Date/time: 9:30 a.m. Sunday

Panelist: Nicholas Kerelchuk, Digital Commons Manager for District of Columbia Public Library; Jonathan Marino, Director of Content & Strategy, The MapStory Foundation

The gist:

As communities move away from using libraries only for checking out books or movies, what will happen to them? Presenters talked about libraries going through a second renaissance. The first, they described, was physical –actual library buildings in America being renovated and updated. We’re now in the second renaissance of libraries, a time when services are getting a makeover and transforming in order to fit the new needs of the community. But transformation doesn’t just mean meeting the current needs, but looking into the future and challenging communities to break the stereotype of what libraries are and what they can be.
Takeaways:

In the last two years, libraries across the country have begun experimenting with services, opening co-working spaces and fabrication labs with 3D printing, laser cutting and more that’s redefining the future of the library.

The District of Colombia Public Library operates a Dream Lab, a co-working space for people like entrepreneurs, creatives, start-ups and freelancers. They’ve also added a fabrication space where makers and entrepreneurs work on their projects similar to places like TechShop. Adding an AV lab digital production studios will also transform the library into a space where everything from music to voiceovers can be produced.

Creative partnerships have also helped drive a new vision. MapStory, an online social cartographic platform that empowers users to map historical change over time, works out of the DC Public Library. Marino says the ability to test out ideas with residents who are in the library has been a great advantage.

The Miami Public Library will soon open a co-working space. In Chattanooga, there’s a writer in residence and a wedding dress maker working out of a makerspace. In Chicago, the public library hosts idea incubators and in Cleveland there’s also a makerspace with machines like laser engraving.

“Libraries have this incredible power to do services and programs..” Kerelchuk says. ”You just need to get people in the door.”

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