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The Social Commons in a Public Library

Describing the implementation of a social commons in a public library.

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The Social Commons in a Public Library

  1. 1. An implementation of a “third place.” Andy Barnett, McMillan Memorial Library
  2. 2.  Declining AV circulation (format extinction)  Declining print usage  More online services = fewer reasons for in- person use of library  Self-service = less time in library  High tech AND high touch  Questions about the future and necessity of public libraries  Time to create our future
  3. 3.  Document value of online services  Display oriented library  Reshaping collections to new reality  Programming, esp. creatorspaces  More explicitly educational  More interactive  Outward facing (Harwood Institute)  Commons
  4. 4.  Grows out of Information Commons  Based on Third Place concept  Public library mashup ◦ Remix of these with new elements ◦ Government, library tradition, educational, lifelong and voluntary
  5. 5.  A commons  Separate from home and the workplace  In The Great Good Place, Ray Oldenburg argues that third places are important for civil society, democracy, civic engagement and establishing a sense of place  Robert Putnam discuss third places in Bowling Alone: America's Declining Social Capital
  6. 6.  Free or inexpensive (no monetary barrier)  Food and drink, while not essential, are important  Highly accessible: proximate for many  Involve regulars  Hospitable  Both new friends and old should be found there  Rapidly disappearing
  7. 7.  Neutral ground  Leveler  Conversation is a main activity  Accessibility and accommodation  The regulars  The mood can be playful  A home away from home  Somehow, they didn’t think of libraries
  8. 8.  Part of larger trend  Important piece of development  Sense of place / destination / brand  User friendly / stickiness  Community focus  Zoning of space  Builds user base at all ages
  9. 9.  Guided by our mission - Strengthening our community through lifelong learning  Outgrowth of Ron McCabe’s book Civic Librarianship  An internal expansion project, converting former storage space  Opened in 2005
  10. 10.  Zoning (matching purpose/ design/ ruleset) ◦ Adult (collections) ◦ Technology (quiet, privacy) ◦ Youth Services (collections, social, programs) ◦ Meeting rooms (programs, social) ◦ Commons (social, collections)
  11. 11.  Commons visibly different from other zones - décor and furniture
  12. 12.  High use (AV) or high browse (magazines / newspapers) collections
  13. 13.  Mixed use at all times, but with differing mixes depending upon time of day.  Beverages allowed in most of facility, food allowed in Commons and main meeting room  Ties to hospitality, programming, community focus, stickiness
  14. 14.  Coffeehouse
  15. 15.  Iterations  Supervising the space – esp. after school  Finding balance in rulesets  Coffeehouse failed as a commercial venture, but succeeded as a staffed service  High level food with low level prep  Need to expand coffeehouse for dual use  Shift to more wireless users  Change of main entrance required rethinking
  16. 16.  Presentation online at slideshare.net McMillan Memorial Library Andy Barnett, Director abarnett@mcmillanlibrary.org

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