Τρίτη, Απριλίου 07, 2015
At some Colorado libraries, there are no overdue fines, no Dewey Decimal System and absolutely no shushing!
A revolution is underway. And leading the charge is Anythink, the rebooted seven-branch Adams County system, which has a smattering of digital studios, 3-D printers, photography labs and a cafe. Anythink has gone from one of the state's worst-funded library systems to a national leader within a decade.
On Monday, Anythink's innovation team was in Austin, Texas, at South by Southwest Interactive to inspire the tech community into collaborating with libraries. Joining a group of spirited librarians known as lib*interactive, the Anythink team hit the streets equipped with temporary tattoos, colorful chalk and a snappy slogan: "Not the same old shhh."
"Technology is such a huge part of the service that we offer now. That's why it's important for Anythink to be down here," said Stacie Ledden, Anythink's director of innovations and brand strategy, who also led a seminar called " Anythink: The Brand that Sparked a Revolution."
"Lib*interactive does a lot of outreach and with technologists looking for co-working space, we want to get libraries on their radar," she said, adding that a chance meeting with a Sony employee looked promising.
The effort has at least gotten other librarians on its radar. Several others shared what their libraries were doing with SXSW presentations of their own, including coworking at the library (Washington, D.C.), the library as an incubator (San Antonio, Texas) and how big-data startups should hire librarians (Columbia University in New York).
"It's kind of an exciting time for libraries," said Larra Clark, program director at American Library Association. "Maybe what you need is a 3-D printer to prototype, or a digital media lab to cut a commercial. We want to say that these are resources that are available. We have great librarians who can help research your patents and trademarks."
Clark sat on a panel about how the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in Washington, D.C., started the Dream Lab coworking space. In exchange for space, entrepreneurs spend an hour training the community on digital literacy or information technology. The lab has hosted more than 50 projects.
"These examples are not commonly understood. We're taking these methods to SXSW and inviting (attendees) to look to their libraries," Clark said.
Funding is another category that libraries must be smart about. In Colorado, for example, the state reinstated $2 million in funds for libraries last year, putting Colorado at 30th nationwide for state aid. But most funding comes locally.
One nonprofit, EveryLibrary, helps libraries get funding issues on local ballots and has helped 25 communities get $46 million in funding, said founder John Chrastka. But at SXSW, EveryLibrary was there to reach out to tech companies.
"A lot of tech companies fail not because of bad code but because they haven't understood their market" and that research can be found at the local library, he said.
Lib*interactive, originally called #sxswLAM, was started a few years ago by a group of friends in the library community, including Carson Block, a consultant in Fort Collins who works with libraries nationwide. It's grown to about 1,000 members.
"It was a wake-up call," Block said. "We tend to be in an echo chamber. You do things and your colleagues know about it. But the best way to see if it has any legs is to get outside."
Adams County, which had one of the worst-funded library systems per capita in Colorado, got an overhaul after voters approved a tax in 2006. Adams County didn't just build a new library, it built a new experience — the Anythink brand, Ledden said.
"Nobody knew who we were," Ledden said. "And because we wanted to make all these changes, we needed a brand to represent the new direction we were going."
Gone are overdue book fines. Out went the Dewey Decimal S ystem in favor of WordThink, where books are categorized by subject instead of numbers. Even the layout was different with libraries looking more like bookstores.
In 2008, about 17 percent of Adams County residents had a library card. Today, it's 42 percent, Ledden said.
In Colorado, Anythink isn't alone. Staff from Douglas County and Arapahoe County libraries also attended SXSW. The new Library 21c in Colorado Springs has its own Business and Entrepreneur Center. The Denver Public Library has a music-creation room, while the new Rodolfo "Corky" Gonzales branch has a recording studio, Colorado state librarian Eugene Hainer said.
"You hear the question, 'Are libraries going to be around in 10 years?' " Hainer said. "Yes, they will be around. The innovation that libraries are doing now are really setting them up to be a true community resource."