Public and Little libraries

By | October 21, 2014

Public libraries have taken important roles in our society. Nowadays, they are seen as “community centers,” “public squares,” “think tanks,” and “open platforms,” as Shannon Mattern points out. David Giles also mentions that “public libraries are a key component of the city’s human capital system…New York’s public libraries play a critical role in helping adults upgrade their skills and find jobs, assisting immigrants assimilate, fostering reading skills in young people and providing technology access for those who don’t have a computer or an internet connection a home.” – they are also “opportunity institutions.” Although public libraries are facing drastic budget cuts, I agree “the libraries are much more important today than ever.”

Since I have worked at cultural institutions, I was thinking why we can’t be a culture center as library does and how we can collaborate with them. (As an art/cultural center, I strongly feel that we need to have “public space” where people can reach to our resources and spend time there – not only place to attend events.) I understand that “no other institution in New York serves so many different people in so many different ways,” but as Mattern claims “libraries do need to collaborate with other institutions to determine how they leverage the resources of the infrastructural ecology to server their publics.” 

Also, little libraries – pop-up, guerrilla, DIY library – function as a community centers. As an example, Occupy libraries played “vital social and political roles” and provided “a place where people can congregate and access media that norm, challenge and codify their beliefs.” I’m not the person who like reading and go to library to read, but I have always fascinated by the spaces where have a collection of books. Not only projects based library but we see a collection of books everywhere; bookstore, cafe, living room, even on the street. It isn’t “just [about] books,” but it is “also about a space where people could “learn, exchange ideas and share expertise” that inspires me. I also think that a collection of books create space where make people comfortable – people can just browse, walk around, or sit down – to be there without any pressures. It is “open, accessible, and welcoming” people into space.  

One thought on “Public and Little libraries

  1. shannon Post author

    Great, Eishin. Let’s think about what partnerships make sense. There are some precedents for libraries collaborating with cultural and arts organizations (e.g., there’ll be a new Queens branch library in the renovated Queens Museum) — but we can do more!
    And yes, it’s important to remember the value of “obligation-free” public space — space where we can foster the creation of a civil society, without having to pay a fee of entry or buy anything!


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