who would really respond to that concept!

  2. Hi Leslie,
    The library as a platform is an interesting concept. There are many ways that libraries can showcase emerging technologies in a way that other organizations or groups cannot. What a great way for the community to connect by introducing musicians to audiences in the Memphis Sound Connection. This is a way to meet user needs.

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