Where are the beanbags?

Okay, I’ll just get this out of the way… I just read through Mathews’ “Think Like a Startup” and I have a some reflections, but first, where are the beanbags??? I thought that was a great story describing how a space at the D. H. Hill Library Learning Commons accidently became more of a creative/social area than the standard table and chair study space due to lack of funding. They decided that instead of having a giant open space until they could get more funding for proper furniture, they would spend what little they had left on beanbags to fill the space in the meantime. However, students loved it and even started bringing their own furniture to make their own personal study space. Also, due to the movability, students could easily push bags together and make a fun study group. So all of this sounds fantastic, yet I can’t find a single picture of this space with beanbags online? I’ve tried searching “D. H. Hill Library Learning Commons beanbags” and nothing comes up. If there are any beanbag library pictures, it’s not of D. H. Hill Library. I doubt this is a fake story, but also shouldn’t there be at least one picture? Sorry, I got very excited over the idea of a library full of beanbags and am a little disappointed 🙁

Anyway, this was a fun article to read, especially since Mathews wrote like it was a call to war speech at times (haha). I’m referring to the dramatic “reach for the stars” type call to action he wrote, such as starting the article with “We have to peer upwards and outwards through telescopes, not downwards into microscopes.” The idea that stood out to me the most from the article was the list that described typical functions of an academic library becoming the role of other parts of the campus, thus deeming the library obsolete. One of the ideas included lending out eBooks/tablets to students:

What if all students are given eBook readers and an annual allotment to purchase books, articles, and other media necessary for their academic pursuits and cultural interests? Collections become personalized, on-demand, instantaneous, and lifelong learning resources.

Mathews, B. (2012). Think Like A Start Up.

I think this idea sounds awesome, but also I can see irresponsible students ruining this. So many questions arise relating to how to make this work. How would they limit students from buying non-educational texts? Would you have to register what classes you’re taking, and then buy the books accordingly? I believe some high schools and middle schools have already sort of done this, in that they have enough laptops/tablets for every child to check out and do homework on from home, since more and more assignments nowadays require access to a computer. However, colleges have thousands of more students than K-12 schools do, so I’m not sure how they would be able to budget for such a large purchase, as well as keep all of the technology updated. Despite all of these issues, I could definitely see the pros for this idea in relation to accessibility. Those who prefer to read online would enjoy the fact that all of their textbooks could be online. Additionally, many students have trouble getting to the library regularly, whether it be due to disability or time management, so access to all reading materials from a single device at home would be a great solution for them.

In Bucklands’ Redesigning Library Services: A Manifesto, under “The Electronic Library,” he writes about how “careful deliberation” will be needed to figure out exactly what belongs in the Automated Library versus the Electronic Library (or both) for them to both work in the same space. This point reminded me of a silly issue I had with my local library recently concerning our digital versus physical collection. I often like to listen to audiobooks on my drive to work in the morning, and recently I’ve picked up Brandon Sanderson’s series The Way of Kings. I also prefer to listen to CD audiobook, as my car doesn’t have Bluetooth. The point is, my library has the first book (The Way of Kings) on audiobook CD, as well as the third, but the second one, Words of Radiance, is not available. I put in a “recommended purchase” request online, but I doubt it’ll be considered since the library does own the book in audiobook form already, but digital. I could download it on my phone and listen that way, but I much prefer CD, and I find it very odd that we have the 1st and 3rd book, yet not the 2nd. This is definitely a disconnect between our Automated and Electronic Library, since you’d think that all of them would be available on one and/or the other, yet I have to jump between formats to enjoy the series.


Buckland, M. K. (1992). Redesigning library services : a manifesto . American Library Association.

Mathews, B. (2012). Think like a start-up: A white paper to inspire library entrepreneurism.

4 thoughts on “Where are the beanbags?

  1. Hi Lisa,
    I like the bean bag story! How fun to hang out in a library sitting on a bean bag with friends! It’s a great idea for money to be allocated to students for whatever media they need, albeit costly. The digital divide would lessen if colleges and universities were able to assist students with technology costs.

  2. Teen spaces function better with modular furniture that can be rearranged, like beanbags. I have them in my teen area, and adults are always trying to steal them for their space! It’s funny how inexpensive furniture can be so popular while the fancy lounge chairs from Demco sit empty. It’s all about being mindful of how our community uses library spaces instead of addressing a need that may not exist. I have told my boss that she should get some beanbags for the adult area, but she doesn’t like the aesthetic. -sigh-

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