Web 2.0

Coworking at the library

The Shelf Check blog posed a question a couple of weeks ago about setting up a space in the library for coworking folks. For those of you who aren’t familiar with coworking, there is a good article (lots of ’em, actually) at ReadWriteWeb that explains the concept. Basically it’s a space where independent and self-employed folks can go to work for and by themselves, but with shared resources and companionship made available by the coworking space and their coworking coworkers (awkward, I know…)

I follow a listserv for my neighborhood, and folks are often looking for coworking spaces (to rent) and others to cowork with. Plenty of people already run their small businesses from or do their freelance work at the library, but entirely independently, without the quietly social, communal feeling that it seems those who are looking for coworking spaces crave. Could we fashion a “coworking area,” much the way we fashion teen and children’s areas, in the library? And aggressively, cleverly promote it as a “coworking space–but better,” because workers in the library will have access to on-site librarians who can help them with database searches, etc?

Emily Lloyd, the author of the Shelf Check blog, posed the question above and I have to admit it intrigues me. I like the idea a lot. My particular library has space challenges right now that are pretty much incompatible with the idea of creating that sort of space – but that won’t be true in the future (hopefully!). One of the benefits of coworking spaces is the shared resources – not only on-site librarians, but computers, wireless access, color printers, copy machines, scanners and other bits of office hardware that people may not need to buy on their own but that they might find useful occasionally – and those are just the things that libraries (my library at least) provide already!
Like I said, not something I can do with the resources at my library – but if you all know of a library that does it or are thinking of doing something similar, let me know!

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