The tl;dr version of these notes comes from the summary blog posts. Generally, the feedback that MIT students gave is that:
- Library spaces should support a variety of activities
- The Library environment should be inviting and comfortable
- Library spaces should support technology.
Cool. I agree with that. Libraries should be inviting and comfortable spaces that support a variety of activities, including technology support. Well done, MIT students!
What the students are asking for is a Third place. It's not a new concept--create a place for people to spend time that isn't their workplace or their home. Or, in the case of college students, a place that isn't a classroom/lab or dorm/apartment/sorority or fraternity house.
It seems like we're always trying to get students into our libraries. We build coffee shops and makerspaces and large, open collaborative spaces for students to work. We are present on social media and engage with our users there. We build relationships with faculty and do outreach in their classrooms. We are present (and active) in the communities we serve.
But I wonder how much of this engagement from users is about getting them to consider the library as a third place and how much of it is to get students to make use of the collections we pay a lot of money to acquire.
So how do we do it? How do we "mix fun and studies to attract people to the Library?"
I suspect that the answer lies in the balance between our space and our collections/services. I think we have to loosen our grip on the notion that a Library is for housing collections and, in doing so, really open ourselves to the idea that a Library might also be for creating spaces for users to play games, take naps, and work together to create and display art. And that, in doing so, we will bring people into our libraries who will never make use of our collections.
What is one thing you can do right now to make your library a more third place-like space to people who have never stepped foot in your library before? Do it. Today.